Besides strong negotiation skills, successful salespeople have one thing in common: impeccable time management. A part of that is knowing when to stop chasing bad leads. And it’s not always obvious. Prospects can give mixed signals, causing bad leads to appear full of promise. This hard-to-teach sixth sense of sales comes with the intuition of experience. Can these six phone sales tips substitute that experience? You be the judge.
What’s certain is that even the most experienced salespeople need to invest significant time and energy into nurturing leads toward closing new deals.
For example, according to sales blog, The Pipeline:
- 80% of sales calls go to voicemail
- Prospects don’t respond to 90% of first-time voicemails
- Salespeople spend 15% of their time leaving voicemails
- The average voicemail response rate is 4.8%
Imagine the negative sales performance impact when all this effort is invested in leads that won’t convert. But the trap of dead-end leads is just one of many time-wasting activities that can bring disastrous sales outcomes.
OK. So it’s no secret that experience is a sales advantage that brings hard-to-teach skills. But that doesn’t mean even junior salespeople can’t fast-track their sales ability without veteran-level experience.
By applying these sales productivity hacks consistently, most sales teams can and should score more sales deals in a shorter time.
Before applying the 6 phone sales tips, here are 3 common mistakes to eliminate first
Before we explore our proven and best phone sales techniques used by Aircall teams around the world, let’s start with a few common errors that your salespeople might unknowingly be making.
Overdoing it with the sales enthusiasm
Cold calls are notorious for provoking impatient responses from prospects. But even warm prospects put their guard up when greeted over the phone by overenthusiastic salespeople. That’s the key phrase here: overenthusiastic.
Some sales managers actively encourage sales enthusiasm. But some sales reps take the advice a little too far. For prospects, unusually high energy is an instant red flag that they’re about to be sold to. And the worst way to lose a sale is to kill the conversation inadvertently before it starts.
Instead, train sales reps to adopt a calmer, more curious tone of polite, understated confidence when selling over the phone. Prospects may still clock that you’re a salesperson, but they’ll be less likely to clam up defensively and you’ll have a better chance to encourage reciprocity.
Only making calls during regular business hours
Your chances of having meaningful sales conversations increase significantly outside of regular business hours. Many office phone lines will also bypass gatekeepers after they’ve checked out for the day.
Making calls outside of regular business hours doesn’t mean a 6 a.m. start and a 7 p.m. finish. Try making a few calls each day before 8:30 a.m. and after 5:30 p.m. You should find that your batting average when it comes to total meaningful conversations will increase.
Ending sales calls without clearly communicating next steps
Besides actually closing deals or hitting your commission target, there’s no better feeling than having a great conversation with a hot prospect—especially if they’re interested.
Smart salespeople, though, don’t indulge in that feeling. Instead, they make sure to clearly explain the next steps.
When will you have your next call, demo, or meet face-to-face? Push prospects to agree on fixed next steps during your first call and get things scheduled then and there. By encouraging prospects to commit to specific next steps, you’ll also get a sense of how serious they actually are.
6 Phone Sales Tips for Closing More Deals in Less Time
Ok. Now we arrive at the business end of these best practice tips of best ways to sell over the phone. This is what you’re here for. Once you’ve gotten your salespeople out of the bad habits outlined above, train them in the following phone sales techniques.
#1: Give prospects the opportunity to suggest a better time
Let’s wade into these six phone sales tips with some simple advice.
When calling warm pre-qualified leads for the first time, succinctly explain who you are and the purpose of the call, and then ask, “is now a good time?”
If the answer is no, agree on a more convenient time and schedule a callback. If necessary, offer to talk outside of regular business hours.
Trying to force the issue and give your big pitch when prospects are distracted, busy, or impatient won’t do you any favors.
When you eventually call the prospect back, don’t ask, “is now a good time?”, like you did the first time. Instead, wait for them to tell you it’s not a good time. After all, this is the time they suggested.
