You rehearse your sales script and you practice responding to different scenarios. You know what you want to say, and you feel confident reaching out to your prospects. However, when you dial their number, your nerves hit. Your hands start shaking. Your voice trembles. Instead of sounding natural and conversational, you sound terrified. Chances are, the other person doesn’t want to hang around to hear your pitch. It’s an uncomfortable situation for both parties.

Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to sound more natural and confident, says Mike Brooks, an award-winning author and founder of Mr. Inside Sales. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Brooks’ five techniques to sound more natural on the phone and close more deals.

1. Use the prospect’s first name. Maybe you use Mr. or Ms. to address people, but Brooks says you’ll make a lot more progress by using someone’s first name. By addressing the prospect as “Rebekah” instead of “Ms. Sanders,” you’re not immediately signaling that you’re a salesperson. Plus, Brooks adds that everyone likes to hear their name. Say their name and make a quick personal connection.

2. Be nice. Want to sound more natural on the phone? Use please and thank you and strive to be polite in all your conversations—including those with gatekeepers. Being polite can work in your favor when you’re trying to get around an assistant. People will be more willing to help you when you’re kind to them than if you are rude or pushy. Brooks recommends looking at your current sales scripts and incorporating courtesies where you can.

3. Be brief. Remember that the person you’re calling was in the middle of something when they took your call. Be respectful of their time. Brooks suggests saying something like, “You probably get a lot of calls like these, so I’ll be brief. I’ll just ask you a couple of quick questions and if I think we can save you 15-20 percent, I’ll let you know, and if not, we’ll part as friends. Is that okay?”

4. Make a connection. Another way to sound more natural on the phone is to mention something pertinent to your prospect. Maybe it’s a merger or a new law in their industry. The idea is to get them talking. Brooks says you could word it like, “You know, Rebekah, a lot of my clients have told me of the changes they’re having to make because of (the new law). How is that affecting you?”

5. Listen more. According to Brooks, this is the most important tip for sounding more natural on the phone. Many salespeople ramble on and on, and prospects are just waiting for a chance to end the call. By listening, you give space for your prospect to speak, says Brooks. When they have time to share what’s on their mind, they’ll begin to feel more comfortable with you. The conversation will begin to flow more naturally.

Cold calling can be intimidating. However, you can sound self-assured each time a new prospect answers your call. Be friendly right away by using their name and be polite—never pushy. You should also strive to get the point of your call quickly and do your research beforehand. And finally, always listen. Everyone wants to feel heard. With these quick hacks, you’ll be on your way to sounding more natural yet professional with every call.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Mike Brooks is the founder of Mr. Inside Sales, an inside sales consulting and training firm. He is also an award-winning author who was voted among the most influential inside sales professionals by the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals.