Telephone sales can be some of the most challenging work you’ll ever do.

Even if you’re not cold-calling strangers at random, it’s more of an art than a science — but there are some ways to improve your odds of closing a deal or convincing a customer to stop by your location.

Before you try to nail your next sale, take a look at these four ways to increase your telephone sales:

Ask open-ended questions. Believe it or not, even if your customers are inbound, they don’t necessarily know what they want or need. Usually they know exactly what they want to do with your products, though, so if you ask the right questions you can save the day with the perfect product pairing.

Asking open-ended questions is the best way to get the most information about your potential customer’s needs — yes and no questions just waste everyone’s time. Even if your customers are confident they know what they want, you may be able to help them find better or less expensive products they weren’t considering when they called.

Develop a true rapport with the caller. Callers are better than ever at sniffing out fake people and fake promises. Don’t pretend to be friendly, just be friendly. Never patronize the customer, they know more than you think. When you can stop to listen to what your callers have to say and have a real conversation with them, that’s when you’re on the right track to building rapport.

Customers who feel a personal connection tend to be customers who spend more money overall. According to Gallup’s June 2014 State of the American Consumer report, customers who are actively engaged with a brand will spend 23 percent more than the average customer who is merely satisfied.

Drop the hard sales approach. No one likes dealing with a pushy or aggressive salesperson, inbound or out. Instead of pushing customers into a sale, try a softer approach, like listening to better understand their reasons for buying. Rapport and understanding build a stronger fire under customers, but you can’t always expect them to make a purchase right away. If your product is expensive or bulky, it may take a few calls to finalize the deal. Keep on top of friendly follow-up, it’ll go a lot further than high-pressure sales.

Know when it’s time to close. One of the hardest parts of the sales process is knowing exactly when to attempt the close. Close too soon and the customer may feel pressured and hang up, try to close too late and the customer may have already moved on to greener pastures. If the customer is asking a lot of questions and seems satisfied with the answers you’re giving, it might be a good time to move in.

Equally, if they’re talking about the product or service like they’ve already bought it, it’s a great sign. Ask politely, but ask. “Are you ready for me to ship this product to your home?” is a simple and effective closing question for a customer who seems to be saying “yes” already.