Do you believe that phone call-based sales are still an effective way of doing business?
We asked this question to U.S.-based sales managers, directors, VPs, and C-suite executives
in the survey that inspired our Spam and Scam Economic Impact Report. Why did we ask it?
Because many claim the phone isn’t effective anymore and cold calling is dead, but there’s a large contingent who disagree. We wanted to get a definitive answer backed by hard data.
What did we find?
The phone is still the most personable and scalable tool at your disposal to sell and close deals. It’s alive, thriving, and remains the preferred channel of communications for outbound teams.
Below, we’ll explore the hard data that led us to this answer. Then, we’ll walk through some ways you can leverage the phone to initiate more live conversations, keep prospects engaged, and nail your desired ask.
Let’s get after it.
Looking at the Spam and Scam Likely Economic Impact Report
Before we asked our survey respondents if they still thought phone call-based sales were effective, we needed to first determine the number of outbound calls they make in a typical workday.
Here’s a quick breakdown of our respondents and their daily call activity:
- 20 to 50 calls: 51%
- 51 to 100 calls: 30%
- 101 to 200 calls: 10%
- 201 to 300 calls: 5%
- 300+ calls: 4%
We needed to know this because someone who only makes one or two calls per day is going to have a massively different take on phone call-based sales than someone who makes over 300 daily calls. For example, their lead generation strategy might be based purely on word-of-mouth referrals, and they might not cold call at all.
So, given these data points, we were confident in the significance of our respondents’ answers. Here’s what they had to say:
From entry level employees all the way up to C-Suite executives, and across wide revenue ranges, sales professionals and outbound teams have incredibly high confidence in the phone.
Going Deeper: Data from the Sales Calls Statistics Report
We can further verify the efficacy of phone call-based sales by examining additional data from our annual Sales Calls Statistics Report. Specifically, we can look at PhoneBurner platform data across three key areas: live conversations, total talk time, and voicemails left.
When examined as a group, these three sales calls statistics show us that the phone has become the preferred communication channel for sales professionals and outbound teams. Prospects are answering the phone and having long, high quality conversations.
When a prospect answers a call, we define it as a live conversation. Someone has actively picked up the phone, said “Hello?,” and the sales rep has begun working through their script.
In 2021, we saw a 41.3% year-over-year increase in live conversations from 2020—12,166,548 to 17,191,051 total live conversations.
Key Takeaway: Prospects are answering the phone more than they ever have.
Total Talk Time
Total talk time refers to the aggregate number of minutes PhoneBurner users spend on live conversations.
Total talk time on calls increased from 21,819,427 minutes in 2019 to 23,383,105 minutes in 2020. And then it increased to 34,915,216 minutes in 2021. That’s a 60.01% increase from 2019 to 2021, and a 49.32% increase from 2020 to 2021.
Key Takeaway: Prospects are spending more time engaged in conversations on the phone.
Given that we saw so many more calls made on PhoneBurner in 2021, it’s not surprising that the number of voicemails left also increased from 17,162,213 to 24,463,839. What’s interesting is that we saw the rate of voicemails left per call drop from 23% in 2020 to 18% in 2021.
That’s a good thing. PhoneBurner users didn’t need to leave as many voicemails on a per-call basis.
Key Takeaway: Fewer voicemails left, on a per call basis, verifies that prospects are answering the phone and having actively engaged conversations.
If Not the Phone, Then What Else?
There’s one last area of focus we need to analyze around these data points. For this one, we’re going back to the Spam and Scam Economic Impact Report.
A small sample size of our survey respondent group didn’t express the same sentiment of confidence in the phone. So, we asked that specific group what they thought was the most effective tool for sales.
This question was open-ended, and they could put in anything they wanted. The top three responses we got were:
- Video calls
- Online and social media
I’d like to stress that none of these answers are incorrect. Each one has its own strengths and merits.
However, you have to ask: in a vacuum, can that single tactic produce the same results as the phone? In some cases, probably not.
Take email, for example. Business operates on email, but it’s easy to actively ignore a salesperson trying to reach you over email.
The same could be said for social selling on platforms like LinkedIn. And selling over video calls is highly effective, but you can’t cold call with video.
To be clear, I’m not trying to tear these tactics down. What I’m trying to show is that none of them, on a standalone basis, have the same agility, flexibility, and power to connect as the phone.
3 Tactics to Make Better Sales Calls
I think it’s important not to look at the conversation around the phone, email, video calls, and social selling as an “either, or” situation. Instead, look at is as a “yes, and” situation.
There are ways you can use all of these tools in addition to your existing outbound sales strategy. And that strategy should be built around the core pillar of the phone.
