The telephone could be a major failure as an instrument of communication. The reason for the telephone’s failure is that the telephone conversation is a pure technological artifact, it is not natural. Much of the information which comes from face to face conversation is visual. The phone eliminates the visual contact.
Modern life being what it is, the first approach in response to the landlord’s “for rent” ad is most likely to be by phone, not by letter or walk in. In order to use the phone effectively, telephonic technique and etiquette must be perfected. These are based on practicality and good manners and are not difficult to master, they only require a little thought and practice.
There are a few guidelines to effective telephonic communication which should be observed.
Eschew surplusage. There is no way to know how much time the other person has. It is grossly impolite to waste it.
Remember the limitations of the instrument. All visual communication is lost. Careful listening, together with direct speech, confined to the topic being discussed, can make up for this limitation.
You should not talk too fast, or too slow.
The tone of speech is also important. Varied intonations give life to the delivery and satisfy the listener’s visceral need for reinforcement that he is involved in a two way conversation.
Because you cannot be seen, it is important to insert aural cues which advise the speaker at the other end that you are there and listening, and that he is not on hold.
Productive conversation, no matter the purpose of the call, will be facilitated by a positive, up-beat attitude.
Speak on a clear line and directly into the receiver. Nothing is more frustrating that hearing an unintelligible garble because the speaker is not talking into the receiver. Understand the design of your instrument and utilize it according to the instructions for maximum effectiveness.
The subject of cellular phones is much in dispute as it is a new technology, and the etiquette of cellular conversations is still evolving. The most highly and unanimously prized characteristic of cellular conversations is brevity.
The basics are techniques, but not mannerisms which can be turned on when required. It is important to work on the basics so that they become second nature.
Having given due thought to the operation of the telephonic mode of communication, it is now time to consider how it might be used in screening callers. The phone is not for closing the sale. The telephonic contact is made in the absence of any of the information you will need for proper qualification of the prospect.
It is necessary to convey certain information in order effectively to discriminate between those potential applicants who are actual prospects, and those who will disqualify themselves because you are simply not offering what they want. This facet of the conversation is the information which you are conveying to the prospect before the face to face meeting is scheduled. Neither your time, nor the prospect’s, should be wasted on a meeting if the product being offered is obviously not what the prospect needs. Ensure you let the caller know what is available, the rental rate, deposits required, general location of the property, any special attractive features, and any special house rules.
What is gleaned from the conversation is also important to you. You will want to know what prompted the call, whether it was an ad, a referral or a drive by look at a for rent sign. Will the prospect be moving soon? Why is the prospect moving? Above all, find out who is calling.
The application of these principles will have permitted you to weed out those who are either obviously unqualified to rent, or shopping for something you do not offer. As to the balance, the information obtained will be extremely useful in structuring the showing, and the pitch which you intend to use in selling the qualified applicant. The telephone, used skillfully, can be a very useful screening tool.