You’ve wowed your potential customers enough that they want to hear more about your business over the phone, or you’ve picked up a warm lead who’s actively looking for your service. But what now? How do you sound professional and make a good impression over the phone? Most importantly, how do you turn this phone call into a booking?
It’s not always easy to sell a prospective customer on your service over the phone. Without visual cues like eye contact, body language and gestures, it can be hard to get the message across, and if you’re not prepared, you could end up missing some great opportunities.
A phone call can make or break your relationship with a client, especially when you’re calling them for the very first time. That’s why it’s important to get all your staff on board with the best ways to handle a client call, and make sure you have all the information new customers will need to know.
When calling a new client for the first time, having a game plan makes all the difference. Be prepared to answer frequently asked questions and practice active listening to understand their needs. Making sales isn’t all about pitching your skills – it’s about offering the best service and the best solutions.
How you communicate with clients might be the deciding factor in cementing a long and loyal business relationship. Your phone etiquette could be the difference between losing a potential client and gaining a regular loyal customer.
So, if your business frequently communicates with clients over the phone, keep reading to learn about phone etiquette. Here are our top recommendations for making sales calls and converting leads over the phone.
Does Phone Etiquette Really Matter?
Phone etiquette is incredibly important for any business, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a local tradesperson. A phone call is usually the first point of contact you have with new clients, and it can represent how your business will treat them in future.
Phone etiquette is also one of the key elements of good customer service because it lets your clients know you listen and care about them. Good phone etiquette can make you stand out from competitors and encourage clients to do more business with you.
In business, it’s crucial to remember that first impressions do last. With phone conversations as the first connection a client may have with you, they can affect the long-term reputation of your business. When you answer a call in a warm, courteous, and professional manner, the client is more likely to be happy with your service. This increases the likelihood that they will come back with repeat orders and even referrals. If you can present yourself as trustworthy over the phone, you have given them a reason to feel confident in doing business with you.
Meanwhile, if a client has a disappointing experience with your company on the phone, they can be quick to form a negative impression. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, these perceptions can never be changed.
At the point of making the first phone call, potential clients haven’t committed to using your service yet – so if they have an unpleasant experience, it’s easy for them to dial a competitor instead.
How to Call a New Client for the First Time
In any business, an introductory call is your chance to make a good impression and build rapport with a new client. It really can make or break the way your company builds clientele and returning customers.
Even in the digital age, the personal touch of a phone call still matters – you can increase your booking rate just by switching from follow-up emails to phone calls. So when you’re given that chance of locking in a new customer over the phone, don’t waste it!
During the call, make sure you practise active listening so you understand what your client really needs from you and how you can address those needs. If they say something you don’t understand or need to clarify, make sure to ask questions at the end of the call. A clear understanding of the client’s needs and perspectives can help you provide better solutions and deliver your service effectively. You should also write down critical details whilst talking. If things go well, make an appointment or schedule a time for a quote. And don’t forget to end the call with enthusiasm. We have expanded on these points below!
Call Leads as Quickly as Possible
Always be prepared for a call with a client and return calls and inquiries as quickly as possible. The quicker you call a potential client, the higher your chance of converting this lead into a customer.
If you have found an interested lead, you should contact them as quickly as possible to engage them and keep their interest. This is especially true if you have promised to call back or follow up with the information they need. Otherwise, the longer you wait, the more likely it is they’ll start looking elsewhere to meet their needs. It can also reflect poorly on your business if prospective clients are kept waiting, as it can seem disrespectful of their time.
When making that first call to a client, set yourself up for success well before you even get the lead. Have a game plan for making these calls, including answers to common questions and knowing what you need to ask to scope the job properly.
However, don’t spend too much time planning your sales pitch after you receive a lead, as you’ll be wasting precious time – you want to be prepared but prompt when returning an inquiry.
Instead, set aside some time to practise client phone calls and get your strategies worked out in advance, so you don’t delay your response to a customer in the moment. If you’re not the only one in the business making customer calls, it’s important to get your customer service and sales staff on board with this too.
When it’s time to give them a ring, make sure whoever is placing the call knows who they’re speaking to and what product or service they are inquiring about. This shows your business is paying attention and avoids the customer having to explain things all over again
Here are some things you can do to prepare for a call with a new client:
- Define your goal. Making your objectives clear and knowing what you and the client want to accomplish before the call ends can help you stay focused. If you have time, write down specific questions that apply to the potential client’s requirements, as well as pain points they might have.
