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18 phone sales tips from the experts to help you make better sales calls

Phone Sales Tips
Over-the-phone sales tips for going in prepared
Phone sales tips and tricks for cold calls
Phone sales tips for better follow-up calls
Phone sales tips for closing the deal
Tips on how to make sales calls more effective throughout the sales cycle
Final thoughts

A phone is a powerful tool for lining up and closing sales.

Whether you’re initiating contact with a new lead, making a cold call or following up with a prospect, knowing how to make sales calls effectively can prove integral to your success.

Telephone sales have an advantage over other interactions in that they occur in real time, unlike messaging, and rely less on stable internet connectivity than video.

If you know how to make the most of your cold calls and follow-ups, you should be able to qualify more leads and spend less time pitching to new prospects.

With that in mind, here are 18 expert tips for salesmen, saleswomen and everyone involved in sales to master calling and close more deals.

Over-the-phone sales tips for going in prepared

According to RAIN Group, 57% of senior-level buyers and 47% of managers prefer salespeople to contact them by phone. However, it takes more than just dialing to truly connect with your ideal buyers.

Here are four preparation tips to increase your chances of engagement.

1. Know the best time to call

According to a study conducted by CallHippo, the optimal time for a cold call is between 4 PM and 5 PM (in your prospect’s region) on a Wednesday or Thursday.

While you may not be able to cram all your cold calling into two hours a week, you should take advantage of those times whenever possible.

Why it works

Customers are less likely to view your call as an interruption once they’re in wind-down mode at the end of the workday. Plus, by mid-week, they’ve not only had a chance to catch up on their to-do list, they’re not yet ready to start wrapping things up for the weekend.

No matter when you call, persistence is essential.

While it may take multiple calls to get through to a prospect, RAIN Group reports that 71% of buyers want to hear from sellers in the earliest part of the buying process because that’s when they’re looking for new ways to drive better results.

2. Set a calling goal

Make sure you figure out exactly what you want to achieve with your cold call before you hop on the phone.

For example, your aim may be to:

  • Better understand your prospect’s workflow

  • Find out who’s involved in their buying decisions

  • Set an appointment for a follow-up conversation

Planning a specific set of questions will help keep the conversation moving toward your objective.

Why it works

By establishing your ideal outcome – and learning a few details about the person you’re planning to contact – your conversation will sound less like a cold call and more like an offer of help.

Sales training expert Phil Gerbyshak recommends this five-step, 90-second procedure.

  1. Find out your lead’s preferred name (and how to pronounce it)

  2. Know their job title and role

  3. Understand what their company does

  4. Prepare three key statements in addition to your questions: an attention-grabbing introduction, a statement or two for dealing with brush-offs and a memorable voicemail message

  5. Practice your call until it sounds natural

3. Research your lead’s competitors

Part of your sales call planning should include identifying your prospect’s biggest competitors and determining their:

You’ll be in a better position to tailor your solutions to your client’s needs if you understand what they’re up against.

Why it works

By auditing your lead’s competitors, you may spot an opportunity to help them excel. For example, if your solution can help them target a specific geographic location, you could say, “One of your closest competitors is neglecting a key demographic. What if you jumped in to fill the void?”

When researching a potential customer’s competition, borrow tactics from your own competitive research strategy. Companies’ website blurbs and other marketing materials will help but you’ll gain more valuable insights by digging further, as The Go! Agency CEO and strategist Christopher Tompkins explains:

A competitive analysis needs to go much deeper than looking at your competitors’ social media or advertising efforts for comparison. Take a look into their history, who they consider their closest competitor and where they’re succeeding and falling short on selling their products.

Start simple by identifying your lead’s top competitor and checking their latest online reviews. If customers frequently comment about the same frustration, you could highlight it as an unmet need for your lead to target and show how your product will help.

4. Be prepared to go to voicemail

Be prepared to leave a succinct but memorable voicemail should you fail to connect with your lead.

You’ll find plenty of voicemail-specific scripts online but here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Immediately highlight the reason for your call

  • Use humor, enthusiasm or key findings about the customer’s company to help you stand out

  • Keep your voicemail under 30 seconds

You should also keep notes and be ready to jump straight into conversation when your prospect calls back – that could happen minutes, weeks or even months later.

Why it works

It can take multiple attempts to reach a busy decision-maker by phone, so arming yourself with a personalized set of voicemail messages can raise the chance of getting a callback.

