How to Close a Sale over the Phone

Whenever possible, try to close your sale in a face-to-face meeting. However, if the size of the sale or the location of the prospect makes a face-to-face meeting impossible, the next best way to close a sale is over the phone. Closing a sale over the phone is easy, when you follow these steps.


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    Review your sales opportunities to decide which ones are ready to close. To do this, you will need to have a system to keep track of every prospect assigned to you, or if you are not limited by territory assignment, then make sure you have a way to keep track of anyone who has ever expressed interest in your product or service.
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    Review the milestones already completed - have you skipped any milestones? Typically this would include:
    • Having complete contact information for your point of contact, knowing the role of your point of contact as well as the role of each person involved in the decision (who)
    • The reason or motivation for the purchase - what specific benefits is the prospect anticipating from your product or service (why)
    • You know what power your point of contact has to complete the order, and and the way this individual or organization expects to complete the purchase and implement the solution (how)
    • The prospect's timing for completing the purchase, or timing of steps such as deciding among competing offers, for a purchase that will take place later or deciding on a supplier for purchases that will happen periodically or in association with a larger project time frame (when).
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    Continue to complete the milestones. Sometimes closing a sale will require a series of closing steps - so make sure you know what your point of contact has the power to say "yes" to (your main point of contact might only have the power to send the decision up to his or her boss, or may only be preparing to submit a budget request etc. - you need to close this first purchase decision now, and you need to know that there will be follow-up steps with additional closes to keep the deal on course as it moves through the organization's purchasing process.) When you take care to complete each milestone, then closing the sale over the phone will be very easy.
    • Sometimes you can "fill in the blanks" and complete skipped milestones on the same phone call as your closing phone call, but make sure the milestones are completed before you close.
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    Make your closing phone call. Depending on the role of your prospect, he or she might be readily available via phone any time, but you want to make sure to reach them at the best time for closing a sale. If you are not sure of their work schedule, call and ask them if it's a good time to talk, or leave a brief voice message:
    • "Hi [prospect's name], this is [your name] of [your company]. Based on our last [meeting/call/email] about [most recent milestone], it looks like we should be able to move forward with [the opportunity]. I will call you at [day and time] so we can finalize the details, or if there is a better time please [call me/email me]. I'm here at [phone/email address]."
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    Follow up and keep calling at the time and on the day you promise. Be persistent and consistent. Don't be surprised or offended if the prospect does not return your calls - sometimes they are just super-busy. But if you make three phone calls to attempt to close, and if you have completed all the milestones successfully prior to closing, then you can be confident something is probably not right. Depending on what you are selling, the size of the deal, and the prospect's role in their organization, you need to decide how much additional effort to spend.
    • Many salespeople use a "three strikes you're out" rule, calling weekly for three weeks before abandoning the opportunity. If you have hundreds of leads pouring in, a rule like this makes perfect sense. But if you are in a slow-moving industry with only a few large prospects, you might tailor your follow up to give the prospect a rest, then resume the sales process after a certain period of time. The trick is to be very consistent - if you give a non-responsive prospect a six-week rest and then resume the closing calls, make sure you do it that way every time.
    • Be aware that after a certain period, the sales opportunity will have changed. So your first question after resuming your calls should always be, "What has changed since we last spoke?"
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    Make the closing call. You have completed all the milestones in your sales process. You have the prospect on the phone for a closing call. You say, "It seems that we are able to move forward with this project. If that's the case, then [describe what happens next]. Then ask a question about [what happens next].
    • For example, if the next step is for them to provide payment then you ask whether they'll be mailing the check or providing a credit card payment.
    • If the next step is to send a signed purchase order, you ask whether they will be faxing or emailing the purchase order, and you might ask how soon the person who signs purchase orders will be able to sign it, or if it's a check you might ask when they expect to mail the check.
    • If the next step is signing a contract, you remind them of how you need the contract submitted and what your organization will do once the contract is received.
    This is an assumptive close, and it provides a very smooth transition to the processing of your sales order and the delivery of your product or service.


  • Know the role of your prospect in the purchase decision. Know why the organization or individual is interested in your product or service.
  • Know the time frame for the purchase - in your prospect's mind. The prospect does not care about your end-of-month quota or the expiration of your special offer.
  • Know the value match - if your product or service has various options, make clear that there can be a match between what you offer and what the prospect expects to spend. This might involve offering a price list or price quote, or might simply be a general discussion of what other customers have done, showing the high and low potential budgets that are workable for the kind of sale you are trying to complete.
  • If you are dealing with a purchasing department, know the documentation they will require, to set up your company as a new vendor, and provide all that documentation before the purchase decision has been made.
  • Organizations change. Your prospect's role might change in mid-sales-cycle.
  • Be a good listener, and make sure you are always expressing genuine interest in how the prospect is involved in the sales effort. The better mental map you have of the prospect's organization the easier it will be to close your sale by phone.


  • Never use negative language, complaining, or whining tone when speaking with a prospect.
  • No matter how frustrated you are by delays or setbacks in the sales process, always say, "It's so helpful for me to get this understanding, this is really valuable insight. Thank you so much for sharing this." Then your prospect will not be afraid to tell you the truth, rather than just tell you what you want to hear.
  • Even if a prospect themselves is using foul language or making coarse remarks, you should never use any language that is not completely professional.
  • Do not call a prospect if they tell you to stop calling them. Move on to the next prospect.

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Categories: Sales