The telephone is effective when used efficiently, sparingly, and within the framework of a plan. This list includes some tested guidelines for making the phone a tool that works best for you!
1. Know the purpose of your call.
Most of us talk on the phone too long. Have the purpose of your call clearly in mind before dialing. If helpful, write down a "statement of purpose", together with 3 main points you want to make on a scratch pad prior to dialing. Then "go for it"!
2. Know the audience you are calling.
Unless you're conducting "cold calling" for marketing or polling research, you probably know something about your "audience" on the other end. Think of the needs of the person/people you are calling. Then revise your "statement of purpose" accordingly prior to making the call.
3. Start off right!
State your purpose at the outset, and always ask if it is a good time for the other person to talk. If not, set a specific time to call back.
4. Use names whenever possible.
Identify yourself at the outset of each call. Spell it out, or sound it out, if necessary (e.g. I always tell people "My last name is Vuocolo; Vuh-co-lo; think "Coca-Cola!"). Establish the other person's name early in the conversation, and use it often throughout the call!
5. Pay attention and be aware of your tone.
Ask open-ended questions that invite response. Give the conversation your undivided attention - don't be tempted to do two or three things at once and expect it to be a productive call. Smile! This helps to make your voice sound friendly. If you're angry or anxious - put off the call until a later time, unless it's an absolute necessity to conduct it now.
6. Listen carefully.
Pay attention to the first words spoken by the person called. You can learn a lot in the first few seconds by listening carefully. Did you catch the person eating, arguing, gardening or partying? Decide whether to proceed with the call or to call back, depending upon what you hear in the background of the call. It's better to arrange to call back another time than to interrupt - and you'll probably get a better audience!
7. Avoid initiating major business, if possible.
Always save the most important business to be conducted in person, if possible. If not, make a careful transition from introduction to purpose of the call. Remember that a ringing phone virtually always interrupts the party being called - so give them time to adjust before hitting them with something major.
8. Avoid confrontation.
If you have bad news, or a difficult issue to discuss with someone, don't do it by phone unless it's the only way.
9. Be assertive - not aggressive!
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