The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 25, 2016 • Issue 16:04:02
Brush up your phone manners
Whether you're responding to a phone call from one of your merchant customers, cold calling or following up after an in-person presentation, it's essential to conduct yourself as a professional. Yet it's easy to inadvertently overlook some essentials of doing business by phone.
In Good Selling!SM: The Basics, Paul H. Green said that courtesy pays and simple actions can ingratiate you to a prospect or screener. Certain things such as snacking while on the phone should be no-brainers, but other actions can be just as irksome to folks on the other end of the line.
Here are four recommendations Green made:
- Do business from your home only if no noise from family or roommates will interrupt you. This could be a spouse entering your office to talk about family matters, or it could be children playing or dogs barking nearby, for example.
- When in the middle of a phone conversation, do not accept incoming calls. This is especially important if you are the person who placed the call, but it is common courtesy to finish one conversation before jumping into another.
- Let someone know if you're in transit and conversing via a mobile phone. Transmission quality for cell phones has improved dramatically over the years, but calls still experience static or become dropped due to lack of carrier coverage or other issues. A person informed of the situation will be less likely to become irritated by it.
- Avoid putting callers on speakerphone, but when you must, let them know you are doing so, and why. Sometimes the speaker function diminishes a call's quality. It can also make people feel put on the spot and feel less important than whatever you are doing that prohibits you from holding your phone to your ear.
Also, use good diction. If you slur your words or tend to speak quickly, consider working with a speech therapist so you can articulate clearly.
Tips from a coach
Barbara Pachter, a career coach, offers additional tips for proper phone-related behavior in her book The Essentials of Business Etiquette. Some of these follow:
- Be thoughtful during meetings. Do not answer your landline or your mobile phone when in a meeting. Do turn your mobile's ringer off (vibrate is OK), and do not put it on the table.
- Answer in a professional manner. When you answer the phone, announce your full name, not just your first name or only your last name. Couple your name with a warm hello, good morning or good afternoon, or other appropriate, welcoming words.
- Choose an unobtrusive ring tone. It's important to remember that music can evoke positive and negative emotions, and not everyone shares your personal taste.
Get your volume right. Some folks, especially when excited, need to be reminded to speak in a quiet, conversational tone.
- Do not leave long-winded voicemails. Your clients and prospects are busy. Don't waste their time with details you'll probably have to repeat later anyway. Provide your name, a succinct message about why you called and your phone number. Say the numbers slowly and speak clearly.
If you're succeeding in the competitive payments arena, your phone manners are likely already good. Just brush up your weak spots to enhance your results.
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