When you speak to people on the phone for the first time, they will be judging you as soon as you start speaking. It's important, therefore, to project a confident, upbeat, educated, professional demeanor within the first few seconds on the phone. Prospective clients will listen to what you have to say if you're commanding, but appreciative of their time. If you know what you're talking about, people will pay attention to what you're telling them.
Practice what you're going to say over the phone and get experience introducing yourself. Practice on friends, relatives, and other caterers. It's important that you don't sound nervous, as prospects will be able to hear that in your voice.
Always concentrate and listen to what the other person is saying. Don't try to multitask when you're on the phone with a prospective client. If someone asks you for a specific price or to supply something you're not sure about, don't make up an answer. Tell them you're not sure and you will get back to them shortly. Make sure you follow up that day or the next day.
Speak slowly and clearly when leaving a voicemail message. Remember to repeat your phone number at the end of the message so the person won't have to relisten to the message in order to call you back.
If you reach someone's voicemail or answering machine, leave a concise but detailed message. Tell him why you're calling and when they can reach you. Give him up to a week to call you back. Then try him again, and leave a followup message saying you're following up and you'd really appreciate a call back. If the person still doesn't call you back within a couple of days, you can try to call his secretary or colleague and ask for his e-mail address. Try sending an e-mail message summarizing your services and ask if he has any upcoming events. Ask him if he'd like additional information from you. Some people will respond to e-mail and not to phone messages; it depends on how they like to work.
Don't leave more than two voicemail messages for someone you don't know if she hasn't tried returning the call. More messages will only annoy the person. There might be a good reason why she's not returning your call. Call the company or organization back and get another contact name. The original person may have changed job responsibilities or may be out of the office for an extended period of time.
Write a list of bullet points you want to convey to prospects over the phone. Make sure you convey how you and your services are different from other caterers. These points will come from the concept you've developed and from your SWOT analysis.