Directing a conversation is an important skill on the telephone. You have only minutes to get the job done usually. And if you’re in a proactive role such as telephone selling or telemarketing you don’t want to do all the talking. I appreciate that many who try to sell over the phone ignore this. Nevertheless, it is the way it should be done. My rule of thumb is that a great sales call should be roughly 50% listening 50% talking.
It’s no different if you’re taking the call. The ratio will be affected by how much they want to say though of course. If you deal with customers face to face (as I do), you will notice the contrast in time allocated on sales calls on the phone v. face to face. So if you have less time on the phone to get the job done, you have to be more structured, focused and organised.
We cover this subject on our 2 day telephone sales / telemarketing courses. It is included on the customer service on the phone courses run in-house too. The module is called Directing the conversation.
Telephone skills training
It is a fun, interactive session that has no script. Therefore, I don’t quite know how it is going to turn out! We send a member of the team out of the room for a few minutes. The team decide something they want me to find out about their colleague. They give me a random start subject. Then when the guinea-pig, sorry delegate returns to the room, I have to find out the information without them being aware of what information I’m after. I remember one conversation with a client company in Coventry. I had to find out what brand of shampoo the delegate used But I had to start off talking about hickory trees in America. As I say very random! And we have a time limit with a timekeeper in the room of course!
How to do it
The key to finding out what you need to know in a way which makes it a proper 2-way conversation and which seems human is to use a combination of questioning and giving information.
The key is that you use your questioning to direct a conversation, with some self-disclosure. This makes the other person feel that you’re prepared to make the thing into a conversation.
Too much of either doesn’t work well. Too much questioning comes across a being like an interrogation. Which will make them feel defensive. But also too much ‘telling’ also isn’t great. It gives them the impression that you’re only interested in hearing the sound of your own voice. Which again is hardly likely to win friends!
This is one of the important core communication skills subjects we cover on courses across the Midlands in Leicester, Northampton, Coventry, Birmingham, Daventry, Rugby, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Oakham, Uppingham, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Bury St. Edmunds, Wisbech, Newmarket, Warwick, Stratford, Leamington Spa, Derby, Nottingham as well as wider parts of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. Contact us via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.