Essential Sales Prospecting Tips to Handle Hang Ups

John Greene

April 9, 2024

10 min

Table of Contents

Let’s face it, no one wants to deal with a hang up, especially when sales prospecting. If you have thick skin it might not bother you much, but no matter how many sales prospecting calls you make, hang ups are never fun.

But alas, while some hang ups are inevitable, others can be prevented.

In this post, we'll start by discussing why sales prospects hang up (and how to combat this so you can reduce hang ups).

Then we'll share what to do when it happens, so you have a concrete game plan for sales calls that end abruptly.

Let's dive in.

7 Reasons Why Sales Prospects Hang Up on You

1. Your Sales Prospect Hears a Delay Before You Come on the Line

Nothing, and we mean nothing, causes more hang ups than the dreaded “telemarketer delay”.

You know the drill. Your phone rings. You answer... "hello"... but there's just dead-air for a second or two as an agent comes on the line. So you hang up. Ugh. 

If you're using an auto dialer or predictive dialer, this is what your contacts are experiencing and what's driving a lot of your hang ups.

How do you avoid this? With better telemarketing software of course. Predictive dialers are old hat, and will burn out a good list unnecessarily. Consider options that can increase efficiency without harming call quality.

2. Your Sales Prospecting Pitch Sounds Too Familiar

Sounding too familiar causes hangups

While it's important to build rapport with your prospect, never present yourself as someone they already know. That will backfire. 

Here's a common scenario: 

The prospect picks up the phone and then the salesperson starts the conversation with “Hey, John, it's Derek. How's the family?” The prospect then shifts into a low panic as he searches his brain for “Derek.” Once he realizes that “Derek” isn't a close personal friend but rather a salesperson, John is angry. He feels tricked and deceived, and he definitely doesn't want to hear another word that Derek says, so he hangs up.

Don't adopt an informal and familiar tone with your prospect. Instead, be friendly. Introduce yourself and explain why you're calling so that your prospect doesn't feel led astray.

3. You Butchered Their Name

You can lose instant credibility as well as alienate your prospect by mispronouncing their name or their company name. That's embarrassing for you and awkward for the prospect to hear. Plus, it dings their first impression of you and is more likely to lead to a hang up.

So your research! Call their company and ask the gatekeeper (i.e., the receptionist or executive assistant) for the correct pronunciation of the prospect's name, or use Google or a name pronunciation tool to see if there’s a pronunciation audio clip available (there are for most!)

And remember to take a second before the call to say their name aloud so that you don't mispronounce it or stutter through it during the call.

4. You've Injected Negativity Into the Conversation

Starting off with “I hope I'm not bothering you” or “I know that you're busy” or "Is this a bad time?" opener may sound considerate, but it's actually self-sabotage.

Reduce hangups by not asking if it's a bad time

You're introducing negativity into your call before you even get to your pitch. Plus, you're giving the prospect an easy out, so they can quickly brush you off with a “Yeah, I'm busy.” Even if they don't throw your words back at you, they may subconsciously feel like you are bothering them because you introduced that sentiment into the conversation.

Don't state the obvious. If you're calling out of the blue, you're definitely interrupting their day. No need to belabor that fact. Get to the point so that your prospect can determine whether they're interested in hearing what you have to say.

5. You Haven't Answered “What's In It For Them"

Once you introduce yourself, explain why you're calling. But here's the thing, don't focus on yourself, your company, or your product. Instead, focus on your prospect. See the call from their perspective. 

What do they need to know in order to be piqued?

Why should they care to stay on the line?

Fail to get this right in the first few seconds of your call, and your prospect hangs up, or politely makes his or her exit.

Remember that your initial prospecting call isn't about making a sale. The goal is to identify the primary pain point you solve, and, if that resonates ask qualifying questions to see if your solution is a fit. Learning more about your prospect's situation allows you to tailor your message so that it's personal to their wants, needs, struggles, or desires. This will ensure you can continue to nurture a relationship with them that eventually leads to a sale. 

So ask questions. Understand what their situation looks like. This is especially true if you're unable to thoroughly research the prospect before your sales call. 

Once you understand their individual needs, you can tweak your message (and your solution) so it's a perfect fit.

6. You're Reading From a Predictable Sales Prospecting Script

When reading from a script, you sound powerless and incapable. Your prospect will immediately dismiss you as a lower-tier salesperson who doesn't have the power to truly help them solve their problem. This is especially true if you're pursuing B2B sales. 

