I’ve had plenty of sales associates (even a sales manager) tell me, “I do better selling face-to-face, it’s hard for me to connect with people over the phone or by email.” The problem is that customers aren’t shopping face-to-face, they’re shopping online, and the primary forms of communication during the “shopping phase” are email and phone. It is critical you become great at communicating by email and especially over the phone.

It is amazing what happens when you record and listen to your phone calls. Once you get over the initial shock of how weird your own voice sounds, you can start to dissect the conversation and pinpoint ways to improve your delivery.

The first step, of course, is to take the time to record yourself talking with a customer. Ask others whom you trust to analyze it with you to constantly improve your methods. Also, be sure to record every message you leave. You will hone your phone skills as you do this. Remember, most messages are relayed through non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions, posture, etc, when you speak on the phone, you are relying solely on your verbal communication. It is imperative that you are not focusing on what you should say next but how you will say it. The way you can overcome this is by memorizing proven scripts that will help you speak effectively on the phone.

In addition to memorizing and utilizing scripts, here are some excellent tips that lead to better phone communication:

• Maintain good posture.
• Smile when you talk – it comes through on the phone.
• Slow down your speech.
• Listen to the customer – do not interrupt.
• Ask multiple and engaging questions.
• Prepare in advance.

In addition to recording your calls, I think it is essential to role play and practice in front of the sales team. Many sales managers are already doing this for the traditional phase of the sales process, but what about making calls in front of the group? It’s not that bad once you get the hang of it. Here is Grant making a call back to a prospect in front of his team. He does a fantastic job.

Sales managers – if you are worried about your staff not recording their calls – do it for them. Use a service like Callsource or Whoscalling to record, track answer rates and use the results for training.

Image used under Creative Commons from Leo Reynolds

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