In today’s fast-paced business world dominated by digital communication and virtual meetings, maintaining genuine human connections with clients is more important than ever. Picking up the phone remains a direct channel to build trust and real human connection with your clients.
As a business development professional, my preferred method for connecting with clients is always face-to-face. However, the realities of jam-packed schedules and clients spread across the country often make this a challenge. That’s where phone conversations are a quick and reliable way to communicate with clients whenever and wherever needed.
Here’s why communicating by phone is excellent for building relationships, along with some practical tips.
Phone Conversations Build Trust and Credibility
When clients reach out to me, no matter the subject, I’ll answer, even during busy periods, because it is another opportunity to engage. I let my clients know that I am always on and available whenever they need me. Being available for clients is essential as it shows commitment. When they call, it is because they have a need, and they want you to help them. That means that you were front of mind and had an opportunity not only to solve a problem for them but also to solidify your relationship and trust with your client. If you can’t immediately address their needs, commit to calling them back at a specific time, and always follow through. Fast, effective and direct.
However, it’s more than being fast; it is getting to know clients better. It’s the fine personal details and the tone you pick up over the phone that significantly contribute to building relationships. Clients often share things they enjoy or are interested in, providing touchpoints for future engagement. Actively listening and showing a genuine interest in clients as people and not a number is more authentic.
And here’s the secret sauce: Your expertise and trustworthiness are apparent during phone conversations. Clients can discern your knowledge and sincerity. There’s no hiding behind an email. These conversations allow clients to learn about you, your industry, and your understanding of theirs. Sometimes, all it takes is a phone chat after sending an initial email to meet face-to-face.
The more positive experiences clients have with you, the more likely they are to become your advocates. They’ll refer you to new customers, becoming your most effective salespeople.
Here are five practical tips for making the most of phone conversations with clients:
- Use Email as a Prelude: Send an email first and follow up with a call if you’re still waiting for a response after a couple of days. You then have a reference point, ‘Hi Jenny, I am following up on the email I sent on Monday about…’
- Be Polite and Value-Driven: Be concise and polite during your calls, and always focus on the value you bring to your client. Consider what’s in it for them.
- Respect Their Time: When you call your client, even if planned, you can quickly pick up what state of mind they are in. If they are having a tough day, the timing is off, or they have other priorities. Requalify if they can take your call or offer to reschedule. Flexibility and consideration go a long way.
- Avoid Pushy Sales Tactics: A selling approach over the phone does not work, so being pushy is an ineffective move; however, re-enforcing the benefits of your service/product and providing some examples and references does. People will buy from people and face-to-face. Building a relationship is key.
- End on a Positive Note: Always conclude your conversations with an open invitation for clients to reach out whenever they need assistance. It’s a straightforward yet effective way to leave the door open for further interactions.
Having real conversations on the phone will always be vital for building strong relationships with clients. Becoming skilled at effective phone communication takes time, but it will help establish trust, credibility, and long-lasting connections in your business.