Using the telephone as an effective sales and customer service tool begins before you ever pick up the receiver to answer the telephone or make an appointment or sales call. When you reach for a ringing telephone, you need to put a smile on our faces and then greet people with the same enthusiasm you'd show them in-person. People can hear a smile, can't they? You also need to have music in your voices and an attitude that conveys to a caller that he or she is your top priority. The impression you create on the telephone can help you stand out from other organization If you don't stand out, you lose your competitive edge.
Practice these telephone-answering techniques that can help you stand apart from others:
1. Say," Good morning or good afternoon." (Use these words to trigger a smile)
2. Sincerely thank the prospect, customer or client for calling.
3. Identify your institution, company or firm.
4. Identify yourself. (This is Jon Jeffers)
5. Ask, "May I help you?" or "How may I direct your call?"
6. Listen carefully to the caller's request without interrupting.
How you answer your telephone, creates either a negative or positive impression in the mind of a caller. What you do and say after the first impression is important also. For example, if callers must be placed on hold, give them a choice. Say: "I need to leave the line for a few minutes to check that information, would you like to hold or may I take your number and call you back?"
Callers, who are put on hold, should be checked with every 20 to 30 seconds. High quality service means you never keep people in the dark wondering whether or not they have been forgotten in a Musak limbo. If callers are your most important priority, you must always treat them as such. In our workshops we use an exercise to illustrate how callers feel about being put on hold. In the exercise we ask participants to close their eyes and raise their hands at the end of two minutes. Workshop participant's hands usually go up at about 27 seconds and most of their hands are raised before a minute and a half has passed. Two minutes on hold is the same as five minutes in the mind of a caller.
When a call must be transferred, make certain to identify the person and the extension that you are transferring to. Say: "Tim Connor is at extension 543. I will transfer you and stay on the line until he answers." When the employee answers, introduce the caller and his need "Tim, I have Mrs. Inez Stewart on the line. She would like to discuss?."
Ending your call properly is important, too. Always thank the caller or in some way affirm the caller's value to you and your organization. Say: "I'm glad I could help you, Mr. Johnson"; or "Call again anytime, Mr. Johnson"; or "It's always good to talk with you, Mr. Jones." Then let the caller hang up first. To obtain a comprehensive manual on using the telephone effectively check out TeleSales & TeleService at: http://www.TheSellingEdge.com/manual3.htm
VIRDEN THORNTON is the founder and President of The $elling Edge?, Inc. a firm specializing in sales, customer relations, and management training and development. Clients have included Sears Optical, Eastman Kodak, IBM, Deloitte & Touch?, Bank One, Jefferson Pilot, and Wal-Mart to name a few. Virden is the author of Prospecting: The Key To Sales Success and the best selling Building & Closing the Sale, Fifty-Minute series books and Close That Sale, a video/audio tape series published by the Thompson Learning, Crisp Learning division. He has also authored a Self-Directed Learning series of sales, coaching & team development, telemarketing, and personal productivity training guides. Check them out at: http://www.TheSellingEdge.com/Book1.htm
Virden teaches for the Center For Professional Development, Texas Tech University at Lubbock, Texas and in the School Of Entrepreneurship, J. Willard And Alice S. Marriott School Of Management at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. You can contact Virden at: Virden@TheSellingEdge.com. or learn more about him at: http://TheSellingEdge.com