First Impressions and Etiquette Count
Buyers, who have a plethora of options as to whom they buy from, are cutting potential vendors very little slack. And phone etiquette counts! In fact, many screen out potential vendors within the first minute of telephone contact based on their initial impressions and “gut feel.” Negative impressions that “turn off” buyers often include: being put on hold for more than a minute, not being able to easily reach someone knowledgeable about the firm’s offerings, “talky” or pushy salespeople, a perceived lack of professionalism and poor phone etiquette.
Clearly, first impressions are critical to sales success and the use of successful sales techniques is critical. So, make it a resolution to start out your New Year by improving your phone etiquette and approach. Let’s start by looking at your customers’ perspectives and asking some important questions.
Sales and Phone Etiquette
1). CONTACT EASE: How easy is it for prospective buyers to get a hold of your or someone else who is knowledgeable? How well do receptionists take care of people who call in? Do callers become frustrated by confusing voicemail systems, “voicemail jails” and auto-attendants? Do prospects reach voicemail more often than live people?
2). ATTITUDE: How is the phone answered and what is the demeanor of the salesperson? Are callers treated in a consistent manner on each and every call? One client of ours has a standard of first mentioning their company name, then introducing the call handler by name, and then making the statement in a very positive tone, “I can help you.” Indeed, well-designed call handling strategies and proper phone etiquette often pay off with more business and higher levels of customer satisfaction. .
3). DICTION: We’ve observed many sales and service people use informal language with words such as “dude,” “radical,” “cool” and “let’s boogie.” While some customers may be entertained by or even like this, others see it as overly casual or unprofessional. Indeed, sticking to more mainstream words and diction is the safest phone etiquette and runs little risk of offending people.
4). VOICEMAIL GREETINGS: Many individual voice mailbox greetings (e.g. “I am on the phone now…leave me a message after the beep”) are simply unimpressive and/or non-productive. Likewise, we often hear greetings that are out of date (e.g. on Wednesday we hear a greeting that states “it is Monday and I’m out of the office today”). Good voicemails, on the other hand, often convey useful information (e.g. “I will be returning calls between 3-5 pm today”) and provide the caller with useful options (e.g. “If this matter is time sensitive, call me on my cell phone at 858-945-8888 or contact my assistant James at 858-452-9211”). Good phone etiquette and effective voicemail greetings are critical to presenting a positive image.
5). HIGH-QUALITY EMAILS: While an advantage of emails is that they are expected to be somewhat informal, many are simply unprofessional. Email glitches include: spelling errors, grammatical errors and long, rambling sentences. Moreover, salespeople and companies often don’t use a standard signature line on emails. A good signature line can serve as a promotional message (e.g. use your firm’s slogan/tagline) and should also contain name, title, phone numbers and website address.
6), APPEARANCE: If you are meeting with customers or prospects in person, how do they perceive you based on your appearance? Is the salesperson well groomed and appropriately dressed?
When companies use a customer-oriented, respectful sales and phone etiquette, people notice! And unfortunately, when a highly-consistent, high-quality manner of treating customers is lacking, prospective buyers notice even more and tend to take their business elsewhere.
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