Even in the digital age, sales calls are still the most direct, effective way to convert leads into new customers or clients. But these days, a lot of sales professionals—especially beginners—aren’t too comfortable with the live, spontaneous interaction that’s such a contrast to email, where you can take a little time to respond, think more about what you say, and edit yourself.

Like any skill, you get better at it the more you do it. And you’ll be glad you made the effort. It’s time to get on the phone, so here are six steps to ease you into the process:

1. Know Your Why

Often, salespeople sit in front of their lists of leads with no idea why those names are even on there. In general, avoid this situation by calling prospects shortly after your interaction. Still, some leads may fall through the cracks and get old. Or, maybe you’re making cold calls. Whatever the reason, it’s important to take a moment before you call to figure out precisely why you are calling this person. Sales is all about serving the client. Ask yourself, “How could I best be of service to this person today?” Whatever your answer, that should be the reason for your call.

2. Prepare a “Script”

You want to be prepared and well versed in what you’re going to say, but don’t get confused by the word “script.” The last thing you want is to sound like you’re reading lines. The idea is to have your introduction, tell them why you’re calling (how you can help them), and be able to informatively answer any questions they may have. Keep your introduction short so you can get straight to what they really want to know: your value proposition.

3. Change Your Mindset

It’s not about you.

It’s not about your sales goals or your commission. Long term success in sales involves building rapport and looking out for your client’s best interests. After rapport is established, closing ratios increase and quality referrals abound.

Unfortunately, many sales professionals lean towards transactional sales. They use the “get to yes or no as quickly as possible” approach, making the salesman-customer relationship an adversarial one. We promote Rapport Mastery™, which involves changing the approach, taking sales professionals from being the adversary of the customer to becoming their greatest advocate.

Once the sales professional embraces the mindset that she/he is looking out for the client’s best interests, she/he has greater success when booking appointments and fear of the phone dissipates.

4. Listen

At the risk of being redundant, your job is to serve the client. How can you serve them if you don’t know what they actually want? Let the other person’s responses guide the conversation, while keeping your purpose in mind. Once you learn more about what your prospect or networking contact needs or wants, you can offer assistance in a relevant, respectful way.

5. Be Yourself

If you remember none of the other tips on this list, remember this one. The person you’re calling is another human being, with a family, responsibilities, problems, goals, and dreams. If you speak from that place yourself, you establish a personal connection with your contacts that builds rapport and trust. But if you put on some artificial sales persona, your listeners pick up on it and immediately go on the defensive.

6. Clarify the Next Step

Before you hang up the phone, be sure both of you know what happens next. This isn’t pushy; it’s respectful and professional. Determining the next step with the person you called is essential to being of service to them. It might be an in-person appointment, sending information, placing a call to someone else, or calling again after an agreed-on period of time. Whatever it is, be clear, and always get your lead’s express permission to do what you plan to do.

You may notice that all of these tips suggest you focus on being of service to the other person. That mental shift may be the most important thing you can do to make your sales calls more successful. If your intention is to help people rather than to sell to them, it’s so much easier to make those calls, and it’s so much easier for people to buy from you.

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