Yesterday, I attended a training program where one of my colleagues, who is also a close friend, was conducting a session on “Selling Skills”. My colleague is a great trainer and I decided to take this opportunity to pick up some tips from his session.
During the course of this session, there was a discussion on making phone calls to the prospective customer to gain appointments. An interesting point arose when telephone etiquette was being discussed. Does the way you are sitting or the condition you are in at the moment influence the way the person you have called perceives you? Is it really that important to mind the way you are dressed or your posture when you are just talking on a phone call, where the recipient of the call cannot actually see you? Or, is there a hidden camera in your telephone instrument which transmits images of you across the telephone line?
The simple answer to this question for most people would be, “No, obviously the person on the other side cannot see me. So why even bother about all of this? If I can’t be the way I want to even when I am calling someone from home, then it’s a real shame!” But to all us discerning people, the answer is mightily different from what it seems. A few examples of this were quoted in the session which I will put down here:
1. Imagine a call center employee (lets call him Sharath) in an inbound calling unit in
2. Let us take another situation. Ramesh is a sales executive with a multinational bank and has been assisting customers with their financial needs. One Saturday morning, around 10 am he calls a prospective client to get an appointment for selling a long term investment plan, a lead that was referred to him by another of his customers. Ramesh has just risen from bed so he is still in his night clothes. His wife is watching Baba Ramdev’s pravachan on Aastha channel and his 2 small children are playing in the room. The call goes something like this:
Ramesh: Good morning, am I speaking to Mr. Sharma! This is Ramesh Sawant (am using fictional names; do not mean anyone in particular) from so-and-so bank. You were referred to me by Mr. XYZ. Is the right time to speak to you?
Customer: Yes, tell me Mr. Sawant. XYZ did tell me about you.
Ramesh: Well sir, I had wished to meet you regarding a long investment plan. As you are yourself aware, life is very unpredictable and we all need to plan for our family’s future in the event of anything happening to us. Financial security is of paramount importance.
(At that very instant, Baba Ramdev intones in the background: Bhakto, jeevan moh maaya hai aur paisa hamare haath ka mail. Aadmi jo lekar aaya tha wahi lekar jaayega!)
Ramesh continues: Sir, in this regard sir…………..a brief shout from Ramesh…..and then…sorry sir, dropped some hot tea on myself.
(At that moment, Ramesh’s son comes running and playfully pulls Ramesh’s hair)
Ramesh: CHINTU, I WILL SLAP YOU! Sorry sir, that was not for you, my son, sir!
Customer (by now a little irritated): Well Mr. Sawant, what do you want from me?
Ramesh: An appointment, sir. When could I come over to your house to meet you sir?
Customer: I think Monday, that is the 23rd of May would suit me – say around 8 pm.
Ramesh (fumbling for and not finding his date diary which is in his bag in his bedroom; now grabs a pencil and tries to note on the newspaper in his lap): Huh sir, could you please repeat?
What happened here? If Ramesh had followed the accepted practice of calling customers from his office, where he would be professionally dressed, with no TV to disturb him or kids to distract him and with all his essentials like a pen, appointment diary next to him, he would have definitely stood a much better chance of closing this call.
While more examples were dissected, I suppose that these two convey the essence of what I wanted to say. That you are definitely seen by the person you are calling. It is just that this is not literal “seeing” but in the mind’s eye, we do develop a picture of someone we are speaking to from their tone, their nuances of speech, their voice modulation and ultimately their state of mind. How often have we called a close friend and when he / she has replied “Haan bol?” in an abrupt fashion and deduced that they were in a meeting or with their boss? Or on the other hand been greeted with an expansive “Boooooooolllllllllllll....wassup?” and inferred from their tone as well as background sounds that they were in a club / pub / disco enjoying themselves?
While these are small things that all of us already knew, most people give these signs a miss and neglect to give them the importance they deserve. One good part about my writing this post is that I, on my part at least, have decided to imbibe these learnings and put them into practical use. And obviously all the credit goes to my friend!