How to Effectively Sell Over the Phone

Learn how outside salespeople can become more efficient by selling more over the phone.

Jeb Blount
4-minute read

While attending a conference last month a Sales Guy  fan walked up to me and asked, “Do you think outside sales is dead?” The question set me back on my heels for a moment. I’ve been in outside sales my entire career and the last thing I wanted to ponder was the demise of my chosen profession.

Can You Effectively Sell Over the Phone?

But then I thought back to January of 2009. The Great Recession was kicking in high gear. Our customer’s were slashing their advertising spending and suddenly cost reduction became a front and center issue for my company (SalesGravy.com). One of the easiest expenses to control was travel and entertainment. The fear however was that cutting travel would cut sales since we did so much of our selling and relationship building face to face. That was until we issued a challenge to ourselves: Could we save money selling over the phone using web and video conferencing technology?

I’ll admit that I was afraid that we would not be effective and would lose sales. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Since we issued that challenge, our sales actually increased. I personally closed more than $3 million in new business without ever visiting a client for a face to face meeting. 

Why were we successful?

Why Selling Over the Phone Works

The number one reason for our success was we became more efficient. We could cover far more ground over the phone. Therefore, we were engaged with more accounts and developed a larger pipeline. We also found that sales meetings by phone took far less time than in-person meetings. That afforded us more time to research and qualify prospects, which meant that when we were on the phone. we were engaged with more qualified buyers.

Telephone Meetings are Good for Customers

Another key reason to our success was that our buyers appreciated the time savings as well. In fact, it was far easier to set an appointment for an online demo than an in-person meeting. With the recession, buyers were taking on greater responsibilities. As the head count at their companies was slashed, they had less time to spend meeting with salespeople. Telephone meetings made it easier for them to take time out of their day to listen to our presentations. We originally thought that buyers would demand to meet with us face to face but quickly discovered that they appreciated the time savings too.

In the end we traveled less, sold more, saved lots of money and improved our quality life. However, this did not mean that outside sales was dead.

Outside Sales Is Still Important

When practicing the right techniques, you can close deals with just a phone and Internet connection.