3 Keys To Improving Your Phone Sales Skills…


You might not know this but I spent a few years selling over the phone almost exclusively.

And, I was pretty great at it.

Recently I was chatting with a colleague about a study that showed that the rate of sales for a group of theatres was lower over the phone than online, which was pretty mind-blowing because it should be easier to guide people to the correct shows, seats, and dates on the phone and help a customer make a better decision while on the phone.

But instead of being too bothered by the whole thing, I decided to put together 3 of my favorite tips to help you sell more on the phone, especially in a call center setting.

Listen, a lot: 

I think too many of us think of selling as talking.

Actually, though, selling is listening.

When I was selling tickets over the phone earlier in my career, I can’t count the number of times that shutting my mouth made me 2-3x the money I would have made otherwise.


Because when the person was chatting with me, they were laying out the real reasons behind why they were buying tickets.

It could be a family occasion. Maybe it was a business deal.

The fact is that it could have been anything. All I needed to do was recognize that this person had an unfulfilled need and was looking at my services for help.

You can put this to use for your organization by doing a few different things like:

  • Asking someone if it is their first visit.
  • Asking how they decided on the show or event.
  • Finding out if this is business or pleasure.

The key point is to get the person on the phone chatting with you, engaging with you, and allowing you to offer ideas and a perspective that they might not get from just looking at your website.

Talk naturally:

I know scripts are sort of the rage and scripts can be extremely valuable, but the where scripts fail us is when they turn us into automatons that can’t think, act, or engage with people like people.

One of the big keys to my success selling over the phone was that I memorized my talking points and my scripts. I knew seating charts by heart and I knew the places I was selling.

All of this meant that I could talk to people like a human.

When people would ask me about a place to sit at Yankee Stadium, I could tell them that the boxes that were marked as 200 section at Yankee Stadium were almost the best seats in the house.

And, I could tell people that sitting in a suite at Madison Square Garden before it was remodeled wasn’t always a premium experience due to the location of the boxes.

Because I was just having a chat with people, this built trust, rapport, and made people open up to me…helping me make more sales.

Be in control:

Somewhere along the line, we have taught salespeople two contradictory things:

  • One, that selling is a proactive activity.
  • Two, when we are selling, the buyer is in control.

Recently, we bought a new car, a Tesla. And, if you haven’t heard, Tesla has attempted to move all their car sales online.

Which was fine by me.

We were buying the car, we knew we wanted it and we “knew” exactly what we needed from the car and its technology.

How many times does this happen to all of us?

How often does the person we are working with “know” exactly what they need?

I’m guessing pretty regularly.

Well, that’s where we are wrong.

Because in almost every situation, we are pretty bad at diagnosing our real challenges.

We can identify the pain, but we usually don’t know the root cause.

Same for all of us.

That’s why it is important to focus on being in control of your sales calls.

You know the destination you want to reach, right?

You want to close some sales.

Does the person on the other end of the line really know the destination?

They may, but likely there is a lot more room for conversation and persuasion than you might imagine.

As an example, someone might know that they want tickets to see a Broadway show and have their heart set on Hamilton. 

At the same time, you might be able to help them with the show but through their conversation, you might realize and be able to offer to help them find a second show that they would like, along with suggesting some dinner reservations, and a place to park.

You might be able to start your guest on the path to buying a subscription.

The opportunities are endless.

The key is that you need to take control of the call and guide it towards the destinations that you recognize as being best for your caller’s needs.

As for me and buying a car, about 3 weeks before we took delivery on our new car, Tesla called because they had a Model 3 we could test drive.

The salesperson that went with us was excellent and explained the features and benefits of all the technology and software upgrades that we had to choose from and some we hadn’t considered.

In the hands of our salesperson, we ended up maxing out the technology package, adding about $5,000 more to the price of the car.

That’s the power of control and proper selling.

What say you? Let me know in the comments below.

BTW, you want to help your sales team pick up better sales skills on the phone, let’s chat. Email me dave@davewakeman.com and let’s find out where your sales folks are missing opportunities. 

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