Techniques for Creating and Sustaining Rapport Over the Phone
How to go about creating immediate rapport over the phone, within the first five seconds, is a key component of any sales training course, but is often overlooked in other forms of communications training. You will see that the same rules apply as for meeting someone face to face (apart from body language because the person can’t see you). The Mehrabian ‘liking’ rule referred to earlier, changes when we’re engaging in communication on the phone. When talking about feelings, the importance of your tone increases to 84 per cent and that of words increases to 16 per cent, in terms of gaining the like and trust of the person to whom you’re talking.
There are a few simple techniques used by salespeople that will help you, as a professional, gain rapport over the phone:
Note Sit up straight – Although your body language doesn’t directly influence your conversation, it’s important to recognise that your posture can have a direct impact on your tone of voice, which is a critical tool when building rapport over the phone. You want your tone to convey attentiveness to the other person, and sitting up straight helps you achieve this without having to think consciously about it.
Open the call with a smile – Believe it or not, a smile can be heard and a ‘smiling voice’ is more welcoming and relaxing for the other person, so they will be predisposed to like you.
Start the conversation with small talk – A simple question such as ‘how are you?’ will let the other person knows they are speaking to a human being. Most people will respond to you in a friendly manner and it helps to break the ice. Reply to their answer with a relevant, but positive, response and then move the conversation forward. Unlike the face-to-face meeting, you will not usually have the luxury of spending five or ten minutes making small talk at this stage (unless you know them well).
Listen well – Avoid distractions and allow yourself to concentrate on the other person and their conversation. Let them know you are listening by responding with gentle and soft ‘uh-huhs’ or ‘mmms’ as they speak (remember, they can’t see you nodding in agreement). Do not, under any circumstances, interrupt them. Allow the speaker to finish what they are saying.
Match words – As you would in a face-to-face context, use words that your caller uses in their conversation, especially any adjectives.
Show empathy – To show empathy means to share in someone else’s thoughts or feelings, and it is a great way of building rapport over the phone. Empathy can be shown by using phrases such as: ‘I understand what you mean’; ‘I can see where you are coming from’.
Be friendly, even when it’s a difficult conversation – Use good inflection and modulation in your voice. Do not raise your voice or withdraw from the conversation. Keep showing empathy, ask sensible questions and share in the light-hearted moments. Don’t forget to laugh at any jokes.
Note Know when to close the conversation – There is nothing worse for rapport than trying to prolong a conversation that has run out of steam.Summarise the key points of the conversation as you understand them, ask the other person whether they agree, then confirm the next action. Then politely say, ‘Thanks for your time, I really enjoyed speaking with you’ and put the phone down. You can book Anubha’s Session and contact email@example.com, www.prismphilosophy.com