According to sales trainer John Barrows, voicemail tactics play an especially important role in a contact strategy that includes a mix of calls, emails and social selling. He says:

“If your contact strategy includes quality and relevant messaging each time, it increases the chances of someone responding.”

Phone sales tips and tricks for cold calls

Cold calls are an important and regular activity for many salespeople. Here are three tips to help you get great results from your opening interactions.

5. Make your introduction count

You may not get a lot of time to make a good first impression. So, use these telephone sales tips to quickly connect with your lead during your sales call introduction.

  • Always address your prospect by name

  • Immediately move to the reason for your call, emphasizing “what’s in it for them”

  • Follow up with a couple of easy-to-answer questions to get the customer talking (your initial research will come in handy here)

Remember to focus on your prospect, not on your product.

Why it works

The cold call is your first and best opportunity to begin a lucrative new sales relationship. Keeping your introduction brief and customer-centric shows respect for your lead and their time.

In her article on sales call intros, inside sales advisor Lauren Bailey writes:

I’ve heard folks pack in their full bio, a short company history, the obligatory value prop, and get a good 1/3 down their product list before taking a breath. Five seconds is the target folks. And the goal is to get THEM talking ASAP, not the other way around.

6. Use a script for better time management

Many top salespeople rely on pre-scripted cold call templates to boost their time efficiency and maintain better directional control over their sales conversations.

While you should always leave some room for spontaneity to prevent your pitch from sounding unnatural, having tried-and-tested lines you can rely on will boost your confidence going into outreach calls.

Why it works

Having a script will help you:

  • Present yourself confidently and professionally

  • Plan key talking and listening points in advance

  • Feel less anxious about cold calls (so you’ll be more likely to make more of them)

Choosing a script that you can tailor to customers’ needs and situations will improve your cold calling success. A “choose-your-own-adventure” approach, where you have multiple options based on what the prospect says and asks, allows you to provide a more personalized experience without losing your call’s structure.

7. Practice desensitization

Cold calling can be intimidating, even for seasoned sales professionals, but you can practice desensitizing yourself to rejection by remembering that:

  • Most cold calls won’t end in a sale

  • You will lose every sale you don’t initiate

  • You may not be able to control sales results, but you can control your actions

Sales guru Brian Tracy suggests getting over your cold calling fear by making 10 or 20 sales calls a day over a one or two-week period without worrying about the results.

Why it works

Worrying less about outcomes helps you stay calm and confident as a sales professional, helping you to progress and close deals more naturally.

Tracy explains it best:

“If you make 100 calls as fast as you can with no concern about whether or not people are interested, you will actually start to uncover good potential prospects. You will start to make appointments. You will actually start to make sales.”

8. Listen to your more experienced colleagues

Listening in on more experienced team members’ cold calls will help you collect ideas and refine your approach for better outcomes.

Start paying more attention to the conversations around you. Subtly listen to how top performers on your team introduce themselves, handle gatekeepers and arrange their next steps. You can use the stand-out techniques to further your own conversations.

For the ultimate learning experience, ask someone you know to be a better salesperson than you if you can actively listen in on a call. Hearing the other side of the conversation will help you determine what does and doesn’t work much faster.

Why it works

While there’s no substitute for experience, learning from other salespeople’s successes and mistakes will certainly speed up your development.

What’s more, showing interest in how your colleagues work and achieve their goals will demonstrate to your manager and employer that you’re committed to improving.

Phone sales tips for better follow-up calls

A strong, thoughtful follow-up call can turn a warm lead into a hot one. Here’s how to build trust while gleaning valuable information from buyers.

9. Make time to follow up

Some sales and marketing professionals get so caught up in administrative duties that they stop prioritizing follow-up calls. Following up isn’t just the best way to secure a deal – it builds trust that can lead to additional sales or valuable testimonials and references.

Scheduling time for follow-up calls into your daily agenda will make them more likely to happen.

Why it works

Almost half (47%) of buyers want reps to provide personalized communication and 82% accept meetings with sales prospectors who actively reach out to them. Follow-up calls combine both to give you the best chance of satisfying your potential customer.

Whether you’re following up on a cold call, email, meeting, demo or ongoing sales solution, the more time you spend touching base with leads, prospects and customers, the more revenue you can expect in return.

