March 15, 2013

In an age where e-mail, text messages, status updates and tweets have replaced much verbal communication, even between family members a mere several feet away from each other, the good old-fashioned telephone call might seem to be obsolete as a sales tool. Rather than making cold calls to drum up some quick appointments, salespeople are focusing more on passive lead generation techniques, such as inbound marketing and social networking.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with these newer methods, but the clever salesperson should recognize a golden opportunity here: with less salespeople making telephone calls, this lead generation channel is suddenly wide open for those willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work “dialing for dollars.”

As most of the readers of this blog are exactly the type of salespeople who are willing to take advantage of opportunities such as this, here are some sales tips for success when selling over the phone, some of which are paraphrased from a brief primer on sales calls written by Tom Hopkins for Entrepreneur.

Best Practices for Selling Over the Phone

  • Open professionally: This means addressing an unknown prospect formally with “Mister,” “Ma’am,” “Sir,” and introducing yourself and your company succinctly. Mr. Hopkins recommends avoiding mentioning your product right off the bat, as this might provoke a response such as “We don’t need any!”
  • State the purpose of your call with a question: Rather than say “I’m calling to make an appointment with you,” lead the prospect with a question. For example, “If I could show you a completely painless method for determining which salespeople you should hire, and which you should avoid, would you be interested to know more?”
  • Close for a face-to-face meeting: The best way to sell someone is when you are in front of them. Rather than try to get a sale over the phone, especially on the first call, try to set a face-to-face meeting where feasible, or at least a longer phone call or video conference where you will have the full attention of the prospect.
  • Tell the prospect how much work you will be doing prior to the meeting: Before ending the call, thank the prospect and let them know just how much work you will do in preparation for the next appointment. Say something like, “I look forward to preparing a custom proposal for your review. I will be working on it for several hours over the next few days, so if there is any information you feel I should know to make it as thorough and accurate as possible, I want you to call me at _____(Phone) immediately.” It is hard for most prospects to break an appointment when they know you are putting in so much effort.
  • Stand up and smile when calling: While this might appear to one of those sales tips for success clichés, it does work. Many salespeople forget to do it (or outright refuse), so it is worth repeating here.

I hope these quick sales tips for success help you get more appointments and close more sales by using that tried and true device: the telephone.