Phone Strategies that Actually Work

Phone Strategies that Actually Work for Professionals

Using a telephone strategically is something that every professional will acknowledge.  However, many professionals quite understandably find it challenging to do or say anything that sounds ‘salesy’ or pushy.  With this in mind, let’s look at ways any professional can become more strategic immediately without feeling uncomfortable - following a few simple ideas.  There are three types of ‘business phone call’ conversation.  The Landline, the Mobile and the Skype Call.  Each have their merits and challenges.

The Landline Conversation

  • Stable signal
  • Getting cut off is virtually impossible
  • Clarity of conversation, volume level etc - is normally good
  • Background noise negligible or absent
  • Location to work from is more business like e.g. a desk or table to work from
  • Convenience factor is questionable

The Mobile Phone Conversation

  • Stability of signal poor
  • Getting cut off is quite possible
  • Clarity of conversation can be hit and miss
  • Background noise is again hit and miss
  • Location is normally an informal setting
  • Convenience factor is a big benefit

The Skype Conversation

  • Stability of signal  can be uncertain
  • Getting cut off is possible
  • Clarity of conversation can be hit and miss
  • Background noise is normally negligible or absent
  • Location can be formal but may vary
  • Convenience factor is questionable

So what’s the strategic significance?  The form of technology you choose to use in a business situation will have an effect on the outcome of the call where a client or prospective client is concerned.  Remember that first impressions count and to start chatting on your mobile and for it to cut out at a critical point could be signalling you are unreliable at a deeper level.

Professionals are better off choosing a landline for initial contact and the creation of rapport with a client, then using the convenience of the mobile to offer quick speedy contact thereafter when it’s needed.  Skype calls are useful if you are calling a different country, however, are you also signalling the fact that you do not wish to spend money on a landline call?  There can be many good reasons for choosing Skype when a visual element is needed, including sharing a presentation.

Using the Phone for New Business Opportunities

1. The Catch Up Call

This is about making a call to an existing client who has been rather quiet recently. Remember that when you fail to keep in touch with clients they may see it as indifference on your part, and indifference is the number one reason why clients decide to find an alternative professional advisor.

What you could do with the catch up call in order that it doesn’t seem to come completely out of the blue is to email the client the previous month, ending on “…I will make a point of giving you a quick call soon.”

When you do connect with them it should be for no particular reason.  Let them be the one to identify possible help and services and if all they do is exchange a few pleasantries, then bid them well and promise not to leave it so long next time.  If clients are compared with plants, you are simply watering the pot.  Do, however, put in your diary to call them again in 8-10 weeks and don’t leave it longer than 12.  By the way, do you contact clients to wish them for their birthdays and other special occasions?

2. The File Audit Call

This is something you should do once in 6 months, or at least annually.  It could even be done by a member of your team and is a simple “I just wanted to check that none of your details or circumstances have changed.”  It also offers a great opportunity to ask the question: ”Is there anything else we could be helping you with?”

Statistically, for every 100 clients you do this with, at least 2 pieces of business are likely to be unearthed.  More importantly, however, you are demonstrating your client care is on the ball.

3. The Social Call

The Social Call is similar to the Catch up Call.  However, its purpose is entirely of a social nature.  It could be, if appropriate, a drink or lunch invitation, more likely an event that you are holding at your offices, or another location for ‘selected clients’ perhaps.  It’s also a chance for the client to do some networking with other clients.

Call Strategies

1. The Good News

When making a call to a client using any of the three ideas above, a phrase that always gets attention and sounds intriguing is the phrase ‘good news’.  This could relate to many reasons that perhaps sound quite straight forward, but when prefaced with ‘good news’ it’s accepted entirely differently by the client.  Perhaps it’s a change to the law where the client could benefit?  Or do you offer additional support services to clients who have been with your firm for 3 years or more? (The good news is to inform the client of the fact).  The term ‘good news’ is also handy occasionally to use on a voicemail message and is more likely to make the client call you back.

2. Do you know anyone?

“Do you know anyone”’ is a cheeky concept but surprisingly successful for professional advisors.  Use it at the end of a general conversation, and most certainly consider it on Catch up and File Audit Call.  Ideally, you would be wanting to say to the client, “Would you be interested in our new ABC service?”  Instead you say, “Do you know anyone who may find our new ABC service useful?”  This allows them to simply say something like: “I’ll think about it.”   However, if the service does sound quite exciting they will be more likely thinking: “What about me?”

One caveat to this is, if it’s something really important, then simply be direct and ask them if they would find it useful themselves, otherwise it feels like you don’t think they are important enough!

 

In summary, choose a couple of these ideas and try them out. You’re likely to wonder why you’d never done so before.

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