10. Aim for authentic rapport

Building rapport with a potential client may begin during your initial phone call, but it continues well into the follow-up part of the sales process.

Aim to develop a positive, authentic connection by:

  • Being yourself (friendly is generally better than formal)

  • Finding common ground (look for shared backgrounds or interests, for example)

  • Talking with empathy (taking a genuine interest will help you craft the best solution for your prospect)

The better you get to know your sales contacts and the more likable you are, the better your chance of selling.

Why it works

The stronger your connection with someone, the more comfortable they’re going to be sharing their thought process. Understanding what potential buyers want, need or are struggling with is the key to closing more deals.

In his review of Art Sobczak’s book Smart Calling: Eliminate the Fear, Failure, and Rejection from Cold Calling, Bob Silvy, Senior VP of Local Ad Revenue at American City Business Journals, notes:

You get only one chance to make the right impression in sales. If a top prospect gets a hundred calls a week, you want to be the one he remembers and buys from.

11. Listen for key information

Giving feedback to show you’ve heard and understood what your lead or prospect says is one of the phone sales tips every sales professional should consider.

When you listen effectively during a sales follow-up call, you’re more likely to:

  • Establish trust

  • Encourage your prospect to elaborate on their issues

  • Learn exactly what your client wants and how you can help them

To shift from pushing a buyer with your sales message to compelling them based on their needs, try asking “how” and “why” questions and listening carefully to the replies. It’ll help you gain an in-depth understanding of what the person really wants.

Why it works

LinkedIn reports that 42% of buyers highly value active listening and 56% strongly agree they’re more likely to consider a brand when a sales rep “demonstrates a clear understanding of [their] business needs”.

Every buyer wants to be heard. When you listen for key information and use it to steer phone conversations toward your prospect’s objectives or challenges, you’ll find it easier to deliver a convincing sales solution.

Phone sales tips for closing the deal

For many successful salespeople, closing deals is the most satisfying part of selling. Experience that exciting feeling more often and hit your targets faster with these closing tips.

12. Combine discovery work with demo calls

Understanding what discovery and demo calls are and how they work together will help you close more deals.

  • A sales discovery call is a fact-finding mission to learn all you can about your prospect’s goals, challenges, expectations and buying decisions

  • A sales demo call is a sales presentation you give over the phone (often with the help of online screen sharing) to demonstrate the features of your product or service and the value they’re designed to deliver

Ideally, a successful discovery will lead to a demo, while a well-crafted demo should help close your sale.

Why it works

In phone sales, discovery and demo calls often work hand-in-hand.

Your sales demo will prove more successful, for example, if you first use discovery work to:

  • Develop a high-level understanding of your prospect’s needs

  • Build a presentation that caters directly to those requirements

  • Drive your demo objectives accordingly

Sales trainer and author Mark Hunter writes in his article on discovery call tactics:

You can refine your needs and you can add to the needs, but the framework of their needs must have been discovered before you get to the demo.

13. Learn to work through objections

Common sales objections range from a lack of budget or need to a lack of trust in your company.

Doing your due diligence in terms of client discovery and follow-up work will help you head off concerns like these for the most part. However, some prospects will still experience cold feet and start second-guessing their buying decisions.

Rather than giving up, try reframing your customer’s perspective by exploring and working through their objections together.

Why it works

When you stay calm and attempt to overcome sales objections as a sales partner rather than just a salesperson, it reassures your prospect that you’ve got their best interests at heart. By adopting a partner mindset, you’ll find it easier to team up with your buyer and brainstorm ways to resolve their concerns.

Remember, however, that your solution isn’t going to be right for everyone. Sometimes, customer objections are a sign you need to better qualify the leads in your pipeline.

As Napoleon Hill (author of Think and Grow Rich) said:

The best way to sell yourself to others is first to sell the others to yourself.

14. Know when to close

The time comes in every sales conversation when you have to finally stop selling.

You’ll know it’s time to lead your prospect toward a purchase commitment when:

  • You’re confident in your solution’s ability to meet their needs

  • You’ve fully described and demonstrated that ability to them

  • Asking for a yes or no answer feels like the next natural step in your sales conversation

Knowing when to wind down your sales pitch and switch to closing is important so you don’t take valuable time away from other deals.

