In order to support a successful business, your salespeople need to stay connected with your customers. But many of us suffer from “call reluctance” — we don’t like to make phone calls.

The phone is one of the best ways to connect, serve and build relationships, so it’s important to teach your sales team how to make successful sales calls. Here are some tips for them to improve their calls.

Make a Connection Call, Not a Sales Call

One of the most important concepts to understand is that you are not making a sales call but, rather, a connection call. Nobody wants to be sold to. In fact, if a potential customer picks up on the fact that you want to sell them something in the first few moments, they will disconnect.

As salespeople, we need to do better at making a connection. A great way to do so is to work on adding in the FORD principle. FORD stands for family, occupation, recreation and dreams, and it will help you get to know your customers. When you make the call, do not jump into the “sale”; take a moment to ask the other person about their life.

Make it personal. Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves; give the customer a platform to talk about themselves, and listen and learn what is happening in their life. It does not take long, but the impact will be long-term. Sample questions include:

  • How is you week going?
  • How was your weekend?
  • Any fun plans for the summer?
  • Last time we talked, you were getting ready to take a trip; how was it?

Show them you care and know them. This approach will allow you to deepen your connection and build trust. As you make calls, your purpose is not to sell the other person something but to connect with them. The sale is the by-product of your ability to connect and build relationships.

Know the Objective

Every call has a purpose. Are you calling to educate them on a new product or tool, to set an appointment, or to follow up from an earlier call? Be clear on what the purpose of the call is, so that you can tailor your mindset and questions toward that objective. For example, if the objective is to obtain a face-to-face meeting with the client, you will approach the call differently than if you were following up to see if they received an item from you or if they had questions after your last conversation.

Once you are clear on the objective, you can ask yourself, “What are the best questions I can ask them to help me achieve this objective, and how can I best deliver these questions?”

Prepare before the call. The more prepared you are, the more in control you will be, and the more successful you will be in achieving your objective.

Have a Follow-up Plan

Always leave the call with a plan for what happens next. Will you be sending them an email recapping what you discussed? Will you be meeting them in person or having a follow-up call within a certain time frame?

Again, clarity is key. A clear follow-up plan will show the customer that you have a process and that you are purposeful in how you work with your clients. It will also build in accountability for both you and the client by setting expectations and will help you create a future connection.

Client calls do not have to be difficult, and your sales team should not avoid them. They are one of the best tools they have to deliver value. Magic happens when a salesperson can connect with a client. Help your team use the phone as a purposeful and positive way to connect.