Cold calling has become more difficult than ever. Robocalls make us hesitant to pick up the phone. Apple’s latest iOS update gives users the option to ignore all calls from unknown numbers. And emails are now a preferred communication method of younger Americans. So why make cold calls?
Buyers may prefer email, but your chances of getting through as one of 50 new messages a typical user receives every day are pretty low. Plus, 49% of buyers prefer cold calls as the first point of contact, according to RAIN Group. Cold calling just has to be done right. Below is a list of cold calling tips to help you do that.
Cold call preparation tips
The goal of the cold call is to set up a meeting, not make a sale. In fact, a sale may not happen for weeks or months, especially if you’re in B2B.
That said, a cold call shouldn’t be taken any less seriously than other sales presentations in terms of prep work. Organizing your materials and speaking points beforehand will improve your confidence, which the prospect will notice.
1. Research the prospect before calling
Gather information about your prospect and their company before picking up the phone. Not only will you have talking points in advance, but you’ll make a good impression by demonstrating that you already understand their needs.
Visit LinkedIn, Crunchbase, and the prospect’s company website. Learn about the person you’re going to speak to and the company they work for. Answer the following questions:
- What is the prospect’s job title/role? This information helps inform how you will approach talking to the prospect. Are they the right person to be making buying decisions? Studies show that 90% of CEOs say they never return cold calls or cold emails, so never go after the CEO. Also, find out if they’ve recently been promoted or any information to build rapport during the call.
- How successful is the company? Based on Crunchbase or other available metrics, would they be able to afford your service? Also research market trends in the industry and determine how these changes might impact this company.
2. Strategize your call timing
If you have thirty cold calls to complete this week, set aside time on your calendar to knock them out, being mindful of when the person you’re calling will most likely be available.
According to CallHippo, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to cold call between 4:00-5:00 PM.
3. Prepare a voicemail script
You’re going to get sent to voicemail 90% of the time. Don’t get discouraged— you might have to leave up to six voicemails before the prospect calls you back. And don’t wing it. Have a voicemail script ready to go.
Sales Gravy provides this voicemail script that quickly relays the value that the sales rep can offer the prospect without pushing the sale:
|“Hi __________, this is ___________ with (your company). I’m calling about your new office that’s opening in Houston next month, and I wanted to provide you with some ideas that may help with your networking issues.|
We work with a lot of companies in the area, and I think you’ll find it useful if we talk.
You can reach me by calling area code (800) 222-0568. That number again is area code (800) 222-0568, and ask for _________. I look forward to speaking with you and thanks in advance for returning my call.”
With your voicemail script in hand, follow these best practices for leaving voicemails:
- Practice! If you’re nervous about leaving a voicemail, J. Barrows recommends cold calling yourself and listening to your voicemail to see what you sound like.
- Enunciate your words and speak slowly. Some smartphones automatically transcribe all voicemails, which means your first impression via cold call could actually be made in text. Make sure your message is text-friendly.
- Keep your message shorter than 30 seconds. Avoid rambling, and stick to the reason why you’re calling.
Also, since it’s likely going to take more than one voicemail message, be prepared with several voicemail scripts for followups, and note which ones you’ve used for each prospect.
4. Write a cold calling script
Forbes Insights found that 58% of potential buyers report that sales reps are unable to answer their questions effectively. A cold calling script ensures that you’re prepared to field questions, as well as follow a clear guide, so you don’t waste the prospect’s time.
Your cold calling script should reflect the end goal — getting on the prospect’s calendar. Structure your script to move them in that direction. Below is a customizable structure:
- Create a strong introduction. Have a strong opening statement (e.g., don’t start with a question like “How are you?” or “Is now a bad time?”). When the prospect answers, try mirroring, taking on the tone of the person you’re speaking with. This has been proven to grab prospects’ attention as it demonstrates empathy.
- Have a list of open-ended questions. Avoid asking questions where the prospect can simply answer “yes” or “no.” Phrasing sentences like “How do you feel about that?” will solicit a longer response than asking, “Are you okay with that?” You’ll also learn more about them and their needs.
- Share social proof. According to human experiences agency, Hawkeye, roughly 70% of B2B buyers cited testimonials and case studies as the most persuasive types of content. Briefly mention customers you have helped and their results from using your product or service.
- Script responses for objections. Be prepared with responses for common sales objections. For example, “I’m not really interested right now, but you can send me more information” is a common cold call objection. If you simply get their email and hang up the phone, you’ll likely never hear from them again. Have this response ready instead: “Of course, can I get your email? Also, to make sure I’m sending you relevant info, can you tell me more about [XYZ]?” Ask follow-up questions to engage and keep the conversation going.
- Cold Calling Scripts That Work: 3 Proven Introductions That Break Into and Close New Clients
- Article: How to Build a Sales Prospecting Script
When writing your cold calling script, also think about what you’ll say if the gatekeeper picks up (e.g., the administrative assistant). Asking, “Can you help me?” can be surprisingly effective.
Sounding like a person — not a robocall, and not a sales-quota-obsessed person — helps the prospect trust you. Practice your cold calling script before picking up the phone.
Here are a few ways to make the most out of your practice sessions:
- Listen to live sales calls on YouTube to polish your own presentation style.
- Practice your script with coworkers and get their feedback. Have them throw in objections so you can practice responding to resistance in real-time.
