"Hello? HELLO?!" Are Your Phone Skills In Line?

Education & Training with The Lones Group, Inc.

The Lones Group, Inc.

"Hello? HELLO?!" Are Your Phone Skills In Line?

I am on the phone every day of my life, most of us are. We send messages and receive messages and often we don't think about the power of a well-thought-out message or a well-spoken reply to a message.

I have been greatly disappointed by the quality of the phone messages I hear and the messages I receive. It is time to improve the way we communicate on the phone. I want you to make a great impression on the phone and I have some tips for helping you do that.

I also started thinking about how much money agents lose with less than stellar phone communications. Let's talk about some of my own pet peeves about doing business over the phone.

Greetings that Don't Communicate Professionalism.

First, a pop quiz. What's the best way to answer the phone?

  1. "Hi."
  2. "Good morning."
  3. "Good morning. This is Denise. How may I help you?"

While we're all answering #3, you would be shocked, stunned, and surprised to hear how some people answer the phone—with none of the above.

How do YOU answer your telephone?  Is your greeting welcoming?  Does it let the caller immediately know they are dealing with a true professional?

For example, in our office, we answer the phone, "Good morning, The Lones Group. Denise speaking. How may I help you?"

This allows the caller to know that they've reached the right company and the name of a helpful person who works there.

Poorly Communicated Outgoing Calls

What about when you make outgoing calls?  When you call somebody and they answer the phone, how do you begin your request for what you want?

I am constantly stunned at just how bad people's outgoing phone etiquette is. I hear people all the time call our office and say, "Hi, oh, uh, is this The Lones Group?"

This caller is not listening. We've already identified ourselves as The Lones Group in the greeting. This caller is not focusing on their telephone call. When you make a call, listen!

Constant fumbling when you're on a telephone call drives people absolutely crazy. When you make a call, identify yourself!

When I call someone, I say something like, "Hi, this is Denise Lones. I'm calling for Mary Smith."

Note I do NOT just call and say, "Hi, is Mary Smith in?" The reason I don't do this is because 99% of people are going to come right back and ask, "Who's calling please?" You may as well answer the question before it's asked and save time.

Not Slowing Down

Have you ever asked someone for a telephone number and they rattle it off so fast that you have to ask them a second time? Then, they do it again. You may even have to ask a third time.

Please, please slow down when you're on the phone. Not everyone can listen at the speed at which you speak.

Bad Phone Messages

This is another huge pet peeve of mine. I cannot tell you the number of messages I get that say this:

"Hi Denise, it's John speaking. Give me a call back. Bye."

First, always leave a number. I may be on the road when I get the message and don't have your telephone number.

Second, be clear as to how important this call is. When I place a call to someone and it's not time-sensitive, I will say:

"Hi, this is Denise calling. John, I'm calling to find out _____. Don't worry about calling me back today. The deadline isn't until Friday. My number is 360-527-8904. Thanks!"

If it is time-sensitive, I will say:

"Hi, this is Denise calling. John, I'm calling to find out _____. The deadline is later today, so I'd appreciate a call back as soon as you can. My number is 360-527-8904. Thanks!"

Bad Greeting Messages

Have you listened to yourself lately? Pick up the phone right now and dial your voicemail. What do you hear?

Believe it or not, I hear greeting messages like this all the time:

"Hi, obviously I'm not here. Leave a message. Bye."

Is that professional? No. Is that the right image you want to create for your business? No.

A message should be complete. You're running a professional business, so your greeting should reflect that.

It should tell them when you're going to get back to them. If you're off and can't return their call until you're back, they need to know that as well.

Your greeting may sound like this:

"You have reached Denise Lones' phone. Thanks for your call. It is Monday afternoon. I will not be returning calls until Tuesday morning. Please leave a message and I will get back to you first thing Tuesday."

That's a complete message. It tells you that the message has been recently recorded. This communicates loud and clear that my business—and your call—is important to me.

Cryptic messages don't work.

Lack of Tone and Energy

There's nothing worse on the phone than a voice that subtly communicates boredom or annoyance. On the flipside, I can tell a lot about people from their voicemails—their energy, their confidence, their professionalism.

I've literally hired people from the sound of their voicemail. If you have a blah voicemail, then you're not going to impress me. Put some pep and energy in your voice.  Smile when you speak.

About six months ago, I walked into a real estate office and the office manager said to me, "Denise, I've always remembered you because of what you say when you call my office."

What she was referring to is the way I would always say, "Good morning Mary. This is Denise Lones."  I always said this with pep and energy in my voice, and I ALWAYS use their name before mine.

And finally the NUMBER 1 mistake agents make with the phone. They DO NOT return phone calls in a timely manner. I could write a book on this one! Return your calls promptly.

That's how to be remembered.

Starting today, pay closer attention to how you answer the phone, how you leave a message, the tone of your voice, and how you ask for people. Phone etiquette communicates who you are.

It is the first impression people will get from you. Make it a good one.


By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.

The Lones Group, Inc.

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Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Denise- - - many share your pain and your frustration. Think. Slow Down. Be Present(even on the telephone) .

Jan 25, 2019 10:59 AM #1
Joseph Domino 480-390-6011
HomeSmart - Scottsdale, AZ
Real Estate Made Easy

Many people don't realize that the phone call is their 1st chance to mak a good impression. If you don't make a good impression on the phone, you may not get that face to face meeting.

Jan 25, 2019 11:23 AM #2
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Denise, this is the first time I've seen the issue of phone etiquette addressed here, and so thoroughly. Great reminders.

Jan 25, 2019 06:34 PM #3
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I love it when I call a business and state my name and the reason for my call. Then they ask for my name. I would understand it if I had a strong accent or spoke too quickly, but I make an effort to speak slowly - just because race-talkers are so annoying to me.

Lately it's been messages on my phone driving me wild. Some talk so quietly that I can't catch what they said. Others talk so fast that I can get neither their name nor their phone number. It's as if they're in a race to get it said and hang up. This week I had a call back from a real estate franchise call center - along with not being able to understand her, the woman's voice was flatter than a robot's. Clearly - she was NOT interested in making that call.

Jan 25, 2019 09:24 PM #4
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Phone calls are such a large part of our business. Yet, so many people forget they are running a business. I love your post and the great tips you give on how to identify your self and represent yourself as a professional.


Jan 26, 2019 03:53 AM #5
Peter Mohylsky, South Walton
PrimeSouth Properties - Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Let me help you find your path to the beach.

Great reminder on how to improve your game on a daily basis.

Jan 26, 2019 05:41 AM #6
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

This is so true!  Esp the part about when pp leave a message but don't slow down or speak distinctly. So often I have to call someone back and say...I'm sorry, I could not understand your name in the message.

Jan 26, 2019 06:53 AM #7
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Denise- I'll bet our phone skills have diminished partly because of texting and emails. People don't speak to each other like we used. to. 

Jan 26, 2019 04:19 PM #8
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Timely, informative and excellent tips on what not to do. Great post.

Another important habit is to slowly repeat your call back number, I repeat it twice.  Don't expect a return call if I can't get your call back number from your voice message.

Jan 27, 2019 11:15 PM #9
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Denise Lones

CSP, MIRM, CDEI - Real Estate Coaching & Branding
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