One of the reasons I was good at it was that I quickly learned how to ‘own the phone’.
Most people make a call or answer one so they can speak to people. There’s a conversation, a back and forth. It’s a sound-based medium and people expect sound. It struck me that most awkward points in a telephone conversation aren’t when both people are trying to speak, it’s when no one is.
Silence just isn’t what you expect to happen on the phone. It’s awkward, it makes people uncomfortable and they want it to end. So how did I use this little insight to my advantage?
Well, I worked out that when I asked a question and then said nothing, the silence would build pressure. The pressure would build and build. Eventually, the other person would answer. Not because they wanted to, but because they wanted the silence to end. Once they’d answered my question, I knew they’d answer all my questions, that they’d want to avoid that awkward silence.
Now, this little trick didn’t help me persuade more people to sign up for a credit card, but it did mean that people listened to me and answered my questions. They took me seriously and I didn’t waste leads.
The flipside is true too. If you ask a question and the other person doesn’t respond, the pressure builds. If you rush in with another question or clarify your original question, then you’ve lost. Deep down, they know they don’t have to answer your questions. They don’t have to talk to you. You’ve lost that call and you have wasted a lead.
Only one person can own the phone.