Smiling in a Virtual World

By Denise Willms

I have a sign by my phone that reads, "Smile with your voice." It's true. Callers really can hear if you're smiling. Don't believe me? Practice saying your phone greeting with a smile, and then without. Which version is the image you want to project? More importantly, which version projects the image your clients will buy?

What Your Smile Says About You
When you work virtually, good communication is essential. Phone impressions in any business need to be professional, courteous, and welcoming. But in a virtual business, your phone impression is not only important - it’s vital to your success. Since your client may never meet you in person, a virtual business owner must ensure all communication projects a positive company image. When you communicate in person, your listener responds not just to your words, but to your appearance, facial expressions, and body language. On the telephone, your listener depends solely on your voice for these nonverbal cues. A smile in your voice conveys confidence, professionalism, and an appreciation for the person on the other end of the line.

Smiles Are Communication Magic
Try this experiment: Smile at someone, even a stranger, and odds are you'll find them smiling back at you. Smiling has the same effect in telephone communication. Smiles, including phone smiles, are contagious. Your caller will pick up on your smile and start smiling too. You'll hear it in his voice and sense the difference in his mood. It's pretty hard to argue with someone when you're smiling! Ultimately, your smile will improve your communication with your client.

A Smile Can Increase Your Sales
Callers regularly tell me, "I love calling you because you always sound so cheerful." Your phone greeting tells your caller if the rest of what you have to say is even worth listening to. If you don’t immediately make a potential client feel glad she called, it may not matter what else you say.

Here's an example: I dread calling my doctor, and not just because it means my children are sick. His office assistant answers in a monotone and I can't help wondering if my phone call is interrupting her work. On the other hand, I look forward to calling my daughter's orthodontist. His office assistant always answers with a smile and makes me feel like she's been looking forward to my phone call all day. I suddenly don't mind spending hundreds of dollars on my daughter's teeth. Well, I don't mind as much.

I don't choose doctors or orthodontists by how their phones are answered because telephone communication plays a small part in our relationship. In a virtual business, though, telephone communication is fundamental to your client relationships. Potential clients will choose to call or not call you because of how you sound on the phone.

Only the Real Thing

A word of caution though - a genuine smile will make the world a brighter place, but a fake smile will usually create the opposite reaction. Most people can spot and hear a forced smile, which may give rise to feelings of distrust. If you’re having trouble generating a genuine grin, come up with some ways to get your real smile started.

Before I answer the phone, I take a deep breath and focus my attention on the person who's calling me. I remind myself they’ve chosen to call me, and that already makes me feel like smiling. Try thinking of a humorous anecdote, something you're feeling happy about, or anything else that makes you want to smile. Take a deep breath, smile, and pick up the phone. Make your client glad they called.

Denise Willms,a homeschooling mom of two, helps her clients get targeted traffic to their websites by writing articles and press releases. Subscribe to her newsletter, WAHM-Articles Ezine, and receive 105 Power Tips to Get Your Online Business Noticed and Profiting.

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