Effective Telephone Prospecting Tips – Sales eXchange 2023

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Child Phone

If you are a sales person who does not use the phone to proactively prospect for potential clients, you may not find this post of interest, on the other hand you may find something to spark you to take up the habit.

As with many things in sales, to successfully engage and move through the process, you need to do some things that are counter intuitive, don’t conform to how you may act or behave in regular circumstances.  But if you’re in sales, you know that selling is not a normal circumstance.

While the numbers vary, there seems to be consensus that communication is:

  • 60% Body language
  • 30% Intonation
  • 10% The words you use

The challenge for those using the phone is that there is no room for body language, (well almost), and with that 60% of their ability to be fully effective is negated.  Unless you compensate for that in some way, you are relying more on luck than anything else.

Most sales people do not take this into account, and in fact approach their prospecting calls as though they were in a face to face meeting, a fatal mistake.

All good selling involves a bit of drama or theater, the telephone as a medium, also lends itself to a bit of theater, when prospecting by phone you need to combine both.  You need to accentuate certain things to make up for the lack of visual.  The logical thing is to put greater focus on the second element, intonation.  Rather than speaking in your normal tone, using words you would use sitting across the desk from someone, you have to make things bigger, be more assertive, descriptive and direct.

Think of the old radio programs, and how they ballooned things for effect, and so must you, especially given that your buyer is getting calls from dozens of other sellers, and that if you are an unscheduled call, their focus and attention is elsewhere, unlike when they have committed the time to at least listen to you in the context of an appointment.  Introduce a bit of drama and effect, use more descriptive words, and accentuate them.  Rather than simply saying we do this or that, say “we have a proven track record of success in delivering double digit growth.”  Get rid of socially expected norms of being polite, rather than saying “I was wondering if we could meet” or “I was hoping…”; say it direct and with conviction.

People have a tendency to rush the prospecting call, which makes it easy for a prospect to go with the flow and the call faster.   Leave greater pauses between words, let the meaning land before moving on, slow down, make you voice deeper.  Ask questions, make them engage, rather than just listen and object.  This is why having a script helps.  Not so much because you will recite the words by heart, but it allows you set the momentum and rhythm that will engage the listener on the other end (assuming the right content and message).

Remember that the lack of body language cuts both ways, while they can’t see you, you can’t see their reaction either, so you have to sharpen you other senses.  My first sales job was telesales, the first things I was taught was that I had to listen for things other than words.  Focus on the breathing, the space between words and sentences, and all the other things that make up for the lack of body language.  In the end, there is more than one element that will help you “give good call”, but if you do not make up for some of the big things, the small things will matter less.

Don’t Forget To Enter The Big Contest!!
See Biz Stone, Seth Godin and others

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


  1. Raymond Lavine

    Until it becomes “habit” Tone and Pace.

    Tibor is “spot on.” When you receive phone calls, reflect on what Tibor writes.

    1. Are they speaking quickly
    2. Did they tell you their name
    3. Did they ask you: “how are you doing today”
    4. Did they give you a value proposition
    5. Did they ask you a question
    6. When you asked them a question, did they begin to speak quickly
    7. Did you provide trust or confidence with whom you were speaking
    8. Get to the point
    9. Slow down and re-read Tibor’s comments — I will

  2. Tibor Shanto


    I like some of the addition pointers. Thanks for the feedback. I’ll have more on Wednesday.



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