Time after time, I come across salespeople dealing with the single most common challenge in sales: setting great appointments.
Most sales reps simply do not set enough great sales appointments in order to ultimately hit their sales goals. And in most cases, this comes down to a lack of strong phone sales techniques.
It doesn’t matter how strong you are at all the other aspects of sales. Once you actually connect with a prospect, if you’re not consistently setting great appointments, the sales stop.
The key is to master how to sell over the phone, because one of the single best tools for setting appointments today is the phone.
So in this video, I’m going to show you 11 quick and easy phone sales techniques to set great appointments. Check it out:
1. Leverage your calls.
Pure cold calls are dead. When I say pure cold calls, I mean calls where prospects have absolutely no idea who you are. These days, sales reps have so many tools in their arsenal that can help warm up that prospect relationship before ever getting on the phone.
By the time you actually get potential clients on the phone, they should at least have some idea of who you are. This requires that you leverage your calls by reaching out to prospects in some other ways first—whether via emails or LinkedIn requests or some other form of communication other than the phone.
Then, when you finally do pick up the phone and dial them, prospects will actually know who you are. Learning to leverage your phone calls by warming them up is one of the most important and effective phone sales techniques you can master today.
2. Half of LI contacts give a cell number.
LinkedIn is one of the most under-appreciated places to get valid cell phone numbers to set great appointments. Because today’s selling world is so virtual, cell phone numbers are the gold standard of ensuring that you’re actually going to get through to someone. Leverage LinkedIn to connect with your prospects, and take it a step further by looking to see which prospects share their cell numbers on the platform.
Of course, LinkedIn isn’t the only way to get the cell phone numbers of your prospects, but it is one of the simplest and lowest-cost ways to do so. As about half of LinkedIn contacts share their cell phone numbers, this is a huge opportunity
3. Call when they open your email.
This is a super ninja phone sales technique—and it takes a lot of salespeople out of their comfort zone. But if you use a system to track when prospects open your emails, then you can use that information to determine the best time to call them. And of course, the best time to call them is right after they open your email.
That way, when you dial the prospect and they pick up, you can say, “Hey there, George calling. Does my name ring a bell?” and they’ll say, “Actually yes, it does, I just opened your email…” This is one of the most powerful ways to open your prospecting phone calls.
4. Have a script in front of you.
We tend to think that having a script makes us sound scripted, but that’s not true at all. Being bad at using a script makes you sound scripted. Making a sales call without a script is actually the kiss of death. In fact, simply using a script is one of the best phone sales techniques you can implement into your phone sales process right now.
Without a script, you’re just going to meander all over the place. Don’t believe me? Record one of your prospecting calls and listen to yourself if you don’t use a script. You’ll see what I mean. No one has the capacity to hit all their talking points in high-pressure sales conversations without a script. So have a script in front of you.
5. Personalize your script.
One of the most common pieces of criticism I get about using a script is that it’s robotic and ends up making the salesperson say the same thing to every single person. But that doesn’t have to be true. You can personalize your script—and you should.
At my own organization, we use highly personalized prospect and call scripts. We leverage information such as where prospects are located, what their titles are, what their company names are, and more. Anything that can personalize the script will make it that much more powerful and will lead to more leads and potential clients.
What’s more, personalizing your script shows the prospect that you’ve done your homework, which makes it much more likely that they’ll give you the next 30 seconds to engage them in a conversation…and ultimately set a meeting.
6. Minimize research between dials.
At my organization, we actually separate out the person who’s doing the research from the person who’s doing the dials. This allows us to be much more efficient. Now, you may not have your own personal researcher, and that’s okay. But I challenge you to do your research ahead of time and put that information in some kind of document or CRM system—and then make all of your dials in a row.
Pay attention to this phone sales technique, and you’ll see a huge uptick in your sales productivity. When you set up prospecting calls this way, you’re not wasting time in between each dial to do your research.
Plus, when you make dial after dial without interruption, you can make 50 to 60 dials in an hour. But if you’re researching in between dials, you’re not going to make more than 10 or so dials in an hour. That’s a really low level of output, and it’s realistically not going to lead to much in terms of actually setting appointments.
Minimize research between dials to increase your output and get more leads as a result.
7. Voicemail is part of your campaign.
There’s a lot of hate on voicemail these days. If your goal is for someone to return your voicemail, then maybe it isn’t going to work. But that’s not necessarily the goal of leaving a voicemail.
