If getting up in front of a large group and doing your elevator pitch isn’t bad enough, giving it over the phone is worse. At least in front of a group, large or small, you have some visual feedback as to whether or not it is going over well.
Add to this that many folks call you from cell phones with “CB radio” quality connections (i.e. you can’t talk unless they stop), and you have a communication challenge of the first order.
There are several suggestions I have heard over the years and some that I use that I will share with you tonight.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you never know when an important call will come in. So, ASSUME that every call that comes in might be important. Be prepared to paint on a smile and provide your cheery greeting because first auditory impressions are important. That “down in the dumps” feeling you have been struggling with all morning will come through loud and clear. No matter what is happening in your day, a cheery “Matt Bud” (it might be better if you use your own name) sets the tone of the conversation to follow. Believe it or not, others can tell if you are smiling, even over the phone, so make it a habit to smile when you pick it up. (Hey, what have you got to lose?)
Being able to go right into your pitch and doing it well requires practice. Fortunately for you there are about 50+ individuals each week on whom you can try out your 90-second elevator speech – new members of The FENG.
Okay, you don’t have to call them all, but consider that this is a friendly audience and your ability to communicate what you do to them will give you a very good sense of what you need to tweak. Anything you do a lot of, you will do better. (How about, practice makes perfect? Ever hear that one?) No matter how bad you are at the beginning, if you do 100 of these, you will soon be smooth as silk. (People will soon call you for speaking engagements!)
Sounding more forceful over the phone is easily achieved by standing up. Sitting in a chair, all relaxed, saps your perceived auditory energy. Most of us have cordless phones that allow us to walk around. Don’t be embarrassed to do so. (No one can see you anyway!) You will be pleasantly surprised what a huge difference it makes. Having a hands free headset is even better for this purpose. Don’t be afraid to broadly gesture while you are talking. Although no one can see you, just as your smile comes through, so does the drama of your physical motion.
Another thing you need to consider is the LIMITED information you want to communicate. I say limited, because one of Matt’s laws is that speech is the slowest form of communication. (This is why you don’t want to move your lips when you are reading.) You can skim and absorb a lot of information by reading, but “books on tape” are painfully slow. You will need to decide which parts of your message need to be presented and trim your stories way back so they leave a lasting impression. Short pointed stories are best.
The hardest part of telephone work is listening. If you thought picking up the signals is hard in person, doing it over the phone is worse. Has your phone pal said “uh huh” in the last minute? Does he/her have a question for you? I know you have a lot of information to transmit, but try to hear the clues in your caller’s voice and tone that tell you if the sales pitch is going well. And, remember, the purpose of a phone call is to get an appointment.
Very few, if any, sales of this nature are closed over the phone. The sale of the purchase of your services for the next piece of time has to be done in person, so keep those trial closes going and try to get an in person opportunity to present your credentials.