The best 25 tips on ‘PHONE SELLING’

Over the years I have read extensively on business and selling. I am always curious on how to get ‘NEW’ business. If you are a business owner, you probably receive several cold calls a week with someone trying to sell you a product or a service.

You probably hang up while muttering under your breath.

Stop and think! The only reason these calls persist is because they work! Go through the list below and then consider why phone selling actually works.

If you need assistance in tailoring your phone selling campaign to suit your business, drop me a line at or call me at 416.488.1801.

Now….read the list below and think why many firms use phone selling.




These tips are simple to apply and easy to use. And best of all, they work!

1. Call earlier. If you’re calling mid-level executives and above, call earlier, around 7:00 a.m. You’ll reach more decision makers between 7:00- 8:30 than you will the rest of the day.

2. Call later. Same as above, except call between 5:00-7:00. Seriously! Gatekeepers are gone and decision makers are curious about calls that come after hours.

3. Create a master list of prospects. On a yellow legal pad or an Excel spreadsheet, create a list of 25-30 prospect names, their companies and their phone numbers. Whenever you have some time you can quickly grab it and make calls without having to log in, find names etc. This gives you speed and efficiency.

4. Cycle your master list. Start at the top of the list and dial. No answer? Don’t leave a message, hang up. Call the next number, then the next, and so on. It’s fast and easy. Finished the list? Start at the top and quickly go through it again. You’ll get decision maker contacts here and there.

5. Don’t go overboard with research. Unless you have a highly complex product, minimize your research time. Glance at the web site and get a feel for the company, then make the call. The answers you seek lie in your prospect’s mind.

6. Get insider information.  Here’s a great tip: call your prospect’s sales department. Tell the rep what you’re trying to do and ask if they can help. Get decision maker names, direct phone numbers, best time to call…and e-mail addresses…anything. Sales reps understand your plight and most will help you out.

7. Create a call guide for prospecting. On paper, prepare an opening statement, list the questions you want to ask, have your offer developed, create an objection chart, and be ready to close. Use bullet points, highlight key information, create a road map for your call, post it somewhere visible, and glance at it to keep you on track (or to get back on track).

8. Use your client’s or prospect’s name in an e-mail subject line. It gets their attention and increases the odds of the e-mail being opened and scanned.

9. Make a follow up call to your e-mails within one day. Use the one-two punch of visual and audio prospecting. Use them in harmony to increase awareness.

10. Script your opening statement word for word. Yes…script it. If your target market is more or less the same, why change your opener? Your opening statement is the most important element of the call. Don’t wing it. State your name, your company, the reason for your call, and above all, a benefit that you can offer your prospect. Get this down pat.

11. Don’t ask “Is this a good time?” It never is and you give your prospect an easy out.  Instead, say “If I have caught you at a good time, I’d like to ask you a few questions, get a better understanding of your situation and determine how (your product or service) might be of value.” Then ask your first question.

12. Pay close attention to the tone of your voice. Over 80% of your message is based on the emotional quality of your message. Be upbeat. Have conviction. Above all, avoid being monotone.

13. Don’t leave voice mail messages when prospecting. Make at least three or four call attempts to reach your prospect live before you ever leave a message.  Leaving messages is not a high yield activity; speaking to a live decision maker is.

14.Don’t spill your guts to the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers are not decision makers and they use your pitch to screen your call. ‘Confessing’ who you are, what you do and why you’re calling is an invitation for rejection.

15. Never use, “How are you today?” with prospects. It’s like a neon sign that says, “sales pitch coming.” It’s trite. Over 90% of prospects say that it does nothing to build rapport; in fact, it does just the opposite.

16. Master your opening. Practice it, rehearse it. Drill it over and over so that words flow easily and naturally and so you DON’T sound scripted.

17. Be prepared for initial, brush-off objections (e.g., I have a vendor; we’re okay right now; I’m in a meeting etc.) Begin by empathizing (I understand), then completely ignore the objection (because over 95% of the time, it’s false), then ask, “One quick question before I let you go…”  This often gets the prospect to relax and open up. Chances are you’ll get something of value.

