Use these six tips to make sure you’re not throwing sales leads in the trash.

When salespeople are prospecting, we’re in the zone. If you’ve got a solid prospecting schedule, you’ve blocked off time, and you’re giving it 100%. When you’re in the zone, those phone calls feel easy!

Salespeople should answer their phone - Sales Coach Dew

Many sales professionals, however, have an “Oh, crap” moment when one of their prospects returns their call. When a prospect calls you back, do you ever think, “I’m not ready to have this conversation right now?”

Just let it go to voicemail, right? Wrong.

An incoming call from your prospect might be the only chance you’ll ever get to talk to that person!

Can you really afford to ignore a prospect and never talk to them again? No way! That’s why real sales rock stars always answer their phone. Use these six tips to make sure you’re not throwing sales leads in the trash:

  1. Be prepared for a call at all times
  2. Add every person you meet to your phone’s contacts
  3. Answer even if you can’t talk
  4. Have a professional voicemail greeting
  5. Clear out your voicemail inbox
  6. Return your messages promptly

1. Be prepared for a call at all times

If you don’t answer your phone when a prospect calls, you’re hoping they leave a voicemail. You’re hoping you’ll be able to catch them when you return their call. You’re hoping you’ll be able to schedule a call after who-knows-how-many rounds of phone tag. Hopefully, they won’t give up on you and find someone else they can actually connect with!

You really shouldn’t be basing your sales revenue on hope. But that’s what you’re doing when you press “Ignore” on your cellphone. Prepare yourself to handle an incoming call at any time—and pick up the phone when it rings!

2. Add every person you meet to your phone’s contacts

Here’s a simple way to always be prepared for when a prospect calls: Put the number for everyone you meet (or prospect) into your phone. When they give you a call, their name pops up on caller ID—giving you the few seconds you need to prepare yourself to talk to that specific person.

It’s just a few seconds, but it’s amazing how much of a difference it makes in your ability to be “on” for a call!

3. Answer even if it isn’t ideal

Even if you “can’t talk,” you still want to answer your phone! Do whatever you can to avoid sending someone to your voicemail.

OK, sometimes you really can’t talk. But most of the time, we “can’t talk,” we can answer the phone and take a few seconds to set up a better time. Here’s an example:

“Hi [name], I’m in between appointments right now, but I didn’t want to miss your call. Is there a time that we can connect later today or tomorrow when I can give you my full attention?”

A brief conversation is way better than hoping the caller leaves a voicemail and tells you a good time to call them back! Even if you “can’t talk,” you’re showing your prospect that you value their business.

4. Have a professional voicemail greeting

For those instances that you truly can’t answer your phone, the worst possible thing for your caller to hear is a computerized voice telling them this:

“Your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system. 6-1-2-3-6-6-4-8-2-2 is not available. At the tone, please record your message. When you have finished recording, you may hang up or press 1 for more options.”

Every time I hear a salesperson with a default greeting message, I cringe! There’s no excuse for making your prospects wonder if they even dialed the right number. I’ve written a whole article about it if you need some tips. Take a few minutes out of your day, and make a professional voicemail greeting!

5. Clear out your voicemail inbox

Actually, this one makes me cringe even more than a default voicemail greeting—a computerized voice saying, “Mailbox is full,” and hanging up on your prospect!


I’ve called thousands of salespeople over the years, and it’s shocking how many of them had full voicemail inboxes. Your prospect can’t leave a message if your voicemail is full! And, they’re not going to call back tomorrow just to see if you’ve cleaned out your old messages.

Depending on your phone and your service provider, it can be pretty easy to accidentally let your voicemails pile up. Stay on top of it, and be sure to delete the “Deleted Messages” and “Blocked Messages” that can take up space without you knowing.

6. Return your messages promptly

Have you ever listened to a new voicemail message (or read the first few words of the transcript) and thought, “Okay, I’ll get back to that”—and then you promptly forget about it? We’ve gotten so focused on returning emails all day that it’s easy to forget to return our voicemail messages!

It’s crucial to have a system in place that ensures you’ll return messages quickly and reliably.

One way to make sure you’re following up: Forward voicemail messages to your work email. It’s easier to keep track of voicemails you need to follow up on because they’re in the same place as everything else you need to follow up on.

Plus, by storing messages in your email and deleting them from your phone, you’ll never risk filling up your voicemail with old messages.

I started using this method and discovered another benefit—forwarding voicemail to my email inbox allows me to easily add the message into my CRM!

Stop ignoring calls!

I’ve worked with thousands of sales professionals to help them crush their sales goals, and the real sales rock stars always answer their phones! I hope these tips help you start answering more calls and closing more business.

Until next time—go sell some stuff!


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