Between social selling, email and even AI chatbots, fewer sellers are picking up the phone to reach prospects.
And while they may get by just fine selling on other channels, the phone remains one of the most effective tools salespeople have at their disposal.
But, here’s the thing about sales calls: most sellers are bad at it.
On the seller side, 42% of reps feel like they don’t have enough information before they make a call.
Here are some super easy phone sales tips to help you beat “sales call dread” and get on the fast track to connecting with buyers.
1. Mastering phone selling techniques begins with the right script
Here’s a secret: top salespeople don’t “wing it.”
Researchers at Gong.io found that the top 5-10% of sales reps rely on an organized, repeatable set of steps for nailing phone sales.
Part of that process involves a relic from the old days, the sales script.
According to the Gong.io report mentioned above, scripts help reps cover more topics than their poor-performing counterparts (15 vs. 12, on average, per 43-minute call).
Additionally, those top reps have more linear conversations, covering more ground, while sticking to a cohesive structure.
To do this, reps should organize the topics they’d like to cover according to overarching themes.
- Organize key points into broad categories.
- You might start with an intro, introduce the problem, highlight your most valuable features, then finish off with an ask.
- From there, fill in each section with a set of bullet points and determine how each topic transitions into the next.
While this sounds pretty basic, structuring your script this way keeps the conversation focused on a single goal.
While it’s not realistic to develop a new script for every call, try creating your own client-centric scripts for various products, services, and segments.
This way, you can select the template that best fits the situation and use prospect-specific insights to customize the script.
2. Make a great first impression
When the prospect answers the phone, the clock starts ticking.
You’ve got about 30 seconds to make a great impression — which based on the old adage about first impressions being the most lasting — means this could be the make-or-break moment for a deal.
A cold calling challenge revealed that one of the best ways to make a great first impression is to start with something like this:
“I know I’m interrupting you; can I have 25 seconds to tell you why I called, and then you can decide whether to hang up or learn more?”
This works because it’s an attention-grabbing hook that acknowledges that the prospect’s time is important. It also gives the prospect an escape route.
Do your research
Armed with the right insights, cold outreach doesn’t have to be all that cold. Warm things up by doing research before reaching out, and make sure you have a compelling reason for making contact.
Use your social media skills to find out more about your prospect’s company, role and who they’re engaging with online.
B2B sales reps can use that information to present solutions that directly address prospects’ needs and pain points–whether they’re aware of them or not.
Make room for small talk
One of the biggest mistakes you can make on a call is jumping right into the pitch the moment the prospect says, “hello.”
You can blame it on eagerness or nerves, either way, it makes you sound like a robot. Instead, ease your way into the call by spending the first few minutes warming up the prospect.
Kick off the call by referencing something from your prospect’s LinkedIn profile or asking open-ended questions about a recent accomplishment, what their day-to-day looks like or company news.
3. Approach discovery questions with a “scientist mentality”
Try approaching your sales calls like a scientist.
Carefully observe your subjects, record findings and make predictions based on the data you’ve gathered.
Here, you’ll want to listen more than you talk and aim to uncover “clues” in buyer responses.
For example, when buyers talk about their situation at length, you’re already on the right track.
Ask probing questions to keep them talking and try to identify needs based on how they answer. Examples include:
- What financial impact has your current solution had on your business?
- What will you do with the time/money you save after you solve this problem?
- Do you already have a budget allocated?
- What happens if you don’t arrive at a decision by [X date]?
If you’re in need of some inspiration, here’s a list of the best qualifying questions to ask sales leads.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to behavior, tone and inflection.
Record these insights in your CRM and design a personalized solution that addresses specific pains and problems gleaned from your interactions.
There’s also the question of how many questions you should ask.
Gong.io analyzed over 500k discovery calls and found that there’s a link between the number of questions a rep asks and the likelihood of closing a deal.
While you should ask plenty of questions, the actual number isn’t super important.
Instead, focus on asking questions throughout the call and listen (seriously, really listen) to what the buyer has to say.
4. Prepare for objections early on
There’s nothing worse than being on a sales call that starts off smoothly, and then, all of a sudden, the buyer rattles off a barrage of questions that throw off your game.
Objection handling comes down to two things: preparing a response to the most common objections and developing a strategy for handling the curveballs even AI tools can’t predict.
While common objections vary by organization, here are a few that are near-universal among sales reps:
- The price is too high. Price is all about perceived value. Focus on the real value that the product/service and chances are, price becomes a non-issue. If you do this and the prospect still says “it’s too expensive,” ask them why they feel that way and be prepared to listen to their response.
- I need to think about it. Again, it’s all about creating value in the conversation. Here, aim to understand the decision-making process. You might try asking a question like “how do you go about making a decision like this?” Then, the buyer will tell you what needs to happen in order to make a deal.
- We’re currently using a competitor. Here, you might try saying something like, “I totally understand. But let me just share [x resource] that shows how we did X, Y and Z for [similar company].”
Keep in mind, preparing for objection handling doesn’t mean getting ready for a debate or negotiation.
Instead, embrace your curiosity and use this as an opportunity to learn more about your prospects.
5. Stay in control of the call
Staying in control of the call is all about preparation. You’ll want to set a clear goal before you approach each prospect, otherwise, an unexpected question might derail the conversation.
One way you might keep things on track is by setting an agenda upfront.
So, when you get on the call, outline what you’ll be covering, then ask the prospect if that’s okay with them.
This tip ties back to the idea of creating a sales script based on key topics, and makes it easy to accomplish goals attached to each call.
You might try something like this:
“The goal of this meeting is to decide whether it makes sense to schedule a follow-up. At the end of the call, I’d like you to understand how X solution can solve Y problem and commit to the next step. Or confirm that this isn’t right solution and we can go our separate ways. Does that work for you?”
This approach adds a layer of transparency to the interaction.
You’re saying, “Hey, my goal is to tell you about X and Y because I think it could help with Z. If you don’t agree, I won’t keep bothering you.”
You’re removing friction by making your intentions clear right away, which may make prospects more likely to hear you out.
To get ahead of tough questions, you might consider using question reversal, a concept taken from the Sandler Training methodology.
Question reversal is a technique designed to help reps get out of tough situations such as a prospect “wanting to think things over” or sharing a deal-breaker.
For example, a question like “how long does it take to implement this solution” or “X” can catch sellers off guard.
Avoid losing control by responding with open-ended questions like “which means…”
Or you might use something like this old standby to cut to the chase:
“With 1 being ‘not at all’ and 10 being ‘ready to purchase today’, where would you place yourself on a scale of 1-10?”
Finally, you can use reverse psychology and say something like, “I totally get it. It doesn’t sound like you’re ready to make this investment.”
There’s definitely some risk involved in this approach, though it can be an effective way to get prospects to commit or get out of the sales funnel.
6. Stay focused on value
I’ve brought up the idea of creating value a few times so far, but it’s worth discussing what that means in more detail.
In some cases, people might know they have a problem but don’t see much value in solving it. Your goal is to educate your prospects and convince them to make a change.
In others, it’s more about proving the value of your solution compared to what your competitors are offering.
Proving value comes down to three key things–business value, emotional connection and the uniqueness of your products/services.
- Business value topics include things like return on investment (ROI), key business challenges or the decision-making process.
- Emotional topics connect with prospects on a human level. For example, you might frame the conversation in a way that speaks to the prospect’s desire to save time, earn a promotion or gain a competitive edge.
- Demonstrating the uniqueness of your offer means you’ll need to show prospects how your solution is better/different than your competitors. Ideally, your product/service provides something buyers can’t find anywhere else.
Instead of rattling off specs, use storytelling to drive home key points.
Share another client’s experience and how you helped them overcome similar challenges or draw on examples from your own life, if it’s relevant, of course.
You might also share cautionary tales about what happens when buyers choose the wrong product or fail to implement solutions properly. Then, you can follow up by explaining how you can help the prospect avoid that same fate by doing A, B and C.
7. Don’t overwhelm your prospects with options
As you explain your offer, limit the number of options you present to the prospect.
This way, buyers can arrive at a decision faster and feel confident that they’ve made the right decision.
Down the road, you’ll want to make a point of only presenting new options in three scenarios.
- The prospect rejects your proposal. You might head back to the drawing board to develop an offer that better meets their goals/challenges.
- You’ve discovered new pain points you can address. For example, a client’s business is growing and needs new solutions for new challenges.
- The client shows signs that they’re considering canceling. In this case, you might present new options that better speak to current needs.
Ultimately, you’ll want to draw from your research and historical interaction data to put together a solution perfect for your prospect, and use your expertise to explain how your offer addresses each need.
8. Close the loop
When you finish a call, make sure you circle back to the main point and reiterate why your solution is the best option.
- Always go back to value. End with a short rundown of how your solution will benefit them.
- Frame the main benefit in a way that makes prospects envision how your solution makes their life better in a tangible way.
- Mention the cost of not solving the problem. What will the buyer lose by failing to act?
The idea here is to set yourself up for the “close” by reminding the prospect of all the reasons your solution is the best solution.
9. Be prepared with the right close
Finally, every call should end with a call-to-action.
That doesn’t mean pushing a contract during every interaction. Rather, you’ll want to move prospects one step further in the sales process.
For example, if this is a discovery call, closing means locking in that first commitment.
In that case, you might encourage the buyer to download the free trial or book a demo.
Make sure you use your CRM to track which closing techniques and CTAs you use at each stage to determine which approaches work best.
Over time, you’ll be able to put together a list of 10-15 closes that reliably move deals forward.
With the right insights, phone sales is easier than ever
While it certainly takes practice, phone sales doesn’t have to be difficult. These days, sellers can draw on CRM data, social media platforms and past interactions, ensuring that no call is truly “cold.”
Revenue Grid embeds directly into Salesforce, allowing sellers to reference CRM data in the sidebar while engaging in other activities, while Revenue Guide uses AI to recommend the best steps for closing deals.