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Effective Phone Techniques!
Following Up, Sponsoring New Affiliates, Developing Leaders

Thanks to SFI Affiliate Cheryl Jordan, NEVADA, USA

Most home-business owners understand that a key element for network marketing success is establishing relationships with prospective customers and team members.

In a busy, digital world of crowded, spam-stuffed e-mail inboxes, it's becoming increasingly evident that relying solely on e-mail and online advertising falls far short of this goal. You must look to more personalized, direct methods of getting your message across.

A very effective way to accomplish this is to simply pick up the phone and talk directly with your potential Personally Sponsored Affiliates (PSAs) and team members. Calling and engaging in actual conversations lets your affiliates know they're not alone in their home-business venture, that there's an actual live person with whom they can learn, ask questions, and gain direction.

In fact, just using this simple method of connecting and following up with your prospective PSAs and team members can literally make the difference between a struggling business and one with skyrocketing sales, commissions, and leaders!

Even so, many home-business owners are extremely uncomfortable at the prospect of talking with someone they don't know and, perhaps, having their offer rejected.

But giving into your fear is NOT the answer. After all, no one ever achieved success by letting their fear run the show.

So, where do you begin? Simple. Develop some basic phone skills and have a handy phone script (we've included a link to sample scripts at the end of this article) to which you can refer. This alone can significantly reduce your fear factor and give you some real direction to follow when on the phone with your affiliates.

PHONE SKILLS

When contacting your affiliates by phone, it is important that you learn and/or improve your verbal communication skills to be successful. A shaking or nodding head doesn't convey a message very well over the phone—it is the words you use and the tone of your voice that provides customers or affiliates with an initial impression of you and your business.

On the phone, you have to use vocal techniques that will enhance your message and keep the conversation positive and productive. To improve the way you sound over the telephone, follow these three steps:

1. Use proper body mechanics when on the phone,
2.Build awareness of your voice,
3. And practice good vocal techniques.

• Proper Body Mechanics

Even though your affiliates can't see you, using proper posture when speaking on the phone does wonders for conveying your message effectively. Proper posture will keep you comfortable, your breathing relaxed, and your voice clear. When speaking on the phone, hold your head level, your chest up, your shoulders relaxed and back, your knees slightly flexed, and both feet on the floor.

Some people prefer standing up to sitting. By standing, you're increasing your energy level and may even find yourself getting more motivated about the topic of conversation.

Most importantly, don't forget to smile while you're talking!

Smiles, although unseen by your affiliates, are most certainly conveyed through the phone. If you're smiling, that just naturally comes through in the inflection and tone of your voice and helps put you—and your listener—at ease.

Whatever you prefer—sitting or standing—just remember: you must posture well to speak well!

• Vocal Awareness

Are you aware of how you sound to your affiliates? Find out by recording yourself and reading the script below. Then, before listening to the recording, write down how you think you sounded. Compare that to how you actually sound on the recording.


Allow me to introduce myself. My name is _____________, and I'm interested in providing high-quality customer service.
I speak to customers and affiliates on a daily basis to answer their questions and service their needs. I am going to practice some vocal techniques that will help me improve my vocal awareness.
I want to project a professional image for my business and myself. The techniques I will learn are not just for work. I'll learn to use them elsewhere in my daily life too.

Wish me luck.


After you've finished this recording and written down how you feel you sounded, play back your recording.

Does your voice on the recording sound like you think you sounded before listening to it?

Now, listen to the recording again. Write brief descriptions of what you liked about your voice and what you may want to improve. Next, record yourself reading the script again, paying attention to accentuate what you liked about your vocal message while improving what you didn't.

It also wouldn't hurt to have someone else listen to your recordings for some outside feedback. Others may notice positives and negatives about your message that you miss.

• Vocal Techniques

1. Volume & Rate: As any public speaker can tell you, there are many elements to good vocal techniques. Two of the most important of these elements are your voice's volume and rate. Volume refers to the amplification of your voice. You should speak loud enough to be heard, but not so loud that you are shouting. Rate refers to how fast or slow you speak while on the telephone. You should try to match the caller's rate of speech to give the call a conversational quality.

Adjusting your voice's volume and/or rate is critical for being heard correctly. Listeners who seem to have trouble hearing you may only need you to slow your rate. It's not because you are speaking too softly. It may be because you're speaking too quickly. This situation is common with elderly people. Rather than raising your voice, try using a slower rate.

Here's a good exercise to try to hone your vocal skills. Try to read the following two paragraphs in one minute, paying particular attention to your voice's volume and rate:


The attitudes of people in a company charged with answering telephone calls are capable of making or breaking a customer's image of the company. In business, where first impressions are of crucial importance, something as simple as a pleasant and helpful voice answering the phone could give your company an edge over the competition. Even when callers are established clients or customers, the advantages of promoting good telephone manners are many.

Having made the effort to place a call to your business, nobody appreciates being treated rudely or feeling that the call was a waste of time. It is always beneficial to give the best service possible even when the caller delivers highly charged messages. It only takes a short period of time to miss a golden opportunity to do a great job. Everyone must grab that one chance to do well and stand above the competition.


2. Articulation & Pronunciation: Volume and rate ensures that your listener can hear you. However, to help ensure that what they're hearing is accurate, you must also use good articulation and pronunciation when speaking.

Articulation simply refers to the crispness and distinctness of your speech. Pronunciation refers to the accepted or correct way of saying words. This is extremely important because you can say something clearly and crisply but still mispronounce the words.

For example, if you had never heard or spoken the word "Illinois" before, you might pronounce it "ill-ih-noise" because that's what it looks like. The proper pronunciation, as you know, is "ill-ih-noy."

Becoming familiar with the content with which you are working will ensure correct pronunciation and help bolster your credibility with customers. Customers expect you to be familiar with the product and or service you offer. To sound credible, you must be able to pronounce not only everyday words but also product and service terms correctly and clearly.

Here are some common pronunciation and articulation problems for many speakers:

Slurring: Those speaking English as a second language may not be familiar with commonly used slangs or slurs in speech. Correct pronunciation should be practiced at all times. Slurring occurs when two or more words are fused together in speech as one word.

Examples include:

  • Going to–"Gonna"
  • Did you–"Didja"
  • Want to–"Wanna"
  • Would you "Wouldya"
  • Sort of "Sorta"

Deletion: Leaving part of a word out of its pronunciation is called Deletion.

Examples are:

  • Supposed to–"Sposed to"
  • Regular–"Reglar"
  • Specifically–"Pacifically"
  • Them–"Em"

Substitution: When you lace part of a word with an incorrect sound, you are using Substitution.

Examples:

  • Get–"Git"
  • Because–"Cuz"
  • Have to–"Gotta"

Reversal: When a person transposes a sound, that's called reversal.

Examples include:

  • Procedures–"Percedures"
  • Performing–"Preforming"
  • Ask–"Aks"
  • Prefer–"Perfer"

To ensure that you're effectively using all four elements of good vocal technique—volume, rate, articulation and pronunciation—practice reading your scripts aloud and record your voice. Listen to them regularly to spot improvements and areas needing improvement. With a little practice, you'll hone your vocal techniques and ensure that your message—not vocal distractions—will be what reaches the ears of your listeners.

NOTE: Now that you have your phone techniques mastered, check out these sample phone scripts you can use to contact and motivate your new PSAs!