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Could a Phone Call Change Your Life?

Because I’m a student of the advertising game, I remember unusual and weird slogans and commercial copy, like this one: Can a phone call change your life? This one quite possibly could. Call now, and we'll send you this free booklet which tells you how you can get started. The Control Data Institute: Your future could be just a phone call away.

Turns out in sales, a phone call can change your life. Recent survey results revealed in Chain Store Age – The Business of Retail suggest that you should not overlook the importance of phone calls to your customers. Yes, this is specific to retail, but it suggests the B2B sales environment is no different in this regard. According to the Invoca Buyer Experience Benchmark Report:

• 68% of respondents find the human connection aspect of calling businesses attractive and say they prefer to communicate this way more than any other channel, including online, chat or email.

• 44% say they call to do more research because they feel most comfortable completing high-stakes purchases on the phone.

• 75% of respondents will hang up after being placed on hold.

“In these high-stakes transactions, consumers want to feel confident that they are making the right buying decision, and offering a human touch is the best way to provide that reassurance and build a rapport with them," said Dee Anna McPherson, chief marketing officer of Invoca. "However, this also means that businesses must pay close attention to the experience that their customers are having on the phone and implement the technology needed to perfect it because it can make or break the reputation of their brands."

If clients and prospects aren’t returning your email messages, maybe an old-fashioned phone call could change your sales life. Since many may be out of practice with this skill, we thought we would offer a few suggestions to maximize your phone skills:

1. Smile - The smile in your voice will be heard loud and clear

2. Have a planned reason for calling - Rambling calls with no apparent purpose won’t work.

3. Share relevant research - At RAB, we teach having a valid business reason for making the call (VBR). This can be research – a specific article like this one – that may be about the importance of the phone interaction with customers.

4. Ask open-ended questions - You don’t want the call to be a one-way blast of information. You’re trying to get engagement. This is done through specific and open-ended questions about the clients’ business category or challenges.

5. Get right to the point - This is the “payoff” for the person who took the call. “I’m calling today because…”

Here are some phrases to avoid on the phone:

• Did I catch you at a bad time? They wouldn’t have picked up the phone if it was a bad time.

• “Just” – Anytime you put the word “just” in front of a sentence you minimize its impact and importance. “I’m just calling today,” versus “I’m calling today to share...”

• “How are you today?” Unless you know the person and that’s the reason for the call, this phrase (which seems like a caring thing to ask) can be seen as inauthentic and insincere. You’re not calling to find out how they are, so starting that way can be a bad first impression.

We’ve all been frustrated calling “Robo-hell” and automated voice systems. Calling to share this research with your clients and helping them with their customer contact could be a great way to open a conversation about the importance of voice communication.

Could a phone call change your life? Are you willing to try?

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB