How to close sales over the phone
I started out in face to face selling…
Face to face selling was REAL selling, or so I thought.
Until I met someone working for a recruitment agency.
He was making several multiplies of what I was earning.
Selling over the phone!
He was certain selling over the phone was a better way to sell.
17 Tips For Closing More Sales Over The Phone
No 1: To Close Sales On The phone – Smile Before You Dial
Before you pick up the phone, SMILE!
Smile a HUGE big smile that goes from ear to ear.
Studies have shown that when you smile, people hear it in your voice. Yes, smiles make a noise and it’s contagious.
If you’re not using your smile, you’re like a man with a million dollars in the bank and no checkbook.
~ Les Giblin
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No 2: Drop the enthusiasm.
This is counter-intuitive, especially after No1 tip.
Be enthusiastic about your product and offering, but don’t overdo it to the point of being too ‘salesy”
Being over the top cheerful and enthusiastic turns people off and pushes them away.
Be modestly enthusiastic, demonstrating your believe in your product along with the benefits your customer will get from purchasing it.
Of course there are exceptions…
Like if you are selling Tony Robbins seminars. Perhaps then you can’t be over enthusiastic.
No 3: To Sell on the Phone – Stand and Deliver
When we make a presentation or speak in public, we don’t do it slouched in a chair.
We stand up, speak confidently and with poise.
To communicate effectively over the phone, imagine you are presenting person to person.
It is not always be possible, especially in open plan offices, but standing (and walking around) gives you more energy and allows you to present your offer better.
Get moving, get selling!
If you can’t stand up for whatever reason then sit up straight.
Doing this puts you head in an elevated position – lifting your eyes and lifting your mouth. In this position you are less likely to mumble and it will be easier for the prospect to understand you.
Whatever you do, don’t be crunched over at your desk, reading through a script.
It is not a good look and your potential customer will sense you are uncomfortable which in turn makes them uncomfortable and unlikely to purchase.
No 4: Don’t overdo the small talk
Some small talk at the beginning of a call may seem friendly and natural.
How are you today? How was your weekend etc?
But don’t overdo it.
In most cases the prospect is not your best buddy, so don’t act like they are.
Prospects are busy and become annoyed at your distraction and time wasting.
Say a quick hello and get to the point quickly.
No 5: The faster you respond to a new lead, the more likely you are to make a sale
Respond to all new leads FAST…
…within 5 mins during normal office hours!
I am frequently asked for my top tip when handling new inquiries.
It is always the same answer – respond to your leads before your competitor does!
It is a noisy world out there, there are many distractions and many competitors.
If you don’t respond to the prospect quickly, there is a serious risk they will buy from someone else.
According to a study by Lead Connect, 78% of customers buy from the company that responds to their inquiry first.
And research statistics out of Harvard Business Review suggests that companies that respond to leads within an hour, are 7 times more likely to convert leads to sales.
Yet I am still keep finding sales organisations with ridiculously slow response times.
The same sales organisations that complain they don’t have enough leads!
When I ask the salespeople in these sales organisations the reason for the delay it is almost always the same response.
“The are afraid of appearing PUSHY”
I am no longer dumb-founded by this response, I have heard it too many times!
How can delaying responding to a lead improve your chances of a sale?
Sales people who feel following up quickly is pushy are naive and doing themselves and their employer serious financial harm.
Ask yourself that question again – “How can delaying responding to a lead improve your chances of a sale?”
Sales people who feel they are being pushy have a Mindset Issue – not a sales issue.
In this Internet Age, the quicker you respond the quicker the prospect will stop searching for a ‘solution’. If you don’t respond, they will just keep searching until the do find a company who will respond.
20 years ago I was one of the first people in the UK to go into Online Lead Generation.
I had a simple business model.
I had a large number of websites, all related to home improvements.
Home owners would visit these websites when researching improvements. Frequently they would request a brochure or a quotation and my company in turn would share their inquiry with three contacting companies per postcode, who would make contact.
Early on, I would survey the contractors to see how they got on with the leads.
The contractors fell into two categories…
a) Those who said these are the best leads they had ever had
b) Those who said these leads are the worst leads they had ever had.
What made the difference?
Those who said my leads were the best ever all contacted the leads very quickly – often within minutes of us passing them the lead. In some instances the prospect would still be on our website when the contractor made contact. [Which rather than appearing pushy, was considered a positive]
Those who thought our leads where bad or useless always took a day or even days to make contact.
Never lose a sale to the competition because they were better prepared!
Make contact FAST – it is a RACE and the faster you make contact the more likely you are to win the sale.
If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.
~ Bob Hooey
No 6: Create a natural sales script.
I am not suggesting a canned, one-size-fits-all sales spiel.
I am saying, practice your presentation and variations of it so often that you sound natural and confident.
Practice doing the sales presentation backwards, practice being interrupted by the prospect asking an awkward question.
Do role-playing with colleagues in your office. Ask for feedback.
Make a recording and listen.
The more you practice, the more confident you will be.
