Phone Etiquette for Business Calls
Ensuring that your phone etiquette is adequate is pivotal. This is because it can allow you to:
- Inspire consumer loyalty
- Improve your credibility and professionalism
- Attract new partners
There are several steps you should consider before making a business phone call:
Schedule a Time With the Other Party
You will want to ensure that this is suitable for everyone on the call — especially if you are operating in different time zones. After you have confirmed a time, you should make a note of it in your calendar to avoid double bookings.
This is particularly important if you also have other people (e.g., a secretary) booking on your behalf.
Know the Purpose of the Call
You will want to know this retrospectively. This is because knowing the purpose of your call can allow you to tailor your discussion and/or arguments towards achieving a certain goal, and can prevent you from wasting time talking about non-related issues.
Ask yourself, “what do I want to have achieved at the end of this call?” For example, do you want to attract new clients, generate leads for your sales team, or set up a consequent meeting to discuss a potential partnership with another business?
Send Reminders Before Your Scheduled Call
This may be done automatically for you, particularly if you are using a business phone service or are scheduling the call through the internet (e.g., Google Meets, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.).
If not, however, sending a friendly reminder can be a nice way of letting the other party know that you are looking forward to the meeting and have accounted for the fact that they are also very busy.
The extent of this will depend on the nature of your call, but, generally speaking, when talking with customers or potential clients, you will want to ensure that you start the conversation with a welcoming and friendly tone.
This means that you need to give yourself enough time before the phone call to clear out any frustrations that you may have from other areas of your business or life.
Stick to Your Agreed Time
The person or people you are talking to could be very busy and may even have other calls scheduled for shortly after yours.
This means that you need to be respectful of your meeting’s agreed time. If it was scheduled for 45 minutes, try to keep it around 45 minutes. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and business phone calls can take a much more “natural” approach sometimes (where they could end much sooner or much later).
Regardless, aiming to finish “your part” by your agreed time is very important because it shows that you are considerate of the other person’s or peoples’ time.
Schedule a Follow-Up Call
Making a follow-up call will depend on the purpose of your original call and whether you have achieved it or not. If appropriate, however, try to take the opportunity and finish off strong by recommending a consequent meeting date. This will require you to know:
- The next steps that both parties will need to take
- The timeline that this will need to happen in
- The purpose of the consequent call
You may also benefit from recording your meeting minutes. Even though this is not a requirement, it can allow you to easily track the effectiveness of your call.
Like with any skill in life, phone etiquette for business calls will only get better with practice. Over time, you will stop being worried or anxious about making business calls, and you will be able to speak clearly and calmly consistently.
What to Avoid During a Business Phone Call
You should additionally ensure that you avoid the following steps when making business phone calls:
- Do not show up late: You should really be showing up a few minutes earlier. Either way, do not unnecessarily show up late to a meeting because it will inadvertently show the other parties that you do not respect them or their time.
- Do not use slang: This is particularly important if you are working with persons from other cultures and/or countries as they may not understand what you are trying to say.
- Do not show up unprepared: While this may seem obvious, you should take the time to consider how much your own time costs, as well as the people that you will be speaking with. Showing up unprepared and without the information that you will need will do little more than waste everyone’s time.
- Do not invite others without prior consent: Certain elements of your call may require a confidentiality agreement. Even if this is not the case, it may not be appropriate for other persons other than yourself to join. Out of respect, you should ensure all other parties are okay with you inviting other persons to the call or meeting.
- Do not record without prior consent: This is actually illegal in the vast majority of states, but it is also unethical. Before you begin your business phone call, ensure that you have made everyone aware that you are planning to record it.
There are also a few general points that you should keep in mind. For one, ensure that you have a strong internet connection if your business phone call is going to be carried out through the internet.
You should also make sure that all of the parties that will be joining your call fully understand how to do so. Where it may be easy for some, others may be new and may not be accustomed to the software or apps that they will need to use. Checking that everyone is ready can ensure that you do not waste time later on.
When Should I Choose Phone Calls Over Emails?
Once you get your phone etiquette down, business phone calls can serve as much more powerful methods of communication than emails.
This is because, unlike emails, phone calls provide a real-time experience with the other party, and this can consequently mean that you make a much stronger first impression.
