Sounding professional on the phone is extremely important for a variety of reasons. It is especially important if much of your business is conducted over the phone. In this case, it is essential that you know how to maintain professionalism, since it will give a good impression of your abilities and skills. However, in order to maintain professionalism, you need to be prepared and polished. Thankfully, though, with a little practice and some time, you’ll be able to take steps to maintain professionalism on the phone.
Making an Outline
Write a brief sketch of your opening comments.
Nothing is more professional than someone who knows what they want to say and how to say it. If you know what you’re going to say, the person you’re speaking with will be put at ease and will sense that you are a true professional.
- If you’re making a sales call, script out your sales pitch. If you’re in information technology, you can say something like: “I’m calling about the computer system you inquired about. This is a very popular system and will meet the needs of your business.”
- Write some concluding statements and a salutation. For instance, “It was great speaking with you Andrew. I hope to speak to you about this in the future. Have a great day.”
Sketch out various possibilities of where your conversation will go.
Exploring some alternatives of where the conversation may go will help you be prepared for any eventuality. As a result, you should sketch out the most likely possibilities of how the conversation will progress.
- Be prepared for any questions the person might have for you.
- If you’re making a sales call, sketch out the various possibilities of how a potential customer may respond in a negative way to you. For instance, include comments about how a product might make a customer’s life easier.
- If your calls frequently come down to the problem of cost, make sure to sketch out a few ways of explaining costs and how a customer might afford your product.
Use bullet points for your script.
Make sure any script you make is for the most part in a bulleted format. While you might want to type out the first couple of statements and your closing statements, the majority should be short and easy to read. Remind yourself of what comes throughout the script.
- To remind yourself about a reading a disclaimer, write “Read disclaimer.”
- To remind yourself about talking about cost of a product, write “Talk about costs.”
Talking on the Phone
Restate important points that the person you’re talking to is making.
Whenever you have the opportunity, verify what the person you’re talking to is saying by rephrasing those ideas in different words. By doing this, you’ll let the person know that you’re listening and that you understand what they’re saying. You’ll also reinforce what they’re saying in your own mind.
- Never restate what the person has said in their exact words.
- Right down the points and restate them later.
Use a relaxed, friendly tone when making your call.
You should use a relaxed and friendly tone when talking on the phone in a professional setting. This is important, as you want to put the person you’re talking to at ease. If you use a more stressed or agitated tone, they’ll sense your nervous and may question your professionalism.
- Match your tone of voice with that of the client’s or potential client’s you are talking to. For example, if the client speaks slowly and methodically, a skilled phone technique would be doing the same.
Use words you are only familiar with.
When speaking on the phone in a professional context, only use words you’re familiar with and understand. Making sure you have a hold of your vocabulary will help you maintain a professional demeanor.
- Don’t use words that you are not familiar with an attempt to sound more intelligent. This may backfire if you have a difficult time pronouncing the words.
- Make sure that you enunciate your words.
- If you want to enhance your vocabulary, then do it in a more casual situation when you can afford to make mistakes.
Refrain from interrupting the person on the phone.
You should always refrain from interrupting people whenever talking to a person in either a professional or social setting. Interrupting people signals disrespect and unprofessionalism.
- Always wait until the person you’re speaking to is finished before responding.
- If you’re afraid you’re going to forget a response, jot it down with a notepad and reference it when the person is finished speaking.
- If you need to cut the call off or say something relevant, find a pause that you can jump into politely once you have given the person enough time to talk.
Talk with surety and assertiveness.
An important element of talking in a professional manner on the phone is talking with surety and assertiveness. If you don’t give the impress that you are confident in what you know, the person you’re talking to won’t have confidence that you’re a professional.
- Don’t say anything or recommend anything unless you are sure that you’re making the correct recommendation. If in doubt, tell them you’ll get back to them.
- Avoid comments like “I guess” or “maybe that’s true.”
- Don’t make comments that let the person know you’re inadequately prepared for the conversation. For instance, don’t say things like “well, I have not been trained for this,” “that’s over my pay grade,” or anything similar.”
Stand up while you are talking on the phone, if possible.
While it may sound strange, standing up when talking on the phone plays an important mental component in conveying professionalism. By standing up, you’re sending the signal to yourself that you need to be ready and active to answer any question or concern of the person you’re speaking with.
- Standing up may add energy to your voice.
- By standing up, you’ll create a mental outlet for any nervous energy you might have.
Smile when on the phone.
Try smiling while you talk to someone. This may help brighten the character of your voice and make you feel more cheerful. In the end, even if your smiling isn’t conveyed to the person over the phone, it will help ready you mentally for the conversation.
- Try a relaxed smile.
- Don’t let smiling distract you from listening to the conversation. Just try to slowly train yourself to smile. You’ll internalize it over time.
Avoid distractions when you are on the phone.
Regardless of your workplace environment, you need to minimize the possibility of distractions when you are speaking on the phone. By limiting distractions, you’ll be able to concentrate and you’ll be demonstrate professionalism to the person you’re speaking with..
- Close your office door, if you can.
- Let others know that you’re taking a business call.
- Turn off the radio, television, or any other source of noise.
- Close down your email and turn off Facebook.
Preparing to Talk on the Phone
Work on your confidence.
Perhaps the most important mental aspect of sounding professional is having confidence in yourself. Without confidence, you’ll sound like a novice. If you sound like a novice, the person you’re speaking to wont’ want to do business with you.
- Believe in yourself as an expert and as a professional.
- Remember, while you want to sound confident, you don’t want to be overly confident or condescending. Know your limits. In addition, know what you know and what you don’t know.
Have any supplies you’ll need ready.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a professional call is to gather all of the supplies you’ll need while you are on the phone. By gathering your supplies ahead of time, you’ll be equipped for the wide variety of problems or possibilities you’ll face when on the phone.
- Make sure you have notepaper and a working pen readily available, and use them. You don’t want to have the person on the phone repeat information because you were not taking note of certain details.
- Have your computer booted up and ready to access. Depending on your business, you may need to access certain information. There is nothing less professional than someone who does not have information at their fingertips.
- Set out all files or other information related to the call. If you’re speaking with someone you’ve dealt with before, you’ll probably have information related to them. Set it by your phone.
Practice your greeting.
To sound professional, you’ll also need to practice your greeting until it sounds completely natural. Having a natural and professional greeting will put the person you’re talking to at ease and will signal that you know what you’re doing.
- Make sure it is not long-winded and insincere. Try something short and to the point like “Hello. My name is John, and I’m calling about the inquiry you made about our services.”
- You may want to record yourself and play it back to make sure that you are happy with the way it sounds.
Know your product or business.
In addition to having a script ready to guide your conversation, you also need to know your product or business well. By knowing your product or business, you’ll come off as an expert and a professional.
- Be prepared to answer common problems.
- If you’re in sales, make sure you know every important detail related to the goods or services you’re selling.
- If you’re in customer service, make sure you’re familiar with your responsibilities, common problems, and the product you’ll be providing service for.