Do you feel less confident speaking over the phone than you do speaking to someone eye to eye?
Most people do.
Most people are much shyer over the phone than they are in real life. Some very intelligent and otherwise respectable people turn to wimps over the phone.
I’ve got a number of cold calls on my phone lately by company reps and sales people, and they’ve all been terrible. Their tonality reeked of fear – fear of rejection – and their scripts were stiff and unnatural. I felt like Seth Davis from Boiler Room. Only worse.
This needs to stop. Starting with you, dear reader of SGM. It’s time for you to step up your phone game.
Because if you were to learn a few tricks, you could become better than 90 % of people at talking over the phone, which means you’ll have more advantages in life. . .
Why should you take my advice?
Because I have a background as a phone salesman and over the past six months I have:
- Cold called and interviewed 15 CEOs or executives of big companies over the phone.
- Renegotiated my phone subscription bill to 1/3 of the normal price by convincing the phone company’s customer service employee.
- Saved myself over 2000 kr ($320) by re-scheduling appointments (dentist, doctor, etc) in situations when it shouldn’t be possible from a legal standpoint.
- Renegotiated a business deal from a 10 % cut to 25 % of profits.
So let’s get into it. . .
The 3 Most Important Things in Order to Get People to Do What You Want Over the Phone
There are a number of best practices and fundamental principles that you need to learn when you talk over the phone. Here are three very important ones:
- Tonality is everything. Stand up and walk around for improved vocal projection. Your tonality improves by doing this and you will seem more confident.
- Smile to sound happier. Even though the other person does not see you it still helps. For the same reason, it helps for phone salesmen to dress nicely, even though the caller doesn’t see their fancy suits. It’s just another way to boost your own state, improve confidence, and therefore also your tonality.
- Rehearse the close beforehand. If you there’s something you are nervous about saying – like closing — you should rehearse it at least a few times before making the call. Most people are very uncomfortable with closing. This is a serious problem if you’re looking to be successful. You must become a closer. Rehearsing helps.
Here’s a great example from Scott Adams’s book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big:
… But I had my plan. I practiced saying ‘$ 5000’ until I thought I could say it without laughing. I called back my Canadian contact. That conversation went like this:
Canadian: Did you come up with a price?
Me: Yes . . . $ 5000.
Canadian: Okay, and we’ll also pay for your first-class travel and hotel.
I flew to Canada and gave a speech.
The point is: You need to rehearse the close repeatedly to yourself, until you can say it normally — as if you were talking about the weather with your grandmother.
Say it until it doesn’t make you nervous. This will increase the chance that the other person complies with your request. A lot.
4 Powerfully Persuasive Tricks to Get People to Do What You Want Over the Phone
- State things matter-of-factly. This is important for the same reason that you need to rehearse the close. A matter-of-factly and business-as-usual type of tonality doesn’t raise questions, it invites compliance.
- Assume they’ll do it. Instead of asking something, you will state, “So you’ll do [blank] and then go ahead and [blank]” You will say this in a polite and matter-of-factly tonality.
- Ask your questions then shut up. Get them to invest in the conversation by letting them talk more than you, thus setting up a pattern of compliance.
- Communicate your message with as few words as possible.
I met the former swedish justice minister two weeks ago. I listened to a speech he gave and spoke to him a while afterwards. He said that Göran Persson, a former prime minister — and very charismatic guy — used two characteristic social gimmicks related to communicating with as few words as possible.
1) When he answered the phone, or called someone, he would only say his surname, “Persson….” and nothing else, letting the other person start the conversation and do the talking.
2) He always kept it short. After the other person had spoken he would say, “Is there more?” and if there were, you’d better tell him.
How to Get People to do What You Want Over the Phone
If you were to reschedule an appointment or something like that, here’s what you’re gonna do:
When you make the call, know that you have about 4 seconds to make a first impression over the phone, and show that you are important.
You need to do this right away, because if you do, things are going to get much easier.
And how do you do this?
First thing: Have a friendly, positive, and polite tonality. Walk around a bit and smile for yourself before making the call so ensure this.
Second: Introduce yourself and explain briefly why you are calling.
Hey, I’m Mike Manley. I’m calling to [blank]…
Third: State your case and give a specific reason for why you want to reschedule the visit:
I am looking to reschedule my appointment at 17:30. I got a sudden job interview and I am now looking at a ticket for getting to another town to meet the interviewers. I accepted immediately because I couldn’t let this opportunity go. I really hope you can understand my situation. . .
It’s crucial that make you a pause here. At least 1-3 seconds. This will give the other person time to let what you just said sink in, and to put themselves in your position and identify with your situation.
. . .Is there anything you can do to help me?
This is important because it makes the other person feel important — it might even make this person’s day, knowing that they helped someone out!
Fourth: The person on the other line answers Yes/No.
You will likely get a yes if you did the things above.
If you get a completely toneless NO, it likely means the other person is a “zombie”, and doesn’t give a shit about you.
