4 Tips to Improve Your Phone Prospecting Blog Feature
Steve Bookbinder

By: Steve Bookbinder on February 9th, 2016

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4 Tips to Improve Your Phone Prospecting

Sales Tips | Pipeline Management

The phone doesn’t work for prospecting. Only email, InMail, text, etc. work, right?

Did it ever occur to you that the only reliable way for customers to know for sure that the email they just received is from a real person and not some spam spewing bot, is when the email is followed by a phone call?

Regardless of your feelings about the efficacy of the phone in your prospecting work there are times you need to have an actual conversation. Since getting people on the phone is harder than ever, it behooves anyone who tries the phone prospecting method to be great at it---you don't have the luxury of warming up on the first few calls because there may not be more than one.


To get that good, I recommend you train yourself using these 4 self-improvement strategies:

1. Time

We all seem to be in a world where everyday there seems to be more to do than there is enough time. No matter how early you get up or how you manage your time there is always something else to do. There is an opportunity cost of spending time doing any one thing in favor or doing something else.

Given that, there are 3 things that every salesperson has to fit into their day: finding leads, contacting leads (using a combination of email, networking, and phone), and writing it all up in your CRM or other database.

Some CRM "ninjas" can do all 3 tasks in one contiguous motion. But in my 20+ years in sales training, I have only met 3 ninjas good enough to pull that off, of which two actually worked for Salesforce.com. For everyone else, I recommend creating 3 separate blocks of time for each task which leverages a classic time management phenomenon.

When you cluster together similar activities you do them all more efficiently. So finding all the leads in one or two sessions is more efficient than finding one lead and then spending the next 10-20 minutes researching, calling, sending emails, and then writing up the whole tale into your notes.

My advice is to find tomorrow's leads today and block out "do-able" calling slots---20 mins, 30mins, 45mins --but not 8 hours. Calling is like sprint work for an athlete. You can't keep up a sprint for 8 hours, but you work at a 100 mph for 20 minutes, especially if you already have your leads.

2. Count the “No”s

Learn how many “No”s are in your sales ratios. Based on your ratios you need to reach a certain number of leads to generate enough proposals for you hit your sales goal. Working backward from your annual sales goal you need to determine how many leads you need to reach out to everyday.

If you need to reach 20 people a day in order to score 5 proposals which produces for one sale for you, then 20 is your magic number. No amount of crossing fingers while calling "better leads" will suddenly enable you to get by with only calling 10 people.

While plowing through all of those leads count the “No”s not the “Yes”s. If you know you need 19 “No”s to get 1 “Yes”, you feel like celebrating when you get to #19. When you’re not counting in this way, your 19th “No” will only make you depressed and worsen your phone performance.

3. They Say, I Say

Create a “They say..., I say…” list matching objections and questions that stump you with answers that you have perfected over time.

Phone call conversations are like games of catch played at 95 mph. To "catch" their objections and toss back the right turnaround you need to be more than ready and improvising your way through every call simply won’t work.

It’s hard to reach people, but it’s potentially lucrative when you actually do. However, that’s only only if you say all the right things and avoid making common mistakes.

Salespeople have recurring conversations so eventually someone will ask you the very thing that stumped you today. Be ready the second time. Sharing your “They say…, I say…” list with coworkers will also be helpful so that you can all be ready for every possible objection.

4. Record Your Calls

Recording and listening to your calls is an extremely important step. At first it’ll be awkward to listen to yourself and you might feel like you sound funny, but keep going.

You’ll slowly begin to realize and hear when you were too fast, slow, loud, soft, happy, serious, etc. Eventually you will also hear that you tend to have auto-responses and filler words (such as "Well, actually...") some of which really don't sound like you are interested or even listening. Finally, you will hear how well your "I say..." match up with their "They say..." in the context of a real call.

Simply by realizing these things, you’ll be on your way to improving your calls.

We take time for golf lessons, personal training, and other skill building lessons, which we pay for. Let's invest in ourselves so that we can develop the skills that help us pay for those golf or sailing lessons.

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About Steve Bookbinder

Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.

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