PhoneNever underestimate the power of your phone in converting prospects to buyers

I know, the title is “Online Sales Counselor,” but that’s really a bit limiting—because your home-selling/appointment-setting success ultimately hinges on more than just being available via email or the Web. In fact, even a good old-fashioned phone can be one of the most powerful conversion tools in your entire arsenal.

That’s why it’s SO unfortunate that so many OSCs haven’t received any “phone training” and focus primarily on email follow-ups. I mean, sure, you can try to build a rapport with potential customers that way, but why not use a more personal path to more effective sales communications?

The good news is that with a handful of helpful, easy-to-remember tips, each of us can make sure we’re using the phone as effectively as possible with every call.

Ten EASY tips for more effective phone presentations.

I’ve gathered a short list of my own top tips to help OSCs improve their phone communications with prospects.

Here’s all you need to know:

1. Prepare for each call. It doesn’t take a Boy Scout to figure this one out. Just be sure you’re fully aware of each prospect you’re calling, reviewing the trails of past phone conversations, emails or other communications. And don’t forget to re-tally each customer’s unique interests and preferences beforehand, too—areas, floorplans, timeframes or anything else you might know of. Don’t have this information? NOW’s the perfect time to ask!

2. Call at an appropriate time. Don’t you just LOVE it when telemarketers or even business associates call you during dinner? Neither do home-buying prospects. If a customer hasn’t stated a preference, consider calling during lunch (or soon after). I’ve personally had great success with this strategy.

3. CONFIRM that it’s an appropriate time. After identifying yourself, start every phone conversation with seven beautiful words: “Is now a good time to talk?” It’s just common courtesy. And don’t be concerned that their reaction may very well be “No.” Just ask for a more convenient time—or, if a prospect prefers, provide your phone number or email.

4. Let the prospect know how long the call should take. One of the most effective “foot-in-the-door” phrases for sales calls are along the lines of “This should only take a minute or two” or “I just want to make sure you have all the information and answers you need.” See how professional that sounds? Now your prospect knows exactly what to expect—and they’re much more likely to continue the conversation. Everybody wins.

5. “Mirror” your prospect. In person, salespeople benefit greatly from reacting to face and body language. That’s next to impossible on the phone. So, pay close attention to voice tone, rate of speech and other audio cues. Don’t go crazy and adopt a new accent or anything; just being more aware can significantly increase response.

6. Don’t talk too much. No big secret here, either. We’re SALESPEOPLE—and by definition, we love to talk (sometimes even when no one’s listening). A huge key to call/conversion success is asking qualifying questions and letting customers talk. Allow for breathing space and silence, too—you’d be amazed how much a prospect will talk when there’s silence to be filled.

7. Take plenty of notes. Unless you’re a superhero whose special power is remembering entire phone conversations, this is a no-brainer. Take as many notes as you can during each call, referencing and entering the details into your leads management system for reference in future communications.

8. Rephrase the conversation to the customer. Human nature is your friend here; people love to hear their own words repeated back to them. Rephrasing conversational details serves two critical purposes: customers know they’ve been heard, and they have a chance to clarify or correct information. There’s a reason top sales professionals learn to do this as a force of habit—it works.

9. Outline next steps. What happens after the call? Will you be emailing them details of the conversation for confirmation? Will you be setting up an appointment? Let potential customers know what you’ll be doing next—and what THEY should be doing, if needed.

10. Send follow-up email messages IMMEDIATELY. Repeat after me: “Hang up phone. Send email. Hang up phone. Send email. Hang up phone…” O.K., you get it. Just make sure you DO it—even if it’s just a short note saying “it was a pleasure speaking with you today.” This technique alone will vault you into the rarified top 2% of sales professionals in terms of follow-up! In all phases of life, we’re judged by how we respond. Set the expectation for fast, courteous responses, and you’ll be remembered as the professional prospects want to work with every time.

Before every call, remind yourself that these are NICE, WARM LEADS (like a fresh batch of dinner rolls). You are not “cold calling”; you’re calling people who want to hear from you.

As a final tip, consider doing what I do: make the “cha-ching” sound each time you pick up the phone to make a sales call. It not only represents how valuable good phone skills can be to your selling process; it’ll also put a smile on your face every time. And that’s something people can actually hear over the phone.

So, go make some calls—you’ll likely end up making sales at the same time.

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