Business phone calls are a necessary part of the job. People have been making business calls as long as there have been phones, but somehow we haven’t all mastered that professional confidence that makes them easier and less uncomfortable. The good news is that no matter how awkward you think you are on a call, the chances are high that you’re either the only one who noticed, or it’s not that bad at all.
Still, you want to make sure that you upskill yourself (and your team) to ensure that you are prepared for any business call that you may have to make or take. Part of that comes with practice, but there are also some tips and steps that can help you along the way.
For many people, getting on the phone can be the most difficult part of the job. Fortunately, that no longer has to be a concern. Read on to learn all about how to get rid of the awkwardness once and for all and start making better business calls.
The first and fastest way to increase the awkwardness in a phone call is to ask someone to memorize a script. Not only does this affect their ability to feel personally connected to the call, but it puts the focus on the script, not the person on the other end of the phone. Instead of trying to say the “right thing,” you should just be having a conversation.
If it’s with a customer, listen to their needs and then respond. If it’s with a vendor or business partner, be open and communicate clearly, and don’t feel like you have to be all “stuffy” or formal if it’s not your style. Companies around the world are learning that when their business calls are as unique as their calling styles, things get easier for everyone.
The last thing any lead, customer, or other contact wants is to feel like they’re talking to a robot, or someone who’s being forced to have a conversation unnaturally. No matter whether you use scripts or talking points, or take any of the rest of the tips to heart, this is a big one. Be yourself—be professional and courteous, but let your personality be a part of your attitude that gets people’s attention for the right reasons.
The biggest reason that people feel awkward, especially with business calls, is because they feel they’re not professional “enough” or because they are making a call where they aren’t sure how to act. There’s no acting—just be you and let the rest come naturally.
Speaking of talking points, these can help you stay on track and make sure that you avoid awkward pauses or dead air because no one knows what to say. Business calls should be brief and direct. People are busy, so get to the point. With a list of important topics to cover, you’ll be more prepared to flow through the conversation naturally instead of trying to remember all the reasons for the call.
For example, if you’re calling a customer to follow up on their order and you want to check on the question they asked about shipping, as well as their overall shopping experience, you could jot down a list of bullets like:
This is a short list, but it’s just an example of what you can do to help keep your conversations on track and avoid awkward silences or rambling.
Some people get flustered because they treat all business calls the same. They talk to customers the same way they talk to vendors, colleagues, and others—that’s not going to be effective. The way that you speak and the conversations that you have will depend on the calls being made. Conversations with customers should be more personable while still addressing their needs, while a call with a C-level executive at a vendor may be more professional and concise.
Train your team on how to speak for the types of calls that they’re taking. In combination with the rest of the tips here, that will ensure that there is less awkwardness all around. It will also help them recognize and learn how to handle the different types of calls they take, delivering a better experience for everyone.
They say practice makes perfect—while you’re never really going to “perfect” the business call, you can get more comfortable with them with practice and time. Some will say that no one uses the phone anymore, but that isn’t the case in business. Sure, plenty of people email, chat, or even text, but there are still, and probably always, going to be calls that need to be answered or made.
Have your team take their fair share of different types of calls so that they can learn how to better engage with people. You can even delegate calls so that people answer more of the ones they’re struggling with if you really want to start getting results. If you find that certain scripts or methods don’t work for you, try something new. There are tons of tips and suggestions out there to assist with making business calls less awkward and stressful.
Of course, businesses have a lot on their plates today and that can make it even more challenging to dedicate time and resources to mastering the business phone call. One alternative is to choose a team like the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai. In addition to acting as your 24/7 answering service, our team can also handle incoming and outgoing calls for outreach campaigns, lead intake, and appointment scheduling. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to email@example.com.