- Do your research. If you want to better understand your potential client’s needs and offer a targeted solution, go beyond the essential information. This may mean researching the client business for B2B markets or just understanding your customer base better as a whole.
- Practice client phone calls. It sounds cheesy, but working out some FAQs and vital information for every call minimises your chances of missing something important when it’s crunch time. Make sure your sales staff are practicing too, building confidence and .
A polite and professional introduction makes a fantastic first impression on clients. Always start with your name, the business you’re representing and the reason for your call – which may mean mentioning where you picked up the lead.
During a phone call, the client obviously can not see your face, so their first impression will rely on your words and tone. Don’t give a long-winded introduction, though, because that can start to sound too scripted.
If you have recently met that client, you can also remind the person when and where you met.
Ask Questions and Understand the ‘Why’
A successful sale starts with understanding the client’s needs. By asking the right questions, you can provide better solutions and a stand-out customer experience.
Seeking more information from customers when scoping the job can help you guide them toward alternative solutions they haven’t considered, and the result can be even more valuable than delivering precisely what they ask for.
If the clients ask for a specific solution or service, take time to collect information and understand whether it ticks their boxes, to avoid surprises on the day of the booking.
Practice Active Listening
To practise active listening, you should spend the majority of your phone call listening to your customer’s needs and concerns. An initial phone call with a new client should be centred around them and not on your product or service.
As a guide, aim to spend 70% of the phone call talking about their needs and just 30% discussing your offer. Being a good listener helps you gather the right information, better identify their needs and actively address them. It also helps you understand and remember what they are saying so they won’t need to repeat themselves.
Active listening is the core of effective communication. It also means you don’t argue or interrupt the client, even if they’re barking up the wrong tree – instead, wait them out and show you understand what they’re saying before explaining your side of things. Actively listening to your client can make that person feel genuinely heard, understood, and served.
Write Down Critical Details During the Call
You become a better listener by taking notes – as long as you’re not too distracted by it. Your clients will be delighted if you send them a summary of what you talked about afterwards, showing you’ve really paid attention. If it’s too distracting to take notes on the go, consider using an app to record calls and write down the main points afterwards.
Writing down important details during a call is a great habit, and even helps you refine your phone call strategy for the future. In case you need clarification, you can simply make a note and ask when it’s appropriate and you won’t need to interrupt the client. This also focuses your conversation if someone goes off-topic. By glancing at your notes, you can quickly bring the conversation back to the main issue.
When the clients have long-winded explanations, jotting down the key points helps you understand the heart of the matter and provides solutions without asking them to repeat what was already said. The next time you talk to that client, you’ll have the notes to work from and not just your memory.
Make an Appointment or Schedule a Time for a Quote
Scheduling a follow-up call or booking a quote should be the ultimate goal of your phone call. By locking in when you’ll speak to the client again, you keep the sales process moving, even if they need time to think something over or make a decision.
Sometimes, you won’t be able to address a client’s needs instantly in one call. If this is the case, make an appointment to discuss it further. If they’re not keen for your to visit in person just yet, still set a date for a follow-up.For instance, if a customer needs to ask their partner before going ahead or wants to weigh up options, let them know you’ll call them again on a certain day.
If the client is ready to get started with a service, the aim is to schedule a time for a quote with them. This way, you are locking in their business as much as possible, or dedicating a time to continue the sales process. This should be the end goal of every phone call: to have the next step or point of contact scheduled in.
End on a Positive Note
How you end a call is just as important as how you start it – this is your last chance to make sure the clients are satisfied with the service they got. Before you go, make sure you’ve answered all the questions they have at the moment, ensuring that they hang up with a positive impression of you and your business. To end the call on a positive note, keep your enthusiasm, thank the client and let them know that you’re looking forward to your next chat.
How to Sound Professional on the Phone With Clients
The way you sound when you talk to a client over the phone can have a lasting impact on the future of the business relationship. If your voice sounds warm and friendly, it can help build a trusting relationship and motivate the customer to choose your business.
On the other hand, an unprofessional or angry tone can cause you to lose the opportunity to convert your lead to a client. Although not everyone has a naturally perfect phone voice, you can use some deliberate techniques to sound warm, welcoming and professional over the phone.
