The four keys to connecting with first-time telephone callers are:

  • Establishing Rapport
  • Conveying Empathy
  • Exuding Enthusiasm
  • Asking The Right Questions In The Right Way At The Right Time

The order in which these take place are rarely the same in any given call. Some may occur simultaneously, while others may occur at several points during the call.  Almost without exception, the early phase of the call should be devoted to connecting emotionally with the caller, that is, remembering that people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care, and that’s what rapport, empathy, and enthusiasm are all about.

In her book The First Thirty Seconds, Joan Hershey points out in detail how so many buying decisions are made in a remarkably short period of time.  This is even truer when considering a visit to a website and a telephone inquiry.  Not only do you get one chance to make a first impression: you’ve only got a short time to make it.

Rapport means relating to someone in a comfortable and harmonious way.  It’s important because if people are going to work together they’ll work out the details later: if they’re not going to work together, the details don’t matter.

Skills that go a long way toward establishing rapport are listening and getting into the caller’s rhythm.  These take practice, as do all the keys we will be sharing over the next few posts.  Just continue to role play with your team, and you’ll soon find that what seems awkward at first will quickly become comfortable and natural.


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