The 5 random things that are the hardest to do in life:
#5 – Reaching the summit of Mount Everest
#4 – Making sure Matt Damon doesn’t get lost on a space mission
#3 – Not checking your mobile notifications 16 times an hour
#2 – Stopping a stranger from claiming your drink at Starbucks
#1 – Making a successful cold call
Agree with me, salespeople? Thanks for the resounding yes!
But what are the reasons that make you feel cold calling is hard: Is it being nervous about calling a stranger or being scared of rejections or being worried about prospects hanging up on you? If the fear of failure makes you think it is hard, then fret not. Cold calling is a skill that everyone can master over time.
And in all fairness, cold calling is a technique that is the most rewarding if you succeed at it.
Why is Cold Calling Effective?
Cold calling provides sales rep with an opportunity to establish a personal connection with prospects like none of other sales prospecting techniques.
As you are directly interacting with the prospects over the phone, you have the opportunity to learn a lot about your prospects.
In one call, you can:
- Gauge their level of interest in your product
- Know if they are the decision making authority
- Pick up cues about their needs and expectations
Research says that 6.5% of cold calls result in a meaningful conversation and further progress and remains the most effective way of initiating contact with a prospect, second only to direct referrals.
But beyond these facts, let us agree on one thing: a successful cold call is just damn satisfying!
After all, who doesn’t want to pull off a cold calling masterclass like Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street?
Cold Calling Tips and Techniques That Really Work
Here is a simple breakdown of the cold calling process into 3 simple stages, that will help you conquer the cold calling arena:
- Pre-call Practices
- During the call guide
- Post-call Analysis
Table of Contents
- Pre-Call Practices
- During the Call Guide
- Post -Call Analysis
- Cold Calling Tools
1. Pre-Call Practices
These are the steps that you need to take before picking up the phone to call a prospect. Getting these perfect will ensure that you are ready and equipped to enter the battleground.
Focus on the right prospects
Cold calling is a difficult process. You don’t just pick up the phone, call your prospects and get them onboard. It takes several calls, messages, and follow-ups before they agree to a meeting. When there is so much work that goes into a cold call, it better be to those who actually see a need for your product.
You have to prioritize on leads who are most likely to respond to your approach.
Focusing on the right prospects allows you to work on closing the hot leads while nurturing the other leads.
Once you have picked your prospects to target, the next step is to do some research and learn about them.
You have very limited time to court prospects during calls. Research will ensure that you do not waste any time asking about basic details that could be learnt beforehand – like the prospects designation, overall experience, qualifications, company size, industry, location, etc. Moreover asking such questions over the call will only annoy your prospects.
Good research should also be able to help you gain valuable insights that can be used to direct the call to your advantage and open the door to many opportunities that you wouldn’t even have expected.
For eg; You and your prospect might have gone to the same high school or love the same music group or like the eggs sunny side up.
Research is the most valuable technique to develop a rapport with the prospects during the cold call.
What amount of research is effective?
Yes, all of us want to learn as much as possible about the prospects before we contact them. But if research is eating a lot of your time and if you are using that as an excuse to delay making the call, that it is poor planning.
The best way to avoid this pitfall is by putting a time cap on research – Create a time schedule and stick to it: divide what time is to be spent on research and on cold calling, ensuring that they do not overlap with each other.
Take advantage of trigger events
Timing is critical for prospecting. We are not talking about what time of the day you call. But whether you are able to strike when their need for your product/ service is likely to be high. Trigger events provide a great opportunity to get the timing right.
For eg: The latest GDPR law change: It was a perfect time for companies offering legal services to reach out, as they have the expertise to help companies implement the law with ease.
Or new hires: This is a perfect time to reach out if you provide a tool/service that can double the productivity of the new hires.
With trigger events, it becomes easy to open your cold call as you have a valid reason to call and then drive the conversation to gain the prospect’s interest.
Common trigger events to monitor:
- A new round of funding
- New Hires
- Any news articles
- Changes in regulation
Set a goal
Before proceeding with the call, set out with a clear goal that you want to accomplish by the end of the call. While the ultimate aim is to close a sale, the first objective should be to focus on your prospects agreeing to a meeting. It can happen at different times depending on the prospects.
Some may agree to a meeting right away, while some need convincing.
A well-defined goal allows you to organize your time and resources to make the best of it. If you know what you want to accomplish by the time you hang up the call, you can chalk out details such as:
- How to approach the prospect
- How many minutes you have to spend on the call
- How to prepare a script to accomplish your goals
What should your goal be?
Goals are definitives that give you a long-term vision and a short-term motivation. There is no one single objective to follow as different prospects will be at a different level of awareness about their problems, the solutions, and your product. So the ideal approach is to fix a goal according to the prospect.
- Making the prospect stay on call for at least five minutes
- Get a clear picture of your prospect’s business and their needs by the end of the call
- Getting the prospect to agree to a meeting in fewer than ten calls
Use a cold calling script
While some sales reps discard scripts and prefer to go with the flow, using a script is good practice, especially if you are a rookie.
