With the technological advancements that have occurred in the last few decades, it’s very easy and convenient to contact people via text messaging, live chats, or emails. But, even with these developments, phone calls have remained the most personal mode of communication. The immediate, direct, and personal elements that characterize phone calls make them highly effective for business communication.
In spite of this, there are many business owners who aren’t sure about how they can maximize their business calls to get the kind of results they desire. If the use of phone calls is the major mode of communication for your business, here are several things that you can do to make your calls more effective:
1. Determine The Purpose Of The Call
Before you pick the phone up to make a business call, determine what you want to achieve with the call. To do this, you need to determine whether the call you’re making is a sales call, a follow-up call, or a briefing call. Knowing why you’re making the business call enables you to prepare for the call accordingly. If the reason you’re making the call is to follow up on a previous issue, ensure that you don’t start talking about other issues that aren’t related to the issue. If you have a different issue to discuss with your business contact, consider scheduling another call for that and send a reminder ahead of the call so that your contact knows the issue you’ll be talking about.
2. Take Time To Prepare For The Call
The best way to make your business phone calls effective is to prepare well prior to calling a contact. Take a moment and write down important points that you need to discuss. If there are questions you’ll need to ask, note those down as well. Putting down your key discussion points provides you with an outline that serves as a guide for the business phone call. This way, you can control the phone conversation and ensure that you discuss every issue you wanted to discuss. To ensure you have all the information you need, have your computer or notes nearby so that you can access any information you might need fast.
3. Gather Information About The People You Plan To Call
When you identify prospects or customers and decide to contact them via phone, you need to gather information about them before you get on a Call Cowboy system to call them up. For instance, if the purpose of your call is to follow-up on an issue, you’ll need to find out how many times you’ve contacted them using other communication channels like email.
You’ll also need to research about the person you plan to call and the company he works for. You can easily do this by browsing the company website and checking your contact’s LinkedIn profile. This enables you to familiarize yourself with the industry that the company works in and the department that the contact you’re targeting is attached to. Gathering such information will help you avoid asking questions that would come across as unprofessional.
You can also take your research further to find what things you have in common with the person you intend to call. Citing a thing or two that you have in common with your contact during your phone call will help you build rapport quickly and make the business call easier.
4. Find A Quiet Location
Although the people you’re reaching out to via phone aren’t able to see you, where you choose to make your call from matters. Choose to give your business phone calls the respect they deserve by making them from a quiet place where there are no disturbances. A good way to handle this is to book the conference room for business calls. If, for one reason or another, you’re unable to secure a conference room, consider finding a quiet space in the office and make your call from there. If you have other people sharing an office with you, let them know you have a business call so that they can minimize chats during the call.
5. Inform Your Contacts Who You Are And Why You’re Calling
Once you’re ready to make business phone calls and you dial the numbers, inform your contacts who you are once they answer the phone. Also, let them know why you’re calling them. This is no different from conducting a meeting wherein the agenda is presented to ensure everyone is on the same page. You can do this in a professional way by mentioning your first and last name as well as your title and then moving on to the purpose of the call.
Also, inform your business contact approximately how long the call will take — especially when you anticipate that it will be a lengthy one. You can determine this easily through the use of predictive dialer systems.
Consider asking the people you call whether they have the time to talk to you. If you sense that your contacts are pressed for time or are distracted, ask them to suggest a better time to talk and set up another call. If your client is available to talk, exchange pleasantries briefly then inform them of the reason you’re calling them.
6. Make Your Message Concise
Whether you’re talking to a person face to face or on phone, good communication requires that you speak and also take time to listen. When you get on the phone with your target customer or prospect, present your message in a concise manner. Use a language that’s easy for the person you’re calling to understand and communicate your message in a way that the other person wants to listen to you.
Focus on achieving the purpose for which you’re making the call. Remember, if you’re not able to communicate your message to your target, the listener will experience stress, and his capacity to respond to your message will be hampered. This will interfere with the flow of the communication. In extreme cases, your target audience will dismiss your business calls as a waste of time.
