Executive coaching, skills development, training and consulting in high stakes communication

Making the call

Last week, I encouraged you to think differently about picking up the phone and making those important ‘cold’ calls. This week, let’s make the call!

Before you pick up the phone:

Be sure you are comfortable – standing or seated

Try saying the first sentence or two of what you plan to say over the phone out loud to yourself, in the tone you intend to use. This will warm up your voice and relax you a little.

Make sure you know who you want to contact and how to pronounce their name.

Be ready to answer the question, ‘how can I help you?’ with confidence and clarity.

Have in front of you key reminder points and any information you may need to refer to.

Ok, let’s go.

You have three to five seconds until the person at the other end of the line makes their first decision about you: do they want to carry on listening or try to get rid of you? This decision is largely based o your tone of voice.  Keep it natural, conversational, familiar but not over familiar.

Keep in mind that your time and your listener’s time is of equal value. Don’t sound overly grateful or humble. Use these three to five seconds to introduce yourself and check whether it is a good time to speak. You may have to explain why you are calling. Keep it short.  Shirt answers create the desire to hear more.

Key thing to remember – most of the time you just want to convince them to meet you.

Think of this simple formula: What + Why + Prove it

What is in it for me?

Why should I be interested?

Prove it!

You have got a few minutes at most to answer these questions for the other person, so involve them.  You can do this by referring to a need that your idea will address.  Because you have prepared well and know a little about them, you are more likely to be able to give a good reason (benefit) for the meeting.

Keep your statements short and sweet and you’ll make them ‘juicier’ and more interesting.

For example:

“Jane, I am interested in talking to you specifically about some consulting work regarding protection from Rule 123 that I am doing with other clean-tech companies.”

“oh, ok – I don’t have a lot of time, what do you want?”

“I know that your green waste business is going to be subject to some changes under Rule 123 in January next year. I have worked with other clean-tech companies like X, Y and Z and helped them prepare to minimize the costs associated with it. I’d like to meet you to discuss how I can help you.”

In the brief conversation, Jane knew what was in it for her and why she should be interested. The proof is that other companies in her industry have been involved.

At least, you want to create a desire to hear more. If Jane is rushed and want to end the call, suggest making a time to meet.

At the end of the call, follow up with a note or email whether you arranged a meeting or not. Keep it simple. Thank the person for the call and remind them of the key points, agreements or next steps that resulted from the conversation. Do it right away so that the energy and tone of your conversation is still there.

For example:

Dear Jane,

It was a pleasure speaking with you today.  Your project sounds exciting and full of promise.

As we discussed, I will be contacting you again on Wednesday of next week to follow up with Margaret.  You mentioned that by then you should know the outcome of the board meeting.

If you got a no over the phone you can still follow up with a brief, non-pushy note to say you will try again at a later date.  People can and do change their minds and circumstances change.

With the right information, preparation and attitude, making these calls can be fun and rewarding.  Get in some practice by making calls to gather information and do research.  Most people will be happy to help and will respond to your tone and style.  Always sound conversational, respectful and interesting and you’ll soon find that this kind of call holds no more fear for you than calling a friend.

Go forth!!

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