Telephone Skills for Salespeople

Making a sales presentation in person is quite important. But how do you “appear” when you are using the phone? Clients or potential clients may call you or you may call them to obtain an appointment, discuss your solution, or even embark upon a full-scale sales presentation. With this perspective on the use of the phone, it is vitally important to come across as professional, enthusiastic, and persuasive. Let’s discuss some tips for your phone presence.

First, take a breath before picking up a call or making one. When we’re working, we tend to take shorter, shallower breaths, especially if the day has been stressful. And a person on the other end of the line is likely to hear this in our voice and our breathing patterns. If you take a deep breath before speaking over the phone, you can speak while you exhale. Speaking upon an exhale tends to carry more energy and less “deflation” in the voice. Your client will pick up on this. Remember that the first 30 seconds of a phone call are probably the most important, so a “deflated” voice will not be very enthusiastic or persuasive.

Next, keep a smile on your face. This may sound “hokey”, but it is a tried and true method of using the phone. If you’re not happy about the call, this will come across in your voice. Try recording your voice on an MP3, tape recorder, or cell phone. First, try saying something about your product without smiling. Then try the same words or phrases with a smile. You can tell the difference and so can your clients. Of course, if you have to muster all of your energy to get a smile, you may need to consider how happy you are with your work and your environment.

The third area of selling over the phone is the self-identification. Whether you are taking inbound sales calls or reaching out to clients or prospects, your greeting is vitally important. In many cases, your self-introduction may be scripted. If that is the case, try not to make it sound “canned”. Remind yourself that each call is different, although you may have said the same words repeatedly during the day. If you sound sick of saying it, your client or prospect will be able to tell. Keep the smile on your face and the inflection in your voice. Another good way to keep a greeting from sounding canned is to keep it slow. We have the tendency to speed up our speech when we’re nervous or when we’re saying something we’ve said before. Take it slow – it may even sound too slow at first, but remember that your prospect or client may be hearing it for the first time. When you record your voice, as we discussed earlier, try recording your scripted greeting or introduction. Make changes based on what you hear.

Next, remember to use sincerity and empathy at all times. Have you ever called someone for help and could not tell if you were still talking to the computer? Your voice over the phone should never give the prospect or client this feeling. The person should know that they have reached a live person. Try not to be “fake” and then position yourself as an empathetic problem solver. When you’re making an in-person presentation, think about how the inflections of your voice go along with your body language. If you’re using a headphone or earpiece to make phone calls, use the same body language. You’ll find that the emotions in your voice, like empathy and sincerity, will come out even though you don’t have an audience directly in front of you.

Finally, be attentive. The person on the other end of the line can tell if you’re having coffee or playing Solitaire. Remember to focus solely on the caller in your ear. If you have trouble keeping your hands occupied, take notes on the call. This way, you’re recording important information about what the client says and you’re keeping yourself as attentive to the caller as possible.

A sale can occur anywhere, so remember that talking to a prospect or client on the phone is just as important as speaking to him or her in person.

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes.

For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive.

Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City.

He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should ‘engage and inspire’ students to greater productivity and performance.

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