Market musings

How to Capture Attention Quickly on a Business Phone Call

by Sasha Viasasha
August 15, 2017

You've got 14 seconds. The clock is running down. How are you going to capture the attention of whoever you have on the line?

Here's what we've found: The first step is to hit reset on how you think about time. 

Don’t think of time as money. It is far more valuable and dangerous than that.

There are many ways that your business can make more money, but time is both a non-renewable resource and a bio-hazard. If you don’t handle it with proper care, low levels of time will destroy your business.

Productivity hacks can only shift your allotted time from one task to another, but they can’t add a single second to your day.

Once you start treating your own time with the caution and respect it deserves, you can’t waste anyone else’s time in good conscience.

A well-timed business phone call can save time in all sorts of situations, including a quick goal realignment, detailed project planning, coordination of schedules/tasks, mini-presentations in front of funding sources, critical updates to stakeholders, intelligence for lead generation and countless other examples.

When you need to know that the other party acknowledges and understands your message, a conversation is your best option.  

The 14 second rule

What's the average attention span is? Trick question. Despite what you may have read, serious cognition research concluded that there is no such thing as an average attention span. 

On the other hand, there are best practices in phone-based engagement based on sales stats and they conclude that 8-14 seconds is the ideal length for your intro. Any longer and the receiver tunes out to start planning a response. 

Miss the window and their mind is made up, usually not in your favor. Getting your message heard after that becomes many times harder. 

Give your name and ask a question that can't be answered with a yes or no. Active listening plays a critical role in capturing someone’s attention. Too many people speak, then start formulating what they are going to say next instead of actually listening to the response from the person on the other side.

If the other party gets the impression that you aren't really listening, their attention will turn to other high priority tasks.

The basics of crisis communications

Take a cue from crisis communications. That’s a state where many people in business are spending a lot of time recently. North Carolina State University put together a “message map” for speaking with the public during a crisis, and the stages are:

  1. Express empathy with personal pronouns (I, we, us, our) in your first statement.  
  2. Limit your words to 27 or less. Limit the first sentence to 9 seconds or less.
  3. State supporting information with no more than 3 facts.
  4. Summarize the key message before you break contact.

Clarity and simplicity are the cornerstones of communication in crisis mode.

4 elements of cold calls

There are several similarities between crisis communications and sales guru Grant Cardone's method for making connections on the phone. This involves more than just sales though. This general business phone call advice applies any time you have a complex goal and you need people to help you get there. The phone is just a bridge to the resources that can help you reach the next stage. Cardone advised:

  1. Face your fear of the phone. Acknowledge it, don’t ignore it. Remind yourself that you are safe and that the fear will only fade with practice.
  2. Set your intention immediately. State who you are and what you want to accomplish. 
  3. Don’t try to establish rapport on the initial call using idle chit chat. That just annoys people. Do research and ask a relevant, incisive question. If you can get to the next stage with a longer meeting, you will have time to do develop rapport. For now, prove that you respect their time.
  4. Prepare a concise statement of what you want the listener to do at the end of the call, whether that is add you on the calendar, send you information, download an app, etc.

If you wanted to concentrate on the single most critical action you can take right now to grab and hold attention within  the first 14 seconds of a phone call, the answer would be to boost your confidence. 

Travis Bradberry, clinical psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, wrote that confidence is the No. 1 way to get what you want. He referenced a  University of Melbourne study showing that confidence was positively correlated with higher wages and faster promotions. Confidence commands attention. 

The world's most powerful networking device

The phone has been knocking down distance barriers and bringing people together since 1876. The mobile phone, bringing together the best aspect of the internet and voice-to-voice communication is propelling a new wave of connectivity in ways no one imagined. Take advantage of the world’s most powerful networking device and call someone today to go after what you want. But remember - time is running out and every second counts. Download your free trial of Spoke for a full service business phone system contained in an app. 

The Pocket Communication Guide for Your Millennial Employees
The Pocket Communication Guide for Your Millennial Employees