7. Communicate In A Friendly, But Direct Manner
As you talk to your target audience on the phone, ensure that you communicate in a friendly manner. Choose your words carefully — avoid just blurting anything, but also don’t be timid. The recipient of your call assumes that you have a reason to call. At the beginning of your call, exchange pleasantries in a way that shows interest and demonstrates empathy, but don’t allow yourself to get caught up in a long chat about private life, be it yours, theirs, or of other people. Always remember that your call is a business call. As such, go directly to the subject matter after you’ve exchanged pleasantries. Let the person know why you’re calling them and narrow your discussion to that issue.
8. Speak With Clarity
There are people who mumble as they speak. When it comes to business phone calls, this is not good. When you don’t speak with clarity to those who are on the other end of the line, they’ll become uncomfortable and will keep asking for repetition of the information shared. As you conduct a phone call, bear in mind that your target is not seeing you. Ordinarily, decoding messages is difficult when there are no cues from facial expressions, gestures, and body language. This emphasizes the need to speak as clearly as possible to ensure the person on the other side understands the message the way you want.
9. Check Whether Your Contact Has Understood Your Message
During the phone conversation with your audience, it’s important to check whether the message you’re passing on is being understood the way you want. There are several things you can do to ensure that your communication is effective. One of these is inviting the person on the other end to ask you any questions about the information you’ve shared during the call. If the person does not have questions to ask right away, there is a chance that that he’s reflecting.
Double-checking your message is a great way of getting critical feedback from your audience because phone calls are not just about what you say — the things you don’t say and the cues you send in between the verbal communication constitute an important part of the message. Seeking clarification, asking questions, and repeating the information shared during the phone conversation in the words of the recipient provide an elegant way of bridging any communication gaps that might exist.
10. Avoid Putting People On Hold Or Transferring Them Without Asking Them
Another way to make effective business calls is to avoid transferring people or even putting them on hold without asking them for permission. Doing this sends the message that you’re assuming they have time to just wait on hold. When you’re making business calls, respect every person’s time and ask for permission before placing anyone on hold. The same applies to transferring calls — avoid pushing recipients of your calls to other persons unless totally necessary. If you need to do that, talk to them first and find out whether they’re comfortable with being transferred to another person. By sharing the reasons for the transfer earlier, you can make the process easier. In addition to telling them why you need to transfer the call to another person, introduce the person they’ll be talking to in a concise manner.
11. Appreciate Silent Breaks
Whether you’re communicating using virtual channels or on one-on-one, conversing throughout, without respecting commas and full stops is extremely exhaustive. Such conversations are also dismissive of silent dialogue as a mode of communication. But, there are times when silence will help drive the business message you need to pass more deeply. Besides your choice of words, language, and intonation, silence plays a critical part in facilitating your phone conversation. For instance, if you’re communicating a message that’s quite disturbing or emotional, the person on the other end will need a period of silence to relax.
Silence comes in handy in negotiations, particularly when the person you’re reaching out to fills the silent breaks with words that enable you to share more information than you had planned. Silence also shows your business target that you’re listening to.
12. Admit When You Don’t Have The Answers
Let’s face it — you’ll not have answers to every question people have whenever you’re interacting with them on the phone or any other communication channel. There’s nothing wrong with this. But, rather than giving them incorrect information, you’re better off letting your contact know that you don’t know the things they need to know in a polite way when you genuinely don’t. After admitting this, assure them that you’ll get them the answers they need and get back to them within the shortest time possible.
13. Review Your Phone Conversations
As you wind your phone conversation up, it’s important that you take a moment to review your call with your business contact. Ideally, the review will involve checking what you’ve accomplished through the call. End the call professionally by ensuring that you’re both in agreement on the next steps. If you both agree that you need to get on the phone again, set the date and the time for the follow-up call. Whether you achieve the result you wanted or not, ensure that you end the call on a positive note. This is critical because you might find your paths crossing again in the future.
Phone calls have stood the test of time to remain the most common and personal method of communication for businesses. Even so, not every call you make to a business contact will be effective in delivering the results you want. The good news is that there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting positive results. These include taking time to prepare for the call, communicating well with your contact once you make the call, and checking whether your message reached home the way you intended it to. If you’re looking to make business phone calls more effective, apply the tips discussed above.