Here’s a little secret that all the most successful salespeople already know: Phone prospecting is more effective today than ever before. Why? Because so many of your competitors are focused on prospecting emails that they’re neglecting the game of telephone.
With your prospects’ phone lines deserted, your chances of getting through to them are at an all-time high. Still, if you don’t have the right strategy in place, you’ll simply face an endless stream of unanswered voicemails and getting-hung-up-on interactions with prospects.
Luckily, there are concrete steps you can follow to ensure your phone selling skills are up to par. The following nine tips are the keys to developing an unstoppable phone prospecting strategy. Start using these approaches now, and you’ll soon crush your sales goals over the phone.
1) Script out the first 10 seconds of your call.
It sounds simple -- and it is. But remarkably few salespeople actually script out what they’re going to say when a prospect answers the phone. In my experience, most prospects decide within the first seconds of a call whether they’ll hang up. Don’t leave anything to chance -- decide exactly what you’ll say at the start of every single phone sales call.
To learn more, check out the video below:
2) Lead with common challenges.
You finally got a prospect on the line, effectively introduced yourself, and engaged them. Now what? At this point in the call it’s time to lead the conversation by talking about a common challenge the prospect will relate to. Always remember that your prospects don’t care about what you’re selling -- they only care about solving their deepest frustrations. Use your prospecting calls as an opportunity to dive right into their challenges.
3) Don’t just talk -- ask questions.
One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make on the phone is this: They don’t ask any questions! While it’s great to start off the first 30 seconds of your call with some strong statements to engage the prospect, you should immediately start asking questions after that. For example, list off a few challenges that often drive customers to you. Then ask the prospect on the phone, “Do any of these challenges ring true for you?” Continue to ask questions as often as you can while the conversation progresses.
4) Turn off the enthusiasm.
Most salespeople have been taught to show lots of enthusiasm on the phone, but that approach will sabotage you right out the gate. Instead of laying it on thick with the enthusiasm, tone it down and try an approach that’s genuine and relatable. Use a soft, quiet voice when you greet the prospect, and you’ll start setting far more meetings.
5) Be a persistent caller.
Sometimes, phone sales just takes a little patience -- and a whole lot of persistence. You can’t just call prospects once or twice, leave a couple of voicemails, and then move on. In fact, just because prospects might ignore one or two voicemails from you, that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in what you have to offer. In reality, it could take seven to 10 voicemails before you get a response -- even from a prospect who’s likely to be interested. Phone prospecting takes time.
6) Leave provocative voicemails.
Your ideal prospects are used to getting voicemails that sound stiff, serious, and -- quite frankly -- boring. By being a little tongue-in-cheek and having some fun with your voicemails, you’re more likely to stand out from the crowd and capture your prospect’s attention.
Try saying something like, “I’m having a tough time getting through to you, and I figure it’s because you’re either super busy or you want nothing to do with me. If it’s the latter, feel free to let me know.” Voicemails that are just a tad provocative are far more likely to wake your prospect up and elicit a response.
7) Schedule a meeting on the call.
When you’re nearing the end of a prospecting phone call, don’t hang up the phone after making a vague reference to “following up soon.” This is the kiss of death for phone selling. Instead, schedule an exact date and time for your next phone call, and send your prospect an email calendar invite while you’re still on the phone together.
8) Stick to your phone commitments.
Never miss a scheduled phone sales call with a prospect. This might sound obvious, but far too many salespeople neglect to follow up with their prospects, even if the first phone call went well. Don’t let a massive opportunity slip away just because you were disorganized about your phone strategy. Make commitments and stick to them. Use your CRM to stay organized with specific notes to call prospects on the days you promised.
9) Don’t make calls during normal work hours.
It might sound counterintuitive, but the best prospecting calls are actually made before 9 a.m., after 5 p.m., and during the weekend. Why? Your high-level prospects are likely to pick up the phone at odd hours, whereas you’ll usually talk to a gatekeeper if you call during normal business hours. To directly contact decision-making prospects, pick up the phone early in the morning, in the evening, or on Saturday afternoon.
Do you use the phone to prospect? Which of these tips will you use to transform your phone prospecting strategy and engage more potential customers? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. For more tips on closing sales over the phone, check out this special report on 3 Closing Questions You MUST Ask.
Originally published Jan 18, 2017 8:30:00 AM, updated June 11 2021