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So you’ve landed an amazing job, congratulations! But now you have to talk to clients on the phone? Do people really still do that? Why can’t you just text them? You can add emojis! You can add the giant smile one so they know how nice you are or the money eyes one to let them know they’re getting a great deal! If only that was the way the world actually worked. Communication (yes, verbal communication) is important; the ability to speak to someone with confidence, respect, and warmth can show clients that they can trust you and your company. So, my fellow millennials, here are ten tips to help you step up your communications game.
1 | Know your sh*t.
Before you even look at a phone (other than your cell) ask yourself all of the questions that a client might ask. What are you selling? Why should they buy it? Can they have a discount? There are many questions that could potentially trip you up, do your best to be prepared. As you get more comfortable at your job, write down some of the answers to the questions you get asked frequently so you stay consistent in your responses.
2 | Sell to everyone.
The best piece of advice I have ever been given at work is that whenever you speak to anyone you should try to sell them something. You really should. If someone is calling your business then it is because they want something; it’s your job to get them that something, even if they don’t really know what it is yet.
3 | Don’t jump the gun.
Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to call someone that you click with right off the bat. Whether they’re very excited or they just have a sweet disposition, there will be some people you speak to that genuinely make your day. Be careful. You don’t want to jump the gun and end up over-promising them just to make them happy nor do you want to oversell them and end up scaring them off.
4 | Be a friend (but not a bestie).
When you speak to someone on the phone you want to make a connection with them. Use “good morning/afternoon” and “how is your day?” with every call and make sure that you genuinely care! These are potential clients, you want them happy. But you also have to be careful not to become too friendly; they don’t need to hear about that cool bar you visited downtown where you danced on the table.
5 | Pay attention.
If you’re dealing with anyone like my mother, you’ll do a lot of waiting while she talks. You are at risk of zoning out when the person on the other end of the phone is blabbing on about something that might not seem relevant, but focus. It can be easier to sell something to someone you know. If they’re sharing part of their life with you it can better help you understand how you can be of service to them.
6 | Ask, ask, ask.
One of my biggest challenges when first speaking to clients was asking them questions. Just sitting there complacently and listening to what they had to say was so simple but when the phone call would end I would no idea what they wanted from me. I would have a million questions I should have asked them when I had them on the line! Probe your caller for more information, it’ll help you figure out exactly what they want and prevent you from sitting back and thinking “what did we just talk about?” Plus, asking questions is an amazing technique to help build a relationship with the client.
7 | Speak intentionally.
There’s nothing worse than trying to keep up with a Chatty Cathy who’s talking at a million miles an hour, except maybe someone who is screaming into the phone. Speak slowly and in a lower tone. This will make you seem calm and collected which can put clients at ease.
8 | Show them you care.
It is one thing to listen but it’s another to hear. Show your caller that you actually heard them by reiterating what they have said in a warm way – don’t just repeat them verbatim, put some effort into making it personal. It will make the caller feel special, like a real individual, not just a bag of money. This will also encourage them to elaborate on what they have said before and can help you catch any mistakes you may have made.
9 | Be grateful for their time.
Just because this is your job to speak to them does not mean it is their job to speak to you. Make sure to thank them for calling and for their time. They should feel as though their business is appreciated.
10 | Follow up.
After your initial call, make sure you follow up with them. You can do this a number of ways: email, another phone call (I know, it’s still scary, but we’re all in this together, I promise!), or in person. My recommendation would be to email them and thank them again for the chat then ask if they have any available time to meet face-to-face. It will establish a strong connection – stronger than just a voice or words on a screen.
Now, be honest: on a scale of 1-10, how nervous do actual phone calls make you?