Here are some helpful tips to improve your phone manner with customers:
Consider Your Tone
Always pay attention to the tone of your voice when talking over the phone. Your client can’t see you, but they can hear your intentions through your tone. They may form an opinion of you and your business, your attitude and your willingness to help based on it. A tone conveys more than your words, so use your tone to make your client feel at ease and secure.
The key to talking on the phone with a professional tone is to be confident. If your tone displays confidence, it commands attention and gives you an advantage with any message you want to say. You should also smile while talking – it’s proven that the person on the phone can ‘hear’ it.
Use the Customer’s Name
Clients will value the personal touch you give by using their names. So as soon as you learn their name, use it naturally throughout the conversation. Using the client’s name in a call will also make your approach more personal, which can be interpreted as caring and empathic. This will help you to quickly build a positive relationship.
It’s a way to take advantage of the psychology of consumer behaviour, as a person’s name may be the most welcome sound to a client. If you don’t know how to pronounce their name correctly, don’t be afraid to ask – they will appreciate the gesture.
Prepare and Practice Answers to Common Questions
Similar to landing a job after an interview, your chance of closing a deal over a phone call gets higher if you’re prepared to answer the client’s questions. Preparation gives you a sense of control and allows you to come across to potential clients as informed and professional.
You can begin by listing the most common or frequently asked questions about your products or services. These may include questions about prices, benefits, functions, how it works, product or service delivery, availability, and many others. Prepare yourself with some scripts, prompts, and answers to these questions.
How to Connect With Customers Over the Phone
Building rapport is a crucial communication skill that can have a great impact on the outcome of any conversation, whether in-person or over the phone. This ability can lead to a higher likelihood of converting a potential lead into a regular client and higher levels of client satisfaction.
As you establish a good rapport with the client, the conversation should flow easily and freely. So how can you connect with customers over the phone?
Make Small Talk
Small talk or a light, informal conversation is a powerful relationship-building technique. Not only does it improve the experience of a phone call, but it also makes clients feel like they are working with genuine people.
Having this casual conversation with them can go a long way to show them you’re invested in the conversation and in them. It can also help you find common ground with the client, making people feel much warmer towards you. As a result, you are building connectivity and trust.
To start small talk with your clients, you can ask open-ended questions. You can also simply ask about their day, the weather, how things are going and many other topics that can help you kick off great conversations.
Swapping stories about these things for a few seconds can significantly impact the client’s feelings about the call. If the tone of the call is right, making a joke is also a good option, but be careful with it – not everyone responds well to humour, so let them take the lead.
Mirror Their Tone
When you mirror your client’s tone, you’re letting them know you are on their side. It also builds rapport and makes them feel at ease.
If the client is formal, set aside the jokes you’ve prepared. When they sound casual, relax your tone. If they are excited about the call or the potential deal, give them the same energy and enthusiasm. You can improve your connection with a client by matching your tone to theirs.
Use Positive Language
If you want to keep the door open for future interactions, then use positive language. This keeps the dialogue moving forwards and avoids any unintentional problems caused by miscommunication.
Using positive language also means you can replace negative words and phrases by emphasising workable solutions. Tell the client what you can do for them, not what you can’t. This means avoiding terms like can’t, didn’t and won’t, commonly interpreted as negative.
Instead of saying ‘no, we don’t have that,’ consider telling the client you understand what they’re saying and you have some recommendations to suit their scenario. Suggest choices and alternatives available rather than ending the conversation with a ‘no’. Communicating positively means more cooperation rather than a lost deal.
What if I Can’t Reach a Customer on the Phone?
Clients are often too busy to answer the phone or simply don’t answer when an unknown number calls. If your client is not answering your call, follow these steps for the best chance of catching them:
- Send an email if you have their email address.
- Leave a voice message.
- Send a text message.
- Call a backup number if there’s any provided.
- Repeat the process within 12 hours.
How Should I Answer a Phone Call From a Client?
When answering a phone call from a client, answer the phone as quickly as possible, and identify yourself and your business. Try and pick up a phone call within the first three rings if possible. You can then answer the phone with something as simple as ‘Hello, this is (name) from (business), how can I help you?’ Make sure you sound cheerful and confident, and that you speak clearly.
Should I Text to Ask Permission to Call?
Asking permission to call is a common courtesy these days, and many people don’t like to answer unknown numbers. Sending a text before you call can help a client know what to expect and that your call is a legitimate one. If a client already knows to expect a phone call, there’s no need to text first – however, if you can’t get through to them immediately, a courtesy text message is a great follow-up.