Phone calls are coming back in a big way. And if picking up the phone for a quick conversation isn’t quite your default yet, it might be in the near future.
After years of being on the wane in favor of Slack, social media, texting or emailing, the humble phone call seems to be gaining favor again. While some people break into a cold sweat at the sound of their phone ringing, Sherry Turkle, founder of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self explained in her book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk In The Digital Age, that teens and young adults are ready to move away from communicating solely through their devices. Turkle explains that people are starting to feel isolated and are ready for more interactive ways of communicating- specifically calling and talking.
The benefits of a quick call
Want a quick yes or no instead of 10 emails worth of runaround? Who doesn’t? Want to gauge someone’s interest by maybe picking up the nuance in their voice instead of the emoji on their text? Just pick up the phone! And with phone time suddenly gaining an edge over Facetime, it’s time to up your phone game.
Reclaim a lost art
Realtor Eliisa Stowell, of The Relegance, who will soon be appearing on “Real Estate Wars” on Bravo believes people have really lost the art of speaking on the phone. “I feel that a personal call is so much more effective than an email that nobody reads or even opens. Her phone calls were recorded for the new show and she explained that calls are a big part of her every day business since “Connecting with our clients, negotiating deals and doing business in general happens over the phone every day. You have to feel comfortable with those calls and be good at communicating when you are not face-to-face.”
Calling is such an important part of her business, Stowell is cognizant of the importance in other people’s professions as well. “When I get a “sales” call from somebody I know, I really appreciate the effort and try to take time to catch up. “Cold” calling is different though. It requires a lot of patience and acceptance that you will face a lot of rejection” Stowell said.
How can you become better at cold calling while not falling into a pit of despair each time you’re faced with rejection? Stowell thinks “positive attitude and energy can be heard through the phone.” She also advises doing “a little “rally” before each call to prep yourself.” And in case you’re wondering what to do when faced with voice mail, Stowell always leaves voice mails. “The recipient will appreciate the time and effort and if you don’t leave a message, you don’t care enough,” she explains. That said, try not to leave a passive or unsure message. “Always leave a call to action message where they feel they may get something if they call back,” Stowell says. For example, she continues, “I have several buyers ready to make an offer on a property in your neighborhood. Would you be willing to look at an offer if I brought you a great one?”
Embrace your accent or regional sound
Don’t worry about your heavy accent or regionalisms, it could end up making you more recognizable in a good way. When I started my first job straight out of high school, I spent a lot of time answering phones. My bosses explained that while the clients loved me, they couldn’t always understand my heavy Brooklynese accent. I took the not so veiled hint and worked to lose it. These days, I sound great on the phone but my voice lacks any kind of regional imprimatur, and to be honest, sometimes I miss it. Stowell has a Swedish accent and counts herself lucky “in the way that people remember my accent or are curious about where I’m from.” That said, when in conversation with others on the phone, Stowell also tries to remember to mimic “their tonality and speed of their speaking voice.”
You win some, you lose some
No matter how great you sound or how clear your message, cold calling is “a numbers game so always just remember that,” says Stowell. “It will take a lot of calls, energy and rejection but there is always that one person that will say YES.” And to improve the odds, she advises never calling if you’re in a bad mood or not up for the challenge “ They will hear your hesitation, fear or anxiety in your voice.”
Before you dial
- Write a script – it doesn’t have to be long and it certainly shouldn’t be too long, but create an outline of the reason you’re calling, why you’re worth speaking to and what you hope to accomplish – even if that’s simply setting up another call.
- Introduce yourself – don’t assume that everyone has or uses Caller ID. Offer your name, title and even reason for calling before launching into your schpiel
- Realize their time is valuable – even when cold calling, ask if it’s an okay time to talk; if it isn’t, ask for a better time.
- Role play – If you’re nervous about how you might sound, try practicing with a colleague before you dial.
- Say thank you – Even if they reject your offer, realize that they generously gave you some of their time. Good manners might get you in the door next time around.