The call that lost you the sale … things we forget!

Telephone Etiquette.

So, you are on a call and it is one of the most important you have had to make in a while.  In fact, your business is hanging on a thread for a positive outcome to this ‘one’ conversation.  You’ve planned everything just so, produced the most wonderful proposal, offered a good price and things are looking great!   The call finished and two hours later you get the result.  The sales pitch you thought you had nailed had indeed gone sour.  You’re tearing your hair out, spitting feathers, how could that be possible?  The client was so positive!  He wanted to associate with our company! I was great!  That call was the best and I couldn’t have done anything better!

Okay, newsflash …… your telephone manner lost you the sale.  You could have done better. It’s as simple as that!

How many of you have read this far and thought, ‘yeah right, you wouldn’t lose a sale just because of your telephone manner’.  You are so wrong. Maybe you should read on …

Surroundings – Do you ever consider where you are when you are talking on the phone or internet? Do you have a clear reception on your mobile?  Are you in a quiet place, with no noise and no distractions? Or, are you outside with traffic, people or road works in the background?  Is your caller competing with you or the noise around you?  Maybe you are in your office, which happens to be at home.  No problem there, though you do have young children who rightly have the freedom of the home.  You take a call and the caller hears a child calling ‘mummy, daddy!’  You respond not even considering you are on a business call. What does that say about you and your business? Maybe you have a baby crying in the background, or the children are on school holidays and they have their friends around, all having fun?  Where’s your full focus? On that call 100%, or is half of you listening to what’s going on in the background?  It’s so easily done.  Even in an office with other staff, there could be a birthday celebration happening at another desk, laughter, cheers etc and where are you? With the caller, or your team mates having a good time?  I have been on a call where that exact thing happened and I could hear, yes, hear that the person I was speaking to was not with me but with his colleagues.  I ended my call!

Solution – If you are making calls or receiving them, make sure you are in a quiet place where there are no distractions and you can give your caller your undivided attention.  They are the most important person in that moment.  If you are unable to provide this to your caller, maybe offer an apology and a convenient, quieter time for a call back.

Activity – So what are you doing whilst on a call?  You’ve been working flat out for the past two hours.  You’re gasping for a cuppa, missed breakfast and need a loo break but that important call you have been waiting for has just come in.  Great! You take the call!   In the mean time, how wonderful, your colleague has made you a cuppa and brought you a snack too.  How kind, they can see you are really busy.

You’ve been chatting for a few minutes and it’s ok, the caller is talking.  You are listening intently (or are you?).  You see the biscuit, your stomach is shouting to you ‘feed me’ and you think you have time to take a quick bite.  You may not think you are munching down the ear of that person, but believe me, with the sensitive technology we use now, you would be amazed at what can be heard. Go on, have a sip of coffee too, they won’t hear.  Oh believe me, they sure do!

Now, I was taught manners.  Offer your bus seat to the elders or less able.  Say please and thank you.  Elbows off the table and yes, here I go, eat with your mouth closed! What does this have to do with your call?  Well come on, put yourself in the callers position.  You can hear the slurping of a drink and slapping those chops whilst chomping on food, most off putting. You get the picture?   Your focus has been diverted again, away from the caller.

Ok, let’s move on.  How many of you get a text or an email come in while you are on a call and you just can’t wait to see the content?  I thought so… oops, you missed a split second of what the caller just said.  That’s ok, you’ll be able to pick up on it from the conversation, yes?  No.  Do you think the caller is stupid?  In most cases they can hear when you are not focused on them.

Solution – Leave your mobile switched off or muted and out of eye shot.  Avoid the computer screen.   Focus your full attention on your caller.

Do not eat or drink whilst on a call.  Switch your phone over to a colleague to answer or put your calls on hold for five minutes.

Maybe you think the above points are pretty basic and who really takes any notice?  The thing is though, your call is, if not thefront window, certainly a window in to your business. If you are not really worried about your call etiquette, maybe you should consider a dedicated team of people who focus on good call skills.

