How to Stop Being Afraid of the Phone!

Janet Hawk

Tips to improve your tele-selling process

There is such angst, anxiety and apprehension when it comes to calling guests, both from management and from hosts. The first thing that management often does is hand the hosts their list and say, “call ‘em.” Sometimes they count the calls or come up with a random number that the host is expected to achieve in an allotted time period … no strategy or purpose other than “call them and they will come.” The hosts then focus on just making as many calls as possible to achieve the number given to them; again, no strategy or purpose other than meeting that number. The approach is more like a used car salesman or the dreaded telemarketer that we all hate, completely devoid of any type of relationship building or personalized service.

It’s not cold calling: it’s tele-selling

This is why we have adopted the name of tele-selling. Teleselling is another way of reaching out and touching our guests. As the mantra goes, “the more touches/contact you make, the more revenue/Theo you generate!” Simply put, it is picking up the phone and getting to know our guests, thereby creating a more personalized experience for them!

Let’s take some of the anxiety out of the phone call. The most important thing to remember: when our guests signed up to get a players card, they told us they wanted to be contacted and how! This isn’t the hard sell, arm-twisting telemarketing call that no one wants. This is relationship marketing. The better you know your guest, the better you can help make their experiences at your property more memorable. That knowledge alone should alleviate some of the fear! Once you have begun the relationship, the fear completely disappears because you have a good foundation.

Now, let’s look at a few more tips:

Plan and preparation

This is the MOST overlooked process and, really, one of the most important. Before you even pick up the phone, you need to do some research.

Who are you talking to? Look them up in the system! What does the information in the system tell you?

  • Are they local? Drive-in? Fly-in?
  • How long have they been a member?
  • Age?
  • Marital status?
  • ––What is their game of choice?

Use different techniques depending on the initial information that you get about the guest.

  • Use analysis to help determine priorities.
  • Is there a big player who frequented your casino often who has fallen off the radar?
  • Someone with a big loss?
  • Upcoming birthday or anniversary?

Your strategy will determine the direction of your call tasks.

  • Acquisition – new player introduction
  • Retention – just checking in
  • Growth – high value, low trip player who might like some attention
  • Inactive – you are missed!

Listen, learn and lead

We need better conversations to know our guests. Conversations that include honesty, brevity, clarity, and a huge amount of listening! Talking is the easy part … listening is hard! So, the big question is: are you “actively listening” or listening only to respond?

So many times we’ve been told that to show you are listening, you should nod and look at the other person. Well, I can nod, look and NOT be listening! How about you? Celeste Headlee did a wonderful TED Talk on better communication, and some of her points work wonderfully for PD.

When in a conversation with your guest, try to follow these basic rules:

  • Don’t multitask.
  • Don’t pontificate.
  • Use open-ended questions.
  • Go with the flow.
  • It’s okay to say that you don’t know something.
  • Don’t equate your experience with theirs.
  • Be brief.

Time management and follow-up

This is an important part of the process that often gets either overlooked or bypassed because of the unexpected that pop up in the day-to-day activities of a host team. Managing your time and proper organizational skills will help you not only stay on top of things, but allow you the continued follow-up that is crucial to building and maintaining relationships with your guests.

  • Know your goals.
  • Make sure you’re engaging in activities that support your goals and your team’s goals, both short and longterm. Don’t get so busy digging the ditch or stomping out brush fires that you lose sight of the big picture.
  • As mentioned previously, prioritize wisely.
  • I’ve said it before, but you can’t eat an elephant in one bite. Determine what needs to be done first, and properly schedule your time to deal with what should follow.
  • Avoid time-suckers! You have to learn how to say no to people (players and teammates) who are eating up too much of your time.
  • Control the conversation. We all have those people who can talk without taking a breath. You must take the lead and be able to put an end to a conversation. Most players know that their host has other duties and will respect the fact that you have to go. Be honest!
  • Your time is a priority! Limit the one-on-one time you spend with your guests. You can get just as much accomplished with a cup of coffee and dessert as you can with a four-course meal.
  • Planning is everything!
  • Stop flying by the seat of your pants and map out your day, week, month and quarter. Then adjust as needed, which will be every day!
  • Eliminate distractions: close the office door when necessary! Especially when on a call. Nothing ruins the flow of a conversation like when someone comes running into your office and you’re on the phone.

Don’t be afraid of the phone! It is the quickest and most effective way (other than face-to-face) to get to know someone. How can you help them and amplify their experience without knowing them? Once you know them, the rest is easy.

Janet Hawk