Geoffrey James at Inc. Magazine’s blog posted an excellent article titled “How to Work the Phone: 6 Tricks” that highlights active listening skills
Here’s my take on his suggestions:
1. Expunge your verbal weaknesses.
While I agree with everything he says, I take issue with “Important: Never, ever turn a statement into a question by putting a little uptick at the end; it’s a huge credibility killer.”
While it’s telemarketing dogma to not end statements with a question mark, when scripted properly, it’s actually an effective technique to keep momentum going and getting early engagement from your prospect. The trick is to make the statement something the prospect has to agree with. Have two or three of these in a row so your prospect is saying or thinking “yes… yes… true.” Make sure your voice conveys confidence and energy- that will really help to build the momentum.
2. Always have an agenda.
This goes without saying.
3. Listen (really) to the other person.
The suggestion to “suspend” thinking about what you’re going to say next is laudable, but I would add more…
You need to mentally summarize what you’re hearing the other person saying and then give it back to them using one of three active listening techniques- parroting, paraphrasing, or feeling feedback (follow the links for more details).
4. Take a second before each response.
This makes sense… however, you don’t want to always do the exact same thing every time or it will become obvious. Vary your pauses.
5. Listen (really) to your own voice.
I don’t know about this one. I think this will most likely cause you to lose your train of thought. The time to listen to yourself is after the call (assuming you kept a recording).
6. Adapt your tonality to match.
Other than pacing my prospect on rate of speech, mood, and volume and then trying to lead them a little, I would never try to affect an accent I hadn’t already mastered. They will see right through you and it will seem like you’re mocking them.