18. Prepare at least three compelling questions to ask your prospect that probe for pain or gain. Ponder this long and hard.  A good question engages the client and gets them thinking.

19. Listen with a pen in hand. Take notes. Focus. Assess their tone of voice. Let them finish their thoughts. Don’t interrupt. Clarify what you don’t understand. Probe deeper using your notes as a guide.

20. Clarify objections before responding. Ask questions to make certain if the objection is legitimate or a smoke screen.

21. Close more casually. Ask the client or prospect if they’d like “to give it a shot” or “give it a try.” This informal close eases the tension and makes the person feel less pressured. It makes it easier for them to say yes.

22. Get commitment to the next step. For longer sales cycles, get commitment to the next step by asking for a follow up date and time (e.g. if they want a proposal, agree to this action but then ask for a specific date and time for the next call).  This increases your odds of contact on the next call.

23. Be more persistent.  Don’t quit so easily. Make at least four follow up attempts to clients and prospects that go silent. Use a combination of voice messages and e-mails. Space them 2-3 days apart. Be polite, but be persistent.

24. Send a handwritten thank you note to clients who buy. Handwrite the envelope. Use a real stamp. Show your client you took the time and effort.  It goes a heck of a lot further than a quick e-mail. Do the extras.

25.Become a resource to your clients. Send articles, links, special reports … anything that builds value and helps you stay in touch. Be more than a source of product. Attach a note that says, “I thought of you when I saw this…”  It flatters.  They remember. It brands you.

There you have it. You probably know many of them. You probably forgot some of them. And there might be a few of them that are brand new. Whatever the case, apply them. Use them, and improve your sales game.


The Four Ways to Grow Your Business (4 of 4)

4. Increase the Effectiveness of each Process in your Business

The fourth way to grow your business is more of an all-encompassing strategy. Increasing the effectiveness of the way you do business is central to everything. The quality of the processes defines and determines the quality of the outcome.

Ageing is an efficiency indicator that should be applied to all areas of the business. For example—
•    An aging and less efficient plant facility
•    Old and dilapidated premises
•    Product profile – no new products in years
•    An outdated attitude to employees
•    Obsolete office equipment and systems
•    Over-used advertising or marketing procedures

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is not going to happen!”

Develop functions, systems and manuals. Build your business on functions rather than the people in the roles. Good systems clearly spell out how each single business task is carried out and will ensure easy handovers, training and delegation (e.g. ensuring all deliveries are invoiced and accurate.) Many businesses are built around specific people rather than jobs or functions those people perform. Changing your business to one that identifies functions first then slots the right people into those functions will help your business grow.

Training is another pivotal area for improving the processes within your business. Regardless of whether its customer service, phone answering techniques or computer skills, training your team members properly is extremely important to ongoing development of your business. Systems clearly spell out how to do every single business task and make it easy to train team members and delegate work, leaving you more time to develop your business.

REMEMBER —”There is no letter ‘I’ in Team”!
“Work ON your business not IN it”!

The business owner stuck handling day to day tasks will only achieve slow growth if at all. You need to step outside these activities and look at the business objectively. This is where All Year Taxation Ltd. can help.

Measure your current performance. You must have an understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to grow your business. Go back and look at the BLOG written on November 8, 2012 – ‘Key Performance Indicators’, this will help you measure your performance. As well have your Financial Statements completed right after the end of the financial period. This will allow you to look at current and not outdated numbers.

Potential Sales Increase Worksheet

To illustrate the compounding effect of these 4 profit drivers (the 4 ways to grow your business) let’s assume you have 1,000 customers and look to increase that by 10% to 1,100. Next, increase the number of times your customers come back to you by 10% (1 time per year to 1.1 times per year). Then, increase your average sale to that customer by 10%.

Numb. of cust. x Number of Dealings x Ave. $ Sale = Total Sales
NOW:   1,000 x 1 x $250 = $250,000
PLAN:   1,100 x 1.1 x $275 = $332,750

Sales have grown by 33%. If your profit margin is just 30% your additional profit has increased by $24,825 and the value of your business has also grown.
All Year Taxation Ltd has been helping small businesses achieve these results and more for over 41 years. Contact us at 416.488.1801 and see what we can do to help you achieve your goals.

Small Business is Our Passion
and our goal is to help you build a better, more profitable and valuable business by combining the knowledge of your business with our consulting tools and expertise.

The Four Ways to Grow Your Business (3 of 4)

3. Increase the Average Value of Each Sale


Increasing your average sale value makes every transaction more profitable. Since the cost of winning a new customer is already covered in the original purchase, additional sales are a plus – profit for you. There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Cross Selling – Look at your major product or service and ask what else could you offer that would go with that item that would add value and help the customer make the most of their purchase. Remember the line….’Would you like fries with that?’
  • Up-Selling – Educate and make suggestions. Customers often do not know about other items or services that might add to their original purchase. You need to tell them! After all, customers come to you for help and guidance. Every time you fail to explain all their options, you can be missing opportunities. Offer your product or services in three or more tiers. You can explain that one level is good, the next level is better and the third level is the best. Statistics show that most people will select the second tier item but many will also be happy to spend more for more value.
  • Bundling – Packaged items or services together add value to the customer. Take a look at your full range of products and services and see if they can be packaged together. For example, a beautician might offer a discounted manicure with a facial. This practice makes purchases more attractive to customers and can increase average sales.
  • Smart Merchandising – Signage, ticketing, presentation and packaging can all increase your average sale. Testimonials and brochures can help educate customers and build confidence in your business.
  • Work your margins and pricing – We can assist you with looking at the direct relationship between the 4 key variables in your business – PRICE, VOLUME, FIXED COSTS and VARIABLE COSTS. If you are tempted to cut prices, think again! Sure you will probably sell more product but you will cut your profit margins and potentially dilute your brand in the process. Discounting now sends the message to your customers that they can expect even greater future discounts.
  • Maximize your On-Hold Message – Your phone’s on-hold message can spark a customer’s interest in more products or services, especially if it is useful and educational. An effective message can turn down time into profits.
  • Consider Raising your Prices – To increase your average sale, you must have a full understanding of your margins and what they really mean to your bottom line. Avoiding discounts and price wars is critical to maintaining and increasing your average sale. Oddly enough, sales can sometimes increase with a price increase. Your products or services may seem more valuable. This is particularly true if you create sales and marketing tools to educate customers about the value they will receive.

This completes Stage 3 of ‘ Four Ways to Grow Your Business’. Each of the above items can be substantially widened to help your business grow. We can work with you and make a plan so that it works. Call me at 416.488.1801 or drop me a line at I would be happy to show you how we can help.

As well, if you can’t wait for Stage 4 over the next month in a new blog, I would be pleased to give you a private preview addressed specifically for your business.

The Four Ways to Grow Your Business (2 of 4)

2. Increase the Number of Times Customers Come Back


Increasing the ‘transaction frequency’ – or the number of times someone deals with you is an important step to increasing your profitability. In fact, some would say this is the most important ingredient of all. Studies suggest it costs up to 6 times more to win a new customer than it does to have an existing customer buy again. So how can you encourage repeat business?

  • Inspire Customer Loyalty – Motivating your customers to come back to your business more often is vital to the long-term health and profitably of your business. The more frequently your customers purchase from you, the greater your profits. The most important customer list in the world is the one you already have. Loyal customers will not only return to your business, they will become walking advertisements for you. They will refer their friends and family to you. The easiest way to get new customers is through your current customers.
  • Know Your Best Customers – This can be done by simply classifying your customers into A, B, C and D categories. This means that your on-going communication and marketing approach will be more appropriate for each group. Gather information about your customers. The more you know about them, the better service you can provide.
  • Provide Awesome Service – Creating a team commitment to service can keep your customers returning and referring. You need to train your team so they deliver consistently outstanding service. Be exceptional and exceed customer expectations. Make sure your service is better and quicker, provide longer and/or stronger guarantees. Your team also need to have clearer guidelines for problem-solving, how to ‘think-out-of-the-box’ and be empowered to do so.




  • Stop the Leakage – If you are losing customers think about ways to retain them and stop the defections. When money is tight customers expect more for their dollar. Refine your customer service strategy to insure that every step from taking the order to delivery is client focused and effective. How can you make the service more efficient and valuable so you retain their business? Identify and follow up lost sales and customers.
  • Nurture Your Customers – Nurturing is the most cost effective way to make customers feel valued and motivated to keep purchasing from you. The more you stay in touch with them the more likely they are to remember you. Newsletters, special offers, service reminders and thank you notes are all effective strategies. You could establish a loyalty program with rewards for frequent purchases. Your current customers are most important as they are walking/talking advertisements for your business and will refer friends and family to you. Offer on-going support, education or advise about your products or services.
  • Use Customer Comment – Asking for feedback lets customers know that you are truly interested in them and their opinion – something other businesses may not even bother with. Most customers will not tell you about their negative experiences but will simply ‘vote with their feet’. Follow up and make sure they are happy and THANK THEM for their business and referrals. The feedback can also be extremely valuable for your strategic planning. Make sure feedback has been auctioned to ensure customers can see their suggestions are valued.


This completes Stage 2 of ‘Four Ways to Grow Your Business’. Each of the above items can be substantially widened to help your business grow. We can work with you and make a plan so that it works. Call me at 416.488.1801 or drop me a line at I would be happy to show you how we can help.

As well, if you can’t wait for Stage 3 and 4 over the next month in new BLOGS, I would be pleased to give you a private preview addressed specifically for your business.

The Four Ways to Grow Your Business (1 of 4)

It may sound simplistic but basically there are four ways to create a more profitable and valuable business

  1. Increase the number of customers (of the type you want)
  1. Increase the number of times customers come back
  1. Increase the average value of each sale you make
  1. Increase the effectiveness of each process in your business


These 4 fundamental strategies will help you win more customers, motivate them to come back to you more often, prompt them to spend more when they do and improve the processes in your business to ensure that you can manage the growth.

Theoretically, it’s that simple! If you could increase each one of 4 factors by just 10% the combined effect would be an incredible 46.4% increase in your sales. Is it possible? We at All Year Taxation Ltd believe it is achievable and we can provide the tools, experience and help to make it happen.

At All Year Taxation Ltd, we are not just your average bookkeeping/accounting/tax prep business that just ‘counts beans’ and keeps ‘score’. We aim to work with you to build a better, more profitable and valuable business by combining our consulting expertise with your knowledge of the business.


  1. Increase the number of customers (of the type you want)

Most business owners focus on winning more new customers through advertising. This can be expensive and there are numerous other strategies that you should consider including:

  • Develop Referral Systems – Thank your clients for any referrals and consider a reward system to encourage additional referrals.
  • Develop a Unique Selling Point – What makes your business unique? Think about what you do differently from your competitors. You need to find ways to differentiate your business and communicate these points to your customers.
  • Research your Market – You need to understand your customer needs and focus on benefits you offer. It is vital that all of your advertising and marketing material focuses on the benefits customers will receive rather than just the features of your products and services.
  • Improve Product Mix – to be more appealing and concentrate efforts on high margin products and/or services.
  • Enter New Markets such as exports or selling in new areas.
  • Trust your Advertising and Marketing – Identify your ideal customer and direct your advertising and marketing strategy to reach those potential customers.
  • Review your Phone Manner – Many marketing ‘experts’ consider the phone to be the single most underutilized selling resource in business. Why spend money advertising if the customer’s first contact with your organization turns out to be a negative experience? With proper training (that we can provide) and follow up your team can learn to have skills to handle any call and convert it into a sale. Use phone scripts to alleviate anxiety engage conversation and increase sales!
  • Develop a Sales System – A systemic approach to selling based on an effective sales method is a must-have for increasing your customer base. To motivate consumers to make a purchase, it is usually important to educate them. Ask new customers, ‘how did you hear about us?’ It’s a simple question that can tell you volumes about the success of your advertising.
  • Be a Problem Solver – If a person inquires about something you do, they are asking for help in solving their problem. If you fail to do everything possible to solve their problem you are doing them a DISSERVICE. Identify their problem. Direct them to the proper solution!
  • Create Sales Forecasts – Mapping your sales forecasts is also crucial to increasing sales. It’s must easier to get to your destination – if you know where you are going! Sales forecasts help you find that direction and give you a target to achieve (See previous BLOGS on Business Plans)
  • Follow Up – Statistics show that 80% of sales are made after the 5th contact. Think about other ways to promote your business. There are so many! Create reciprocal referral agreements with a non-competitive business with the same type of customer base.

This completes Stage 1 of ‘Four Ways to Grow Your Business’. Each of the above items can be substantially widened to help your business grow. We can work with you and make a plan so that it works. Call me at 416.488.1801 or drop me a line at I would be happy to show you how we can help.

As well, if you can’t wait for Stage 2, 3 and 4 over the next month in new BLOGS, I would be pleased to give you a private preview addressed specifically for your business.

How to save a little money on taxes

Before you even consider gathering your papers so that you can file your 2014 personal income tax return, sit down and ponder how you can pay less in 2015 on your taxes. It is too late to do anything to cut back on 2014 taxes, but the CRA have made some changes for 2015 that you should consider.

Prior to doing anything, if you are one of those fortunate few who have some excess cash at the moment, add that cash to your Tax Free Saving Account (TFSA). The present contribution – for 2015 – is limited to $5,500.00. If you make your contribution now, and not at the end of the year, you will earn interest tax-free during the year. Much better than keeping this excess cash in a GIC and paying tax on the interest. SO DON’T WAIT>>>>DO IT NOW!

For 2015 the CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency) – they are the people that collect our taxes – has doubled the ‘children’s fitness tax credit’ from $500 to $1,000. Effective as at January 1, 2015. Not only was the 15% tax rate previously just a credit but now it is now refundable.

There are other benefits that you should be aware of. While each of the changes for 2015 may not save you a huge bundle, if you pay attention to all the changes that effect you the savings will add up! If you would like to discuss your particular situation and how the new programs may benefit your family drop by our office or give me a call at 416.488.1801. Remember there is never a charge just to have us answer a question.

Two Accountant Jokes—-At least I found them funny!

I could not resist posting these jokes. If you know any good jokes about accountants, send them to me (and if our staff laughs at them) they will be posted in the future.


A man piloting a hot air balloon discovers that he has wandered of course and is hopelessly lost. He descends to a lower altitude and locates a man on the ground. He lowers the balloon further and shouts. “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?’
The man below says, “Yes, you are in a hot air balloon, about thirty feet above this field.”
‘You must be an accountant,” says the balloonist.
‘Yes I am” exclaims the man. “And how do you know that.”
‘Well” says the balloonist, “what you tell me is technically correct, but of no use to anyone.”
The man below says, “You must be a manager.”
“Well yes I am” replies the balloonist, “how did you know?”
“Well’, says the accountant, “you don’t know where you are, or where you’re going, but you expect my immediate help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.”


An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor. “Doctor, I just can’t get to sleep at night.”
“Have you tried counting sheep?”
“That’s the problem – I make a mistake and then spend 3 hours trying to find it.”

Addendum Business Plan

After I wrote and posted the earlier blog entry, I went back and reread it and felt that something was missing. I now believe that there are some entrepreneurial ideas that are evolving so rapidly that each day almost requires a new plan. In the Hi-tech world, that is often the case. So if that is your dreamed of ‘path-to-riches’ you may just fly ‘by-the-seat-of-your-pants (skirt)’. Remember though, if you intend to raise funds (watch for that topic on a future blog in the New Year); you are going to need a business plan. Also for those of you who develop a business plan at the beginning, don’t just put it on a shelf, go back – at least once a year – and reread it. Determine if you are on track as you had intended. If not, it may be time to update the plan. A good time to reread and rethink the business plan is in January….

“The process of developing an annual plan should establish priorities for the coming year and become the basis for action”.

Call me at 416-488-1801 for any assistance – even just to be a sounding board.

Business Plan

Recently, a self-styled entrepreneur came to our office to ask me a question. He was referred to AYTL by an acquaintance who had built a successful SME (small business enterprise) and had used me as a mentor. The problem he explained was that his business idea had not taken off as he had believed it should. Before throwing in the towel, he wanted to know what he had done or not done that caused the idea to fail. He believed that he fit the criteria as laid out in Blog 11 – ‘JUST DO IT’ and could not understand where he went wrong.

After a brief discussion it was clear where he erred. No initial BUSINESS PLAN!

If one is planning a journey by car, one first ensures that the vehicle is in good working order and that the driver has been properly trained and licensed in the operation of the vehicle. Then one either consults a map or GPS and follows the instructions to reach the destination. Even if small detours are made along the way, consulting the map or GPS will bring one back on course. In the case of the young entrepreneur there was no ‘path’ laid out initially. The individual just started the business and made decisions as it went along – many of which caused the business to go off track and eventually falter.

Enough said—how does one make a business plan? I could spell out all the details here, however there are numerous web sites and software that can do it in far greater detail. My suggestion is to Google Enterprise Toronto and attend one of their ‘Business Plan Boot Camp’ (the next one comes up January 13, 2015). In just a few hours you will gain all the basics and you will be able to create your personalized business plan for your office.

If you are still puzzled and need help, we are here to assist. Over the years, AYTL has produced numerous business plans for a wide variety of different businesses. Remember, if you have a toothache you go to a dentist. Even medical professionals from other disciplines go to a specialist. So if you have a particular talent and you are not a ‘numbers’ person, use a pro—-call us at 416.488.1801!

And by-the-way: The errant entrepreneur showed his resilience and common sense in asking for help and direction. AYTL was able to key in on his successes and eliminate his faults and he is now showing headway and getting back on track.

Dragon’s Den

So you read Blog # 10 – ‘Just Do It’ and you feel that now you are ready. You believe you have a unique idea for a business and you have saved up some money and you are confident that it is NOW or NEVER. What is the next step?

  1. Don’t quit your job and go ‘all in’. Why is this the first step? Because if you think that now is the time to ‘go-for-it’, remember you still have to eat and put a roof over your head. Some of us may go and live in our parent’s basement while we sow the seeds for our future fortune, but not all of us have that luxury. So keep your job and your paycheck while you work every spare moment on laying a firm foundation for the future.
  2. Make a business plan. Next week I will devote the complete blog on how to make a business plan. You probably have been thinking about your future ‘business’ for a while so now is the time to commit your ideas to paper. Once your idea is committed to paper, make a realistic list of what you will need to achieve your dream. These lists will form the basis for the business plan.
  3. Talk to a pro. Find a mentor, advisor, accountant, elder, etc. who has ‘been-there-and-done-that’. It will serve you well to discuss your ideas with someone else, if only to see if you can turn your thoughts into words.
  4. Don’t spend any money – yet! All the above should not cost you anything.

By now you are getting excited. Go back and reread # 1 above. You are still not ready! You are probably rehearsing your presentation to the Dragons on Dragons’ Den. Not so fast. Watch the program a few times and you will see that the only ones that succeed have a well thought out plan and can present their ideas and answer questions in a cohesive and rehearsed manner. If you can’t and you do audition and get on, The Dragons will cut you up if you are not prepared. So do your homework before you take that step.

If you would like to discuss your ideas or plans and require an experienced sounding board, call us at 416.488.1801 – we can help!