- Reduce your reluctance to practice (and to make the call itself) by finding a quiet spot.
Not only will practice make a better impression on the prospect, it will also help you feel more confident.
Cold call strategy tips
Ever heard of the term “amygdala hijack?” The amygdala is the part in your brain that causes the fight or flight reaction. When you contact a prospect, their brain is almost immediately determining whether they should hang up or listen to what you have to say.
And even if they stay on the line, you still must hold their attention long enough to secure an appointment.
6. Learn by listening
Many reps make the mistake of jumping straight into their pitch, talking at the prospect. Listen to what the lead needs before explaining how you can help. Also, listen with the intent to understand, not to reply. This is known as active listening.
- Repeat what the prospect said in your own words to clarify.
- Offer verbal cues such as “Right,” “Hm, okay.” Affirm that you’re listening.
- Pause before replying to avoid accidental interruptions.
At the end of the call, summarize what was said to ensure that you’re not forgetting anything or misunderstanding what the prospect shared.
7. Keep it short
Prospects are busy — don’t take up too much of their time. Prospects will tune out — don’t ramble. Let your cold calling script guide the conversation’s length and help you stay on track with your message.
Eliminate filler words such as “um” and “so…” which will make you appear less prepared than you are. Record yourself and count how many times you use filler words. Break the habit by pausing when inclined to say “um” or “so.”
Also, be succinct. Speak one to two sentences at a time. The prospect will be able to understand you better, and you’ll be forced to share only what’s most relevant.
8. Leave the call having laid out next steps
Don’t get off the call without a plan. Mutually agree on what happens next.
“Thank you for your time today, Jeff. I suggest we get on a call 15 minutes next week to talk more about [problem that the prospect is having]. Does that sound fair?” If the answer is “Yes,” ask if the prospect has their calendar available. Stay on the phone long enough to ensure that the calendar invite goes through.
9. Go for the appointment, not the sale
Remember, the purpose of the cold call isn’t to sell anything. In fact, only 2% of sales happen at the first meeting. Simply get on your prospect’s calendar.
After hanging up the phone, send a follow-up email that summarizes what you discussed. And don’t push the sale in the email either.
|Hi [Contact Name],|
I enjoyed our conversation earlier. I am excited about learning more about [Prospect Company Name] and assisting with [Pain Point].
As promised, attached is additional information about [Specific Feature]. Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to speaking with you on Monday at 2:00pm.
Account Executive – Chicago
- 4 Tips for Creating the Ultimate Sales Follow Up Strategy
- 11 sales follow up emails that work (+ follow up email template)
10. Embrace rejection and have patience
Sometimes, no matter how great your script or how polished your delivery, the prospect won’t want to set up a meeting. Expect that: the average sales pro spends 7.5 hours cold-calling to secure one appointment or referral. That’s one for every 209 cold calls.
Rejections are a part of sales. Learn from the “no’s” to secure more “yes’s.” The key to cold calling is persistency.
- Cold Calls in English: 5 Tips for handling rejection
- 50 motivational sales quotes to get you pumped up
Cold call technology tips
Using tools like a sales CRM and a calendar scheduling tool are two of the best ways to speed up cold calling.
11. Eliminate friction with tech
A sales CRM allows you to focus on the conversations with leads rather than hunting for phone numbers, sorting through pages of scripts, or even dialing with your finger.
- Place calls with one click from using Sell’s Native Dialer feature.
- Review calls and measure their success long after you’ve hung up. Calls are automatically recorded and logged in CRMs.
- Store your cold calling and voicemail scripts and all call notes in Sell, too.
One more thing: With Sell, the power dialer creates a cold call list and organizes your cold calls for you.
12. Make sure your CRM is mobile friendly
Out in the field? You can still make cold calls. A mobile CRM ensures that you can keep track of call results in real-time rather than having to input information once you get back to your PC.
Sell’s mobile app lets you make calls within the app and saves all content in the desktop version.
After the call, you can then log it, including the outcome of the call.
This feature is available for both Android and iOS.
13. Use calendar tools to reduce scheduling constraints
When you follow up via email with the prospect, make it easy for them to schedule another conversation with you. Calendar tools like Calendly show prospects when you’re free and allow them to choose the time that’s most convenient for them.
If prospects can view your entire calendar, Todd Caponi recommends making sure your schedule isn’t completely empty. That makes it like you’re not doing much business. Block certain times off, even if it’s for internal activities.
14. Track cold calling analytics
Revisit how many cold calls you completed, the outcomes, and the effectiveness of your cold call scripts within your sales CRM. You can then tweak your approach based on these results.
Sell’s Activity and Voice Reports show call activity and outcomes. For example, view how many calls you made over the past month, when the calls were placed, how long they were, and the results of each.
Maybe one sales rep on your team is making cold calls that (on average) last thirteen minutes.
Find out what he’s saying to keep leads on the line that long. Then apply his strategy to the team.
Use these cold calling tips to secure meetings
According to a survey by DiscoverOrg survey of over 1,000 senior executives, 60% of participants said that they took appointments or attended events based on a cold call or unsolicited email.
But reaching out to new contacts is as much science as art. Use the above cold calling tips to pick up the phone with confidence, leave voicemails, have conversations, and eventually score appointments.