Even though emails can provide a much more convenient method of communication (e.g., you can double-check your words, take as much time as you need, use a standardized template, etc.), certain situations may demand the use of a business phone call. Such situations include:
Communicating by email or text messages can be helpful as an introductory point of reference or in order to follow up and enquire for additional information, but they seldom provide room for an adequate explanation of complicated issues.
If you need to discuss a business proposal or a product or service that is complicated, you may benefit from doing this over the phone.
This will allow you to:
- Guide the other party in the direction that you want
- Answer any questions that they have on the spot
- Maintain a friendly and focused tone
If you need to answer a lot of questions at your meeting, you will likely benefit from doing it over the phone.
This is because any queries can be solved on the spot, and you will not have to repeatedly go back and forth over emails between questions.
A phone call can allow you to handle all of the inquiries at once, rather than having to send multiple different emails addressing each individual question.
The only downside of this is that the recipient will not have a written receipt of your replies unless they personally choose to make notes. This can be a good area to combine emails and business phone calls.
After your phone call is finished, consider following up with an email where you summarise your discussed points. This can serve as a useful reminder to all of the parties involved.
With so many emails coming and going every day, it is very easy to miss one, even if it is labeled as requiring immediate attention.
Setting up a business phone call with a person can prevent a situation where your email is missed and can allow you to “fast track” the purpose of your meeting.
If you cannot reach the person immediately, you may want to send a brief voicemail to their business phone number, but it is very important that you keep the heavy details for the actual phone call.
There are a couple of points, however, that you should consider before deciding whether communication via email is better for you:
- Who are you talking to: If you are speaking to a potential business partner or an important client and your phone etiquette has not been perfected yet, you may decide to opt for an email instead. This is because — at face value — it is much easier to stay on topic through an email because you can check it numerous times before sending it.
- Whether you need an instant response: If the topic you want to discuss can easily be described in written form, and you do not need an instant response (e.g., if you are sending an update to one of your employees), you should likely send an email. This can make it more convenient for both parties who will be able to correspond in their own time.
Is Phone Etiquette Important for My Business?
Phone etiquette is very important for business owners, both when addressing customers and when addressing potential business partners or financiers.
This is because business phone communication can benefit you in the following ways:
- It leaves lasting first impressions
- It increases your consumers’ loyalty
- It increases your credibility
It is also a way to differentiate yourself from other competitors (especially if they do not offer phone support).
By asking the right questions, showing patience, and addressing customers’ issues on the spot, you will be able to instantly determine whether your consumers are satisfied with your feedback or not, and they will be able to understand that you value both their time and their convenience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a business phone number?
Even though there is no legal requirement to have a business phone number, the practical benefits that it provides means that most businesses choose to obtain one.
As our How to Get a Business Phone Number guide notes, a business phone number can:
- Decrease your total costs
- Improve your credibility and brand image
- Increase your finance opportunities
What is the most credible business structure?
Credibility is usually determined based on your business’s incorporation status.
Consequently, limited liability companies (LLCs), corporations, and nonprofits are generally considered to be more credible business structures than general partnerships and sole proprietorships.
This is because they take more resources and time to register, and so they indirectly portray a much more committed organization.
Most small business owners prefer LLCs to corporations because they provide much more flexibility as to how they can be taxed and managed. If you are interested in forming an LLC business, check out our review of the best LLC formation services.
Is my business’s name important?
Yes, a business’s name is very important. This is because it needs to be:
- Associated with the products that you are selling (and will be selling)
You will also need to ensure that your desired name is available when it comes to its domain (e.g., .com availability, etc.) and its Intellectual Property rights (in order to avoid any legal disputes down the line).
Our AI-powered business name generator can help you find your perfect business name as well as its “.com” domain availability.
What are some good business ideas for small businesses?
Whether a business idea is good or not will depend on you, as different businesses require different sets of skills in order to become profitable.
Check out our business ideas generator for more information. The powerful software allows you to find your most ideal business idea by tailoring your search to your preferred interests and available capital.
What is a VoIP phone system?
A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system can be used in your business to route all of your calls through the internet instead of through a traditional business phone line.
This can provide many benefits, including:
- Call forwarding services
- Call recording on inbound and outbound calls
- Phone extensions
- Professional voicemail services