If they volunteer that it’s not a good time, leave them your number, ask that they call you back when they can, and move on to the next lead.
If they call you, then you might be onto a quick close.
Not only does this simple technique improve the chances of speaking with prospects when they’re most receptive, but it also gives sales reps a sense of which prospects are interested.
One small but important caveat: This works best when calling warm, pre-qualified leads. For cold calling, it’s best to avoid asking, “is now a good time?” That’s because you often only have one shot when speaking with cold prospects, so your first engagement has to count.
#2: Plan your time around the highest-value prospects you know you can turn into new deals
Here’s a divisive question for you: When is the best time to connect with prospects? Early morning? Afternoon? Maybe in the evening, once they’re less busy? Or even weekends when they’re not even at work?
Most salespeople have answers to this question that they swear by. All things being equal, though, there’s no such thing as the perfect time to connect. It really comes down to buyer behavior and how prospects spend their productive hours.
For example, if your buyer is in field service projects, then calling at 11 a.m. is a bad idea, as they’ll already be out on-site.
Try to build a behavioral profile of your highest-value prospects. Engaging strategically with talkative gatekeepers can help gather insight for knowing the best times to reach prospects and even what kinds of challenges they want to solve.
#3: Streamline prospect research with knowledge frameworks
Salespeople who understand prospects’ goals and challenges before they pick up the phone have a huge sales advantage. Perhaps you could spend time shadowing buyers’ social media activity? While this can be a useful approach, prospect research takes time.
Instead, try developing a research framework.
For example: If you pay attention to patterns in sales interactions, you might find that a key piece of knowledge or industry insight helped you close more than half of your last 30 sales.
Once you’ve accounted for the most compelling insights that most prospects respond to, you can create conversion cue documents and cheat sheets. This can help to deftly insert relevant messaging into sales calls, cutting down on research time.
#4: Replace physical phone hardware with smarter virtual softphones
Despite countless obvious advantages of cloud-based softphone technology, business telephony hardware and physical handsets are still common. That’s thanks to the misconception that it’s difficult and expensive to switch from physical landline phones to VoIP phone solutions.
In truth, it can be incredibly straightforward and easy, with little or no disruption. By switching to virtual softphones, your sales team will access a world of time-saving apps and features for increasing sales productivity without burning out.
For example, Aircall’s cloud-based softphone technology brings features like:
Power Dialer: for quickly creating lists of sales leads to power dial through in just one click.
Click-to-Dial: for instant single-click dialing that brings minutes and even hours of time savings over a quarter.
Smart Call Tagging: for smart call–type analysis using custom tags and color-coded call-classification, saving time sales reps spend reorienting themselves between different prospect interactions.
#5: Break the multitasking cycle of 9-to-5 sales chaos with The Pomodoro Technique and task grouping
Ok, technically these are two tips. When leveraged together, they combine powerfully as a sales time-saving and productivity hack. We’re talking about The Pomodoro Technique and ABCDE task grouping.
First, a little context:
Inexperienced sales reps—and those under intense pressure—can slip into a vicious cycle of 9-to-5 dialing and multitasking:
1. They arrive at work
2. Make coffee, check emails
3. Then hit the phone for a full day of prospecting
Dial, engage with prospects, or leave a voicemail and send an email. Log CRM notes. Schedule a callback and repeat from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It’s hard to overstate how destructive this approach is for sales performance. Partly because multitasking is actually terrible for productivity. But also because important CRM admin becomes rushed and lacking in detail.
So how does The Pomodoro Technique combined with task grouping to help salespeople work smarter?
Task grouping works as follows:
Ask sales reps to create a list of tasks graded A to E in order of importance with A tasks being critical and E tasks of least urgency.
Now combine task grouping with The Pomodoro Technique developed by Francesco Cirillo and named after the humble tomato-shaped Pomodoro timer.
- Set your Pomodoro countdown timer to a 25-minute countdown.