Instead of using a script, use a detailed outline. This ensures that you hit the most important points in your call without sounding like a robot.
Add your call outline into the “phone script” section in PhoneBurner. This allows you to conveniently see your most important talking points during your sales prospecting calls. Learn more about our Sales CRM and its features here.

7. You're Not Listening During Your Sales Prospecting Call

It's hard to listen to your prospect if you're in full-blown “sales” mode. They may have questions about your product. They may have objections and hesitations. But if you're stuck trying to sell your product without truly responding to your prospect's questions or concerns, you're asking for a hang up.

It's also important to listen to prospects when they tell you that it's not a good time to talk. When this happens, initiate your “plan b” (i.e., a set of alternatives if you can't accomplish your initial objective).  The first alternative is to ask your prospect WHEN, not if, you can call back. Don't give them an out with “if.” Instead, activate their cooperation by asking “when.”

The second alternative is to ask your prospect for permission to send a follow-up email. Because you've secured their permission, they're more likely to open your email and read it. Better yet, do both. Find a good time for a follow-up call, and confirm it with an email.

What to Do If Your Sales Prospect Hangs Up Anyway

What to Do If Your Sales Prospect Hangs Up Anyway

Despite your best-laid plans, some prospects will hang up. Chin up, there’s still hope. Here's what to do when a prospect ends the call abruptly:

If Your Sales Prospect Announces the Hang Up

Call back later. Unless they explicitly say “do not call again,” you can and should call back at some point.

Is it awkward to call back?

At first it may be, until you embrace the freedom of the follow-up call. Think about it: By hanging up, your prospect has already done their worst. Now that you've lived through this nightmare scenario, you can go into the second call with reckless abandon.

What do you say when you call back?

You try to get them to the next step, just as you did in your initial call. Instead of taking the scenic route, get directly to the point. Here's a quick template to follow:

  • Say something like “We didn’t really get to connect last time I called. The reason I'm calling is.... (specific benefit you deliver or pain point you solve.)
  • Add credibility by mentioning your success in their industry, with specific competitor(s), award, etc.
  • Ask if they have time for a few questions to see if they might be a fit.

Persistence pays off. When you follow up at a later date after a previous hang up, you're giving yourself a huge leg up on your competition. Most salespeople give up after one attempt, but when you don't, you show your prospect that you're different and worth further consideration.

Not everyone will pick up the phone for the second call, but it's definitely worth it for those who do. If they do answer the second time, they're more open to hearing your message. If they don't sending an email along with your voicemail may prompt a call back, or a live answer on your next call.

If Your Sales Prospect Hangs Up Without Saying a Word

If, in the middle of your pitch, your prospect hangs up on you, call them back immediately.


To eliminate confusion.

Connection problems do exist, and sometimes calls drop without the prospect intending it to happen. They may still want to talk to you, and if you don't call back, you could lose out on a lead.

When calling back though, check the temperature by making the following statement, “Hi, we lost connection for a second.”

It's a simple statement, but it doesn't point fingers, and it gives you an opportunity to reopen the conversation. If they answered the second call, that's a good sign. Of course, some answer the second call specifically to tell you not to call again, but if you don't meet resistance, use it as an opportunity to build a connection.

What If Your Sales Prospect Doesn’t Answer After Hanging Up?

Sometimes, you don't get the opportunity to follow up on the phone, and that’s OK.

If you have their email address, send a quick follow-up message that matches what you would've said in the second call. You can also leave that same message on their voicemail, summarizing why you reached out, and citing your inability to connect earlier. If you need help, there are some great voicemail scripts available here.

Since it so often takes multiple touchpoints to close a sale, consider all avenues (ie. phone, voicemail, text, email) when doing follow-up. The good news is that our sales workflow automation tools can handle save you a ton of time by simplifying or automating aspects of your omnichannel follow-up.

Move on to the Next Sales Prospecting Call

When you're in sales prospecting mode, stay in sales prospecting mode. Don't lose momentum because of a hang up. Not only is an occasional hang up to be expected, but it's also a sign that you're doing something right. In other words, you're calling a lot of people.

Sales is a numbers game. The more people you call, the greater your chances of quality conversion. The odds are also greater that you'll get a hang up. C’est la vie.

Getting rejected is never fun, but don't fret. Use the above tips to reduce hang ups and improve your response to them.

Want to level-up your outreach? Use our power dialer feature to call up to 80 leads in one hour.

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