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This blog explores aspects of conversation - both personal and professional

How to engage someone in conversation over the telephone

How does one engage someone in conversation over the telephone, someone whom you have never met before?

Friday, May 05, 2017

How does one engage someone in conversation over the telephone

How does one engage someone in conversation over the telephone?

Have you noticed that if you ask someone at the beginning of a telephone conversation if they have time to speak with you, they will most likely say 'No'.

At this point there is nothing you have said to create any interest or curiosity. You need to generate 'interest' first - and then ask if they have time to continue the conversation.

Traditional 'sales training wisdom' says that you 'generate interest' at the start by making a 'punchy benefit statement'. This is also known as the 'Opening Hot-Button Statement', as I was taught years ago on a one day 'How to sell by the telephone' training course.

Personally, I find they usually sound pretty naff and a bit like a trick. So here's an alternative for your consideration.

To get someone to spend the next few minutes in conversation, simply acknowledge them right at the beginning. Once you've done that you can get their agreement to continue the conversation (either immediately or at an agreed time).

Royal Mail

'I was thinking of you the other day' ...

Have you not noticed the glow or small pleasure people get when they hear someone (even a relative stranger) say, 'I was thinking of you the other day'.

People sense that they have been acknowledged when they hear from another that they have been 'thinking' of us.

In the UK in the late 1990's there was a great Royal Mail advert where people would receive a letter/postcard and on it would be written 'I saw this and thought of you!' Whilst the phrase existed long before the advertisement, the phrase is now associated with the Royal Mail because it touched an emotion by reminding us of what it feels like to be acknowledged.

Royal Mail

Some telephone conversation starters

So here are some 'acknowledgement' telephone conversation starters:

  • I read about you in the … recently
  • I read about your organisation in the … the other day
  • I noticed in the … recently that you are/have/achieved/believe …
  • I came across … recently and I thought of you because …
  • I have so wanted to speak with you since …
  • I am so glad that I have got hold of you.
  • I noticed in/on … that your organisation is now … and I thought of you …
  • I noticed in/on … that your organisation is now … and I thought I must talk to the person who really … this!
  • Whilst researching yesterday … I came across your name and realised that you were probably exactly the right person to talk to …

Obviously there are many variations but the essence is to get the listener thinking that for a brief time they are special to you and it has triggered you to want to talk to them as soon as possible.

So what do you think?

When have you experienced the warm glow or provided it? Who are you thinking about, or should be, right now?

Stop procrastinating and make that call.

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