Monday, February 14, 2011

Free Business Advice: Telephone Tips

How many of you hang up the moment the person on the other end of the phone begins to sound like a telemarketer?  How many of you use either Caller ID or your answering machine to screen your calls for the purpose of avoiding telemarketers?  How many of you have to make phone calls for your job and just hate it when the person on the other end of the phone hangs up on YOU?  (Or worse, gets nasty or verbally abusive?)

Well kids, I’m happy to report that there are methods and ways of using the telephone to your advantage so that you aren’t hung up on during those first few seconds.  There are also ways to GUARANTEE the other person will hang up on you.  The fellow who prompted this article provides me with a perfect example. 

The name of my businesses is Faulkner Education Services.  One day, I answered the phone, “Good morning, Faulkner Education.”  The caller asked, “Is Mr. Faulkner in?”  Well, since I’m Mrs. Faulkner—and Mr. Faulkner has absolutely nothing to do with my business other than being very happy it earns income—I replied, “There is no Mr. Faulkner.”  What do you think the caller did?  Yep, he hung up in embarrassment.

When calling a business, do NOT expect the person you’re calling to be of a specific gender.  Neither should you assume the receptionist will put you right through to the “owner” or someone else when you ask for the person by title instead of name.  In fact, you SHOULD assume the call WON’T go through if you do that.  Why?  Because you just signaled that you don’t know the person you’re calling and you’re either a sales person or (worse) a telemarketer.  No one wants to talk to sales people or telemarketers and the receptionist has been instructed not to put those types of calls through.  Regardless of how badly you want to speak to your prospect, the receptionist doesn’t really care.  She works for them, not you.

Here are some tips to avoid that conundrum and a few others:
·         Check out the R.L. Polk Directory (it’s in the reference section of the library and can be purchased directly from that company); it includes certain business information along with the business listing—usually the owner’s name and the number of employees.
·         Call in advance to ask for the name of the owner.  Have a legitimate reason for wanting the info—no lying—in case you’re asked the reason for your request.  (You might want to have a co-worker--or your teenager--call on your behalf to avoid the receptionist remembering your voice when you make your call.)
·         Know what you’re going to say, but don’t sound like you’re reading a script!  Sales people/telemarketers often use scripts; good salespeople/telemarketers don’t sound like they’re using scripts.  The key to success in this regard is rehearsal:  repeat what you’re going to say over and over so that it comes naturally and—if you don’t repeat the script precisely—you’re comfortable enough to ad lib.
·         The first thing you should ask when you reach the party with whom you want to speak is, “Have I called at a good time?”  Telemarketers and people with lousy phone skills never ask that question.  It’s a sign of respect and signals that you care about the person you called—even if you don’t know her/him.  If s/he says it’s not a good time, apologize and ask when would be a good time for your return call.  Nine times out of ten, you’ll get that information and will have a pleasant phone call when you reach the person.

Care to share any of your telephone tips?

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