Here are 25 of some of the best telephone sales tips, courtesy of Jim Domanski of Teleconcepts Consulting. I’ve been reading Jim’s work for some time now, and I highly recommend you subscribe to his newsletter if you are looking to improve your telephone sales skills.
The 25 Best Telephone Selling Tips … Ever!
1. Call earlier. If you’re calling mid-level executives and above, call earlier. Like 7:00 a.m. Seriously. You’ll reach more decision makers between 7:00- 8:30 than you will the rest of the day.
2. Call later. Same as above except call between 5:00-7:00. Seriously. Gatekeepers are gone and decision makers are curious about calls that come after hours.
3. Create a Master List of prospects. On a yellow legal pad or an Excel spreadsheet, create a list of 25-30 prospect names, their companies and their phone numbers. Whenever you have some time you can quickly grab it and make calls without having to log in, find names etc. This gives you speed and efficiency.
4. Cycle your Master List. Start at the top of the list and dial. No answer? Don’t leave a message, hang up. Call the next number, then the next, and so on. Fast. Easy. Finish the list? Start at the top and quickly go through it again. You’ll get decision maker contacts here and there. Et voila.
5. Don’t go overboard with research. Unless you have a highly complex product, minimize your research time. Glance at the web site and get a feel for the company, then make the call. The answers you seek lie in your prospect’s mind.
6. Get ‘insider’ information. Here’s a great tip: call your prospect’s sales department. Tell the rep what you’re trying to do and ask if they can help. Get decision maker names, direct phone numbers, best time to call…and e-mail addresses…anything. Sales reps understand your ‘plight’ and most will help you out.
7. Create a ‘call guide’ for prospecting. On paper, prepare an opening statement, list the questions you want to ask, have your offer developed, create an objection chart, be ready to close. Use bullet points, highlight key information … create a ‘road map’ for your call, post it somewhere visible, and glance at it to keep you on track (or to get back on track).
8. Use your client’s or prospect’s name in an e-mail subject line. It gets their attention and increases the odds of the e-mail being opened and scanned.
9. Make a follow up call to your e-mails within 1 day. Use the one-two punch of visual and audio prospecting. Use them in harmony to increase awareness.
10. Script your opening statement … word for word. Yes…script it …If your target market is more or less the same, why change your opener? Your opening statement is the most important element of the call. Don’t wing it. State your name, your company, the reason for your call AND, above all, a benefit that you can offer your prospect. Get this down pat.
11. Don’t ask “Is this a good time?” It never is and you give your prospect an easy out. Instead, say “If I have caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you a few questions, get a better understanding of your situation and determine … (your product or service) might be of value.” Then ask your first question.
12. Pay close attention to the tone of your voice. Over 80% of your message is based on the emotional quality of your message. Be upbeat. Have conviction. Above all, avoid being monotone.
13. Don’t leave voice mail messages when prospecting. Make at least three or four call attempts to reach your prospect live before you ever leave a message. Leaving messages is not a high yield activity; speaking to a live decision maker is.
14. Don’t spill your guts to the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers are not decision makers and they use your pitch to screen your call. ‘Confessing’ who you are, what you do and why you’re calling is an invitation for rejection.
15. Never, ever…ever use, “How are you today?” with prospects. It’s like a neon sign that says, “sales pitch coming.” It’s trite. Over 90% of prospects say that it does nothing to build rapport; in fact, it does just the opposite.
16. Master your opening. Practice it, rehearse it. Drill it over and over…so that words flow easily and naturally … and so you DON’T sound scripted.
17. Be prepared for initial, brush-off objections (e.g., I have a vendor; we’re okay right now; I’m in a meeting etc.) Begin by empathizing (I understand), then completely ignore the objection (because over 95% of the time, it’s false), then ask, “One quick question before I let you go…” This often gets the prospect to relax and open up. Chances are you’ll get something of value.
18. Prepare at least three compelling questions to ask your prospect that probe for pain or gain. Ponder this long and hard. A good question engages the client, gets them thinking.
19. Listen with a pen in hand. Take notes. Focus. Assess their tone of voice. Let them finish their thoughts. Don’t interrupt. Clarify what you don’t understand. Probe deeper using your notes as a guide.
20. Clarify objections before responding. Ask questions to make certain if the objection is legitimate or a smoke screen.
21. Close more casually. Ask the client or prospect if they’d like “to give it a shot” or “give it a try.” This informal close eases the tension and makes the person feel less pressured. It makes it easier for them to say yes.
22. Get commitment to the next step. For longer sales cycles, get commitment to the next step by asking for a follow up date and time (e.g. if they want a proposal, agree to this action but then ask for a specific date and time for the next call). This increases your odds of contact on the next call.
23. Be more persistent. Don’t quit so easily. Make at least… at least… four follow up attempts to clients and prospects that ‘go silent.’ Use a combination of voice messages and e-mails. Space them 2-3 days apart. Be polite, but be persistent.
24. Send a handwritten thank you note to clients who buy. Hand write the envelop. Use a real stamp. Show your client you took the time and effort. It goes a heck of a lot further than a quick e-mail. Do the extras.
25. Become a resource to your clients. Send articles, links, Special Reports, … anything that builds value and helps you stay in touch. Be more than a source of product. Attach a note that says, “I thought of you when I saw this…” It flatters. They remember. It brands you.
As you start to use these tips to improve your telephone sales skills, remember as I have often been quoted as saying, “A Follow-Up File without a date of next contact is just a glorified phone book!” More motivational quotes here.
To learn proven techniques on how to convert more of those new prospects into customers, join me on my webinar, Closing More Sales by Making a Better Sales Presentation – How to present your product so the customer actually buys.
For detailed information on how to create your prospecting approach, including tools and templates that create a follow up file so you are working with the right prospect at the right time, check out my book Action Plan For Sales Success. It includes many best practices and tools used by today’s top sales performers you can use to impact your sales immediately. As one reader said, “I am working through your “Action Plan For Sales Success” … and I’d like to say THANKS for a great hands on approach, with working documents that make it easy to turn learning into ACTION.”
Or, if you would like to discuss proven sales techniques as they relate directly to your product or service, subscribe to my Coaching Services.
Susan A. Enns, B2B Sales Coach & Author,