In sales, the goal of leaving a voicemail is simply to get the prospect to realize that there’s a real human being on the other end of the line; that there’s a real human being who’s been sending them those emails. Think of voicemail as another touch-point in your overall prospecting campaign. Voicemail helps you slowly but surely build that relationship with your potential clients.
Don’t be afraid to leave some voicemails as part of your campaign. This doesn’t mean you should leave a voicemail every single time you call prospects…because that can almost seem a little creepy. But one, two, maybe three voicemails over the course of a campaign with 20 or so touch-points, that’s a really powerful phone sales technique.
8. Know your goal for the call.
If you want to set more great appointments, then understanding what your goal actually is with the call is really important. Your goal is simply to set an appointment for a proper discovery conversation or, as I call it, disqualification conversation. That’s it.
The goal for your initial conversation is not to educate the prospect; it’s not to become best friends with the prospect; it’s not to connect with the prospect on a deeply personal level. It’s simply to schedule an appointment. Knowing your goal will help streamline the script and the entire process for the call.
9. Be willing to piss people off.
Now, I know this may seem controversial, but you must be willing to annoy prospects. Of course that isn’t the goal of the prospecting call. Of course, the goal of your day is not to piss people off, but you must be willing to accept that there are going to be some people who you’re going to catch who woke up on the wrong side of the bed, who you caught them at the wrong time, and they’re going to be annoyed and that’s okay. That’s okay. Give yourself that permission. Be willing to frustrate people and piss them off. Again, not the goal, but it is going to happen and that’s okay.
10. They can’t hurt you.
Remember, there are no bullets flying. There are no punches being thrown. Prospects can’t physically hurt you. All they can do is maybe say a mean thing or two, and that’s fine. But they can’t physically hurt you so there is no physical risk involved with making calls. When it comes to phone sales techniques, simply letting go of your fear and having more confidence is one of the most crucial and effective.
11. You’re interrupting them; expect pushback.
When you make a call to a prospect, there’s a good chance that they’re going to say something like, “This isn’t a great time, can you try me back later?” or “I’m not interested,” or “What’s this all about?’ You need to expect that pushback and have contingencies in place that allow you to break through that. If you’re not expecting the pushback, you’re going to get killed on that call. Expect that prospects are not going to be delighted to hear from you, because you’re interrupting them. That’s okay, but you have to be ready for it.
So there you have it. Now you know 11 quick and easy phone sales techniques to set great appointments. Which of these techniques will you implement into your phone selling approach? Be sure to share below in the comment section to get involved in the conversation.
More Phone Sales Techniques to Set Great Appointments…
Want to learn some easy phone sales tips that can actually increase your close rates? Check out this video to learn the 9 phone selling tips no salesperson should live without.
As a salesperson, do you find yourself using the phone less and less? Regardless of your answer, many of your competitors are saying “yes” to that question.
So what does that mean for you?
It means opportunity. Since fewer salespeople are actually picking up the phone and calling prospects, you have an incredible opportunity to stand out with the right phone sales techniques.
Don’t listen to what some gurus are saying: Phone sales isn’t dead. In fact, the phone is still one of the most powerful tools that salespeople have in their arsenal—provided you follow some powerful, easy phone sales tips.
Whether you’re cold calling, calling as part of a prospecting campaign, following up on referrals, or calling established clients, phone selling simply works.
But your phone sales technique—including what you actually say on those calls—really, really matters.
The data suggests that over two-thirds of salespeople are actually doing things during selling situations that actively hurt their sales. Don’t let this be you.
In a world where more than half of the average salesperson’s day is spent not actually selling, being able to sell over the phone is more valuable than ever. In this video, I’m going to show you 9 easy phone sales tips to close way more sales. Check it out:
Easy Phone Sales Tips Video Summary:
12. Don’t wait to get motivated; just pick up the phone.
When I first started selling, I had to make around 50 to 100 dials every single day. I’ll never forget the feeling in those first couple of weeks, and how heavy that phone actually felt.
I would come up with every single possible excuse as to why I could not pick up that phone.
I would go get that extra cup of coffee, check my email for the hundredth time, or randomly have a conversation with someone nearby.
I would do anything I could to just avoid phone sales.
