Selling over the phone is a different kind of sales because you can’t read your prospect’s body language and engage them the same way you can in person. However, telesales are extremely common and can be successful if done right. We’ve created 11 phone sales tips that can help your sales team engage prospects and customers.
1. Do Your Homework
Conducting online research is one the first things new sales reps learn in sales training. Before you even have that first conversation, use an online search engine and talk with people in your network to learn more about your prospect and their business. Visit the company website and the LinkedIn page of the person you’re going to call. Determine what some of their pain points likely are and anticipate a few questions for your call.
Would you go on a first date with someone without trying to learn a little about them? Probably not. An initial sales call is no different. After you learn about their businesses online, prepare questions in advance by writing them down and having them ready before you pick up the phone.
For example, if you sell human resources recruitment software for small businesses, you might prepare questions like:
- How does your recruiting process work right now?
- How do you typically find candidates for job openings?
- How are decisions made when looking to make a change in your process?
- Have you ever used a recruitment software tool before?
This helps you understand their pain points and frames the conversation so you can explain how your product or service can make their life easier. It also gives you a glimpse into their company culture so you can tailor your pitch to them.
Pro tip: When you’re having phone conversations with several prospects, you’ll need a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to keep track of calls, record details, and set reminders. Check out our article on the best CRMs for telesales to learn which is right for you.
2. Create a Quiet, Organized Workspace
Whether you work in an office environment or a remote home office, you need to have a dedicated quiet and organized area to make your phone calls. If you’re in a loud, cluttered environment, it’s hard to stay focused and engage people on the phone effectively.
If you’re in a call center with lots of other people making calls around you, consider using noise-canceling headphones so you can stay focused. Limit distracting clutter on your desk. You can also place a mirror or portrait on your desk. When you’re speaking to your prospect, talk to your reflection or the portrait—it can trick your brain into tempering your tone, making you sound more conversational and less like you’re reading off a script.
If you work in a remote home office, it can be even easier to get distracted by things you normally do at home outside of work hours. If you can, dedicate a room to use as your office with a door that closes. Consider that room your office and the rest of your living space your home.
3. Demonstrate Passion
It’s difficult for anyone to sell a product or service they aren’t passionate about or don’t believe in. Determine what you find exciting about the products and services you sell that makes you eager to share it with others.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to mean that if you sell software, it has to be your life passion for you to be successful selling over the phone. However, think about the key benefits it can offer small businesses. Do you have a success story about a similar current or past client that sticks with you and motivates you? Share that story.
For example, you might say, “I had a customer at a company just like yours last quarter decide to partner with us to develop their social media strategy. So far, they’ve tripled the number of inbound leads coming from their Facebook and Twitter campaigns, which is why I believe we can do the same for you.”
4. Exude Confidence
Even though the people you’re calling can’t see you, ask yourself if you’d feel confident if they could. If you dress professionally, you’ll feel more confident, and that shines through over the phone. It’s helpful to stand up while you’re selling over the phone—it creates a tall, powerful stance. You’re also more inclined to move, which has been proven to infuse more energy into your pitch.
However, it’s also important to be honest. If the person you are talking with asks if there’s a feature you don’t have, don’t try to twist your answer by suggesting it has certain capabilities. If you discover your product or service isn’t a good fit for the prospect, be upfront and tell them so. You won’t create satisfied, loyal customers by selling to people who aren’t a good fit. Also, if the fit isn’t there and you’re honest about it, you might be referred to someone who is a good fit.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of Silence
When you’re selling over the phone and you can’t see the other person’s reactions, it’s tempting to fill any silence by rambling. However, you’ll only overwhelm your prospect and keep them from asking questions.
Take breaks that allow your prospect to digest the information you’re giving them. Ask questions that steer the conversation in a manner that gives them the most valuable information they need. This fosters a two-way conversation, which builds trust and rapport.
6. Ask Questions
People who are new to selling over the phone often pitch their product or service for several minutes without ever asking questions about the prospect. This keeps the sales rep from being able to truly understand their unique needs. Start out by asking questions to paint a picture of their most pressing business needs. This helps you focus on certain aspects of your products or services—the ones that will be the most valuable to them.
7. Weave in a Little Humor
Don’t take yourself too seriously—you risk coming off as dry and boring, especially when selling over the phone. Using a little humor breaks the ice, fosters rapport, and makes you more memorable.
Self-deprecating humor is a great way to infuse a sales conversation with a little fun. Don’t make fun of others, your company, or your competitors—joke about your grey hairs or horrible cooking. It makes you seem more like a real, authentic person. Plus, sharing laughter creates a bond and builds a sense of trust.
Just be sure to steer clear of jokes about hot, touchy topics. Avoid humor that could be considered racist, sexist, or political in nature. If you ever doubt that a joke may be considered offensive, err on the side of caution and don’t tell it.
8. Practice Your Pace
When you talk too slowly, your prospect might get bored and become disengaged. If you tend to talk quickly—which can easily happen if you have similar conversations over and over—you might be misunderstood or they won’t be able to process the most important things of what you have to say.
Each listener prefers a certain pace, so it’s absolutely fine to ask if your pace is appropriate. Personally, I have the tendency to talk very quickly, so I always say, “Please don’t hesitate to interrupt me and tell me to slow down.” It’s also helpful to take a short break and ask, “How does that sound?” so the prospect can ask questions or get clarification.
9. Stick to the Agreed Meeting Length
There’s little more frustrating than attending a meeting that is scheduled for 30 minutes and you’re still on the call 45 minutes later. Treat every person’s time you talk to on the phone like it’s as valuable as yours.
If you’re making a cold call, ask if the prospect has 10 to 15 minutes to talk. If they say “not right now,” ask them if you can schedule some time to meet when it’s mutually convenient and send them a calendar invitation. If you have a prescheduled sales phone call and you’re going over the allotted time, ask them if they have time to meet for 10 more minutes, or if you can schedule some additional time to meet again later when you are both free.
10. Define Clear Next Step or Ask for the Close
When you’re wrapping up any sales call, be sure to thank the prospect for their time and attention. Then, don’t leave any loose ends. Both parties should know exactly what is expected of them next to move the sales conversation forward.
If the prospect is interested, be upfront about asking what the next best step is toward making a buying decision. It could be bringing in another stakeholder or doing a full demo of your product. If your next step is a more in-depth meeting, make sure to try to get it on the calendar before you hang up the phone.
11. Record Your Calls
One helpful sales management training tool is recording your sales calls so you can listen to them later. Sales managers also often find it beneficial to listen to their sales reps calls to help them identify what’s working and where they can improve.
One way to make telesales easier is to use an all-in-one voice and sales tracking system. Freshworks CRM integrates with Freshcaller to give you a complete record of incoming and outgoing phone calls, including the name of the caller, the number or extension dialed, the time, date, and duration of the call, and a recording of the call. Sign up for a 21-day free trial today, no credit card required.
Alternatives to Selling Over the Phone
Selling over the phone isn’t the only effective way to have sales conversations where you aren’t in-person with your prospect. Video conferencing is an excellent way to bring in body language and engage prospects on a computer or mobile device.
For example, Zoom is a videoconferencing program that allows you to easily schedule and conduct video calls. It’s extremely easy for both sales reps and prospects to enter a video meeting without downloading and installing cumbersome software. Plus, it has a robust mobile app, so you can connect with prospects no matter where you are. Sign up today to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you use a phone script?
It’s helpful to have a sales script, but don’t be a slave to it. This is because you risk sounding like a robot rather than having an authentic human conversation with another person. It can be helpful for your introduction, but focus on listening to your prospect and tailoring your pitch to their specific needs.
How do you convince someone to take a sales call?
Be upfront and honest. When a prospect answers the phone, get straight to the point. Tell them in about 10 seconds what you have to offer, and politely ask them if you can have five to 10 minutes of their time. If they say no, ask if there’s a more convenient time you can reach out.
What should you do after a sales call?
Don’t let it linger. If your prospect is excited about moving forward, capitalize on that energy. Be clear about your next steps before you end the phone call, and send follow-up information, a proposal (if they asked for one), or the next meeting invitation right away.
Selling over the phone doesn’t have to be daunting. It’s a sales skill that the most successful sales reps master over time to close more deals. Being respectful, confident, honest, and passionate are the key skills for any sales professional to exceed in maximizing phone sales.