So, let’s take the top three responses we got from our survey respondents—email, video calls, and social media—and dig into some ways you can use them in tandem with your phone strategy.
Email is a powerful tool that pairs very well with the phone. And it’s effective whether a prospect picks up the phone or not.
If they answer the phone, great. Run through your cold call script and make your ask for the next step in the sales cycle. Then, once you hang up, quickly follow up with an email.
This could be something simple, like:
“Hey Stan, thanks for your time today. I’m looking forward to our next meeting. One parting thought—you might find this attached customer story and client testimonial relevant to your particular situation. Enjoy!”
If the prospect doesn’t answer, that’s alright. Leave a voicemail, and then follow up with an email as well. This provides your reps with an opportunity to reinforce the benefit they’re delivering or drive the prospect to specific parts of your website to learn more.
Plus, if the prospect sees a well-written email before they hear the voicemail, it can encourage them to give the message the attention it deserves. So, have your reps hedge their bets by giving prospects two ways to respond.
Again, keep the email simple by saying something like:
“Hey Stan, this is Will with PhoneBurner. I wanted to chat with you about how our power dialer software can help your reps 4x their daily call volume. I also left a voicemail, give it a listen, and feel free to call me back at 555-5555.”
The same strategies apply to SMS and text messaging here as well. If you want to learn how PhoneBurner can empower you to send emails, voicemails, or SMS texts with one click, sign up for a free trial today.
2. Video Calls
You can’t cold call with a video platform like Zoom. Plus, they’re time-consuming and you’ll need to build rapport before you get to this stage.
However, you can use the phone for an initial cold call and start laying the foundation for a video call that comes later.
Video calls are effective because you get to see your prospect’s face, read their body language, and share your screen for quick dissemination of information. Most often, we see video calls used by account executives (AEs) who are hosting demos.
In any situation, when using video calls to engage with prospects and sell, make sure you:
- Prepare and practice your pitch, slides, and script in advance
- Ensure your audio and video quality are operating at peak performance
- Ask questions that engage prospects and keep their attention
- Address any issues or questions in real time
- Make use of the platform’s tools to share relevant information
3. Online and Social Media
If your entire sales strategy is based on social selling—aka, selling purely through social media—you might be doing yourself a disservice. It’s incredibly easy to ignore and block people on social media that you find pushy, frustrating, or overbearing.
You don’t want to hurt your leads, which are hard assets your company pays for, by ineffectively reaching out to them on social media. The same goes for email. Neither is a strong enough tactic to stand on its own two feet and carry your entire outbound strategy.
Social media should be used to bolster your prospect research and collect relevant information. You can also reach out to connect with someone on social media and either start a relationship, or keep one alive, on the platform where they’re most active.
For example, if your prospect is a LinkedIn power user, comment on their posts and engage with their content. Be genuine in your approach here though, and don’t force comments that you don’t believe in.
This can help you get noticed, or even open a direct line of communication with your prospect in the comments section or in direct messages.
4. BONUS: Voicemails
Even if you don’t leave voicemails often because prospects always pick up, you have to incorporate them into your sales strategy. I promise, there will undoubtedly come a day when you need to leave a voicemail.
Some ignore voicemails and claim they waste too much time. However, a small investment of time leaving a voicemail can get you a call back from your prospect.
There’s serious intent behind that call back as well. Think about it. This prospect listened to your message, liked what you said, and reached out asking for more. They want to hear what you have to say.
Your key to success is to leave voicemails that encourage this kind of reaction in your prospects. Here are some quick tips:
- Create a solid voicemail script
- Send email in tandem with your voicemails
- Keep it short
- Be enthusiastic
- Pay attention to your tone
- Go slow and enunciate
- Don’t be desperate
For, check out our full blog that extensively details 20 tactics that will help you perfect your sales voicemails and get callbacks. It should also be noted that PhoneBurner allows you to leave pre-recorded voicemails with one click—find out how.
Let the Phone Be Your Hero
The phone is the hero of your outbound strategy. Further, we can definitively say that it’s the preferred channel of communication for sales professionals and outbound teams.
This is a belief we’ve long held here at PhoneBurner. And not just because we sell power dialer software to teams who rely on the phone as their primary form of connecting to their customers.
We think the phone has the power to cut through the noise and connect complete strangers like no other form of communication can. It’s the backbone that any successful sales strategy should be built around.
If you’d like to see how PhoneBurner can help, sign up for a free trial today. And be sure to fully explore our Spam and Scam Economic Impact Report and the Sales Calls Statistics Report for countless other data insights that will help you close more deals.