Agent Resources

Six key tips for making effective phone calls

1. Be clear about why you're calling
Before you reach for that handset, just say to yourself, " I'm calling so-and-so to……”
If you can't finish that phrase in a couple of words, why exactly are you calling them? You don't have to have a specific objective in mind, just a clear purpose. For example, " I'm calling so-and-so to reassure them that their sale is still progressing" is perfectly legitimate.

2. Start the call politely
It's always good manners to ask someone if they're okay to talk. A lot of people who are doing something else - writing an urgent e-mail or even walking the dog - are distracted but won't say so until you have wasted ten minutes and it becomes clear they aren't paying attention to what you're saying. Asking if they are free to talk gives them a chance to say, "Just give me two minutes to send this e-mail," or, "I'm out with the dog, but I'll be home in ten minutes."

Next, asking someone how they are and the person responding, takes about 15 seconds but sets the tone for a friendly exchange and is polite. Going straight to what you want from them will make you sound desperate and will make the listener defensive.

3. Summarise to control the flow
As someone is talking, particularly if they are someone who talks a lot, jot down the key points and then you can interject with a summary of what they've been saying. This tells them that you've been listening and also that you've got it - they don't need to keep labouring the point. It also passes control of the conversation back to you, so that you can either move it onto the subject you want to address or conclude it.

4. Conclude with the next step
You want the conversation to end on a positive note, so it's good to finish up by agreeing what the next step is. It's also a good reminder to them if they have agreed earlier in the conversation to do something by a certain date.

5. If it's critical, confirm it by e-mail
It takes two minutes to send out an e-mail summarising the results of your phone call (not the content of the call). If you're worried that the client will think that you are being legalistic or will worry that you don't trust them, tell them it's just a reminder to yourself of what was said. If the client doesn't challenge the email, you have some written evidence if there is a dispute in the future. If they do challenge, it's even more important to get an agreed version in writing.

6. If you don’t want to return a call
If you don’t want to talk to someone, but feel you have to return their call, apparently 12:45 is the time you’re most likely to find them at lunch. Call them on their desk phone and don’t forget to say how sorry you are that you missed them.

Source: Nethouseprices, 01/10/17

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