Phone power: how to handle enquiries like a seasoned pro

When you first start out, your client has nothing to go on when it comes to assessing whether you can deliver what you promise. They will be analysing, both consciously and subconsciously whether you meet their expectations of what a knowledgeable computer consultant should sound like.

Pre-advert preparation that doubles your results – guaranteed!

I cannot stress enough the importance of practising what you will say before you say it. You simply must prepare before you get a call. Failure to do so is likely to result in sloppy handling of your first few enquiries – and this will cost you money!

Even with considerable experience, I still often have a handy checklist of points to make when answering calls or following up on enquiries. Its just too difficult to remember all the reasons why they should do business with you when most of your attention is spent listening to what the client is looking for. I keep this list by the phone.

How to answer with top-notch credibility – word for word

There is only one way: Write on paper what you intend to say and practice out loud. Do it in the car so your spouse or partner doesn’t think you are an idiot. Don’t skip this part. You have got to act as though you have been doing this stuff for years.

Also, keep your script handy, preferably next to your phone. When you answer it will be there to guide you along. The top telesales firms script their calls and so should you. It’s the only way to ensure a consistently high level of professionalism when on the phone. When you get lots of experience under your belt you can then break the rules but not yet. Get it right first of all. You’ll install good phone habits in the process.

My word by word script that has stood the test of time

YOU: “Good morning, XYZ Company, Jon speaking. How may I help you?”

This is a great introduction and follows the approach that most larger companies adopt.

ENQUIRER: “I saw your advert on computer training in the local paper and wondered what you charge?”

Don’t give away a price straight away or the client will often end up saying “OK, thanks. I’ll give it some thought. Goodbye.” Avoid this at all costs. Your goal here is to get talking with this enquirer and get them emotionally involved with their particular computer need.”

YOU: “Which paper was that?”

Get your advertising source and make a note.

ENQUIRER:  “The Local Rag.”

YOU: “And what were you looking for computer training on?”

Get them talking. See if you can offer what they are looking for.

ENQUIRER: “I want to learn more about Word. I’ve been off work for several years looking after the kids and I want to get my skills current.”

YOU: “Have you ever used Word before?”

Get more information to establish what their level of computer literacy is. Half the time people want to learn something like Word but they don’t know how to use Windows. It is up to you to check out what they do know and advise them on what they actually need.

ENQUIRER: “Once or twice but that was a long time ago.”

YOU: “Have you used Windows before?”

ENQUIRER: “My friends got a home computer and I’ve seen it there but I haven’t really used it much.”

YOU: “We can certainly help you with your training on Word but you need to know something about Windows before you can use Word. We could combine the training so you can learn Windows and Word at the same time. There’s no point in you taking an extra course on Windows when we can combine the two. Does that sound like something you would want to do?”

You are advising them of their needs and at the same time suggesting away to get their training needs sorted without having to set up separate courses for Word and Windows. Then you test the water to gauge their interest.

ENQUIRER: “Yes, that’s the sort of thing I’m looking for.”

YOU: “Great! Well, we charge $40 per hour with a minimum of 2 hours in one session. We come to you and we speak in layman’s terms. Having someone show you what to do is by far the easiest way to learn. When were you looking for this training?”

If they say soon you are in with a great shot at getting the sale. If they say “It was just a tentative enquiry – we’ll get back to you” then they are probably put off by your price. People rarely give the real reason why they don’t want to go ahead.

ENQUIRER: “As soon as possible. Do you have something for next week?”

A sale! They have indicated they want to go ahead. Just agree the time and date. Then, just before you go, confirm the details.

YOU: “Let me just check. How about next Thursday at 2pm?”

ENQUIRIER: “Yes, that’s fine. Can we book it then?”

YOU: “Consider it done. Can I have your address please?”

ENQUIRER: “We live at 19 The Drive, Montargis Way, New York.”

YOU: “OK, just to confirm then. That’s next Thursday the 11th at 2pm at your home. See you then. Bye!”

The important thing is to remember the general structure of the call, the key phrases I am using and how I conclude the sale. You will eventually end up using your own approach but use something that works first. Then experiment.