Mary Jane Copps a.k.a. The Phone Lady has worked with more than 300 clients and 30 years analyzing the psychology of phone calls. Her best selling book, The Phone Book, explores essential telephone communication skills and how to overcome the fear of the dial. Mary Jane (@thephoneladyca) also serves as an activator at SheEO™, an organization with a ‘pay it forward’ approach in supporting female entrepreneurs.
Before she started in sales, Mary Jane was a real estate journalist, which inspired her leap into being an entrepreneur. As she tried to grow her startup, she realized she was blowing her sales opportunities on the phone. Today, Mary Jane is on a mission to improve telephone communication to avoid the miscommunication happening when we rely on text-based exchanges.
Through her work, she has uncovered the power of the human voice and how to use it to create human connections with prospects. When we have conversations, we can learn what’s going on in our buyer’s world by actually hearing the context behind the words they’re saying.
Every interaction you have with a prospect should inspire the next conversation, whether it’s an outbound call or leaving a voicemail. Mary Jane emphasizes that you have to keep working to become an effective communicator, which takes preparation and practice.
- Master the First 20 Seconds: We all get defensive when we receive an unexpected call from someone we don’t know. Don’t take it personal as it’s a cultural issue. However, it is your job to dissolve that defensiveness very quickly. First thing first — remove iffy language. Don’t tell them you’re “just calling” as if you have nothing better to do. Also, don’t ask them how they are. Not only is that a tell tale sign that you’re a salesperson, but when a stranger asks about your health, you get even more defensive. You need to quickly get to the reason for your call and then immediately show them how the call is relevant to them. Notice, this has nothing to do with you.
- Prepare to Think on Your Feet: I get it. Email is easier because you have time to both think and edit. On the phone, you clearly don’t get that luxury. So, be prepared. Obviously, you need to have a couple of open ended questions ready to go, but you also need to know what the 3-4 typical responses are that you’re likely to get from the prospect. As you prepare for those responses, now you just need to ask your question and truly listen to the response. And remember, the sound of the human voice contains so much information you’re losing by relying on text based communication.
- Help Prospects Make Decisions: I’ve gone against the grain a bit with the notion of decision fatigue from a personal standpoint, but from the point of the prospect I get it. Instead of leaving everything up to them, prompt them by giving them the “next best step.” I’ve found that if I just ask them what to do next, I get delay after delay It usually sounds like, “me think about it” or “let me talk to so and so,” but when I give them the next step most people take or the one I believe is right for them, I can move a deal along a lot faster. Realize, you’ve sold your solution dozens if not hundreds of times, yet this is the first time they’ve gone through a sales process for your solution.
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl