Sales Call 101 [The 7-Step Definitive Guide]

You might think you have enough high-quality appointments to keep you busy.

But do you really have enough to help you ultimately hit your sales goal?

Most salespeople and business owners simply do not have enough high-quality appointments to hit their goals.

And, believe it or not, phone selling can be a huge part of the solution to that problem.

In fact, the phone is one of the absolute best tools to generate high-quality appointments today.

So, in this video, I’m going to teach you Sales Call 101, with the 7-Step Definitive Guide to phone selling. Check it out:

Why Prospects Push Back on Price
1. Make it part of a campaign.

1. Make it part of a campaign.

Sales calls are integral to success in selling, but they need to be used as part of a larger campaign. The reality is that we have so many tools at our disposal today in sales. If we’re only making cold dials, then we’re making it a lot harder on ourselves than it has to be.

In addition to sales calls, reach out to prospects via email, social, direct mail, and any other medium you like. Use these tools in conjunction with one another as part of a cohesive prospecting campaign.

When you use strategic sales calls as part of a campaign, you can show prospects that A) you’re a real person, B) you bring real value, and C) when they ultimately do answer the phone, they’re not just going to get some annoying telemarketer.

Make your phone outreach part of a campaign so prospects slowly start to understand who you are, even when they’re not yet answering your sales calls.

2. Power dial.

2. Power dial.

If you’re not using a power dialer, then you’re just wasting time. Using a power dialer can enable you to make up to 80 dials an hour. Without a power dialer, it’s typical for salespeople to make 20 or fewer dials an hour. That’s a tremendous difference.

Power dialers eliminate downtime between sales calls by rapidly cycling through number-dialing so you don’t have to. Instead of manually making a dial on your phone, then entering the information into your CRM, then going back to make the next sales call, taking a break to use the bathroom, getting a drink of water, then making another sales call…you can just let the power dialer cycle through everything for you.

You’ve already done your research, prepared your script, and gotten everything ready to go. The power dialer allows you to just sit back and wait for the phone to ring. That efficiency removes the emotional aspect of having to get yourself psyched up for every single dial—because, chances are, only 2 out of every 10 sales calls are actually going to get answered.

Get power dialing.

3. Tonality is everything.

3. Tonality is everything.

The wrong tone will kill a sales call before it even gets started. Whether you sound super enthusiastic, stiffly scripted, or depressingly monotone, prospects will immediately get turned off if you strike the wrong chord.

To make successful sales calls, focus on using a tonality that sounds genuine, comfortable, and confident. The right tonality makes it difficult for prospects to get annoyed and try to get off the phone right away. Mix up your tonality to find the right vocal pitch and cadence for you. Tonality is everything when it comes to sales calls, so don’t skip this step.

4. Leverage your script.

4. Leverage your script.

Over the years, countless salespeople and business owners have told me they hate using a script. “It makes me sound scripted!” they complain. My response is always the same: “If you sound scripted when you’re following your script, you’re just bad at reading your script.” That might sound harsh, but it really is as simple as that.

If an actor said, “I don’t like to use a script because it makes me sound scripted,” you’d realize right away that that person was just a bad actor. We all know that any good actor can follow a great script and sound totally authentic. The same is true for salespeople. Any good salesperson can follow a script and sound totally authentic.

If you don’t have a script, you’re going to be all over the place. Your calls will be a complete disaster—you won’t know what to say, you’ll stumble, you’ll get confused, and you’ll forget what your point was supposed to be. Having a script is so critical because it keeps you on track. Leverage your script for truly effective sales calls.

5. Get them talking—fast.

5. Get them talking—fast.

One of the most important keys to an effective sales call is engaging the prospect in the conversation. The only way you can tell if the prospect is engaged is if they’re talking. The faster you can get your prospect talking, the more likely they are to ultimately convert to an appointment. It’s as straightforward as that.

6. Have contingencies.

6. Have contingencies.

Prospecting calls are actually quite formulaic. Prospects only have a few different ways of receiving sales calls, ranging from pleasant and open to annoyed and cranky. But since there aren’t that many variations regarding how a prospect can behave, it’s easy to have pre-planned contingencies for when a prospect is trying to get you off the phone.

For each likely response from your prospects, write up a contingency and use it when needed. These contingencies are basically buying time to keep the conversation going. Use these contingencies for any time a prospect is pushing back, saying no, or trying to end the sales call.

7. Use a KACTA.

7. Use a KACTA.

KACTA stands for Kick Ass Call To Action. In our community, we use this term all the time, because prospects aren’t interested in hearing your sales pitch. So, having a Kick Ass Call To Action in your sales call is going to make your calls much more likely to set an appointment. An effective KACTA is something that actually demonstrates value to the prospect. So, maybe it’s some kind of an asset that you can share with them, or some kind of an audit, or some best practices on how other people have solved the challenges that they’re facing.

Whatever it is, a KACTA must be something that is truly useful as part of the next step in the sales process, as opposed to just, “Hey, let’s get on a call so I can ask you a bunch of questions and try to sell you some stuff.” That’s what we want to avoid.

So there you have it. Now you know the 7-Step Definitive Guide to Sales Call 101. Which of these steps did you find most useful for your own phone selling strategy? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below to join the conversation.

More Phone Selling Tips…

Are sales calls an important part of your sales workday? If not, they probably should be.

The data shows that phone calls remain a key component of successful sales strategies for setting appointments today.

Ensuring that you’re rock-solid on sales calls is essential. Yet many salespeople still make excuses about why they can’t make sales calls. And even if they go ahead and make those calls, they’re often a complete mess.

In this video, I’m going to show you exactly how to be good at sales calls—even great. Check it out:

Why Prospects Push Back on Price

8. It’s just a video game.

8. It’s just a video game.
Imagine if I developed an online video game where you could make mock sales calls, role-playing with pretend prospects to test out your sales strategy on a game platform. How much more comfortable would you feel than making real-life phone calls? The reality is that when you’re making real prospecting calls, it is just a video game, for all intents and purposes. If you screw up on a sales call, that person isn’t going to remember you at all in a couple of weeks. All those nerves, all that fear associated with making sales dials is simply in your head.

Remember that it’s just a video game. If you make a mistake, that’s okay. And if you do great, that’s excellent. But at the end of the day, it’s just a video game. This mindset is crucial to learning how to be good at sales calls. Take some of that heavy mental pressure off, and you’ll notice a huge difference in your ability to make successful dials.

9. Drop the sales voice.

9. Drop the sales voice.
When I listen to salespeople making phone calls, I notice that their voices tend to go up a couple of octaves. This is the telltale mark of a sales voice. When your sales voice comes out, it’s the ultimate sign that you’re a salesperson. You might as well announce it to your prospect. If you really want to learn how to be good at sales calls, then you absolutely must drop the sales voice. In fact, 99% of your competitors are using a sales voice whenever a prospect picks up the phone. It’s time to set yourself apart. Drop that voice because it’s killing your calls.

10. Minimize time between dials.

10. Minimize time between dials.
This is simple and tactical, but so important. Whether you realize it or not, you’re likely wasting a lot of time between dials right now. Think about it: After you make a dial, do you frequently get up, use the bathroom, grab a glass of water, make some coffee, check your phone for messages, or log onto Facebook for a brief spell before making the next dial? That’s how the vast majority of salespeople are making dials today.

Some salespeople justify taking time between calls to do research on prospects. But even if you have to do some research between dials, I would rather you do all your research before you start dialing for the day. Get all of that out of the way. The most important thing is to minimize time between dials, and just go from dial to dial to dial as efficiently as you possibly can.

Of course, nowadays we have systems called power dialers which enable a salesperson to go from making about 20 dials an hour, to making up to 80 to 100 dials in an hour. Look into using a power dialer if you need help in this area and you’re committed to mastering how to be good at sales calls. You’ve got to minimize time between those dials.

11. Know them.

11. Know them.
Particularly in big-sale prospecting, you’ve got to know who your prospects are before you call them. You need to do some research. But, again, I would minimize the amount of research done between calls and instead do it all ahead of time. Or, better yet, have someone like a virtual assistant do it for you, if that’s possible. Either way, you simply must know who they are before you make a single dial. Focus on understanding key details like: What’s their title? What’s their role? What are some potential challenges they’re facing right now? What are some successes that their organization has had recently? Any potential buying-triggers you can glean from your research will make you so much more effective on that eventual call.

12. Have your script.

12. Have your script.
Salespeople are constantly pushing back on the idea of using scripts. But in reality, if you’re not using a script to make prospecting calls, then you’re never going to learn how to be good at sales calls. Ever. Just imagine watching a (non-reality) TV show with absolutely no script. (Okay, I get it. Curb Your Enthusiasm doesn’t use scripts—but they still have a proven show structure, not to mention a cast of the best comedians on the planet.) Most TV shows and movies use a very tight script for a reason. Sales calls must do the same. The goal is not to sound scripted. Rather, the key to a strong script is that you don’t sound scripted at all, because you know exactly what you’re going to say, you’ve practiced it a lot, and it sounds very conversational.

13. Personalize.

13. Personalize.

A good sales call script includes as much personalization as possible. Reference the prospect’s company name or title, where they live, etc. Use whatever information you gleaned from the prospect research you’ve done, and slip those pieces of personalization into your prospecting calls. Particularly for big-enterprise sales, you should be personalizing like crazy. Show the prospect that you know exactly who they are—not in a creepy way, but in a way that demonstrates that you’ve done your homework, you know who you’re talking to, and you’ve made the effort. It’s one of the best ways that you can stand out on the phone and master how to be good at sales calls.

14. Know your contingencies.

14. Know your contingencies.
When you make sales calls, prospects are likely to push back at very predictable points in the call. And these are the moments that scare salespeople the most. When you start the call and say, “Hey, how are you?” or “Do you have a minute?” and they reply, “No, actually, I’m really busy,” how do you respond? Most salespeople get all choked up and freak out at that moment.

Instead, build your contingencies for moments like these right into your script. That way, when you get pushback, you know exactly what you’re going to say in order to continue the conversation. Having contingencies in place makes all the difference when it comes to being good at sales calls. After all, contingencies are what keep the call going, ultimately getting you closer to setting that appointment.

15. They can’t hurt you.

15. They can't hurt you.
Sales calls are, by their very nature, virtual. We’re not actually there face-to-face with prospects. They can’t hurt you. (And quite frankly, even if you were face-to-face, they still aren’t going to hurt you.) There is no situation in which you are physically at risk when you’re selling.

So why are salespeople so afraid of making sales calls? The root of this fear goes back at least tens of thousands of years, when starting a conversation with a stranger outside of your known tribe legitimately put your life at risk. This fear remains embedded deep in the archaic part of our brains, saying, “Danger, danger! You’re talking to a stranger. Don’t do this.” That programming served us really well back in the day. But now, it’s simply holding us back from hitting our sales goals. Prospects can’t hurt you. Make the dials, take risks, have fun. And in the process, learn how to be good at sales calls—even great.

So there you have it. Now you know 8 must-know tips for how to be good at sales calls. Which of these sales call strategies did you find most useful for improving your approach to prospecting calls? Be sure to share below in the comment section to get involved in the conversation.

Even More Tips to Sound Great on Sales Calls…

Have you ever practiced making a sales call, over and over again—either in your head or with a friend—and then, when you actually made the call, it sounded completely different in real life?

(I’m willing to bet it sounded way better in your head…)

It’s incredible how different (i.e., more salesy) we sound as soon as we start talking to a real live prospect.

But there are some easy tricks you can use to sound much better when you’re on sales calls, so that way the prospect is less likely to immediately think, “Oh, this is a salesperson…”

In this video, I’m going to show you seven quick tricks to sound great on sales calls. Check it out.

16. Remember, it’s just a game.

16. Remember, it's just a game.Imagine that you’re watching someone approach a person at a bar to ask them out on a date. If the approaching person looks visibly nervous, with a tremble in their voice and shaky hands—how well do you think it’s going to go? Probably not very well at all, right?

Prospects feel the same way about salespeople. If you approach them on the phone sounding nervous and unconfident, they’re immediately going to be turned off. Instead, we need to change our mental state and recognize that it’s all just a game.

Prospects can’t hurt us. The absolute worst they can do is simply hang up the phone. So in order to sound great on sales calls, you need to start the conversation with confidence—and banish all nervousness. Remember, it’s just a game.

