Seven Easy Steps To Follow Up By Phone
C.J. Hayden, MCC
You know how critical it is to follow up your initial contacts or
mailings with a personal phone call, but somehow your list of calls to
make always seems to get longer instead of shorter. Days or even weeks
go by before you place important calls, and there always seems to be
something more important to do. Why not make this the month you get off
the dime and get on the phone? Here are seven steps to make it easy for you:
1. Know why you are calling. Sounds obvious, but we have all been guilty
of making a call just because it was on the list, having long since
forgotten why we were calling. Or worse, never calling at all because
you aren't sure of your reason. Make it a habit to keep a note along
with each person's contact information about where you left off in your
last contact and what is the appropriate next step.
The most productive calls are about something you know or suppose the
other person wants from you, rather than something you want from them.
In preparing to make a call, visualize that person in your mind. If you
have never met, gaze at his or her business card or website. Ask
yourself, "How could I best be of service to this person today?"
Whatever you answer, that should be the reason for your call.
2. Prepare a "script." A better name for this essential tool would be
"introduction and talking points." The last thing you want is to sound
like you are reading lines. Begin with a brief introduction of yourself
and the purpose of your call. Say just enough to answer the question
"what's in it for me" for the person you are calling, then check to see
if they have time to speak with you.
Your talking points should contain mostly questions you wish to ask
them, and answers to questions they may ask you. Each one should be no
more than a breath or two long. If you have to inhale several times to
get all your words out, you're making a speech, not having a conversation.
3. Get in the mood. Gritting your teeth is not the best frame of mind
for making follow-up calls. Take a few moments to build a positive
attitude about the calls you're about to make. Remember your highest
purpose in doing the work that you do, whether that is providing for
your family, changing the world, working toward a comfortable
retirement, or serving the community.
Now, mentally direct that purpose toward the people on your call list.
How can you best serve your purpose and their needs at the same time? If
you find yourself feeling nervous, try one or all three of the following
when you call: stand up, look in the mirror, and smile.
4. Speak briefly, then listen. Imagine your call as a tennis match. You
serve the ball by making a statement and asking an open-ended question.
The other person answers and you listen for where the ball is going.
Then you hit the ball back with another statement and question, or a
question alone. You listen again. If you don't listen, you will miss the
ball and lose the point.
5. Make it a conversation. Your talking points should be a loose
framework, not an outline that must be covered. This is why listening is
so important. Yes, keep your purpose in mind, but let the other person's
responses guide the direction of the call. Especially at the beginning
of the conversation, keep your focus on learning rather than on teaching.
Once you learn more about what the prospective client or networking
contact you are calling needs or wants, you'll be able to offer
assistance in a relevant, respectful way. There's no payoff in launching
into a description of what you can provide without knowing first if your
listener has any need for it.
6. Be yourself. If you remember none of the other tips on this list,
remember this one. The person you are calling is another human being,
with a family, responsibilities, problems, goals, and dreams. If you
speak from that authentic place yourself, you will establish a personal
connection with the people you call. But if you put on some artificial
selling persona, your listeners will immediately go on the defensive.
Keep in mind your own reaction when you answer the phone and realize you
are about to be sold to. Isn't it usually, "Oh no, how fast can I get
rid of this guy?" Make it a point to have your call be one that people
enjoy getting, because they are speaking to a real person who treats
them as if they were real, too.
7. Ask for the next step. Before you hang up the phone, be sure both of
you know what will happen next. This isn't pushy; it is respectful and
professional. Determining the next step for your interaction with the
person you called is essential to being of service to them.
Your next step might be an in-person appointment, sending information,
placing a call to someone else, or calling again after a length of time.
Whatever it is, be clear about it, and get the other person's permission
for what you plan to do.
You may notice that all of these tips suggest that you hold your focus
on being of service to the other person. That mental shift may be the
most important thing you can do to make follow-up calls easier. If your
intention is to help people instead of to sell to them, not only will
you find it easier to call, the people you talk to will find it easier
C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now! Thousands of business owners
and salespeople have used her simple sales and marketing system to
double or triple their income. Get a free copy of "Five Secrets to Finding All the
Clients You'll Ever Need" at http://www.getclientsnow.com