Ever since digital technology started to play such a prominent in business, more and more entrepreneurs have adopted email, text messages and even social media as their primary method of communication. Of course these methods are invaluable tools in today’s connected world, but business leaders should not forget the power of a telephone call when it comes to closing a sale, negotiating a discount or just sealing a deal that could be the key to your business success:
Use the phone to your advantage
Speaking on the phone means you can engage in a two-way conversation where you can get an instant reaction to their proposals.
Build rapport in the usual way, a little small talk. Use the same words as the other person, if you can. For example, I answer the phone, ‘Hello, it’s Derek Arden.’ You can play back two of the words I have used to build rapport, by saying, ‘Hello, Derek. Is now a good time to speak or can I call you back?’
Do not miss the chance to connect with the other person, if you can. It will help the negotiation.
Make the call if you can
You can be better prepared if you make the outgoing call so that you are in the perfect frame of mind. Alternatively, arrange a time to speak so that, even if they are calling, you can still feel prepared.
If they call you and you were not expecting the call, then say it is not a convenient time for the call and arrange for a call back at a specific time. Alternatively, ask if you can call them back in a short time, giving you enough time to prepare yourself properly.
Make the environment conducive to your call. Close irrelevant programs on your computer. Put papers away. Go to a different room, or even walk outside.
Standing up whilst on the telephone gives you better body posture and, therefore, better concentration, with the mind body connection. You will also feel more confident and sharper, as there will be more oxygen flowing to your brain.
Get someone else to listen
If it is a difficult call or a complicated one, you could put the call on a speaker phone or you could have someone with a separate ear piece. (However, you should let the caller know that they are listening.)
The listener will be able to take notes and interpret the meaning while you are handling the negotiating. This can be really useful to revisit after the call.
Listen for what you cannot see
There is no body language to help us interpret the real meaning, so switch on your active listening skills. Focus on the call and the person at the other end of the call to listen for intention and any hesitations.
Take a break
Just as with all negotiations, if you need a break to think through your options, then agree to call the person back at a prearranged time, or send them an email in advance before you call them.
Do not forget:
- Be polite, build rapport – ask if this is a convenient time to have a conversation. Small talk is as important on the phone as it is face to face.
- Use the person’s name – often, but not too often (too often can sound patronising and manipulative), mirror their language, the words, the tone and speed of voice.
- Ask high-quality questions and listen carefully – you will get clues to how it is going from the way they answer, as well as what they answer.
- Summarise agreement – listen carefully to whether they are in agreement by their tone of voice and language. Confirm agreement by email straight away. Write the contract.
By Derek Arden, The Negotiating Speaker - known as Mr Negotiator is an International negotiating and Motivational speaker, author of new book, Win Win: How to get a positive result from persuasive negotiations, published by Pearson, priced £12.99.