17. Talk like you’re with a friend at the bar.

17. Talk like you’re with a friend at the bar.I listen to thousands of sales calls every year. I walk through sales bullpens and overhear what salespeople are actually saying when they’re on the phone with prospects. One thing I always notice is that you can immediately tell when a salesperson is talking to a prospect as opposed to someone they already know.

How can you tell? Well, when salespeople are talking to prospects, they tend to go into a high-pitched, excited sales voice. Their vocabularies suddenly improve and they use fancier words.

If you want to sound great on sales calls, then you must not do this. Instead, it’s key that you avoid using an excited voice and fancy jargon altogether. You want to talk to prospects just as you would speak to a friend at the bar.

Think about it this way. If you’re with a friend at the bar and you’re talking about a new car that you just bought, you’re not going to say things like, “The best part about my new vehicle is that it’s 300 horsepower, which will allow you to hit 165 out on the freeway.” No, of course not. Instead, you’re just going to say, “Yeah, it’s really fast and it’s a lot of fun to drive.” Leave out the fancy jargon and excitement and instead talk to prospects like you’re talking to a friend at the bar. Drop the sales voice.

18. Take your time and pause.

18. Take your time and pause.When salespeople actually get a prospect on the phone, they tend to get excited and start speaking really quickly. They don’t take any breaks because they’re so afraid that the prospect might hang up the phone. But what this actually does is send signals to the prospects that you’re nervous. It’s like watching a movie with bad acting. They’ll just want to get away.

You need to take your time and pause if you want to sound great on sales calls. Instead of saying, “George, let me tell you the five reasons why I think you should consider our product,” slow it down and say, “George, did I catch you at an okay time?” Let them respond and then move on. Have a slow, consistent cadence just like you’re talking to a friend.

19. Match their tone.

19. Match their tone.The thing about sales calls is that your voice and tonality are literally the only things your prospect can notice about you. They can’t see you physically, they don’t know what outfit you’re wearing—so your tone really matters.

If you’re talking to a prospect who has a really hard, loud tone, then you don’t want to be coming in really quiet and soft. Instead, you want to match that tone. On the other hand, if the prospect answers the phone and it sounds quiet and soft, you want to come in and match that tone softly.

You don’t have to be exactly right on, but you want to modulate your voice to generally match what they sound like. This will help you sound great on sales calls no matter who you’re speaking to.

20. Stand up.

20. Stand up.It’s so easy to sit down at your desk, slump your shoulders, and make those dials. It’s not something you’re looking forward to, so you’re just slumping through. Instead, if there’s any way to do it, stand up when you’re on the phone. It comes through that you’re breathing with a full breath, using your diaphragm, and you’ve got more energy. When you stand, you start talking as if there’s someone right there in front of you.

So in order to sound great on sales calls, stand up at your desk. If you can prop up your laptop or your computer or you have one of those cool stand-up desks like I have, then great. Stand up any time that you’re speaking to a prospect or you’re on an important phone call. It makes a significant difference.

21. Use a hands-free headset.

21. Use a hands-free headset.This is technical and simple, but it makes a big difference. If you’re on the phone and you’re holding the phone to your ear, you’re limiting your motion. Always use a hands-free headset. Chances are you already do that, but if you don’t, make sure that you do.

Even if it’s just the earbuds that go with your phone, that’s fine, but make sure that you have a hands-free headset that you can speak into that has a solid microphone in your ear already. That way, you can just do whatever you want with your hands. You can even move around if you’d like. Having free range of motion will have a surprisingly big impact on your ability to sound great on sales calls.

22. SW³N.

22. SW³N.If you’ve been following my content for long enough, you probably know what SW³N means. Some Will, Some Won’t, So What? Next.

It’s so important that you have a good attitude about making calls. They’re not all going to go well and that’s fine. Prospects can’t hurt you, they can’t attack you, they can’t do anything to physically harm you.

Don’t worry. If a call doesn’t go well, get right back on the phone and make that next dial. Some Will, Some Won’t, So What? Next.

There you have it. Now you know some of the best quick tricks to sound great on sales calls. Which of these ideas did you find most useful? Share your thoughts in the comments section below to join the conversation.

Why Prospects Push Back on Price

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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.

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