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So this article is for all those that hide behind email and hate the phone. I hope it helps. And some of the ideas will match up to the Chapter in my book “Fight the Fear”. However that just proves I know this stuff works and hopefully it will help you too.
Assumptions and Fears
One of the reasons we don’t pick up the phone is because we assume the result we be a bad one, ie;
“They won’t be interested”
“They are too busy to listen to me.”
“They probably already work with someone.”
“I don’t know what to say, and I’m going to make a mistake.”
Thus the first thing I want you to do is work out what assumptions you are making? And so often this ties in with the fears that you allow to play out in your mind. Think of the ones above. Will they really not be interested in saving money, or looking gorgeous, or earning more money? Or is it the case that it is not to do with the person at the other end of the phone that you are worried about, more over you are worried about the person making the call! Take a moment to work out what automatic thoughts you are creating (trust me this is very relevant for the phoning stage!)
Inbuilt Beliefs bullying your success?
If you have inbuilt beliefs that say this will fail and picking up the phone doesn’t work for you then what impact will that have on your ability to make successful phone calls? Just as assumptions and fears will play out in your head if you let them. So will automatic beliefs that you’ve held on to for years. I have worked with lots of people who this applies to, and the good news is that by breaking down these untrue beliefs on what results you will get, they go on to make successful calls. Yes we need the skills too, but skill is very little without the right mindset. So work out what new beliefs do you need to have in your head?
Can you hear me? (Do you want to?)
Are you really choosing the best way to communicate with your target audience by picking up the phone. I know shocking that I should suggest that you don’t phone someone right? But I know for instance for me my target audience like many forms of communication and some just don’t like the phone. Some adore Facebook Messenger. Others like email, others text, the list is getting longer every day. In fact the only thing I don’t get now adays is pidgeon! This great article by Forbes Read it here tells us that certain generations see the phone as intrusive and rude to use when you don’t know someone. And speaking with a business owner yesterday, they felt the same way as the millennials that this tends to apply to. So before you pick up the phone do what I do with clients and grab a big piece of paper and right in the middle in a circle (or a heart or a cloud if that takes your fancy!) Perfect client. Then out from that right things;
Where do they holiday?
How do they spend their evenings?
What hours do they work?
What hobbies do they have?
What matters to them?
How old are they?
Male or female or both (ever noticed how different you answer the phone to your family to your partner? In my experience my hubby can successfully get through a once a month call with his Dad in under 5 minutes, I get on the phone to the same person and I will be speaking for half an hour! To which I always get “I said what needed to be said.” Different people choose to communicate in different ways and not just male and female!
By understanding the dynamics of your perfect clients you are able to ensure that every aspect of your marketing relates to that. And it’s no different when it comes to communicating with potential clients. Remember we talked about follow up strategy in a video Watch again here.
What do I say?
Okay so we’ve finally established you should be on the phone speaking to your target audience, what are you going to talk about?
Top Tip: It’s not just a case of communicating with new customers, its also how you choose to communicate with past customers too. Would they appreciate a call, or would it annoy them? It really depends on your products and services and the way you’ve positioned your company to know what kind of clients you are attracting.
If you intend to phone them and do the full “Show me the Money” Macguire bit, then don’t. I bet right now you are thinking, “of course I wouldn’t do that” however in essence when challenged on what they were going to say most of my clients realise that what they intended to say was heavy on what they would get out of the call and light on what was in it for the recipient of the call. Get you out of the equation and put yourself in your potential clients place. What would they like to hear? What are their needs and pain? And do you ensure that is in your opening lines?
If you want to speak with someone always ask something like “Is now a good time or shall I call back at 2pm?” That way you are doing 2 things 1)respecting the fact they are busy 2)making it clear you will be calling back so we might as well agree when. Remember this is not strangers this is people you’ve already started to build a rapport and relationship with. The assumption that you are hassling them greatly impacts on your ability to get permission to speak. Qualify your right to be there.