But what I was really doing was waiting to get motivated. And when we wait to get motivated, the motivation never comes.
What we need to do is just pick up the phone. This is one of the most powerful phone sales techniques I can share with you.
The most successful people, regardless of what their profession is, don’t wait for motivation. They just get going. They don’t have to be in the mood to do it…they just do it anyway.
So, just pick up the phone and get dialing. Just sell over the phone.
13. Set a daily phone call dial goal.
I can’t tell you how many salespeople fail to set a specific goal for phone sales, such as how many calls they actually want to make in an hour or a day. How many phone numbers do you dial?
If you can answer this, you’re on your way to mastering one of the most effective easy phone sales tips out there.
The reason that we even track dials in the first place is that it’s really the only thing we can actually control as salespeople.
Sure, we can control how much time we allot to making calls—but when we only focus on how much time we allot, we could end up making only five calls in an hour because we’re dilly-dallying.
But when we track the number of dials we’re making, that’s something we can truly control.
It depends on what you’re selling and whom you’re selling to, but most salespeople are capable of making anywhere between 15 and 30 dials an hour. (This, of course, assumes that most people don’t pick up.) Throughout that hour, we’re really committing to the number of dials as opposed to the amount of time.
Here’s an example of this approach to sell over the phone: “My daily goal is going to be 20 dials today.”
Focus on the number of dials and not the amount of time, because the number of dials you make is going to connect directly to the number of appointments you set, the number of sales you make—and thus, what you actually make at the end of the year.
14. Make sales calls a game.
Far too often, we salespeople dread rejection, and as a result we get really discouraged.
This is particularly true when it comes to phone sales. Some prospects can be really mean. They might even curse at us, or just hang up the phone. Or, they politely end the conversation, but we know that they’re just trying to get rid of us.
Most salespeople, unfortunately, take that rejection very seriously. But it’s not serious!
Potential customers don’t know you. They don’t know who you are. They don’t know your family. They don’t know anything about you.
Sales is just a game. It doesn’t physically hurt to sell over the phone.
Imagine if every time a little kid played soccer and lost, they cried and pouted. You just can’t take this stuff that seriously.
When I was first learning how to make a sales call, I took this approach: If someone was getting rude or snippy with me on the phone, I got playful. I would really make it a game.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that it would turn that specific interaction into something more positive. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. But it always made it so that every rejection just rolled right off my back.
It doesn’t matter. Make it a game.
15. Make sales calls really early and really late.
This is one of the simplest easy phone sales tips I can give you, but it’s incredibly powerful.
When do you think the majority of salespeople are making their dials during the course of the day? If you said something like between 10:00 and 11:30 or 1:00 and 3:00, then you’re right.
The majority of phone sales calls from salespeople are made at those times. At a lot of organizations, this is call time.
The problem is, as a result, your prospects are receiving tons of phone sales calls during that time frame—and it also just happens to be the time when they’re really, really busy, too.
So, I challenge you to think about whether you can start making calls when prospects are both not being bombarded by other salespeople, and when they’re not really busy.
The reality is, if you’re calling really early in the morning or really late in the afternoon or evening, your high-level prospects who are true decision makers will be in the office.
Typical CEOs get in the office at around 6:30 in the morning. They don’t leave until around 8:00 at night—and yet, when is the gatekeeper there?
The gatekeeper is there from 8:30 to 5:30. Call outside of those hours, and you’re going to get through the gatekeeper.
Call early and call late.
16. Avoid the “sales voice” on the phone.
This is one of the most important easy phone sales tips I’m going to share with you in this article: Avoid the sales voice.
Now, the sales voice is so pervasive in our industry that if I asked you, “Do you use an overly enthusiastic voice when you make calls?” you would probably say, “No, no, no. I sound normal.”
But when I listen to most salespeople make a call, they sound something like this, “Hey, George, Marc Wayshak calling, how are you today!?”
If you’re the prospect receiving this overly cheerful call, what will you immediately assume about the person making that call? That it’s a salesperson.
Salespeople typically increase the cadence or pace of their speech on phone sales calls, speeding up their talk and going up a couple of octaves. We want to avoid this completely.
We want prospects to think, “Hmm, this just sounds like a normal, genuine person.”
So, avoid that sales voice. Lower your tempo. Slow down your pace—and try recording your own voice during calls to make sure you’re doing just that.
