Wednesday 10th January 2018

Workplace communication: building a rapport on the telephone.

Establishing relationships within business is the core element to being successful. There are many ways to approach customers, and body language plays a major part in establishing those relationships, but if you’re not able to use this element in the workplace and your sole communication is your voice, how do you establish those all-important working relationships?

Jack Hulme, Inside Sales Representative at Condeco in the UK, sole form of communication with customers and colleagues in the workplace is the telephone. It’s imperative he is skilled in the art of building a rapport with anyone he speaks to, we sat down and discussed the science and emotion behind creating relationships via the telephone in the workplace.

Eye contact

Q: Our eyes are quite often referred to as the Windows to our Soul, and according to Optimizing Language Learners’ Nonverbal Behavior: From Tenet to Technique by Dr. Tammy Gregersen, Dr. Peter D. MacIntyre, “43.4% of the attention we focus on someone is devoted to their eyes“, how do you overcome this over the telephone?

Jack Hulme (JH): Of course, being unable to see someone makes building rapport more difficult, the art of listening becomes paramount to overcome this. In relation to eye contact I attempt to listen to tone of voice as substitute to reading body language. For example, you can or at least should be able to tell very quickly on a call if someone is engaged or not by the tone of their voice. By understanding this gives you the option to adapt and adjust during the call to attempt to mirror the other person and break down the initial reluctance.

Listening techniques

Q: Establishing connections with colleagues, customers or suppliers requires you to remember accurate information about that person. What listening techniques do you use to engage with people?

JH: One of the most important things when working in any telesales based role is actively listening. What this means is not just waiting for the person to finish talking so you can begin the sales pitch you have practiced over and over but taking a genuine interest in what they are saying. This is demonstrated by asking questions based on what they are telling you, referring to previous parts of the conversation and in general actually wanting to listen to what your prospective client/customer has to say.

Of course, you will not be able to remember everything you are told one of the tricks I use is to try and pick out key bits of information both business and personal and relate back to these.

Authentic and genuine

Q: It’s important to add personality to your call and keep away from those call scripts, what do you use when speaking to individuals?

JH: I always try to put a bit of my personality into the call, let’s be honest the vast amount, if not the majority of people don’t enjoy taking sales calls. I find by being myself as much as I can be helps to break down those barriers slightly and relaxes the prospect on the other end of the phone.


Q: There are many great leaders in history who are masters at communication, who inspires you as one of the greats? 

JH: There are a few people that spring to mind when thinking about great communicators! My personal favourite is Mohammed Ali, the way he captivated not just a nation but the world with his wit, poetry and humour during a very tense time meant that he transcended sport and became a representative of so much more for so many.

Body language

Q: Words account for 7% our overall message, our tone of voice accounts for 38% of the message and body language accounts for 55% of our overall message (source) . When you’re on the phone, how do you make up for the lack of body language?

JH: It all comes down to being able to hear and react to the tone of voice, a person’s tone on the phone can convey so much for example I can tell if someone is busy, if I have caught them at the wrong moment, if they are open to a conversation, if they are just being polite or if they are not interested all from someone’s tone.

Workplace communication comes in many different forms, in our modern age it’s easy to revert to electronic messaging, although in Jack’s case this isn’t an option and he has mastered the lost art of the telephone call and communication.

You can give Jack a call on 020 7001 2043 or chat with him via web chat.

*This article was written by Claire Roper, UK Digital Marketing Manager at Condeco

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