Of course you won’t do your presentation backwards, but by practicing it way, you can be confident that when customers interrupt your well chosen words, you will handle it with ease and get back on track quickly.
A bad sales presentation is one were the potential customer barely figures into the conversation.
Ask questions, involve the prospect in the presentation and get small commitments as you go along.
Don’t wing your presentation, practice it over and over.
Practice makes perfect!
No 7: Set a goal for number of calls made
Set yourself a goal every day for number of calls you will make.
With modern Sales Management software, this is easy to do, yet many sales people don’t do it.
Depending on your industry it often makes sense to use software that automatically makes the call on your behalf. This software can be set up to make the next call instantly or within a set period of time from completion of the last call.
The software is also set up to show you who the system is next calling along with notes from previous calls.
This method is popular in some industries and it is not for everyone – but it does have the big advantage of keeping the call numbers high. (and minimises wasted time!)
No 8: Eliminate filler words
(e.g. “Um” and “Ah” and “er” and “mmm-hmm”)
Most of us use terms like this – don’t beat yourself up.
Rather make a conscious effort to eliminate these filler words
a) Concentrate on saying sometime interesting. If what you are saying is interesting, then “Um” and “Ah” becomes less of an issue.
b) Listen to that recording of yourself again – consciously be aware of those filler words!
c) Listen to good communicators – there are plenty of them. Listen to TED Talks – most successful speakers have overcome their issues with filler words.
Not entirely related but talking of ‘er’ and ‘mmm-hmm’ this amused me…
Google is working on a robot assistant that makes eerily lifelike phone calls for you – so listeners think it’s human.
The future perhaps?
No 9: Leave irresistible messages
Sometimes you will get a voicemail. Again, depending on your industry you will decide to leave a message or you may just decide to call back later.
Tips for an irresistible message:
Use your prospect’s name often, keep it short (under 20 seconds is good) – and leave your telephone number twice.
I would also state your business and what you can help with.
I get a lot of voicemails, I rarely answer my phone.
Occasionally I will get a good sounding voicemail – but if the caller does not state why they are calling I don’t return those calls.
You may see no benefit in revealing what you are calling about, especially if it is a cold call. I understand that – in which case I would not leave a message.
One more thing – if you have an email address, followup with an email, explaining you just left a voicemail and how much you look forward to speaking with them.
No 10: To Close More Sales Over The Phone – Listen More
Salespeople often assume the prospect is saying one thing when in fact they are saying the opposite.
Or perhaps the real reply can be spotted by reading between the lines.
Slow the conversation down, don’t be the typical sales person talking at 1000 miles per hour!
The best salespeople are expert listeners. When a customer speaks, don’t interrupt, let them finish. Never assume you know what they are going to say. Also, be in the habit of clarifying and paraphrasing the customers comments. Often it helps them understand themselves better. And when a customer feels understood, they are more likely to buy.
Record your sales calls.
Sometimes if a salesperson is under performing, a lot can be discovered (and fixed) by listening to recordings of their call.
No 11: Handling Objections
In an ideal world, we anticipate obstacles and come up with good responses in advance of the obstacle.
But first, make sure you understand the objection.
Get the prospect to repeat the objection – often just doing this is enough for the objection to go away. The prospect will say, oh, don’t worry, it doesn’t matter etc.
You see, society teaches us we should “object” – that we look like fools if we don’t! So many times an objection is just a token effort at appearing to be a tough customer!
This is a big subject and worthy of an article all of its own, so I am going to assume you know how to handle most objections you receive. The point is to role play those objections on a regular basis in sales meetings.
As we said before, Practice makes perfect!
No 12: Listen you your voice.
What does your voice sound like?
It is a remarkable fact that many salespeople start speaking louder, higher, and faster once their prospect answers the phone.
Calm down – be aware of how you sound and consciously project the voice of a professional.
As with Tip No 2 [Drop the enthusiasm] the tonality of your voice says a lot about you and your offering.
You may think you are not guilty of this but chances are high that you are.
Record your half of the conversation on your next call, then listen to it carefully.
How can your voice be changed to communicate better?
No 13: It’s a numbers game!
The more calls you make, the more likely you will make a sale.
That is not rocket science, yet so many salespeople will do anything but make that call.
Or as an old sales manger of mine used to say – they would rather shuffle paper clips than make a sales call.
The reason this happens is fear of rejection!
Fear of rejection ends more sales careers than anything else.
Understand that there will be significantly more No’s than YES’s.
Smart sales people speed up the process, MAKE MORE CALLS and get those No’s out of the way as quickly as possible.
They will never be found shuffling paperclips or attending to admin, when they should be making sales calls!
No 14: To Close More Sales – Work your Magic Time
Everyone has a time of day when they are at their most productive.
What is yours?
My friend Craig Ballantyne explains Magic Time better than anyone else I know.
We all have a time in our day when we are three times more productive than any other time of day. All you have to do is identify that time, free it up for important work, and then ruthlessly protect it from the time vampires who will try to suck it away from you
Most people will tell you their most productive time of the day is in the morning and most people will admit to a slump in energy in the afternoon (could be something to do with lunch).
