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Q&A: Selling yourself on the phone

Posted by Ilise Benun on

QUESTION: What are some specific challenges inherent in "selling yourself" over the phone, as opposed to in writing or in person?

ANSWER: Selling yourself in writing is easy because it’s just you and the blank page (or screen). And selling yourself in person is easy because you can see the other person and judge their non verbal communication. On the phone, however, all you have is your script and the other person’s voice and a wide gap in between where many people insert all sorts of fantasies about what’s happening on the other end. That’s where the anxiety comes from. When we can’t see the other person’s facial expressions or body language, we are free to imagine, and many people imagine the worst.

On the phone, you may imagine you will become tongue-tied, stutter and your mind will go blank, all of which would supposedly be humiliating and intolerable, even though it’s not such a big of a deal. If it happens, you hang up and move on to the next call. Or you may imagine that the recipient of your call screams, "Go to hell" into the phone. I have a client who keeps waiting for someone to say that to him and seems more than mildly disappointed that no one has yet. In fact, much to his surprise, most of the people he’s reached are in fact interested in his services.

  • More in: Ask the Experts, Connecting, Self-Promotion

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