A new job or a new lucrative revenue stream could depend upon this call.
No pressure, of course.
Before you pick up that phone in haste and excitement, make sure you are prepared.
Do you have three versions of your message ready?
Yes, I said three. Here is why:
- If the person you wish to speaks with answers the phone. This is best case scenario and the one most people are prepared for.
- If you reach their voicemail. This is where people might stumble. They either prepare for voicemail or the actual person – but not both.
- If you reach a gatekeeper. This is the one that people tend to forget.
You should be prepared for each scenario so that way, no matter which option you get, you come across confident, collected and professional.
I honestly cannot tell you the number of times I have answered the phone to be met with “Oh, I didn’t expect you to answer.” I dropped the niceties a long time ago and now gently, and with a smile ask, “Then why did you call me?”
The normal answer: “I expected to get your voicemail.”
This is not the best way to start a conversation with someone you are hoping will hire you.
Over the years I have received my fair share of voicemails that were pretty close to train wrecks. It took some time to get to the point, there was a lot of reiteration of information, hurrying through the phone number (or forgetting it) and a weak conclusion.
This is the least pressure call of all – you do not even have to talk to an actual person.
Here are some pointers for all three calls:
- Use your full name, not just your first name. Odds are they know more than one person with your first name. You may not be top of mind when you call, even if they do not.
- If you are calling a prospect, be sure to use your first and last name along with your company name.
- Thank them for calling or contacting you, which leads into:
- Let them know you are returning their call or their message per their request. They may have forgotten they called you.
- If you are leaving a voicemail, let them know the date and time that you are leaving the message – electronic date stamping is not infallible.
- If talking to the person of interest and they hesitate or seem to not remember why they called you, offer a gentle nudge. Gentle, not straight out, “You were calling to offer me the position.”
- If you get a gatekeeper, pay attention to their name if given when answering the phone. Then say hello using their name, give your first and last name and tell them you were returning a call to Mr./Ms. Person of Interest.
- You do not need to give the entire story to the gatekeeper. Just let them know you are returning the call and if the person of interest is not available ask if you may leave a message. Then thank them at the end.
- If giving your phone number to a gatekeeper or voicemail, speak slowly. Picture in your mind writing each number down as you say it, this will allow the person on the other end enough time to get it the first time.
- At the end of your voicemail, thank them, repeat your phone number and let them know when you would be available if convenient for them.
- No matter whom you speak to – thank them. Manners matter.
- Smile. Whether you talk to a person or machine, smile. It comes through in your voice. You sound positive and confident.
With a little preparation you will be able to deliver the perfect call or message no matter what the situation and seal that deal!
Lisa K McDonald, CPRW
Brand Strategist & Career Coach
Certified Professional Resume Writer