This either means that:
1) You failed to create empathy. Perhaps you didn’t sound positive and polite enough?
Maybe you came across as too brash and commanding?
The challenge lies in sounding confident, happy, and polite, while at the same time conveying through your tonality that the other person would really help you out and make your day if he/she “could just do this one little thing for you”
2) This person doesn’t give a shit about anything, and hates his/her job. This is completely outside of your control. Some people just plain suck, know it themselves, and want to bring everyone else with down with them.
In either case, if you get a NO. Don’t try to be pushy. Being pushy over the phone is very annoying — people hate it and will NOT want to aid you if you do it.
Don’t do it.
The Solution to Not Coming Across as Pushy (Even When You Are)
Is in your tonality.
You can be dominant and lead the conversation and state commands and so on without coming across as pushy. But you need to do it the right way.
You can keep plowing a bit and rephrase your questions to try again for the close. But you need to do it in a friendly or neutral tonality, subcommunicating that “it would be a good idea to do this”. Not blatantly stating “do this now or me get angry!”
You could say:
“I understand… So, your situation is like this (give a recap of what the other person said).. How about we try doing (new solution) instead?
That often works.
However, if you are dealing with someone under strict regulation it’s usually a waste of time unless you can get the other person to care about you deeply enough to break the rules — which is unlikely, but possible.
When to Be Commanding Over the Phone and When to Take a Step Back
Here is some more specific advice.
When you hear that the person on the other side is insecure:
- Use commanding tonality. This does not mean that you’re going to shout at them or tell them “Bitch, I told you to connect me to your boss!”, it means you’ll say whatever you’re saying with more depth and confidence. You will speak slowly, deliberately, and powerfully.
- Use brief orders . Never say “Can you…?” or use poorly phrased questions. Say “Do this for me” or “I want you to do that” or, “See if it’s possible to do this“
These can be good, but they need to be calibrated to the situation. If you’ve made a strong first impression it should work.
If you try to command someone else over the phone and you are “insensitive to the situation” they will think you are a major douchebag and they’ll make it their mission to sabotage you.
How You Can Turn Cold Calls into Warm Calls
When you cold call people (which I don’t recommend, but it’s unavoidable sometimes) there are some extremely useful tactics that you can easily start using to improve your success ratio.
I used these tactics to get the CEO/executive interviews. Because I pulled that off by cold calling. Within the first 10-30 seconds you should:
- Show credibility by mentioning or referring to someone or something they are familiar with. In my case I said I was from my university, told the name of my teacher, and said I was doing work on brand management.
- Show social proof by mentioning someone they definitely know, such as another person in their company. If I’d got a recommendation, I immediately said, “so and so told me you were the right person to talk to about this.”
- Show urgency by 1) Respectfully asking “do you have time to speak for X minutes?” and by 2) Saying you’re free to speak to them when it suits them, showing that you’ll go out of your way to make it happen.
- Show that they’d help you out by specifically saying why you think they’re qualified and why you’re interested in talking to them. It’s important that your tonality is enthusiastic when you say this part.
- Once they’ve agreed to talk to you, be sure to validate them. After I had spoken to the CEOs/executives for a while, I always said, “it’s interesting that you should say that, because most of the other people I’ve interviewed have said the same thing.” That made them feel good about themselves, and smart. This is a subtle way to compliment someone without coming across as a pushover.
It can be hard to do all of these things. But the more of them you’re able to squeeze in, the more powerful it is.
Jordan Belfort’s Way to Get People to Do What You Want Over the Phone
I hope you’re not overwhelmed with tactics. But even if you don’t learn them all, it’ll still make a significant difference. This stuff does work. In a big way.
And if you’re going to talk to people over the phone, which you will, you should be doing it big – you should be doing it to win.
Enter Jordan Belfort. . .
Maybe he is.
But one thing is for certain: he knows his shit when it comes to selling over the phone: he knows how to get people to do what you want over the phone. I would trust his advice here.
After all, he made hundreds of millions of dollars by leveraging his phone skills into turning as many stupid horny teenagers into extraordinarily persuasive phone salesmen as possible
Here are his most important tips for persuading people over the phone:
- All sales calls are the same: a straight line from open to close.
You have a minimum and a maximum range that you allow the phone call (conversation) to swing up and down between before you actively push back the conversation to the middle line.
That means you’re not going to be fluff-talking about totally irrelevant stuff.
As the “sales guy”, your job is to keep the conversation on a straight line and navigate it to the close. This will happen automatically after you’ve done it enough times. You will become calibrated and know this stuff by heart.
You use your tonality to lead the conversation, deal with objections / reframe the situation / bring back the conversation to the line.
Your tonality is everything.
If you think this is an interesting topic, I highly recommend you to watch the following movies:
—Glengarry Glen Ross
—The Wolf of Wall Street
Do you have any useful tips for talking over the phone or to get people to do what you want?
Photo Credit: Sean Mcpheat