Why it works

According to Jim Keenan, sales coach and CEO of A Sales Growth Company:

Deals close when everyone involved, every stakeholder, influencer and decision-maker feels the impact of going with your product or service will change their world for the better and that your solution is key in reaching the goals and objectives they’re trying to accomplish.

Staying attuned to cues that you’ve addressed all your customer’s pain points is part of being a great salesperson and a good skill to practice.

Tips on how to make sales calls more effective throughout the sales cycle

Phone calls can contribute to many parts of your sales strategy, from lead generation to after-sales support. Here are four tips for using this valuable sales tool more effectively.

15. Practice your voice skills

Phone sales conversations are unique in that you can’t rely on facial expressions or body language to support your messaging or attempts to connect.

To achieve greater success with your telephone sales voice, try this.

  • Record your cold call sales pitch and note your energy level and talking speed

  • Present to a colleague for a second opinion on how engaging and coherent you sound

  • Continue practicing until your delivery feels and sounds natural

Some of the best salespeople go as far as to invest in voice training to help them connect with more prospects and advance their sales careers.

Why it works

When you use your voice to project confidence, friendliness and professionalism, you’re more likely to put customers at ease and establish a solid rapport.

Sales leader and bestselling author Mike Weinberg suggests losing the “sales voice” altogether:

The best prospectors talk like normal humans. I suggest that you speak like you’re calling a friend. Calm. Casual. Comfortable. Confident. Real. Human.

16. Generate excitement around outcomes

One of the top phone sales tips and most effective ways to generate phone-based excitement around your product or service is by selling outcomes, not just solutions.

To help get leads and prospects excited about meeting their goals:

  • Use hard data to demonstrate how successful your product has been

  • Describe special deals that your sales manager has authorized you to offer or add-ons they can benefit from

  • Tell a compelling story about how you’ve helped similar customers with similar challenges

Remember, prioritizing what your customer cares about instead of the many features you offer is what sets outcome-driven selling apart from other sales techniques.

Why it works

When people get excited, they’re easier to engage and are more likely to act or make a decision. Excitement can be fleeting, however. It’s important to follow up until you’ve turned that positivity into a successful sales outcome.

In The Outcome Generation, Paul J Henderson describes a success outcome as “an ongoing business result that top management of the customer regard as success. And for which the vendor is the primary external provider.”

17. Take advantage of automation

Automation tools let you take advantage of technology to improve your telephone sales productivity.

With a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, for example, you can:

  • Manage your sales contacts

  • Track your sales metrics

  • Evaluate your performance so you can reach your sales goals

  • Organize your sales team’s calling activity

  • Store buyer persona data to support call prep

You can even use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and call tracking with your CRM to make your sales call activities more efficient.

Why it works

Using VoIP in combination with a call tracking tool or add-on allows you to multitask online while you track and record pertinent information from incoming sales calls.

Call tracking makes it easy for marketers to connect specific calls back to the sales channels that spawned them. And when you capture call tracking insights in a CRM tool like Pipedrive, you can share them in real time with inside sales reps.

Pipedrive lets you make calls directly from the web or through a smartphone, enabling fast call tracking, recording and insights all in one place: your Pipedrive account.

18. Focus on building relationships

Taking a sincere interest in your prospects’ day-to-day work and proactively building up your sales relationships should be your underlying focus right from the first time you call.

As Jerry Hocutt explains in his book Cold Calling for Cowards:

Cold calling is no longer about getting a list of unknown names, calling them, and speed talking. Cold calling today is about initiating contact, building relationships, and keeping in touch.

Why it works

People tend to buy from people they know, like and trust. So, building mutually beneficial relationships throughout your sales cycle can improve the odds of:

  • Securing more sales

  • Retaining customers

  • Benefitting from sales referrals

When asked during an interview how sales professionals can close more deals, UK sales expert Karen Dunne-Squire shared this simple piece of advice:

You can’t close a sale until you’ve opened a relationship.

Final thoughts

Finely tuned phone skills hold real value whether you’re doing the selling or looking to improve your call center training.

Try committing to one or more of the expert phone sales tips outlined here, then use your CRM to track your progress in terms of:

  • The number of cold calls that lead to a follow-up

  • Your success rate in dealing with sales objections

  • The speed with which deals move through your sales pipeline

No matter what you sell, learning to handle yourself confidently on the phone will help you whenever you need to introduce yourself to somebody new or influence their perspective.

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