Think about how you answer your phone on the job. Does it sound like you are at home ? Do you know if the call is an internal person or an external caller? Perhaps it’s a hot prospect calling you ready to buy?
How you answer the phone creates a very important impression with your caller. Being too casual, guarded, unfriendly or mysterious in your words and tone of voice may be off-putting to someone who is ready to buy from you.
Read this real-life example of my networking friend Jill:
I’ve just bought a new house and need to do a little remodeling and repair before we move in. I was working off craigslist and the little town newspaper to find a new dog walker and a cleaning service. I also called a guy who cleans upholstery as a side business, so I can get the furniture cleaned before the move.
What shocks me is that when I call the number that is listed, the person who picks up does not identify himself/herself, and they barely are nice. I get a weak, “Hello.” For a second, I think I misdialed! Then, I have to ask them all the questions. Not one of them has a line ready to hook me in as a customer.
Ten minutes ago, I called a cleaning service. I started firing off questions at her. Then, I said, “Why don’t you tell me about your business, so I don’t have to ask you a hundred questions.”
My feeling is that they should answer the phone at a bare minimum like, “Hello, this is Kelly.” Or, if it’s a business, for heaven’s sake, say, “Thank you for calling Happy Home Cleaning Services. This is Kelly.”
I find this almost unbelievable. When I call, I am 95% ready for them to close me as new business.
Kathy, help them! These are obviously people who want to make money. They’re advertising and most have web sites. What is wrong with this picture? – Jill, an exasterated buyer
So how should you answer the phone?
I believe that good telephone etiquette should be practiced both at home and at work. When you pick up a ringing phone, your job is to identify yourself and create a positive, receptive environment for the conversation (I guess that’s why they call it a receiver). The callers job is to identify themselves and make it very clear very quickly as to what they are looking for (i.e., don’t waste my time, make me guess what you want or try to trick me into buying anything)
The same goes for your voice mail message that you’ve recorded and probably forgotten all about. (you rarely call yourself and leave messages, I know). You want your voice and message to sound good and professional.
No short-cuts or abbreviations
I recommend that you say the name of your company (no abbreviations or acronyms). Short-cut codes for the name of your department, also doesn’t cut it. You’ll get maximum brand impact if you say the full name of your company and title.
Lastly, think of yourself as being in service of other people. When that phone rings, you should be thinking of ways in which you can answer their questions, solve their problems, and if appropriate, take their order. Use a positive vocal tone that communicates that helpful intention as well.
I realize that the telephone can often be an interruption and a distraction. Don’t let yourself pick it up until you are in the right frame of mind and body. When you answer a ringing phone, be your best self and be ready to do business. Someone may be very ready to buy from you!
Don’t create a new sales objection
You work hard to market your products /services and yourself. Don’t let something as simple as how you answer the telephone create a new sales objection. Practice answering your business telephone more professionally, every time!
Your Networking Goal for the Week
Practice answering your telephone this week more consciously. Prepare yourself for a few seconds before you pick up the telephone. Have an upbeat voice and identify yourself when you answer (name and company) Finish your greeting with an open-ended question of service “How can I help you?” or “How can I be of service to you?” or “What can I help you with today?”
It is also high time to re-record your voice mail message greeting. Be sure to include your name, company or brand, alternative contact information where they can reach you. Replace the expected “Have a nice day” with something more surprising that will make your caller smile. I like to use “Have a motivated day.”