It’s really simple. You don’t have to record the whole call. There’s no disclosure issue because you can use your iPhone or your Android and just use the audio recorder to record the sound of your voice and no one else’s.
I guarantee you’re going to find that you’re using a pace and a cadence that’s not entirely natural.
Instead, if you want to sell over the phone, I want you to sound more low-key and genuine.
17. Pattern Interrupt is one of my favorite phone sales techniques.
This is one of the most important easy phone sales tips you’ll ever learn. Sadly, it’s something that the vast majority of salespeople never even think about.
Let me ask you a question: What do the first 6 seconds of your typical sales calls sound like?
Most salespeople can’t exactly answer that.
If you’re like most salespeople, you take an off-the-cuff approach to opening your phone sales calls. While you may structure what happens later on in the call, you’re likely not really thinking about how to start the conversation.
But all the data suggests that prospects are deciding whether they want to continue the call with us within those first 6 seconds.
We need to fully map out what those first 6 seconds sound like.
That’s where this idea of “pattern interrupt” comes in. We want to break the pattern. We want prospects to pick up the phone and hear something totally unexpected and different.
If you’re starting your call with an off-the-cuff, enthusiastic greeting such as, “Hey, George, Marc Wayshak calling. How are you today?!” then you’re going to turn prospects off. They’ll know you’re a salesperson right away, and they’ll try to get off the phone.
I challenge you to script out those first 6 seconds in a way that your prospects won’t expect. My approach would be something like this, “Hey, George, Marc Wayshak calling. Did I catch you in the middle of something there?”
You’ll notice is that this is a different approach from what prospects would normally hear. I’m breaking the pattern.
Prospects expect you to sound smooth, enthusiastic, and pushy on phone sales calls. Instead, script out a call opening that’s unexpected—and then say it in a tone that’s slow, and almost a little bit hesitant. They’ll be thinking to themselves, “Is this a salesperson? Is it someone else? I don’t know.”
18. Have a contingency on all sales calls.
Contingencies are one of my favorite tools in sales. But most salespeople, when I teach them about contingencies, get really uncomfortable. In reality, though, contingencies are one of the most powerful easy phone sales tips you can implement into your selling approach today.
In phone sales, contingencies come into play when you’re calling prospects who are really busy, and they try to get you off the phone within the first couple seconds of the call. What’s your contingency plan if that happens? This is your plan B, when plan A falls through.
If you call a prospect and say, “Hey George, Marc Wayshak calling. Did I get catch you in a middle of something there?” and the prospect replies, “Actually, yeah, you did. I don’t have time right now. Can you call me back in a week?” you need to know exactly what to say.
Contingencies take some guts. You must be bold and really put yourself out there.
A typical salesperson is just going to say, “Oh, okay. Of course, yeah, thank so much,” and get off the phone.
But the sales ninjas who have a contingency in place might say something like this: “You know what, George? I really appreciate your saying that. Would it be okay if I just took 30 seconds, told you why I was calling, and then we can decide if it makes sense to hang up? Does that sound okay?”
Boom. Contingency. This will help you sell over the phone more for sure.
Now, is this going to work all the time? No—but you ought to put together a couple of contingencies in a row to make sure that you’re ultimately going to last at least 30 seconds of the call.
19. Get them talking.
I want you to imagine what the typical prospect is experiencing on the receiving end of a typical sales call. The prospect answers the phone, and the salesperson says, “Hey, how are you doing?! You know, I want to tell you all about my company, ABC. We’ve got this incredible product!”
And what are prospects doing while they’re listening to this?
Let’s say they have their phone to their shoulder and they’ve just determined that this is a phone sales call. Immediately, they switch off their attention and go back to typing that email or reading that report on the desk in front of them.
Meanwhile, they let the salesperson drone on, because they’re being polite. But they’re definitely not engaged with what the salesperson is saying.
This is no good if you really want to sell over the phone.
A truly effective salesperson has something in their sales call that engages the prospect in a conversation to get them talking.
Once prospects are actually talking and engaged in the conversation, it’s really difficult for them to continue reading that report or writing that email.
You need to engage them to join the conversation. Draw them in to get them talking. Ask feedback-inducing questions in your calls that sound something like, “Does that make any sense based on what I’m saying?” or “Does that ring true to you?”
Get them talking.
