sales calls

By Mike Taylor

If you’re a salesperson, you probably spend a ton of time on the phone making calls. But are you making the most of your time on those sales calls?

According to Hubspot, 80 percent of sales require at least five follow-up phone calls. There are ways to optimize those calls, and hopefully have to make less of them before closing the sale.

Whether you’re nurturing an existing lead through follow-up sales calls or doing cold sales calls, here are six tips that will help you make the most of your sales calls and drive up your commissions.

Prepare for and avoid technical issues

If you’ve ever tried to have a sales call over a bad connection or set up a conference call that just didn’t work smoothly, you know how difficult it can be to recover from the awkward moments that come with technical issues.

To minimize technical issues on sales calls, make sure your network is solid and avoid using unreliable third-party conference calling software. A quality VoIP business phone system typically offers high-quality, feature-packed calling capabilities, but you’ll want to make sure your network is strong enough to support your organization’s call volume. VoIP phone systems also have built-in conference capabilities that are more reliable and user-friendly than most third-party services.

Use the introduction to your advantage

During that first introductory sales call, most people don’t know as much as you assume they know. In other words, it’s usually a safe bet that the person/people on the other end of the phone have no idea what you and your business actually do – and most importantly, how it could benefit their specific business.

That’s why it’s a good idea to start out a call with a brief, high-level description of your product or services, reminding them of what your company does and what problem you solve.

Next, instead of saying how you help businesses like theirs, give a really specific statistic or example of how much you have actually helped similar businesses in the past. If you don’t have impressive stats, try throwing in a reference to a reputable client you’ve helped that they might know.

Anything you can quickly say that will catch their attention and tell them exactly what you do will help alleviate any initial confusion or boredom.

Focus on problem-solving instead of showcasing

This might be the most important aspect of any sales call. Too many salespeople focus on showcasing features and benefits that may or may not pertain to that particular prospect or situation.

Instead of being overly eager to show off your solution and what it can do, focus on learning as much as you can about your prospect’s business or organization. Really try to zero in on exactly what pain they’re facing. Listen to the words they use to describe their pain, notice which pain points seem to be emphasized more, and try to understand the roadblocks that have kept them from solving these problems in the past.

Once you thoroughly understand the unique pain points they’re facing, you’ll be able to go one-by-one through each pain point and explain how your solutions can solve those problems for their specific situation.

Tell relevant stories of previous customers

It’s no secret that stories are one of the most influential tools we have at our disposal when it comes to communication. There’s something unique about seeing other people’s success with a product or service that validates and reassures potential buyers of its value.

First of all, we can’t help but latch onto stories. We find ways to relate to stories in any way possible. Stories have a way of using empathy to convey a message far better than any explanation or demonstration ever could.

Second, everyone wants to know if something works before they buy it. That’s a no-brainer. So showing that your solution not only works, but that it worked for businesses very similar to theirs, just might give you the edge you need to close the sale.

Record and listen to yourself

Do you know how professional athletes improve their performance and prepare for their next game? Sure they practice, lift weights, run and all that other good stuff; but perhaps the most important thing they do to prepare for future victory is to watch their performance in previous games. They analyze what they did right, what they did wrong and how they can improve.

As a salesperson, recording your calls and listening to them afterwards can serve as a great guide for improvement. Most quality VoIP phone systems will come with call recording features included, which is a huge advantage to have that feature built in and ready to use.

Don’t be afraid to follow up

In case you haven’t noticed, human beings like to avoid addressing their problems. People will tolerate a sore tooth for months before giving in and seeing a dentist. They’ll ignore the fact that their car tires are wearing out until they’re nearly bald and borderline dangerous. We all know it’s not right, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of us are procrastinators, so we put off addressing a known problem, even if we know it needs to be addressed.

Remember: most sales require five follow-up phone calls.

As a salesperson, you need to embrace that fact and be as persistent as reasonably necessary to encourage a decision. Hearing a “no” is better than letting it go and never knowing one way or another.

Mike Taylor is a content marketing specialist at Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class Unified Communications.