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Because there are no visual clues, you must sharpen your listening skills. The following are tools and tips I use to improve my ability to practice the HEARD Process.

Before Answering the Phone

  1. Take a deep breath. This helps to refocus and switch gears from other tasks at hand.
  2. Remove or minimize distractions such as your cell phone, IPhone or music source.
  3. Turn away from your computer to avoid the temptation to check emails during call.
  4. Silence audio computer email notifications.
  5. Greet the caller and SMILE. (They can hear this in your voice.)

The  “I’m here for you now and later too” Call:

These are suggestions for the second or third call with your colleague/client/customer. It occurs after the initial introduction call from the sales and/or implementation team. The purpose is to begin to build a trusting relationship:

  1. Be proactive. Don’t wait for the customer to call with a problem. Call them first.
  2. Ask if this a good time to talk? Sometimes you can hear noise or other distraction in the background or there is just a hesitation in their voice. It’s always good to ask permission to proceed.
  3. If the timing is not good, ask when they might be available to talk. Schedule the call and stick to your appointment.
  4. Explain your reason for calling. “I’m following up on ……..
  5. Your calling to help and make an offer to move a project forward by saying “What else needs to be done and how can I help you reach your deadline?”

Other helpful tips:

  1. If you work in a noisy and distracting environment, consider finding a more quiet space especially for a difficult call when listening well is critically important.
  2. Have a beverage available to sip in case your voice becomes dry. When we are nervous, our body automatically responds to stress with shallow breathing which can make our throats dry.
  3. Take notes to keep your mind from wandering as the call progresses. This is especially important when the prospective member has an accent or speech challenge.
  4. Prepare a checklist of items you need to cover with the person before completing the call prior to commencing the call.
  5. If the office is unexpectedly noisy, ask if you might call the prospect back at a mutually convenient time.

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!