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How to Sell by Phone

How to sell by phone

How to Sell by Phone – 4 Power Steps for Phone Sales Success

How to sell by phone, Step #1: Know Your Target Audience

Know your target audience. To successfully sell by phone, you have to know how to build your lead list with prospects that will buy your solution.

How do you build a lead list with those types of prospects? You have to look to the past and analyze your best clients to see their “DNA.” Here’s a standard list of “DNA” categories to look for:

  1. Company Employee Size
  2. Location
  3. Industry
  4. Annual Revenue

Start by taking all of your clients and sorting them from best clients to least favorable.

Your best clients might have several factors that make them “best,” and we recommend “The Pumpkin Plan” by MIKE MICHALOWICZ to help you learn how to identify who your best clients are.

Once you have your list of Grade A clients, analyze what they all have in common.

By analyzing your best clients, you will start to see a pattern that could look something like this:

Company Employee Size: 50 – 200 Employees; Location: USA; Industry; Computer Software; Annual Revenue: $1M – $10M; Title(s): Director, VP, President, Owner/Founder.

You can have several different profiles as well. For example, your 2nd best client list could be:

Company Employee Size: 10 – 50 Employees; Location: USA; Industry; Information Technology & Services; Annual Revenue: $1M – $10M; Title(s):, VP, Owner/Founder

Once you have your basic ideal customer profile establish, you now need to build your lead list with prospects that match your ICP.

One solution is to use a tool such as UpLead to enrich all your leads in your database with those data points (Company Employee Size, Location, Industry, Annual Revenue).

When your leads are enriched, use your CRM’s lead builder to create a lead list that matches your ICP.

You’re now ready for step #2 on how to sell by phone.

How to sell by phone, Step #2: Your Sales Playbook

Step #2 of how to sell by phone is knowing how many attempts and knowing what to say for each scenario you will face after dialing the prospect. You want to create a playbook that your sales team follows.

  • Scenario #1: Gatekeeper. If the gatekeeper answers, you run the gatekeeper play.
  • Scenario #2: Voicemail. If you get voicemail, you run the VM/Email play.
  • Scenario #3: Prospect. If the prospect answers the phone, you run your OVS (Opening Value Statement) play.

Determine how many attempts you want the team to make before archiving the lead.

Here are some scenarios/cadences to consider.

Sales Cadence Examples:

  • Sales Cadence Example #1: The one and done. This was a popular strategy back in the ’80s and ’90s: Smile and Dial.
  • Sales Cadence Example #2: The Warm/Hot Lead: A warm lead = hand raiser/inbound lead. I tend to be a little more aggressive with these because chances are, if it’s an inbound/warm lead, I’m not the only solution they’ve reached out to. 

Depending on the time of day that the warm lead came in, I may try them 3X in one day. That looks like this:

  • #1 CALL/VM/EMAIL
  • #2: CALL
  • #3: CALL/VM

Sales Cadence Example #3: Yesware came out with a great post and graphic of a standard 14-day sales cadence

It goes like this:

  • Day 1: Call (Note, I would modify this to “CALL/VM/EMAIL” always on the first call)
  • Day 2: Email
  • Day 5: Call
  • Day 7: Call
  • Day 12: Email
  • Day 14: Email

You can use one of the sales cadences above – you can also have specific cadences depending on the lead types (hot vs. cold, as an example), or you can create your own. There is no “perfect” cadence containing a magic bullet. You need to pick one (or more based on lead types), mandate it, stick with it, and hold people accountable for adhering to it.

If you use Sales Cadence #3 or a modified version, there are plenty of tools (such as Yesware & Vanillasoft, to name a few) to automate the emails and task reminders.

How to Sell by Phone: Step #3: Sales Scripts

Building your sales scripts for each scenario is critical to a sales team’s success.

For example, knowing what to say to the gatekeeper, first-time voicemail, and your OVS (opening value statement) when you get a prospect on the phone.

All three of these scenarios will be everyday situations requiring their own “plays” or scripts, and each sales rep must execute each play to a premium level.

