Selling over the phone is a different kind of sales because you can’t read your prospect’s body language and engage them as 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.
One way to make telesales easier is to use an all in one voice and sales tracking system. Freshsales is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that 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, and the time, date, duration of the call, and a recording of the call. Sign up for a 21-day free trial today with no credit card required.
1. Do Your Homework
Conducting online research is the first step in engaging a prospect over the phone―before you even have that first conversation. Use an online search engine and talk with people in your network to learn more about their history. Visit the website of the company you are prospecting 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 bit 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 that you can tailor your pitch to them.
“Equip yourself in advance. Adequate information about your potential customer will help you to seal the deal. Before calling, you must do some research work on the person you’re going to call. Your homework on the potential customer will help you to deal with every possible resistance you might face over the phone.”
―Andrei Vasilescu, CEO & Digital Marketing Specialist, DontPayFull
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 effectively engage people on the phone.
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. If you want, you can place a mirror or portrait on your desk. When you’re speaking to your prospect, talk to your reflection or the portrait. Doing this can trick your brain into tempering your tone, making you sound more conversational and less like you’re reading off a script.
If you’re 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 the house or apartment 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.
Now, this doesn’t have to mean that if you sell software, it has to be your life passion for you to be successful in selling over the phone. However, think about the key benefits it can offer small businesses. Do you have a success story about a current or past client that sticks with you and motivates you? Share that story about you were able to help a similar customer.
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. Be Confident
Even though the people you’re calling can’t see you, ask yourself if you’d feel confident if they could. The way you dress impacts your confidence, no matter how you are meeting with them. If you dress professionally, you’ll feel more confident, and that shines through on the phone. It’s helpful to stand up while you’re selling over the phone―it creates a tall, powerful stance―and you’re 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.
“Confidence is king. Unlike an in-person sales call where the prospect can evaluate your outward appearance and facial expressions, over the phone, your only tool is your voice. This means being high energy and engaging. Have force behind the words you say, be overexcited about what you’re talking about. To a degree, be loud as this will subconsciously translate into a confident persona and help you gain the trust of the prospect.”
―Jonathan Lubic, President, Distinction Agency
I’ve never met a successful, timid salesperson. Many novice salespeople are nervous and experience what is known as call reluctance. To learn more tips for building confidence and overcoming call reluctance, check out our article on getting over call reluctance.
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 on and on. However, you’ll only overwhelm your prospect and keep them from asking questions.
“Listen not just to the words, but to what the prospect is telling you―the pauses and tones that indicate they have hesitations. These are gifts, not problems. Prospects have concerns. Use the phone to surface them so you can address them. Don’t ramble on about your solutions, but make sure you are really listening and not just preparing your what to say next.”
―Reuben Swartz, Founder, Mimiran
Take breaks that allow your prospect to digest the information you’re giving them and ask questions that steer the conversation in a way that gives them the most valuable information they need. This fosters a two-way conversation that 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 them from being able to understand their unique needs. Start by asking questions to paint a picture of their unique business needs. This helps you focus on certain aspects of your products or services―the ones that will be the most valuable to them.
“I move the conversation gradually into my services or topic of interest by asking them questions about their company, what their problems are, and describing how my product and/or service can help these problems. Be enthusiastic, understand thoroughly what it is you’re selling and how it can help your target client, and know the ROI of your product or services.”
―Lauren Grech, CEO, LLG Agency & Adjunct Professor, New York University
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 terrific way to infuse a sales conversation with a little fun. Don’t make fun of others, your company, or your services―joke about your gray 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. 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 jabber, which can happen quickly if you have similar conversations repeatedly, 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 fine to ask if your pace is appropriate. I tend 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 that the prospect can ask questions or get clarification.
9. Stick to the Agreed Meeting Length
There’s little that’s more frustrating in the business world 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 towards 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 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 representatives calls to help them identify what’s working and where they can improve. It’s also helpful to use in training new sales reps on best practices and mistakes to avoid.
Alternatives to Calling 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, RingCentral is a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) program that allows you to make phone calls or 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 for a free trial today to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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.
Learning how to sell 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. Learn more tips for selling over the phone from top sales professionals.
When you’re selling to a variety of different prospects over the phone, it can be easy to lose track of each conversation. Use a CRM to organize your leads that have a built-in dialer, such as Freshsales. The platform integrates with Freshcaller to make it easy to dial each prospect and record conversations you can reference later. Sign up for a free 21-day trial today.