So, you are on a call and it is one of the most important you have had to make in a while.  In fact, your business is hanging on a thread for a positive outcome to this ‘one’ conversation.  You’ve planned everything just so, produced the most wonderful proposal, offered a good price and things are looking great!   The call finished and two hours later you get the result.  The sales pitch you thought you had nailed had indeed gone sour.  You’re tearing your hair out, spitting feathers, how could that be possible?  The client was so positive!  He wanted to associate with our company! I was great!  That call was the best and I couldn’t have done anything better!

Okay, newsflash …… your telephone manner lost you the sale.  You could have done better. It’s as simple as that!

How many of you have read this far and thought, ‘yeah right, you wouldn’t lose a sale just because of your telephone manner’.  You are so wrong. Maybe you should read on …

Surroundings – Do you ever consider where you are when you are talking on the phone or internet? Do you have a clear reception on your mobile?  Are you in a quiet place, with no noise and no distractions? Or, are you outside with traffic, people or road works in the background?  Is your caller competing with you or the noise around you?  Maybe you are in your office, which happens to be at home.  No problem there, though you do have young children who rightly have the freedom of the home.  You take a call and the caller hears a child calling ‘mummy, daddy!’  You respond not even considering you are on a business call. What does that say about you and your business? Maybe you have a baby crying in the background, or the children are on school holidays and they have their friends around, all having fun?  Where’s your full focus? On that call 100%, or is half of you listening to what’s going on in the background?  It’s so easily done.  Even in an office with other staff, there could be a birthday celebration happening at another desk, laughter, cheers etc and where are you? With the caller, or your team mates having a good time?  I have been on a call where that exact thing happened and I could hear, yes, hear that the person I was speaking to was not with me but with his colleagues.  I ended my call!

Solution – If you are making calls or receiving them, make sure you are in a quiet place where there are no distractions and you can give your caller your undivided attention.  They are the most important person in that moment.  If you are unable to provide this to your caller, maybe offer an apology and a convenient, quieter time for a call back.

Activity – So what are you doing whilst on a call?  You’ve been working flat out for the past two hours.  You’re gasping for a cuppa, missed breakfast and need a loo break but that important call you have been waiting for has just come in.  Great! You take the call!   In the mean time, how wonderful, your colleague has made you a cuppa and brought you a snack too.  How kind, they can see you are really busy.

You’ve been chatting for a few minutes and it’s ok, the caller is talking.  You are listening intently (or are you?).  You see the biscuit, your stomach is shouting to you ‘feed me’ and you think you have time to take a quick bite.  You may not think you are munching down the ear of that person, but believe me, with the sensitive technology we use now, you would be amazed at what can be heard. Go on, have a sip of coffee too, they won’t hear.  Oh believe me, they sure do!

Now, I was taught manners.  Offer your bus seat to the elders or less able.  Say please and thank you.  Elbows off the table and yes, here I go, eat with your mouth closed! What does this have to do with your call?  Well come on, put yourself in the callers position.  You can hear the slurping of a drink and slapping those chops whilst chomping on food, most off putting. You get the picture?   Your focus has been diverted again, away from the caller.

Ok, let’s move on.  How many of you get a text or an email come in while you are on a call and you just can’t wait to see the content?  I thought so… oops, you missed a split second of what the caller just said.  That’s ok, you’ll be able to pick up on it from the conversation, yes?  No.  Do you think the caller is stupid?  In most cases they can hear when you are not focused on them.

Solution – Leave your mobile switched off or muted and out of eye shot.  Avoid the computer screen.   Focus your full attention on your caller.

Do not eat or drink whilst on a call.  Switch your phone over to a colleague to answer or put your calls on hold for five minutes.

Maybe you think the above points are pretty basic and who really takes any notice?  The thing is though, your call is, if not the front window, certainly a window in to your business. If you are not really worried about your call etiquette, maybe you should consider a dedicated team of people who focus on good call skills.

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Jacky Workman

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The call that lost you the sale … things we forget!
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