Of course it would be amazing if we could be high energy and productive all the time – and with discipline you can aspire to that, but it is also important to work with the hand that has been dealt us.
I write a lot and unlike a lot of writers, who are at their most productive early morning, I do some of my most productive writing 10pm and midnight.
What is this got to do with selling on the telephone?
I have a friend who claims ever sales call before 9am is worth twice as much as a call after 9am.
An over simplification, but you get the point.
There will be a time of day that is best for you as a caller and also a time that best for those receiving the calls.
Early morning calls are especially effective.
This of course does not mean you don’t call other times of the day – it just means you should be aware of your Magic Time and never waste it on admin (shuffling paper clips!)
It takes discipline and commitment to keep going, especially if you are in an energy slump.
Here are some tips that will help:
a) Drink some water
Dehydration causes fatigue.
b) Take a break
When you feel tired or low energy, take a walk for 10 minutes, preferably outside.
But don’t use this as an excuse for not working – and set time limits!
I find that a walk at lunch time, often combined with a mint tea refreshes me and gets me set up for the afternoon.
c) Take a quick nap
I know that will surprise you – but it is fact that short naps of five to 15 minutes are great for energy renewal and cognitive function.
I am fortunate in that I can close my eyes for 5 mins and ‘wake up’ refreshed.
But don’t make it 30 mins, if you make it that long, you will wake up from a deep sleep and more tired than when you first closed your eyes.
No 15: Don’t bad-mouth competitors during sales calls
Customers will often ask you for an opinion on a competitor.
What ever you do, don’t bad-mouth your competitor – even if they are an inferior company to yours.
Concentrate on what makes your product the better offer.
In any case, just about everyone agrees, bad mouthing a competitor is not a professional thing to do.
No 16: Always Be Improving On Your Sales Knowledge
It was Tony Robbins who first introduced me to the principle of CANI – constant and never-ending improvement
We cannot rest on our laurels.
Times change, markets change and hey, customer priorities and values change.
If you want to become the best in sales and remain the best in sales, you must commit to continuing education and personal development.
Hang out with other successful sales people – join a Sales Mastermind – invest in additional sales training – listen to sales podcasts – YouTube videos
Tel-Marketing – Recommended Resources:
Podcast: Make It Happen Mondays
Sales Blog: GSA Marketing – features comprehensive knowledge bank full of videos, blogs, infographics, and guides to enhance your business development.
Sales Blog: Blue Donkey – B2B telemarketing company
No 17: Implement these Sales Call essentials to close more sales.
Much of the following could be taken for granted, but I have found in sales, it is often best to state the obvious!
Use the prospects name. Everyone loves to hear their name, so use it.
Have the prospect’s name and company in front of you as you call. You don’t want to accidentally forget who you’re calling just as they answer.
Your tone of voice matters more than you think. If your tone of voice is flat and lacks energy, how do you expect the other person to ever show interest in your call?
Don’t be distracted by email or other items popping up on your computer while you’re making a call. Be focused.
Talk with your hands, as it allows you to convey more energy in your voice. Use a high-quality headset to allow you to talk with your hands.
Stop wasting time – Eliminate your obsessive time wasting habits. Could it be you spend too much time on Facebook or Instagram or a News website?
Keep your offer and options clear and easy to understand
Remember a confused mind says NO!
It is not the prospects job to do the follow up.
People don’t answer the telephone the way they used to.
If you are having difficulty connecting on the phone follow-up using SMS, Text, WhatsApp, Email – even write to the prospect in the post!
Send a personalized video. The more deeply you connect with people the more likely you are to make a sale.
Don’t overdo the Admin – yes you need to keep good records and handover sales to your sales support colleagues – but remember you get paid for selling. For closing sales! When companies have me review their non-performing sales teams it is common to find sales people who confuse being “busy” with being “productive“.
Get over your fear. It’s not personal.
Selling is not about tricking anyone
Selling is not about tricking anyone, it is about helping people own products that make their life better.
A contrarian view about selling over the telephone
I want to ask you a question…
Do you call the prospect or does the prospect call you?
Most times we make the call…
But what if the prospect calls you?
How you respond to a prospect that takes the time to call you is quite different to how you should respond to a prospect that you reached out to.
If you make the call, the prospect is likely to consider you a salesperson.
But, if the prospect calls you, the dynamics are different.
For starters you can position yourself as an expert rather than a salesperson.
Who would you prefer to buy from – a salesperson or an expert?
This is especially powerful when selling coaching or consulting.
Ask the prospect questions like:
What are you hoping to get from this call today?
Allow the prospect to “sell themselves” on why they need your service.
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Barry Dunlop is a lifelong Entrepreneur, Sales Turnaround Expert and publisher of the The Sales Turnaround Report. To request your free copy CLICK HERE. You can also connect with Barry on LinkedIn
Helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses and make a positive change in the world.