It is time to fertilize the lawns of Pittsburgh and we want to help make your Grandview Avenue residence a showplace of your neighborhood. Mr. Jones, please give us a call at 555-1234 so that we can provide you with a free estimate.
While the differences are slight, the second example inserts the reader’s name, city and street, easily lifted from the mailing address. It also provides a local telephone number without an area code. Except in large cities, the area code is not needed for local calls, so the letter sounds less form-like. The point to note is that overreliance on the technology of the word processor can cause business letters to lose their personal touch and become stiff and formal in tone.
Use of the telephone for business transactions has advantages and disadvantages. Like business letters, the telephone does not permit eye – to-eye contact or a smile and handshake between the horticulturist and the customer or business associate. The telephone allows questions to be asked when clarification is needed that the business letter does not. However, a telephone call cannot be proofread as a letter can. What is said, in haste or error, is heard immediately. Also, a letter does not have a stammer or irritating voice pitch that can create a negative impression in the listener’s ear. Neither does it proceed too rapidly or slowly, requiring time-consuming repetition for total understanding.
Certain types of horticultural operations depend on the telephone as a sales tool more than other operations do. For example, retail florists do a large percentage of their order taking by telephone. A garden center or lawn care firm is likely to use the telephone more often for answering customer questions and receiving requests for estimates. In certain situations, horticulturists and their employees are more likely to initiate the phone calls. In other situations, they tend to receive them. In either case, the voice on the telephone becomes the personality of the firm. It must be pleasant and interesting to hear, and the person behind the voice must be knowledgeable, interested in the person at the other end of the line, professional in manner, friendly, attentive, and courteous. The voice should be directed into the mouthpiece of the telephone, and the receiver should not drop beneath the chin (Figure 24-5). Persons who are naturally monotonic should practice developing a more expressive voice, possibly through the use of a tape recorder, if they want to make effective use of the business telephone.
Placing a Business Call Correctly
To place a business call correctly requires preparation. The caller must have a clear understanding of what the call seeks to accomplish, what points are to be covered, the sequence in which they will be covered,
figure 24-5. This florist is speaking directly into the telephone receiver. She keeps an order pad and other materials nearby. (Delmar/Cengage Learning)
what information is to be obtained or released, and what commitment is to be sought or offered on behalf of the firm. Irrelevant chatter should be avoided on the assumption that the receiver of the call is busy and will not want to waste time.
Following is a checklist for making a business telephone call:
• Be certain of the number (including area code) before dialing.
• Have the name of the person and firm you are calling in mind.
• Allow ample time for answering. Ten rings are usually recommended by most telephone companies.
• Identify yourself and your firm immediately. For example: “Good afternoon. This is Brian Miller of Miller’s Greenhouses.”
• Ask to speak to a specific person if possible. Otherwise, briefly identify the reason for the call and ask to speak to someone who can assist you. For example: “I’m calling about the possibility of carrying
the Ajax line of giftware in our shop. May I speak with someone on your sales staff, please?”
• Provide information and ask questions in an organized, sequential manner, and at a rate of speed that permits the listener to comprehend and record as necessary.
• In closing, summarize the major items discussed during the conversation to ensure mutual agreement and understanding of what the call accomplished.
• Close the conversation in a polite and friendly manner as briefly as possible after the purpose of the call has been accomplished.
A business call should not be made when other things require the caller’s attention. The call should wait until it can proceed without distraction or interruption. If some unexpected event makes it necessary for you to leave the line for a moment, arrange to call back at another time, since no one enjoys being put on “hold.” Hold lines are too often overused and may alienate more business than they serve.