We’ve all been making phone calls for years, so we sometimes don’t understand the complexities involved in making successful B2B phone calls. So, I’ve put together five tips to help you master phone conversations and turn them into sales.

1. Prepare to Succeed

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Research the company you’re calling and the person with whom you plan to speak. Craft your opening statement and distil your value proposition. In fact, you may need to create a few value propositions to appeal to people in different industries or situations.

2. Gauge Your Timing

If you ask a contact whether you reached them at a good time, you might discover that they have better things to do than talk to you at that moment. In the process, you may be forced to end the call, depriving your contact of talking with you and learning about a solution that could help them.

A simple opening, however, like “How are you today?” can provide the type of information you might usually discover through body language. Listen to the contact’s tone of voice to determine whether he or she is in a good mood or stressed. Then, determine whether to reschedule the call, modify your presentation accordingly or proceed as planned.

3. Ace Your Delivery

Because your contact cannot see you, your voice is more important than ever. Be friendly, enunciate clearly, and use voice inflection to show your enthusiasm. Also, use a measured pace—not too fast, not too slow, but just right.

If you don’t feel comfortable that you can perfect your delivery, practice. Record your phone calls and ask a peer or manager to critique you. When you listen to the recording, make sure it sounds like a natural conversation and that you’re listening more than you’re talking.

4. Discover the Opportunity

Once you’ve captured your contact’s attention with your opening statement, find out whether there is an opportunity, and if so, what it is.

Do this by asking open-ended questions that encourage the prospect to talk and help you to qualify them. Demonstrate that you’re organized by preparing these queries in advance. Questions might include:

  • What are your responsibilities?
  • What problems are you facing in (your area of expertise)?
  • Have you tried to solve these issues? If so, how?
  • What solutions have you considered?
  • How soon do you want to find a solution?
  • Do you have a budget to address the situation?
  • Are you the decision maker? Who else is involved in the decision-making process?

Create five or six questions for which the answers should give you an indication whether there is a business opportunity. Also, make sure that some of your probes bring the contact’s pain to the surface, helping you raise the stakes and move to the next step in the sales process.

5. Move the Opportunity Forward

If you’re selling a complex B2B product, you’re probably not going to go right for the sale, but you want to advance the opportunity. So, come to an agreement with your prospect on the next action. For example, you might ask them to sign up for a free trial of your SaaS solution. Then, of course, you want to set a time to follow up to gain his or her feedback.

There may be several steps to move from the initial discovery of an opportunity to a sale. Therefore, map out a logical path from ‘initial curiosity’ to ‘client’ so you don’t get lost on your way to closing the deal.

Start practicing these tips and watch your success rates climb.