How to Sell Over the Phone: 6 Top Tips

Man on the phone trying to sell a product

Selling over the phone is an art. If you’re in the field of telemarketing or any form of telephone sales, you need to understand how to do it effectively. In our guide on how to sell over the phone, we’ll take you through our top tips to get the most out of your telemarketing campaign. 

Following these will help you engage more effectively with prospective clients and form long-lasting business relationships. Unfortunately, even some that sell over the phone regularly do not practise these, so those who receive calls often associate negatively with sales phone calls. 


1. Practice Confidence Without Being Arrogant


If you’re just starting out in sales phone calls, everyone knows that making the first few is incredibly daunting. Plus, there’s every chance that the person on the other end of the phone may have preconceived ideas about how the phone call might go, and they may not always be in the salesperson’s favour. This is where practising confidence is vital. 

When you practise confidence over the phone, you demonstrate your own faith in the products, services, or solutions you are putting forward to your prospective clients or business associates. It also makes you come across as more friendly and gives you the wheel in the conversation. 

When you’re looking to build trust with a prospect, you also need to sound like you know what you are doing and as a professional in your field. This will make them feel more inclined to continue the conversation, especially when you present them with solutions that will help them. 

However, there is a fine line between practising confidence and coming across as arrogant. Arrogance is one of the most off putting qualities for salespeople to possess; it is often misconstrued as confidence. 

Having confidence in your product or service doesn’t necessarily mean that you think your offerings are the best thing in the world. Arrogance also closes off the conversation to your prospect as they will often feel talked at rather than heard. When someone perceives you as arrogant, they may also feel belittled, discouraging them from entering into a long-term business relationship with you and your organisation.


2. It’s Vital to Demonstrate Empathy


Many people confuse the concepts of empathy and sympathy. Demonstrating empathy does not necessarily mean you must feel exactly what the other person feels but, rather, that you have made an effort to understand their circumstances to provide them with a solution that will actually help them. 

Many salespeople make the mistake of what is known as “spilling the candy,” especially if they are enthusiastic about a product or service they’re providing. This means that the salesperson regales a prospect with all of the great things about a product or service at once without fully understanding what it is the prospect may need from the representative. 

In most of these cases, salespeople end up providing information that is irrelevant to the prospect. The person on the other end of the phone feels unheard and that their needs are not being met. This is an off-putting situation to be in and, therefore, will most likely lead to a failed sales call. While these are all part of the process, demonstrating empathy can be much more effective as it enables you to build trust with your prospects. 

Showing empathy also means you have to be genuine. It’s quite easy to pick up when someone pretends to care, and your prospects will pick up on it. For this reason, start the conversation by asking questions that will give you more information about how the client or prospect needs help and apply this information to the solutions you can provide. 


3. Ensure You Listen to The Other Party


Although this may sound similar to practising empathy, the art of listening to someone when selling over the phone is complex. When you make a sales call, you often go into the phone call with an agenda – to make a sale or generate leads. 

While it’s essential to keep the goal of the phone call in mind, you also have to listen to what the other party has to say. Not listening to your prospect is dangerous in telephonic sales as it puts you at risk of falling into the “annoying salesperson” trap. 

You can do several things that demonstrate that you are listening to the customer when they are talking. When you’re next on a sales phone call, try using phrases like “uh-huh” or relay to them what they’re telling you. This will show that you’re, firstly, acknowledging what you’re saying but also that you comprehend what they are telling you. 

Some salespeople sometimes forget that they are still talking to a person when conducting a call. First, think about how you interact with others in social situations. A conversation is a two-way transaction of listening and chatting. Often, with the added pressure of making a sale, it can be tricky to remember that the interaction over the phone is simply a conversation between two people, just like in everyday life. In social situations, you listen and then respond; a sales phone call should not be any different.


4. Make Sure You Are Honest


With the agenda of making a sale, it’s common for people new to the profession to stretch the truth to close a deal. Not only will this go against the best ethical practices of your company, but it will also lead to disappointing customers, ultimately harming the reputation of the organisation and products you represent. 

It can also be tempting to over promise when you’re on a sales call. This is also something you want to avoid, as it also leads to more awkward conversations further down the line. Having to back out of something you’ve agreed upon with a prospect is a difficult situation to be in and may lead to the deal falling through. 

For this reason, it’s essential to be honest from the get-go. When you’re honest about the product and services you’re trying to sell or upfront about the intentions behind the phone call, it stops the prospect from having to guess what the purpose of the phone call may be. This, in turn, provides them a platform to be honest about their situation and circumstances and allows you to gauge where they’re at regarding receiving your offerings. 

When you fail to be honest, you sign yourself up for losing credibility. A prospect or a customer will always find out the truth one way or another. If this happens after you’ve failed to be fully transparent about the way in which you conduct business, they will immediately lose all faith in you. Being dishonest with your prospects is also tempting when you feel you must make something up. 


5. Ensure You Retain Control During the Call


Building a good foundation for a business relationship is one of the aspects that are most important in sales phone calls. When you engage with your prospect and ask them questions, it can be challenging to stay on track, especially when they start telling you more about themselves and their organisation. For this reason, it’s vital that you keep the goal of the phone call in mind and retain control of the conversation to always circle back to the point of the phone call. 

One of the fine lines associated with sales is ensuring you never cross over between persuasion and manipulation. When you lose control of a phone call, it’s easy to err on the side of manipulation, especially if you feel like the call is not going quite how you wanted it to. This is a common mistake newbies make. Experience in sales phone calls also means knowing when to walk away from a cold lead. 

Likewise, when conducting discovery questions, you must ensure you don’t get too lost in their narrative. Retaining control of the phone call means that you guide the conversation so that it stays on track and educate the prospect about the services and products you have on offer. When listening to your prospect, try incorporating phrases like “It sounds like XYZ is important to you” or “I think we’d be able to help you out with XYZ.” 

Remember that you are also in control of the way in which a phone call starts. The beginning of the phone call is the most important segment, as it sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. First impressions never matter more than in sales phone calls. A prospect needs to feel like they can trust you from the beginning to give you the time needed to explain why you are calling and provide information about what you are offering. Make sure you are friendly and personable to build a good first impression. This will give you control over how the rest of the conversation is set to go. 


6. Practise to Build Resilience


Regarding sales, especially phone calls, telemarketers have received a bad rap for being pesky or annoying. Unfortunately, this is still an impression that very much exists in today’s world. It also means there is still a high rate of rejections regarding sales phone calls. 

One of the best ways to view sales rejections is as an opportunity for learning. When you first start out in sales phone calls, you will experience many rejections before you close your first deal. This is simply the reality of the trade. However, when you experience these, why not ask the prospect for more information on why they are choosing to decline your offer? Criticism can be difficult to take, but it’s important to remember that it’s also one of the best ways to learn. 

You’ll also find that, over time, the more rejections you face, the better your resilience will be. In the early days of sales, it’s easy to feel discouraged after receiving rejections, and you may also encounter a few rude customers. However, the more practice you get, the less frequent scenarios like these become. 

You also have to know the difference between an objection and a rejection. Rejections are always a hard no. The prospect may insist they do not want to be contacted again, which is a wish you and your organisation must honour. However, an objection can actually be used to your advantage during a sales phone call. 

Objections can come in the form of questions about the details of your product, such as pricing and turnaround time. To use the objection, try to understand why these factors are important to the prospect. This will give them a platform to explain what it is they are looking for and will give you more guidance on how you can help them out.

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