1. Remember to breathe! Sometimes, when people get nervous, they forget to breathe. Breathing relaxes and grounds you. Take deep breaths; fill your lungs with air. If you find you have this problem, do some breathing exercises before you pick up the telephone. These exercises can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking deep breaths in and out. Try breathing in for four counts and out for four counts. And focus on your breath. You can also sit in a chair and breathe into each vertebra of your spine. Also try moving around. Move your shoulders, head and arms; shake out your legs.
2. While you are calling, try and stay conscious of your breathing. If you find you are feeling stressed and holding your breath, take a moment, do your breathing exercises again, and then go on. Sometimes, you can breathe better if you are standing. Try that. Sometimes, pacing while you are talking helps to get energy going and let out the nervous tension–one good reason to have a long cord on your telephone or, better yet, a cordless telephone.
3. The emphasis on a particular word can totally change the meaning of a sentence. For example, let’s take the phrase, ‘She is not a thief.’ If you emphasize ‘She,’ the sentence means that she is not a thief, but someone else is. If you emphasize ‘not,’ the sentence is a defense. If you emphasize ‘thief,’ the sentence implies that she is something else that you have just not named. Think about the emphasis that you wish to make.
4. Everyone has his or her own personal rhythm, the tempo at which he or she thinks and functions and is most comfortable. People generally have a difficult time with people whose rhythms are different from their own. Think about it–if you speak quickly, do you find yourself getting impatient with someone who speaks at a much slower pace? Do you perceive them as dull, perhaps not too bright? On the other hand, if you have a more laid-back rhythm to your speech, do you find people who speak quickly annoying and difficult to deal with? This is very common. People can grasp your message much more effectively if it is delivered in a rhythm that matches their own. Remember that your goal is communication. Therefore, try to follow your prospect’s rhythm. Match your timing and tempo to theirs. You can even try and match their volume. This will aid in their ability to hear and understand you. If you find this to be difficult, try practicing with a colleague or friend.
5. If you are having difficulty getting into a ‘conversational rhythm’ with your script, try deliberately speeding up at the beginning and end of sentences and slowing down in the middle. This will give your delivery a more conversational feel, along with the added benefit of making it more difficult for your prospect to interrupt you. People will generally interrupt at the end of a sentence. By speeding up at that time, your prospect will not hear a place to jump in.
6. When you get to the really important part of your script, try whispering. This focuses your prospect’s attention, because they will be concentrating on listening, and it also helps to draw them into your performance. It’s enticing. Make sure, however, that you do not whisper so much that they cannot hear you, but just enough to draw your prospect in. Repetition of words can have the same effect. Example: ‘This is a very, very exciting new product.’ The word ‘very,’ repeated twice, spoken slowly and with emphasis, can have an almost hypnotic effect.
When a prospect puts you on a speakerphone, try whispering. They’ll more than likely pick up the receiver, so that they can hear you.
7. People buy from people they like and people with whom they are comfortable. In the same way, your prospects schedule meetings with people they like and with whom are comfortable. So, be courteous, be genuine, and listen! Give your prospect your complete attention. When your prospect tells you of her concerns, try to repeat them back to her. This does two things: it shows your prospect that you are listening, and it makes sure that you get it right! If you do not, your prospect can correct you, and then you will get it right!
8. Think of your prospect as someone you know, someone who is open and interested. Visualize a customer that you have, someone with whom you have a good relationship and someone who is open and receptive to you. When you make calls, pretend that you are speaking with that customer and not a stranger.
9. Use directed words. For example, when you ask to speak with your prospect, say: ‘Jane Jones, please,’ and not, ‘May I speak with Jane Jones?’ The first sentence conveys authority; the second asks permission. Another example: Ask, ‘Who should I speak with?’ and not, ‘Do you know who I should speak with?’ Again, the first conveys authority, and whomever you are questioning, if they know, must answer with a name. In the second sentence, the response could simply be ‘yes’ or ‘no.’