Phone Calls in a Business Setting
There are many reasons to make a business call:
- You need information from the customer that will help you better serve them
- There is an emergency that requires attention
- You want to make a business appointment with the customer
- To make a sales call
- To troubleshoot an order issue
- Provide follow up service
- Technical support calls
A phone call is often a business owner's first contact with a potential customer. It is important to make a good first impression and show the customer that you care about their needs.
Make a Professional First Impression
The first impression is the most important step in connecting with someone for the first time. It can be difficult to make a good first impression over the phone.
Ways to make a good first impression:
- Be punctual and mindful of the person’s time
- Be professional throughout the duration of the call
- Be confident with your voice
- Ask questions when unsure of something someone said
- Always follow up with the person to see how you can help further
Prepare to Make a Call
Proper preparation is critical to a productive call. Review this checklist by yourself and with your coworkers (if applicable) before your next call:
- Review the list of participants in the call. Note the names, titles, and any other relevant information for each participant.
- Identify what you want to get out of the conversation. What are you going to discuss? What are you going to ask? What are you going to share?
- Share your agenda with all participating parties at least one day in advance of the meeting. Be sure that it includes timelines and any pertinent information about constraints or structure for the meeting.
- Consider who is best suited to answer certain questions from participants during the meeting and plan accordingly so that these people can be on hand and prepared for their scheduled time slot(s).
- Know how to use the required technology. If it’s an internet call, you’ll especially want to study how to place people on hold, transfer calls, and how to use a conference speakerphone. Every platform is different, requiring some understanding before using.
Dos and Don'ts During a Business Call
Making a business call can be stressful, but there are things you can do to ensure the call is successful and productive.
- Answer the phone in a polite, professional tone (with or without caller ID).
- Use a greeting prompt (e.g., "Hello, this is John Smith with ABC Company.")
- Ask what they need help with and if this is a good time to chat.
- Keep the conversation professional. To do this, be conscious of your tone and the words you use.
- Make sure your responses are concise yet informative and encourage others to stay on point.
- Let them know your availability so that they honor your time.
- Talk clearly and just loud enough to be heard.
- Avoid follow-up after the call.
- Act insincere.
- Ask personal questions or unrelated business questions.
- Work on unrelated tasks during the call. Keep your focus on the conversation.
- Give long-winded responses.
- Use jargon or slang that might confuse your listener. Remember that they might not know much about your industry.
- Rush the conversation. Rushing can make you sound impatient or overly nervous.
After Ending the Call
It is important to follow up with participants after a call. By following up, you show you care about the client, increase chances of making a sale, and provide any clarifications that may arise from the first call.
Some of the best follow-up practices include:
- Sending a “thank you” email to the client or giving them a follow-up phone call
- Recapping the main points of your initial call
- Answering any outstanding questions from the main call
- Asking if the call was helpful
- Asking if they have any further questions (and answering them)
Business phone etiquette can be boiled down to:
- Making a good first impression
- Preparing in advance whenever possible (either with a script or with notes)
- Respecting the client’s time
- Providing follow-up after the call (e.g., email, call, etc.)
But above all, remember to be professional and thoughtful when placing a call on behalf of your business. Customers and clients alike respond better when you’re courteous, caring, polite, and helpful to them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of business phone calls?
There are many different types of business phone calls. Some are more common than others.
A sales call is a phone call that you would typically have with a prospect in the sales process to learn about their needs and provide them with information about your product or service. These calls can also be for existing customers who may need help with a specific issue or question.
An informational interview is a phone conversation where you, as the caller, want to gain information from an expert in the field so you can learn more about their research. In this type of conversation, it's typically not your goal to sell anything or close a sale.
A customer service call is when someone contacts your company for assistance on an issue they have had with either your product or service in an attempt to get help or resolve a matter.
What are the most common mistakes people make when making a business phone call?
When it comes to making a business phone call, there are a number of mistakes that people often make. They might not have a prepared script, or they might be trying to talk about something that is not relevant to the person on the other end of the line.
In order to avoid these mistakes, people should do their research and plan ahead before they make a call. They should also know what they want from the conversation and who they need to speak with before making a call.