Here is the outline/table of content of what your sales script should look like:

  1. Openers

    1. Prospect
    2. Gatekeeper
    3. VM/Email combo
  2. Qualifying:

    1. Phase 1: Problem Recognition

      1. Engagement question
      2. Opportunity size question
      3. Pain points/buying motive question
      4. Blowing up the problem question
      5. Reasons for the problem question
      6. Identify solution question
    2. Qualifying: Phase 2: Prospects Decision-Making Role

      1. Identify prospects decision-making role question
      2. Fast-forward question
      3. Uncover prospects hot buttons question
      4. Run the “Influence the Influencer” play (if not speaking to real decision-maker)
      5. Identify time frame question
    3. Qualifying: Phase 3: Pricing

      1. Qualify pricing question
      2. Checkpoint / Transition
  3. Presentation:

    1. Presentation
    2. Tie-downs
    3. Close on solution concept.
  4. Closing:

    1. Objection Handling
      1. Identify
      2. Empathize
      3. Isolate
      4. Handle
      5. Close

Each one of those steps outlined in the sales script can be learned via SalesBuzz.com’s B2B Phone Skills Improvement Program for selling by phone. This is how you get a team of sales reps to turn leads into revenue.

How to Sell by Phone: Step #4: Sales Role-Playing

The only thing salespeople hate more than cold calling is role-playing. But iron sharpens iron, and if you have underperforming sales reps not willing to role-play, you have a hiring issue, not a training issue.

Goal-Based Sales Role-playing Strategy

Random role-playing is better than nothing, but goal-based role-playing delivers the best results. It helps to have different “levels” of role-playing exercises. Think of it as basic, advance, and expert levels.

Level #1 Goal Based Sales Role-Playing

The goal is to get both parties (the sales rep that is selling and the person playing the prospect) to execute the sales plays smoothly.

Level 1 is NOT for handling challenging sales call scenarios or resistance.

It’s about making sure the sales rep knows the objectives of the sales call, what play to run, and executing the play with the proper tone and speed of deliverability.

Remember, every Oscar-winning Actor/Actress all had scripts. They just improved their skill level to where it doesn’t sound scripted. It’s what professionals do. And those who do it best usually earn the most.

Critical: In LEVEL 1 and 2, the person playing the prospect’s role is the decision-maker in these scenarios.

Level #2 Goal Based Sales Role-Playing

Level #2 sales role-playing means the salesperson has “passed” Level 1 and has proven to execute the steps of the sales process from start to finish with the proper tone and speed.

They know what to say, how to say it, when to say it, why to say it, and confident in doing it. So now is time for a bit of resistance.

This is where you practice when a prospect says, “No, thanks, not Interested, we’re all set,” right from the beginning of the sales call.

Keep in mind that when you use the SalesBuzz method for building your OVS (Opening Value Statements), you will get a lot less of these types of responses, but you still need to be prepared for when you do encounter them.

Level #1 role-play ensures the salesperson can execute the entire sales process from start to finish (Openers, Qualifying, Presentation, Objection Handling/Closing)

Level #2 addresses when a prospect reacts negatively to your OVS. You will want a playbook for three scenarios that will happen when you get resistance from a prospect at the beginning of a sales call. They are:

Level 2 sales role-play scenario #1:
  • Sales rep executes the OVS;
  • Prospect Rejects OVS;
  • Sales rep executes rebuttal;
  • Prospect accepts;
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes
Level 2 sales role-play scenario #2:
  • Sales rep executes the OVS;
  • Prospect Rejects OVS;
  • Sales rep executes rebuttal;
  • Prospect rejects the second attempt
  • Sales rep runs the “plant a seed” play;
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes

Note: The “plant a seed” play is when a prospect rejects your second attempt to have a sales conversation, and the sales rep responds by agreeing and mentions several pain point factors that might be solved in the future with a conversation and politely end the call.

Critical: In case you missed it the last time I mentioned it, in LEVEL 1 and 2, the person playing the prospect’s role is the decision-maker in these scenarios.

Here’s an example:

“No worries, Mr/Ms. Prospect – It doesn’t sound like there’s anything I can do to help you right now; however, if you should ever run into ________, ________ or _______ we may be able to help fix that for you so, I’ll email you my contact information just in case you need a resource in the future, fair enough?”

Don’t be surprised if you get a callback the next day. By planting a pain point seed and causing the prospect to think about problems they weren’t even sure they had all while ending the call politely, you stand a good chance to be first on their list of people to call when that problem gets to be too much.

Level #3 Goal Based Sales Role-Playing

Level #3 role-playing is where the person playing the prospect must decide before starting the role-playing session: the decision-maker, part of the decision-making team, Influencer, End-user, or the Information Gatherer, and if they do have the money available or not.

