There are many reasons people have for not wanting to talk on the phone:
- They are busy and it interrupts their ability to work
- Anxiety about answering a call from someone they don’t know
- Have a hard time hearing
- Not interested in having to chit chat before getting to the reason for the call
However, when it comes to sales you absolutely must pick up the phone. This isn’t true just for professional salespeople, who we know hate to call people just as much as the average person, but also for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Anyone who needs to talk on the phone to grow their business, which is everyone, needs to be comfortable on the phone. Whether it’s to talk to a potential customer, client, vendor, or something else, you need to be comfortable on the phone.
This is especially true for post-sales. If you are a small business owner and have a client with an issue, you need to pick up the phone ASAP to solve the problem and keep it from escalating.
There are ways to work up your courage and turn picking up the phone into a habit instead of a dreaded task. Let’s walk through the tips we give our salespeople and clients that help them to succeed.
1. Practice talking to your friends and family.
- Why: Family and close friends are low stakes, and high reward since they’ll most likely be happy to hear from you and more likely to answer if they see you calling.
- How: For the next week identify one person you’re going to call everyday. If they don’t answer, send a text asking when they are free to talk for a few minutes.
This might sound silly, you probably already communicate with your family and friends all the time! Stop and think about HOW do you talk to them? It’s probably a combination of Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp/Telegram, iMessenger, Facetime, maybe even email for birthdays and holiday well wishes.
Next time you want to tell your mom you love her or send a meme to your little sister, pick up the phone instead. Sure, you can’t send a gif or meme over the phone, but you can say you saw something and it made you think of them, so you wanted to call and say hi.
2. Answer your incoming calls.
- Why: Answering the phone can be just as uncomfortable as picking up the phone to make a call. You need to work on both ends of the problem to really be comfortable on the phone.
- How: Answer every incoming call throughout the day (it’s ok to skip if you are in the bathroom).
How often do you side button an incoming call, whether or not you recognize the number? Stop doing this. If you absolutely don’t want to answer a number you don’t know, we recommend installing the TrueCaller app – it lets you know who is calling even if they aren’t in your phonebook and are great at identifying spammers/telemarketers. You should start to see telemarketers as an easy way to fulfill your daily quota of answering a certain number of calls, since you know it’s low stake and honestly you can hang up at any time.
3. Learn how to say now isn’t a good time for you.
- Why: When you immediately establish that you aren’t free to talk, you are in control of your situation and won’t feel pressured to participate in something that you don’t have the time for.
- How: Each time you make a call, even if it’s to your grandma, right away ask if now is a good time for them. The more you say it, the sooner it will become a habit.
Part of the anxiety of making a call is that you’ll be bothering the person. On the other end, you don’t want to answer because it’s an inconvenient time for you. You can reduce or eliminate this concern by learning how to qualify if the timing is right in the first 30 seconds of the call.
If someone calls you and they don’t ask if now is a good time, it’s ok to cut them off and say, “Now isn’t good for me, could you call me back at [time that is good for you].” Here you are in control, you tell them when you are ready to talk, and their only reasonable response can be, “Sure.” If they keep insisting it won’t take long, it’s probably a sales call and you can just end the conversation there. If you are making the call use the following script, “Hi, I’m ___ and I wanted to [talk to you about/say hi/etc.], is now a good time for you?” It takes 10 seconds, and you can continue your conversation knowing that the other person agreed to it.
4. Know how to wrap up a call
- Why: Part of the anxiety of answering the phone is the fear of not being able to get off. Once you know how to end calls, you’ll no longer feel trapped.
- How: If the other party won’t let you get a word in, it’s ok to interrupt. Politely thank them for their time and let them know you have to go.
There is nothing worse than being stuck on a call that is going nowhere and not being able to get a word in edgewise to get off the phone. That’s why you have our permission to interrupt the speaker and tell them, “I have to go.” Before it gets to that point, let us give you a few tricks to easily get off the phone.
First, if the caller asks you if now is a good time to talk, you can say, “Yes, but I’m only free for the next [five minutes, ten, etc.,]” this way you are already setting expectations for how long you’re willing to talk.
If you’ve had a productive conversation and don’t know how to end it, you can say, “This was really helpful, thank you for your time, I don’t want to keep you any longer.”
If you want to be reassuring that you enjoyed talking to the person say, “I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you, but I need to go now.” You never owe anyone an explanation for why you need to get off the phone! If you feel like you need to give one, here are a few excuses that are hard to argue with:
- I need to pick up my child
- My phone is about to die and I can’t find my charger
- We are on our way to an event
- I have another meeting now
- My dog needs to go for a walk before they have an accident
We hope that with these tips you’ll feel energized, or at least not quite so reluctant, to pick up the phone and start making calls!