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Common Questions and Answers
Have you heard yourself saying, “I am so sick of making calls, leaving voice mails and not getting anyone to return my phone calls!” Have you ever found yourself wondering, “Why don’t they call me back?” “Am I being avoided?” “Am I being too PUSHY?”
Reaching out to your customers on a regular basis is simply a good practice. Befriending the phone is one of the best ways to build your business, and master your conversational skills to develop relationships.
Equally important to deciding whom to call, what to say and when– is to put yourself in the right frame of mind, and manage your expectations for reasonable results. In the absence of preparation, your sessions might feel tedious, painful and unproductive, like having a tooth pulled. Until I wrapped my head around how my phone calls were landing, and began to see each call as an opportunity to WOW my customers with my standard of dedication to service, the phone to me was King Kong: heavy and intimidating.
Most sales professionals do not keep enough regular contact with their customers or clients. This action is a way to set you apart. Your level of service is how you ultimately distinguish yourself between you and fellow entrepreneurs, sales professionals, and direct sellers.
The phone has changed.
It is said that upwards of 85% of outbound phone calls go to voice mail today. This means that if you find yourself expecting to receive a return call, as if you were calling a friend, you will end up routinely disappointed. It is important to understand this upfront, as failure to do so might result in a vicious cycle of feeling defeated, which consequently will derail your desire to enthusiastically make phoning a regular part of your business practice.
This means that if you do get one, you can be pleasantly surprised. On the whole, however, people today do not return calls like they used to. If you are calling someone who works in corporate America, many times it was not until the end of the day that one is able to check their voice mail. I recall my era in that role, and the volume of meetings, tasks, and ad hoc items prevented a steady attention to my phone.
Make it a point to call them again. When you leave a message that asks someone to return your call, you have inadvertently just made yourself an item on their already overflowing TO DO LIST. Reaching the contact is your responsibility and your priority. Yes, leave your phone number as a courtesy, however, let your contact know that you will try to reach them again. When you do this be sure to state when you will try back, along with a short, compelling reason as to why you wish to speak. It could be that you have exciting news to share about what is being offered this month or to update them on a new product release. Do not use this air time to try and sell, book or recruit. Indicate if the reason you are calling is time-sensitive and give your deadline. (I need to touch base with you by Thursday…)
Today in our technologically tethered world, if you dial a number and hang up without leaving a message, there is a good chance the person can identify your number. This person who might be screening their calls, or setting next to their phone and is using voicemail for the peace of some uninterrupted work time. Regardless of their reason for not picking up, make it your practice to always leave a brief, motivating message — indicating you have something of value or newsworthy to offer.
Most of the time, people will respect you for providing great customer care. If you have left several voice messages and wonder if your efforts are being appreciated, give the recipient an opportunity to ‘opt out’. This exit strategy yields the strongest response. “Hi Sue, this is Barb from My Sales Tactic, — making my customer care calls. We missed each other again! I will keep trying until we finally connect unless you prefer that I don’t. Please let me know and I will be respectful.” If you don’t hear back, let some time and space go by before your next attempt.
Use permission-based phone follow up. Always end each interaction with your prospect by saying, “May I contact you again when there is something new?”
Each time your customer or prospect hears your voice directly; you are re-positioning yourself at the top of their mind, and delivering a memorable standard of personal service. When you remain at the top of the mind, your chances of meeting your customer’s needs and wants will increase. These service-minded habits will help you develop a mutually beneficially relationship where your contacts prioritize reaching you when they are ready!
When you STOP making these five common telephone traps, you will START to realize your best opportunities are within your control.
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