Should I leave a message?
This is something I get asked a lot and my answer is usually “Don’t do it!” There are a good few reasons, and some of them are;
Many people don’t understand tech or are so busy they don’t reply to answerphone messages. In fact one business owner I know said “if they really wanted to speak to me they will call back.” And that’s not the first time I’ve heard that. Your pattern of a day could differ greatly to others so its important to remember this. Yes you may have called 3 times but was it the same kind of times? If you really have to leave a message ensure you know the purpose of your call (to be useful and helpful) and advise them you will put the information to them in an email and get in touch again. I do feel that you need to know the quality of your lead too. Is it someone being a Facebook Liker who likes everything and doesn’t know how to say with confidence “this it not for me” or is it a genuine lead. If it is a genuine lead then why give up on it? It also relies on you ensuring that when you got their details getting their address and email address is important too. And if you can get them to start engaging with you on social media they can feel like they know you before you even phone them and then they are looking forward to your call! (Trust me this is true for me, one lady this week said “No Mandie, we want to work with you, we feel like we know you already.” That’s your marketing taking the pain out of your phone calls right there!
Love thy gatekeeper
Who ever answers that phone give them complete respect and act as if they are the person you were aiming to speak to. Getting their name means you can do the equivalent of the light arm touch that you see at networking events that makes you seem personable and likeable and that they want the conversation to keep going. If you are not allowed to speak to the person behind the hallowed door, don’t push it. Just find out the preferred way to communicate and make sure its an ask with meaning. Not “How do I get to speak to Mrs X” but “I know Mrs X was keen to speak to us about the money we could say on X” Do you see how different the two are? Make it heavy on why its good for Mrs X to get this message and it not in the sales pile like the rest!
No is good for you
It’s a tiny word and yet so many of us fear it and hate it. (Heck my book got a whole chapter on our inability to say and our fears trapped in this two letter word and its power over our success!) Firstly sometimes no means they weren’t right for you. This is a chance to learn. It could be that if they say no in actual fact you’ve cleared some sales time for genuine clients who won’t turn into Can you Justers who sap your business success. Secondly a no is a chance to learn. May I ask what the reasons are? Remember to aim to not use sentences that start with Why. As a coach we rarely use a question that starts with why because we know that word creates guilt. Try it;
Why did you do that?
What are the reasons that you did that?
(These also work on teenagers!)
By understanding why someone is not interested you can understand if it is was you, the time of year (we are too busy right now!) or them. These tell you if you should call them back in 6 months time or look for your perfect client elsewhere.
And last but definitely not least…
No does not mean no for good. Just because someone already has a supplier if you don’t phone back and have a great follow up strategy that keeps in touch, when that supplier lets them down they won’t be able to remember you. On the other hand if you are building a relationship with that person and that company then timing can be everything. I’ve had people request to work with me after 9 years! It was because I kept in touch in a way that suited my clients that I gained the business. So remember a no today does not mean a no tomorrow!
And just to over deliver on this article;
Where do you make your calls. I’m a pacer with a pad and pencil half way around the route! That way as they say relevant phrases or words I can make a note and ensure I use them in my conversation back to them. This is again an over the phone way of doing what we do face to face. It’s mirroring. That is why when a new client says they’d like to work on the phone with me, so they can hide a bit. I always tell them if anything you tell me more over the phone between your words than you do in person, because in person we are on guard for these things! So how can you use their words powerfully to help you get the results you want. And consider where you make your calls. Are you out of breath? Are you relaxed? Is the lighting good? Are you distracted by a pile of invoices or a pile of washing? Get rid of distractions and get your head in the game. And if all else fails remember this (and I have used this on a client and then declared that I was always only joking and would never do it!) If I was to say to you that if you don’t make phone calls and bring in new business you were going to die by the end of the day, would you do it? You see it’s not that you can’t do it, its just you’ve not added a strong enough reason why!