Directing the conversation is an important skill on the telephone. You have only minutes to get the job done usually. 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. Although the ratio will be affected by how much they want to say 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

How the training module works

It is a fun, interactive session that has no script, and so 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 while the team decide on something they want me to find out about them. 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 I’m after. I remember one conversation with a client company in Coventry where I had to find out what brand of shampoo the delegate favoured. It started 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

You find out what you need to know. You have to do this in a way which makes it a proper 2-way conversation. It must feel human. The key is to use a combination of questioning and giving information.

You can find out more about this with our audio CD product How to get to where you want in communication available through our sister company Associated Learning Systems.

You use your questioning to direct the conversation, with some self-disclosure. This is to make the other person feel comfortable with what hopefully feels like a proper 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 for more information.