20. Always close on the sales call for the next step.
This is one of those easy phone sales tips that’s backed up by tons of data. Gong.io, an intelligence conversion platform that uses AI to analyze sales conversations, compares conversations that really work against those that don’t.
What they’ve found is that in the most effective sales conversations, salespeople spend significantly more time discussing next steps.
This is the first time we’ve ever had specific data telling us that focusing on next steps is so important. This means never closing out a phone sales call with a vague, “Oh, you know, how about I call you back in a week?”
Instead, say, “Do you have your calendar out? Let’s schedule a next step to make sure that we avoid that back-and-forth, and we get each other on a call where we can review what we discussed today.”
Always close for that next step. In an initial prospecting call, what you’re closing for is typically that next scheduled meeting, whether it’s face-to-face or via WebEx or phone.
You should always be closing for the next step so there’s never a point in the sales process where we have that wishy-washy, “I”m not really sure about what’s coming up next” mentality. Always close for that next step.
Bonus #1: Always have a script for all sales calls.
When it comes to phone sales, do you know exactly your talking points before you ever get on the phone to dial a prospect? If you’re like most salespeople, the answer is no. This is a huge wasted opportunity to leverage phone sales to crush your sales quota.
Why? Because a script is a central element to any successful phone sales strategy. Far from making you sound fake or scripted, having a script will make you sound prepared, polished, and confident.
I can’t tell you how many salespeople push back when I tell them to use a script. They don’t want to sound fake. But I can’t overstate how misguided this fear is. If you want to truly take advantage of the phone in today’s hyper-connected world, you need to be incredible on the phone: engaging, quick, to-the-point, and compelling.
Try being all those things without a script — it’s just not going to happen. You don’t need to follow a script to the word, but you should have one in front of you to plan for contingencies and keep yourself on track so you don’t get thrown off by a tough prospect or an unfriendly phone response.
Bonus #2: Have a plan to get past the gatekeeper.
Getting past the gatekeeper is one of the most important elements of phone sales. How many times have you been blocked by an admin or other gatekeeper from getting through to your high-level prospect on the phone? I’m willing to bet it happens all the time, because it’s one of the top complaints I hear from salespeople about phone sales.
To avoid this common pitfall of phone sales, create a plan to get past the gatekeeper. For example, I suggest calling high-level prospects early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Gatekeepers typically work a typical 9 to 5 day in the office. But high-level prospects are there at 7:30 or 8 in the morning, and they don’t head home until 6 or 7 at night.
So try your prospects on the phone at atypical times to avoid the gatekeeper altogether. And if you still can’t avoid the gatekeeper, try this: Speak in a confident, authoritative way, and ask for the prospect by name. Say, “I’m calling for Bob. You can tell him this is Marc from New York,” or wherever you’re from. This approach frequently works wonders with gatekeepers, who are afraid of blocking an important call from their boss.
Bonus #3: Don’t worry about pissing people off on the phone.
You’re not in sales to make friends. You’re in sales to make…sales.
So, stop worrying so much about whether people like you. This is especially true for phone sales, where it can be difficult to hear the annoyance and impatience in people’s voices over the line. But stick with it. Don’t let a few rude prospects get to you.
If you can start to think of sales as a game, you’ll be much better able to handle the negativity and move past it. Simply put, stop worrying about pissing people off on the phone. It doesn’t matter.
Bonus #4: Make your sales call part of a campaign.
Phone sales can be a challenge. We all know that. So make it part of a strategic campaign to increase your odds of getting prospects on the phone — and keeping them on it.
Send out emails, leave voicemails, mail packages and share other valuable content, all as part of a prospecting campaign. Your phone calls should be in there too, but in a strategic way. Don’t just call prospects randomly without anything to say. Make sure there’s a reason for each call and make it part of a campaign.
Bonus #5: Be persistent on the phone.
Most salespeople make a few calls to a prospect before stopping altogether. Don’t give up! Phone sales is all about persistence, after all. Did you know that it typically takes upwards of 15 “touches” to get a prospect to respond? So, don’t stop calling so easily. Put in the time and keep going, even if you don’t get through time and time again.
So, there you have it. Now you know 9 really easy phone sales tips (plus 5 bonus tips) that can transform your selling approach. I want to hear from you. Which of these ideas did you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comment section to get involved in the conversation.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.