Not always will your cold calls go in the direction, you want them to. A cold calling script is like a roadmap that can act as a guide on how to steer the conversation.
Cold calling scripts also help you to ease into the cold call, as they have a set of dialogues to set the tone of the conversation.
Apart from that, scripts have answers to the most common objections raised by the prospects, ensuring that you do not get caught off-guard by their queries.
Face your fear
It is very normal to feel some trepidation before a cold call. After all, you are asking a stranger do something for you – book a demo, agree for a meeting, etc. Remember that you are not alone. This is how even the seasoned sales reps feel before making a cold call.
Even great leaders like Warren Buffett, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, were afraid of public speaking once. Rather than giving into to fear, they conquered it! You can do the same. The key is sound preparation. The better you prepare, less nervous you will be.
Tips to overcome your fear:
- Write down your goals so you have a track of things you need to accomplish
- Practice with your colleagues
- Use a script that will guide you through the call
Choose the perfect time
Choosing the right time could be the difference between a successful call and an unsuccessful one. Nobody wants to be disturbed when they are busy; And definitely not from someone they don’t know. So you have to carefully pick the time you choose to call your prospects.
While studies say that the best time to make a cold call is between 04:00 pm and 05:00 pm, the fact is each prospect has their own timeline and schedules. There is no one fit for all when it comes to picking a time for a cold call. But you can a maintain a call log that will help you in identifying the ideal time to call your typical prospect.
Things to keep in mind before calling:
- Take into account the time difference, if any
- Pick a time convenient for your prospect and not the other way around
- Do not call during busy hours, lunch breaks or holidays
2. During the Call Guide
Now that you are primed to start making calls, keep these tips in mind as your crack that dialler.
Act your scripts
When using scripts, there is only one thing to keep in mind: Talk like an actor. As unintuitive as it sounds, it is the best way to describe, how to use scripts.
When movie actors use scripts, they are basically reading out the lines. Depending on the number of takes, they may be repeating the same line for the 10th or 20th time. Yet, somehow they don’t seem monotonous or boring.
Because they start fresh every time and improvise on the lines and react according to the situation!
That is exactly what you have to do.
As a cold caller, you don’t know the prospects personally or how they would react to your call. So, the same set of lines simply won’t work for every prospect. In fact, every prospect would react to your calls in a different manner and you have to tweak your scripts accordingly.
How to utilize scripts effectively?
- Use scripts to settle into the call and from there, navigate the conversation based on the prospect
- Reading out scripts line by line, makes you sound like a machine. To avoid this, utilize scripts for specific parts of the call, such as tackling common objections raised by prospects
- Engage with the prospects in a lively manner to add a personal touch to the caller
Power through the distractions
Get yourself comfortable wherever you are. There are maybe people moving around, other sales reps making calls, etc; but you will need to get into a workflow that will allow you to power through the distractions.
Tips to power through the distractions:
- Wear a headphone and disconnect yourself from the outside world
- Focus solely on the prospect and their voice
- Have your research, a notepad everything ready, so you don’t have to search for things midway through the call
Getting past the gatekeeper
Ah, the gatekeepers! The single omnipresent force between you and your prospect. They are often the secretaries or receptionists of your prospect, who intercept your calls before they can reach the intended. They are people who take their job seriously. Very.
They deal with hundreds of calls every day and can toss out a cold caller in their sleep!
Don’t try to waltz your way in by being pushy and arrogant. That is one sure fire way to lose the deal before even talking to the prospect.
The only way to get in is by bringing something of value to their boss. And of course, a little flattery helps to dance your way to your prospect.
How to flatter the gatekeeper?
- Build personal rapport
Rather than seeing them as an obstacle, take it as an opportunity to build a good relationship with them. A quick surfing of their social media profile should give you enough facts to use in the conversation. This helps in building personal rapport and you are no longer a stranger. If things go well, they’d even be happy to talk you up to their bosses!
- Be Polite
Realize the fact that they are not your enemies but are just doing the job they have been instructed to. Be polite and use words like “Please”, “May I” etc. This approach has a higher chance of success as they will find difficult to deny you when you are being polite.
- Ask for their help
Gatekeepers know more about the business than they are given credit for. Acknowledge this fact by asking them to help you out. It will show that you respect their knowledge and value their suggestions. If you are genuine, they might even tell you things about your prospect that will give an advantage over the other cold callers.
Do not try to sell right away
One of the most common cold calling mistakes is overwhelming your prospect on the very first call. Recognize the fact that you are already intruding on your prospect’s schedule. So the least you can do is, not bombard them with details that put the cart before the horse.
Instead, take one step at a time.
“You have 5 seconds into the call, to earn 5 minutes.
You use the 5-minute to earn a 30-minute meeting.
