Selling over the phone like a pro: Top tips & common mistakes

Selling over the phone is a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a look at the best tips to help you sell like a pro and avoid the common pitfalls.
Nigel Seah
Nigel Seah

Digital Marketing Executive

Reading time: 5 minutes

Making outbound calls with the intention of selling to someone is a daunting task 😱 You’ll never know just how the person will react.

But when done correctly, the results are outstanding.

That said, let’s take a look at the best tips to help you sell over the phone like a pro.


The best phone sales tips

Call at the right time

The best times to cold call.


When it comes to building relationships with your leads and prospects, there’s one thing that often gets overlooked by sales reps. And that’s the timing at which they cold call.

Before you even begin to sell over the phone, ask yourself this question. “What time should I call them?

There are certain timings throughout the week where you should absolutely avoid making cold calls:

  • Mornings from 8am – 9am (it’s too early! 🥱)
  • Lunchtime 🍽️
  • 1 hour before the work day ends (because we all wanna go home 🏠)

Also, you are less likely to engage in successful sales calls towards the end of the week as things are winding down. It may be better to prioritize your calls and make them closer to the start of the week.

Be an advisor to your leads

Too often, sales folks make the mistake of treating the person on the other end of the phone as a mere statistic. Just another deal to close, an SQL, or another number on their contact list.

The Sandler sales method as illustrated by the Sandler submarine.
The Sandler sales method as illustrated by the Sandler submarine.

But it is essential to remember that your leads have their own problems, interests, and business goals. And according to an Account Manager at Salesforce Edouard Obin, you should be an advisor to your leads.

He recommends that you use the Sandler sales method. This method emphasizes three key aspects. This includes establishing a relationship, qualifying the prospect, and closing the sale.

Sales reps using this method should focus on building genuine relationships with your leads and leave it to your leads to close the deal.

Don’t do most of the talking during the call

And one thing to note when it comes to building relationships over the phone is the fact that you should never talk more than your leads and prospects.

Successful cold calls last an average of 5 mins 50 s, while unsuccessful ones last 3 min 14 s. But this doesn’t mean that your sales reps should talk most of the time.

When selling over the phone you should also allow the lead to talk and learn more about their business needs. Ideally, the talk-to-listen ratio for a successful cold call is 55%:45%.

Remember, treat your leads and prospects and people with genuine concerns and let them share their problems with you.

Treat different types of leads differently

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. And in that regard, you should treat different types of leads, well, differently.

One method in which leads are categorized is by classifying them as cold, warm, or hot leads.

The ‘warmer’ the lead, the more likely they are to make the purchase. This means that you need to put in less effort to convince them to buy from you as compared to speaking to cold leads. With that knowledge in mind, you should tailor your cold calling script accordingly.

Let’s quickly look at the key differences between the three types of leads:

Key differences between outbound calls.

Use cold calling software

Novocall's autodialer can help you sell over the phone.
Novocall’s autodialer can help you sell over the phone.

To close more deals, you’ll need to dial more numbers. Manually doing it makes it practically impossible to run an efficient cold call campaign.

To get around this, you should use outbound cold calling software to dial the numbers for you automatically. Novocall’s autodialer allows you to upload long lists of contact numbers and create cold call campaigns.

This will help your sales team quickly run through seemingly endless lists of contacts.

Record your calls and conduct an after action review (AAR)

Novocall’s auto dialer allows you to record your calls.
Novocall’s auto dialer allows you to record your calls.

Another thing you should take note of when selling over the phone is that you should always (if permitted) record your calls.

This makes it easier for your sales team to identify the things they said during the call that could’ve led to them not closing a deal. This provides you with insightful qualitative data for your sales team to conduct an AAR.

The information you identified can then be used to improve your sales pitches and close more deals in the future.

Phone sales mistakes you should avoid

Bad mouthing your competitors

One of the most common question your leads and prospects ask you is “How does your product compare to your competitors?”

Now, there are ways to promote your business without putting down others. In fact, talking bad about your competitors can create a negative impression of your company.

It can come off as unprofessional and may even reduce the chance of your sales reps closing the deal.

Go into each call unprepared

Research, research, RESEARCH.

Never go into a call unprepared. You need to conduct in-depth research on the person you are going to call. These include their job positions, business problems, and business models. How else are you going to be an advisor to the person you’re calling if you don’t know them well enough?

You should also prepare a script to take into each call.

This is not to say that you should memorize the script word for word. Instead, use your script as a skeleton for your conversations and come up with multiple scenarios.

Speak in a close-ended manner

Focus on speaking in a closed-ended manner can limit the conversation you are having with your leads and prospects.

For example, asking a yes or no question does not provide you with in-depth insights into your prospects’ needs.

You may also end up cutting the conversation off prematurely. For instance, if you say “do you want to find out more?” you just set yourself out to hear a resounding no.

Try adding more open-ended questions in your conversations next time. Even if you don’t close the deal, you may end up receiving more useful information than you think 😉


And there you have it!

I hope you’ve learned something from the tips I provided. It is important to note there is no one-size-fits-all method.

Leads from different industries may react differently. What I’ve provided you with is a template for you to craft your individualized cold calling strategy so that you can sell over the phone like a pro 😉

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Nigel Seah
Nigel Seah

Nigel is a Digital Marketing Executive at Novocall where he specializes in SEO. Prior to this, he had written for several SaaS companies including Workstream and the now defunct Hatchme. In his free time, he engages in strength training and is a lover of languages.

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