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What researchers can learn from 976-BABE.

Musings from a Co-CEO ///

What does one get from a Cold Call Marathon? The strong suspicion that it doesn’t matter what we’re selling—a new product to an existing client, an open position to a potential employee, a cutting-edge project to an old-school board—if we have to do it over the phone, we all want to deliver the same thing: a richly gratifying experience that leaves ‘em wanting more.

But let’s face it: The gulf created by our tiny phones is enormous. Our listeners can’t see our facial expressions or hear nuances in our voices. Sure, expertise travels across wires, but passion? Grit? An intimate understanding of pain points? These can be more challenging to translate.

And so, I pay homage to those 976ers—the ones who nailed the phone relationship. May we take their tips to heart. And to the bank.

Be present. You’d think it’d go without saying, but when we’re on the phone…at our desks…with our computers open…it’s so tempting (soo tempting)…to refresh our emails…file memos…pick our toenails. Sure, our listener can’t see us. But mindfulness can be felt. One wrong “Sure!” when the question was, “Are you tired of this project?” can result in a lot less time at that desk and a lot more time picking at our toes.

Be who your listener wants you to be. No, don’t lie. Be the solution to your listener’s challenge. If you sell online market research, don’t waste the time of the CEO of a focus group conglomerate. I spent too many of my younger years trying to be everything to everybody. You better believe I have greater success today matching my pitch to the folks who could really use my services.

Be bold. The phone is a cold, cold friend. We’ve got to warm things up. If you’re humorous, tell a joke. If you’re a reader, give an opinion on an on-trend industry topic. Fruitful phone relationships are not for the meek. We’ve got to put ourselves out there.

And be aware of time. There’s a distinct moment in any phone conversation when the listener is finished. He may not hang up. But he’s gotten what he needs, and he’s done. The more tuned in we are to that shift, the more graciously and positively we can close the call. And the more likely he’ll walk away, looking forward to the next time it’s his online provider’s voice on the other end of the line.

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