This is some further commentary to Matt’s editorial entitled “Telephone Sales”.
Matt is dead on the mark that you are “on” from the first minute that you pick up the phone to answer it. It is all about posture, and smiling, and energy; and there is one more piece of advice that I would add: If someone has called you (yay!), then there is something they need or want.
When Matt talked about listening, it is more than just listening for verbal responses to what you are saying. ASK QUESTIONS and listen for the answers. Try to find out, in every call, what is motivating the other person to reach out to you. Sure, sometimes there is an obvious answer – you have reached out networking and they are returning the call, or a recruiter is calling about a position that looks like a fit. But that is the surface need, the symptom. They have a deeper need to fill – try to find out what that is and how you can help.
Make it a game: What is your success rate at figuring out the real need of your callers?
And then – when you figure it out – do something about it! Find creative ways to help them that far exceeds the expectations they had for their call with you. A couple of examples:
If it’s someone responding to you reaching out to network, and because you’ve asked penetrating questions, you’ve made this call about THEM – listen for how you can direct business their way, or link them to a reliable source of information.
If it’s someone responding to your resume submission, or has been referred to you as a potential candidate, and because you’ve asked penetrating questions, you’ve made this call about THEM – listen for the requirements if you don’t fit them, and let them know you will look through your network to see who else might be a good fit. Listen to find out if there are other jobs they need to fill, and think about your network and how you can supply those connections.
These are just a couple of suggestions, but I have found that finding out what I can do to really get at the needs of those with whom you’re communicating (in this case, by phone, but also in any one-on-one meeting) … I need to LISTEN.
I don’t have 100% success rate at figuring out the others’ needs – but I’m working on improving it! And as a result, far more of these calls turn into beneficial relationships and (gasp) sometimes even friendships. Networking is all about building a solid set of friendships – two-way, mutually enlightening friendships. Start the effort with the very first phone call. If this isn’t a person for you, you’ll know quickly. If it is – why not take the lead on giving. (I’ll comment another time on creative ways to figure out how to identify something meaningful to give.)
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