Whenever you make an outbound sales or customer service call, you have about 7 seconds to make a great first impression. How you set the tone in this 7 seconds is critical to both how the rest of your phone call goes and how your business is experienced by your customer (and potential customer) base.
It is essential to have both superb phone etiquette and a great opening line in order to make a great first impression and engage your prospect. In this article, we’ll cover the 5 essentials of proper phone etiquette as well as 5 more advanced ways to open with an engaging line and leave the prospect on the other end with a sense of trust and connection.
The Five Basics of Proper Phone Etiquette
- Put a smile in your voice
Even though the person on the phone cannot see you, smiling has been shown to actually change the tone of your voice. A smile can be heard, and will evoke a warmer reaction to your call.
- Speak clearly at the right volume, speed, and rhythm
You don’t want to make the customer feel uneasy because they interpret a sense of urgency or are unable to understand you. You want to portray a sense of calm confidence – a cool ease and a sense of caring interest. Also, to truly engage your client, you need to quickly adjust your pacing and tone to match theirs. For example, if you are calling a prospective client in rural Texas vs. Manhattan, you’re going to use very different pacing as you speak.
- Introduce yourself appropriately
Make sure they know your first and last name, the company you’re working for, the reason you’re calling, and the purpose of your call right off the bat.
- Call at a reasonable hour and keep it concise to be polite
Your customer’s time is valuable, and you should go out of your way to ensure you’re expressing gratitude for their time. Call at a decent hour and make sure you’re ready to communicate efficiently. Get the needed message across without wasting any time.
- Be willing to dig for solutions
If you’re calling for customer service reasons, be willing to ask questions and dig for solutions to their problem. Be genuine – don’t treat it as something you just have to deal with and get over with. If you’re calling for sales purposes, be polite – but be willing to continue asking questions to get to the core of their hesitancies, needs, and desires.
These five essentials of proper phone etiquette will help your customers feel comfortable and build relationships from the first interaction all the way throughout the customer journey. Implementing the next 5 advanced strategies below will help to increase your conversion rate and your customer’s experience with your brand.
- Get good at turning negatives into positives.
For example, instead of saying “I’m not sure I can help you”, say “I’m confident we can help you.” Instead of saying “ Don’t worry about it”, say “I will absolutely take care of it.” This kind of positive, assuring rhetoric leaves the customer or potential customer with a sense of relief and trust. You want to leave the customer with a sense that they matter to you and that your team is fully engaged in helping them find a solution.
- Practice ways to have the customers hang up first
Psychologically, it is better to have the client be in control of when the call disconnects. You don’t want your client to hear a dial tone or “click” before you do.
- Do your homework
With social media and more connectedness than ever, it is not difficult to do a little research before calling someone up on the phone. Browse their social media profiles to get to know them a little bit before calling them up. Are they recently engaged? Did they recently attend a concert of their favorite band? Do they have a million pictures up of their fur baby? Mention how you attended a concert of the same band last year or how your dog is your BFF. Even just pulling one item you can relate from their social media creates a chance to connect and gain trust right off the bat. However, make sure to be honest and authentic. If you hate dogs, don’t pretend to love them just to create a false sense of connection with your customer. Also, be conscientious of professional boundaries, and don’t dig too deep into their social profiles to avoid being creepy 😊
- Start with a proactive reason for your call
Instead of opening with “Did I catch you at a bad time?” (which makes you 40% less likely to be successful), start with “The reason for my call is….”. Studies suggest that starting with a proactive line like this increases your success rate on sales call 2.1x.
- Even if you haven’t had a previous interaction with the individual, tgreet your prospective client with the question “How have you been?”
One case study found that this line increased success rates on phone calls by 10%6.6 times. This shows a genuine interest in the other person’s well-being, interrupts their natural thought process to want to get you off the phone, and gives them a chance to connect with you. Read more here.
Before your next call, practice preparing ahead of time with a 7 second opening (which leaves room for only about 15 – 20 words!) Introduce yourself, catch interest, and ask them how they are doing. Write down a clear, concise way to segue from that to the greater purpose of your call. Do your research beforehand and have a list ready of different ways to connect and relate to your customer. Craft your game plan that allows your customer to hang up before you to leave them with the best experience and the greatest impression possible. As always, remember to use a sales engagement platform like Client Tether to lmanage customer engagement and automate lead nurturing. For more info on how Client Tether can help automate your sales process and customer retention, request your own personal demo here.