Just because a lead matches your ideal customer profile and has the right title, those factors alone do not automatically qualify the prospect for being… well, qualified.

Level #3 Goal Based Role-playing is for sales reps ready to reach the highest sales skills and execution level.

Here are a few Level 3 Goal Based Sales Role-playing Examples:

Level 3 sales role-play session #1: Problem Recognition
  • Sales rep executes the “Problem Recognition” play;
  • Prospect responds with a vague answer;
  • The sales rep realizes he/she can’t move on if there’s no problem recognition, so the sales rep has to “think on their feet” to ask the question again, in a different way, to get an answer.
  • Prospect responds with a positive answer.
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes
Level 3 sales role-play scenario #2: Problem Recognition
  • Sales rep executes the “Problem Recognition” play;
  • Prospect responds with a vague answer;
  • The sales rep realizes he/she can’t move on if there’s no problem recognition, so the sales rep has to “think on their feet” to ask the question again, in a different way, to get an answer.
  • Prospect responds with a negative answer/no problem.
  • Sales rep executes “plant the seed” play
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes
Level 3 sales role-play scenario #3: Identify prospects Decision-Making Role
  • Sales rep executes the “Identify prospects Decision-Making Role” play;
  • Prospect responds, “I’m the decision-maker.”
  • The sales rep runs the fast-forward play.
  • Prospect’s answer confirms they are the decision-maker;
  • Sales rep runs the “Identify Hot Buttons” play.
  • Prospect gives a positive answer.
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes
Level 3 sales role-play scenario #4: Identify prospects Decision-Making Role
  • Sales rep executes the “Identify prospects Decision-Making Role” play;
  • Prospect responds, “I’m the decision-maker.”
  • The sales rep runs the fast-forward play.
  • Prospect’s answer confirms they are NOT the decision-maker;
  • Sales rep runs the “Identify Hot Buttons” play.
  • Prospect gives a positive answer.
  • Sales rep runs the “Influence the Influencer” play.
  • Prospect gives response
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes
Level 3 sales role-play scenario #5: Time Frame
  • Sales rep executes the “Time Frame” play;
  • The Prospect answer is outside the “strike zone.”
  • Sales rep gives proper response (See sales course #4 for how to handle this)
  • Prospect’s answer gives “green light.”
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes
Level 3 sales role-play scenario #7: Qualify on Pricing
  • Sales rep executes the “Price Range” play;
  • Prospect gives a “No” response
  • Sales rep gives proper response (See sales course #4 for how to handle this)
  • Prospect gives a positive response
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes
Level 3 sales role-play scenario #8: Qualify on Pricing
  • Sales rep executes the “Price Range” play;
  • Prospect gives a “No” response
  • Sales rep gives proper response (See course #4 for how to handle this)
  • Prospect response confirms they can’t afford a solution
  • Sales rep gives proper response (See sales course #4 for how to handle this)
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes
Level 3 sales role-play scenario #9: Objection Handling
  • Sales rep executes the “Closing on Solution Concept” play;
  • Prospect gives objection
  • Sales rep executes the 5-Step Objection Handling Formula and attempts to “Isolate” the objection (See sales course #5 on how to handle this)
  • Prospect gives the real objection
  • Sales rep handles objection and closes the sale
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes
Level 3 sales role-play scenario #10: Objection Handling
  • Sales rep executes the “Closing on Solution Concept” play;
  • Prospect gives objection
  • Sales rep executes the 5-Step Objection Handling Formula and attempts to “Isolate” the objection (See sales course #5 on how to handle this)
  • Prospect gives a false objection
  • The sales rep gives the proper response and uncovers the hidden objection (See course #5 for how to handle this)
  • Prospect gives the real objection
  • Sales rep handles objection and closes the sale
  • Manager/Team Feedback
  • Role-play complete.
  • Time: 10-minutes

Role-playing is not a once-in-a-while event. Some companies will treat it that way, and others will mandate it for the first 90-days of on-boarding, and others make it mandatory every day.

Select which option works best for you, but the more you practice the RIGHT techniques, the better your team will be and earn you and them more money.

Of course, they need to make sure they are practicing the right sales techniques. To learn the specific sales steps mentioned in this report, look at our Online Phone Skills Sales Training Program for B2B Sales Teams.

– Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the founder of SalesBuzz.com – an online sales training company that offers an on-demand phone skills improvement program for B2B sales teams.