Picking up the phone is one of the hardest thing about working in our profession. You face just about every fear you have when you start to dial that phone…rejection, looking stupid, bothering someone, not being liked, the list goes on and on. I've coached more clients than I can count around this issue so I feel like a bit of an expert. Let me share a secret with you…
…NO ONE likes to make phone calls to follow up or ask for bookings. I still have to do this as a part of my work as a speaker and trainer and it’s still not my favorite part of my job.
What I have learned, however, is that once I really understood that most of my fear of picking up the phone came from the lies I was telling myself about the people on the other end, it got easier. The truth is, most people are happy to hear from you. If they don’t answer or return your call, it’s not because they hate you or you’re annoying them (even though that’s the lie you tell yourself, isn’t it?), it’s because, like you, they’re busy!
Once you understand that, you can let go of the worry and pick up the phone. And when you leave messages (which will be about 80% of the time), I recommend that you are deliberately vague about why you’re calling. Leave a message that’s short and sweet like, “Hey, Nicole, this is Julie Anne Jones. I have a quick question for you. Can you give me a call back when you get a chance?” That way, the person you’re calling is curious and will probably call you back. If you give them too many details, they might assume they already know what you’re going to say and decided not to call you back.
Here’s a systematic approach to making phone calls that might support you.
- Slow down and get centered
Ask yourself how you can support each and every person you call and get into a place of curiosity and openness. Have a list of all those you wish to contact and spend a few moments thinking about the person you’re calling and how you might support her before you pick up the phone.
- Open with an acknowledgement
Have this in your mind before you make the call. Then go into an inquiry that has nothing to do with the reason you’re calling. Ask them “How are you? What’s going on with you?” Then listen to them. One of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits is “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” When people feel understood, it puts them in a whole different mindset. Use the phrase “the last time we talked…” or “the other night at Daphne’s party you shared…” To be able to say, “I was noticing how much you enjoyed yourself the other night” or “when we were visiting before the show the other night, you told me how busy you are and my radar went up, because you need a break” makes the call about her, not you and your agenda. Remind her that your parties are about taking a little time for yourself and that she deserves that. Also remind her that you, as the consultant, are going to partner with her and do as much of the work as possible for her. If she knows your commitment level, it’s easier for her to say yes.
- Introduce the reason for your call
If possible, reference what they’ve just shared, i.e. “Wow, Sue, it sounds like you’re really busy. That tells me that you need a break! I have the perfect solution! Let me come and spoil you and your friends with a fun, relaxed girl’s night out!” or “sounds like you’re super mom! I’d love to give you a chance to take a break for just one night.”
- Overcome objections
First of all, you can overcome objections before they even come up by offering theme parties and talking about the amazing host special your company is offering. If objections do arise, they’re usually vague and not specific. You can’t overcome an objection unless you know what it is. One of the best questions for figuring that out: “What’s holding you back?” That question will get you to their objection, and then you can deal with it and overcome it.
- If their answer still isn’t yes, FOLLOW UP!
One of the biggest mistakes I see direct seller make is taking the answer “no” personally. The truth is, 99% of the time, no means “this isn’t the right time for me.” That means, if you set up and commit to a clear follow up schedule, when it is the right time, you’ll be in front of that person and get the booking. Simply ask politely, “Would it be okay if I follow up with you in a few months once things settle down for you? I would love to work with you, so if it’s ok, I’ll just add you to my follow up list and call back.”
So, are you ready to pick up the phone now? How many calls will you make today?
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Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific systems, language, and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.