- In those 25 minutes, focus on the A and B high-priority tasks like demos and new prospect calls. You should have them ready from the task grouping exercise at the start.
- Once your 25 minutes of A and B task focus are up, take a quick five-minute Pomodoro break. Maybe check your emails and notifications.
- Ok, now it’s time for your next 25-minute Pomodoro slot of focused A and B tasks for sales productivity.
- After every four Pomodoro productivity slots, take a 15- to 30-minute break.
Once you’ve completed your A and B tasks, continue your 25-minute Pomodoro deep-work routine focussing on C, D, and E tasks. For example, logging CRM notes, sending follow-up emails, and scheduling follow-up calls and demos.
#6 Leverage Conversational CRM to automate prospect insights and close more deals
Got room in your glossary of business terms for yet another CRM-related buzzword? Conversational CRM is less complicated than it sounds:
“Conversational CRM brings together an ecosystem of technologies tailored around the customer—including enhanced UX, social messaging, AI, intelligence tools, and more—to support the end-to-end customer journey.”
— Zendesk: Conversational CRM is the missing piece in your sales strategy
Put simply, conversational CRM uses artificial intelligence to gather insights into prospects and customer conversations taking place in messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack, and so on.
What are the time-saving and sales advantages of Conversational CRM?
Besides virtually eliminating the need for certain CRM admin, conversational CRM helps salespeople spend more time on personalizing prospect interactions by automating things like generalized discovery questions.
It also creates a bigger, more detailed picture of prospect journeys, objections, challenges, and attitudes that salespeople can leverage to close deals faster.
Already using Zendesk? Plug your sales team into Aircall’s zero-hardware telephony and you’ll be able to seamlessly integrate Aircalls’ virtual phone to make sales calls right from your Zendesk dashboard.
Bonus Phone Sales Tip: Switch to a Smarter Virtual Softphone Solution That Works With Your Sales Team—Not Against Them
Time for one little extra tip?
If you’re a sales manager, you probably already know a few tricks of your own and some of the best sales tactics over the phone.
What you might not have yet considered is capturing those final few hard-to-reach marginal gains of sales efficiency. Here are a few Aircall-assisted micro efficiencies to think about.
If you’re wondering, the stats and numbers below were some of the real-world outcomes when Aircall commissioned Forrester to test the business impact of Aircall’s smart virtual telephony.
Cut sales admin time by 8 minutes per hour, per person
With Aircall’s industry-leading apps and integrations ecosystem, there are countless ways and options for automating time-draining tasks like CRM admin.
Salesforce, HubSpot, Intercom, Pipedrive, MS Dynamics. With a single click, Aircall connects with your client relationship management platform, automatically feeding critical call insights into prospect accounts.
Achieve a sales productivity recapture rate of 85%
85%? We could hardly believe it either.
Your productivity recapture rate is the percentage of time-savings that are reinvested into higher-value workflows.
When Forrester tested Aircall’s economic impact on businesses, they discovered that sales teams were able to put 85% of their time savings back into high-impact tasks to progress leads through the funnel faster.
Want to know the kind of sales productivity gains Aircall is bringing to clients like Plecto?
How Can Aircall Help Your Sales Team Close More Deals Without Breaking a Sweat?
There’s only one way to find out.
Try Aircall free for 7 days and watch your sales team fly. With the easy same-day setup, your sales team will be up and running from day one. Then, they’ll have a chance to test over 100 one-click integrations and sales productivity features such as:
That helps sales mentors secretly steer calls and affect sales conversation outcomes in real-time before opportunities are lost
To quickly create and power dial through lead lists with a single click.
For cumulative time-saving by instantly click-dialing phone numbers.
Smart Call Tagging
For color-coding different types of calls, helping salespeople quickly re-orient themselves between different prospects and customer interactions.
Got a question? Just ask via Aircall’s Live chat—we’ll try to get back to you in 10-minutes or less.