Telephone Sales for Dummies: Improve Your Telephone Presence

By Erica Christoffer


The telephone continues to be an integral part of a sales professional’s business. It is often the first point of contact with clients—so you need to know how to make a good impression. Can you get your point across and grab a person’s attention in seven seconds? Author Dirk Zeller outlines a strategic system in his book Telephone Sales for Dummies (For Dummies, 2007) on how to enhance your sales phone skills. He covers everything from rehearsing dialogue and conducting pre-call research, to preparing for objections and overcoming sales call aversion. BUY THIS BOOK


Here are just a few of Zeller’s tips on bettering your phone presence.

1. Start asking questions. Well though-out questions are one of the best ways to achieve a successful sale. Questions produce greater understanding between you and your client. Find out your clients needs, expectations and reservations. It will help you come to solutions and customize your sales presentation to each of your clients. Even if you don’t land the sale, you’ll learn where to make improvements by asking questions.

2. Practice, practice, practice. Know what you’re going to say before you make that phone call and rehearse it. Have an opening script prepared and in front of you. The window of opportunity to get your message across while prospecting is small. Don’t open with the traditional, “How are you today?” Be genuine, says Zeller. Get to the point of why you’re calling and give them a reason to stay on the phone with you.

3. Do some pre-call research. Prospecting takes careful studying beforehand. You have to know your market. Doing research will help in answering questions and problem solving. Plus, it puts you in a better light. People want to do business with someone who knows their stuff. Know the objective of your call, whether it is booking an appointment, procuring a referral or making a presentation.

4. Be an active listener. If you want to turn your prospects into clients, you need to hear what they need. Consider taking notes. By jotting down key points, concerns and questions that the prospect has, you’ll be able to stay on point. Ask them to elaborate if you don’t understand something they said.

5. Set goals. Develop and follow a prospecting plan and make it part of your daily routine. If you say you’re going to contact 20 prospects today, then do it. Set aside time to do research and rehearse the script. A daily plan builds good prospecting habits and fights off distractions.


“What exactly is a sales objection and how can you clearly identify one? When a prospect says, ‘I want to think it over,’ or ‘the other supplier will do it for less,’ or ‘you’re too inexperienced,’ you have just heard an objection. But instead of seeing an objection as a rejection or a ‘no,’ understand it for what it really is: A request for more information, an appeal for the knowledge to justify to the prospect that buying your product or service is the right thing to do, and an opportunity for you to offer clarification regarding the details the prospect is questioning.”


Drawing on more than 20 years of real estate experience, Dirk Zeller has published more than 300 articles and six books. His first For Dummies book, Real Estate Agent For Dummies was published in 2006. He is the president, CEO and founder of both Sales Champions and Real Estate Champions, which provides coaching and training to professionals worldwide. Zeller is recognized as an industry leader and sought-after speaker. His workshops outline business-improving strategies for real estate agents and sales professionals.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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  1. Great article on how to use the basics well. Thanks.

  2. sara

    there is nothing in that presentation that one new agent or other could extract. For instance, why is there not a suggestion for opening a phone call at least? Words and more words.

  3. Hmm, very cognitive post.
    Is this theme good unough for the Digg?