The phone is another possible first point of contact that a potential client may have with you. Let’s start with what system you use.
Do you only have a cell phone? VOIP? Landline? What is your preferred communication? Even in today’s day and age of everything being online, I wouldn’t rely on your primary business communication with clients to be this way. What if your ISP goes down or you lose service? This is why it’s important to have a backup in all cases. What about your cell phone? Is it reliable? Does your service area have dead spots? (Whose doesn’t?) How would you feel if you were on the phone with your doctor and all of a sudden the line went dead due to a dropped call from his cell phone?
Cell phones may work great for on the road…but I wouldn’t want to rely on them as your primary form of communication with your clients. You may end up giving them the wrong impression of your business. Finally, your landline. The advantages are no dropped calls, 99% reliable service and phone book listing for your business. The disadvantages are that it’s usually more expensive. To me, a small price to pay for the best quality when communicating with your clients…the lifeblood of your business.
Where does your phone number appear?
Is it prominently displayed on your business card? Your website? I was looking at a business website just the other day and was surprised when it actually took me a while to find out how to reach them. Their phone number was buried in his site and hard to find. Make it easy for your clients to contact you.
Your voicemail is VERY IMPORTANT with what you say on it and how it sounds. A while back I remember a friend of mine called me and left a message on my cell phone (my secondary means of communication with a client). The message wasn’t important but it was what she said to me when I called her back that was. “Mitch…your voicemail isn’t clear at all….you should fix that!” I kindly thanked her for the feedback because let’s face it….how often do we call our own cell phones and get our own voicemail.
I would strongly encourage you to right now call your voicemail on both your cell, land and/or VOIP lines and see how it sounds. Is the recording clear? Are there background noises that distract from your message to your clients? Do you go on forever about your company or is the voicemail succinct in answering their call? Does your voicemail sound the same as every other boring voicemail, or does it stick out in your client’s mind as being unique and memorable, giving them a peek into the inner workings of your business and personality, connecting with them on a human level?
Now…what do you say? It’s not only WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it.
(Thanks Mark Ferrell) When you are on the phone with a potential client…are you sitting down? Are you standing up? Are you preoccupied with the TV or the computer in front of you? Is it noisy in the background or are you in a quiet place where you can place all of your concentration on that person on the phone with you? I encourage you to practice your phone calls in the mirror.
Stand up and take a deep breath before answering the phone. SMILE. Your client can hear your smile on the other end of the phone. The warmth in your voice will come through in your conversational style and this will endear your prospect to you more. This is especially important as over the phone, you do not have the benefit of the client SEEING your facial expressions and non-verbal communication that you have with them in person. Are your clients important to you? Let them know.