You utilize that 30-minute meeting to close the deal”
While you have a fair knowledge on your prospect from your research, they have no clue of who they are talking to. Keep this in mind and approach the call in a steady manner, without rushing into selling your product.
Take charge of the call
When it comes to interacting with your prospect, the common practice is to talk less and listen more, as that is how you get to know more about your prospect. While this may be true, research shows that it is actually the other way around for cold calls!
According to gong.io, successful cold calls involved sales reps talking more and prospects listening!
As Steve Jobs put, “A lot of times people don’t know what they are looking for until you show it to them.”
Convince the prospect to set up a meeting by emphasizing the value you can bring to them.
Never criticize your competitors
Taking a jibe at your competitors may seem harmless or funny but strictly refrain from doing that. Even if your product is indeed superior to what they offer.
Always stick to just how good your product is and do not bring up your competitor unless your prospect does. Even then, acknowledge what they have achieved, while subtly pointing out how you can do better.
Though an effective prospecting technique, cold calling can be very frustrating at times. Because the task at hand is such that, you could face rejections on a daily basis, as no prospect will say yes to you in the very first call.
Accept the fact that rejections in cold call is part of the job and realize that rejections are actually a good thing as they help you learn and become a better sales rep.
How to handle rejections?
Rejections are painful because as humans, we are wired to fear and avoid rejections. So the best way to handle getting rejected is, by changing the focal point of your cold calls.
“Rather than setting goals for the number of yes’s you are planning to get each week, you set goals for the number of no’s you’re going to collect.”
― Go for No! : Yes is the Destination, No is how You get there
Instead of setting a daily goal of generating 10 meetings, define your daily quota to getting rejected 50 times. That way, every time, you hear a no, you are actually one step closer to your target!
How is this an effective practice, you ask?
When you define your goals in terms of rejections, on good days, even after successful calls, you’d still be pushing yourself to meet your quota of rejections and on bad days you can at least take heart from the fact that you hit your daily goal of hitting a certain number of rejections.
After all, Babe Ruth is remembered for his record 714 homers, not his 1330 strikeouts.
How to turn rejections into positive takeaways?
After a call that you get rejected, make it a point to have at least one actionable takeaway from the conversation.
Based on the caller, you can even go one step further, asking if you could have done anything better/ How you could improve on your approach.
If your question is sincere, prospects wouldn’t mind sparing a couple of minutes for an enthusiastic sales rep.
3. Post-call Analysis
The process of cold calling ‘does not end’ once you hang up the call; Irrespective of how it went. The focus now shifts to analyzing the calls made, to map further progress.
This can be done by evaluating the calls based on:
- The Approach
- Cold Calling Scripts
- Time and duration of the call
Evaluating the calls
After hitting the daily quota of calls, it is time to take stock of how you have fared. Time spent on studying your calls will give you feedback on what works and what doesn’t. This way you can double down on techniques that work and eliminate the ones that don’t.
Begin your evaluation from the way you approached the cold call. Have a retrospection of the content of your call and study how prospects responded. Tweak the content based on their engagement level.
Take a note of any valid objections raised by the prospects and prepare the best responses to these queries so that they can be incorporated into the scripts for your future calls.
Cold Calling Scripts
Keeping track of how your cold calling scripts helped you shape the call is very important. Figure out which parts of the script worked well and which of them did not. This way you can constantly iterate and perfect the scripts.
The time and duration of the call
Make a note of at what time you are making your calls and the prospects’ response. From this, get an idea of what is the best time to contact them. Also, note down the duration of the call and see if there is a correlation between the duration and the success of the call.
Cold Calling Tools:
Klenty is a sales prospecting and email automation tool, that helps sales rep prospect, outreach, and follow-up at scale. With Klenty, you can search and build a list of prospects, find and send personalized one-to-one cold emails, make cold calls, schedule follow-ups, and track the open/click/reply rates.
Gong.io helps salespeople by recording calls, analyzing them with real data, making it a very interesting tool for cold calling. With the help of the tool, you can improve your cold calling rates as it uses Artificial intelligence to track calls.
Chorus.ai is a conversation intelligence platform that analyzes and transcribes meetings in real-time. It simply joins conference calls, in the same way, a human would, to record and transcribe content in real-time. The platform flags important action items and topics that came up over the duration of calls.
It is an enterprise phone service that helps in cold calling with a powerful sales dialer, voicemail drops, automatic call logging, lifetime call recordings, and intuitive sales metrics, all of which can be integrated with your CRM.
Here are a few auto-dialer tools that you will find helpful for cold calling.
Mastering cold calling is like learning to ski or to swim.
At first, you’ll stumble…crash and burn…and even reach a point where you feel that you will never be able to succeed at it. But with consistent practice, you will be able to ski like a penguin or swim like a shark!
Similarly, with the right techniques and persistent practice, you could master cold callling like Jordan Belfort!
What are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and start cold calling.