Business phone call is a fast and effective way to generate leads, negotiate a deal or acquire a business partner. Whether you’re a business owner or a regular employee, you absolutely need to know how to make effective business calls. Being polite is not nearly enough. Read on to discover how to use phone calls to advance your business and build a stellar reputation!
- Phone etiquette for business calls
- Types of sales calls
- How to make a successful phone call
- Preparation work before a call
- How to talk with a potential business partner or customer
Phone etiquette for business calls
When calling a potential customer, investor or business partner, it’s essential to follow phone etiquette rules. This will help you build trust with your interlocutor and achieve your goal. Phone etiquette serves a number of purposes. Among other things, it allows you to:
- make a good first impression. You may only get one chance at making some business calls. That’s why you need to put effort into leaving a good impression on the other party.
- showcase your professionalism. During a phone call, you’re representing not only yourself but also your company. Your interlocutor will inevitably associate what you say and how you say it with your business.
- build loyalty. Show that you appreciate and respect the person you’re talking to. This increases your chances of getting what you want out of the conversation.
Types of sales calls
Sales calls pursue commercial purposes. Sales calls fall into 4 main types based on your current relationship with the interlocutor. Let’s examine them all one by one.
1. Cold calls
When you’re making a cold call, you’re contacting a person that you’ve never talked to before and that isn’t expecting your call. Your goal is to tell them about your company, find out the person’s pain points, and convince them that your product or service can fix their problems.
2. Warm calls
When you’re making a warm call, you’re contacting a person that you’ve already talked to online or met offline. Maybe you’ve met at an industry event, chatted in a messenger, exchanged emails, etc. Your goal here is to convert your interlocutor into a lead.
3. Negotiation call
Negotiation call is a planned call which serves to discuss the terms of a future deal.
4. Follow-up call
Follow-up call serves to make sure that nothing is stopping the potential customer from making a purchase (or, in case with a potential business partner, from signing the deal). A follow-up call aims to boost loyalty and nudge the person towards the desired action.
How to make a successful phone call
However hard you may try to follow the etiquette rules, it won’t help if your interlocutor keeps hearing laughter, traffic and other noises on your end of the line. To avoid this, be sure to think about every minor detail beforehand.
Find a quiet place
Ideally, you should be making important business calls in a conference hall or dedicated room where no one will disturb you. If you don’t have a spare room to go to, ask your colleagues to keep silent while you’re on the phone.
Consider time zones
If your interlocutor lives abroad, you need to call them during their working hours. By calling at a random time, you risk waking them up or disturbing them during lunch. Also, make sure your phone call doesn’t fall on your business partner’s day-off.
Don’t use speakerphones
This may affect the sound quality and reduce your ability to concentrate, especially if there is noise in the background.
Manage incoming calls wisely
Íf you’re taking a lot of business calls, make sure your customers and business partners can contact you without any hassle. For example, toll-free phone numbers enable you to easily manage any amount of incoming calls at any moment. Also, a call distributor may be helpful. These smart solutions are a great way to solidify your reputation, improve your brand image, and boost customer satisfaction.
Preparation work before a call
Spontaneous calls are only acceptable with your family and friends. When it comes to business calls, they require a great deal of preparation. Let’s see some of the life hacks that you don’t want to ignore when prepping for an important call.
Determine your goal
“One call, one goal”, this is the fundamental rule when it comes to business phone calls. Determine the goal that you want to achieve (move a customer towards a purchase, elaborate the terms of a deal, offer collaboration, etc.) and stick with it throughout the conversation.
Make a roadmap
To be able to keep to the point during the call, you need to create a roadmap for your call. Write down the event dates, bullet points for a speech, key terms of a promotion offer. etc. By having vital information handy, you’ll be feeling more focused and confident.
Learn more about your interlocutor
If the person you’re calling is your potential business partner or investor, check their LinkedIn account to learn more about them and their business activities. You can use this information to start a conversation. If it’s a potential customer, learn about their interests, unmet needs, and pain points.
By showing your interlocutor that you’ve put effort into learning their background and needs, you’ll be able to win their trust.
How to talk with a potential business partner or customer
Be polite but not too friendly. Focus on your goal but avoid being too pushy. Be optimistic but not too cheerful. It’s tricky, right? We’ve put together a few useful tips for making a business phone call a success.
Start any business call by introducing yourself, even if you’ve arranged a call beforehand. After a greeting, say your first and last name, as well as the company you’re with. The other party shouldn’t be guessing who you’re and why you’re calling.
Make it personal
Initiating a conversation with a sales offer is a big “no-no”. Small talk is a great way to pave the way for a business relationship and emotionally connect with your interlocutor. Maybe you and them went to the same university or met before at a conference? Or maybe you’ve read the book they wrote? Don’t overdo it with small talk, though. One minute for a warm-up is more than enough.
Tell why you’re calling
Beating around the bush is not a good strategy when it comes to business calls. Following a short small-talk, get straight to the point by saying “I’m calling because I’m looking for a business partner/I have an offer that may interest you/I want to tell you about our special promotion”. Your interlocutor has a right to know what you want from them.
Stick with the script that you’ve prepared. Don’t deviate from the topic. Lay out your ideas in a logical and coherent way. As you’re speaking, check with the person to make sure they’re following you.
Speak clearly and legibly
An important thing to remember is that your interlocutor can’t see your face, gestures, smile, etc. Your voice is the only thing that connects you and the person you’re talking to. Work on your intonation and manner of speaking. Don’t talk too fast. Don’t raise your voice. Speak in a calm and legible voice.
Use proper language
During a business call, you don’t want to use sophisticated professional terms that the other party may not be familiar with. Slang and swear words are a taboo as well. Stick with neutral vocabulary. Be careful with expressing your judgments unless you want to hurt your interlocutor’s feelings.
When asked a question that you don’t know how to answer, the worst thing you can do is to evade answering or change the subject. The best strategy here is to be honest and admit that this topic is beyond your level of competence. Redirect the person to a colleague of yours who is knowledgeable to help or ask for permission to come back to the question later.
During the call, you should be noting down the most important things that are being discussed. This information will help conclude the conversation on a professional note.
Keep the dialog going
When you’re speaking, be sure to make pauses to let the person absorb the information. Also, it’s a good practice to ask your interlocutor questions to make sure they’re following what you’re saying. When the other party is speaking, listen carefully and make small remarks to show your involvement.
Making sales calls, especially cold ones, can be hard from a psychological point of view. A person may get annoyed by your call or take a skeptical attitude towards your product or offer. Whatever you may hear, try to stay optimistic, polite and friendly. This is a surefire way to leave a good impression and maybe even put the person in the right mood.
Make sure the person understood you
Towards the end of the conversation, ask your interlocutor if they have any questions. Also, it’ll be nice to summarize the conversation. (Use the notes you’ve been taking during the call.)
Don’t be obtrusive
An average business call shouldn’t last no more than 10 minutes. Don’t pressure the other party into making a decision on the spot. Instead, ask when you can get back to them.
End the call smartly
Don’t be too hasty to say goodbye and hang up. The way you conclude the phone call is as important as the way you start it. When ending the call, do the following:
- outline the next step (real-life meeting, another call, etc.);
- thank the other party for their time.
Following the call, it might be a nice gesture to contact the person once again via email or social media. In your email or message, say that it’s been a pleasure getting to know them, thank them for taking their time to listen to you, and remind them about future arrangements. Your potential business partner or customer is more likely to remember you if your email has a branded signature and your social media profile picture features your company’s logo.
Despite the omnipresent use of emails, messengers, and social media platforms, businesses continue to rely on traditional phone calls to keep in touch. While making an effective phone call is not easy, it’s not rocket science either. Take the time to do some groundwork to prepare for a call. Be clear and stay focused on your goals. Stay polite and nice. By following these simple rules, you’ll be able to make the most of business calling and build a solid network of partners and customers.