How to Train Salespeople In Cold Calling (Resources + Practice Worksheets)

Cold calling is not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, it is much like matcha. Some appreciate it for its long term benefits despite the painfully bitter taste it leaves. But getting rejected a hundred times a day on calls may still be unpalatable for seasoned professionals. 

Just like the Japanese who turned matcha into a fast-selling milkshake by loading it with sugar and cream, you too can make cold calling more – palatable – with just the right ingredients. Copious amounts of practice, a pinch of negotiation skills, a handful of rock-hard perseverance and a dash of tuning in to demos will do. Detailed recipe is below. 

Setting up such a robust training process ensures that even the nerve-wracked new joiners are comfortable dialing prospects from day 1. 

In this blog, we detail a three-phased cold calling training module you can use to coach your salespeople to be successful cold callers. 

Feel free to adopt it, twist it, turn it, tug at its logic and or add more to it. 

Table of Contents

The 3-Phased Cold Calling Training Module: A Snapshot

  1. Scripting the cold call: What should reps say + How they should say it

Initially reps need to know how to draft a script. Especially, beginners. They don’t need to use it word to word. It’s more like a runway for your first few hundred cold calls; it acts as a foundation. But there’s a lot that follows a script, like situational objections that the reps need to prepare for, or handling negotiations, and that’s what we will be expanding. 

  1. Absorbing the script: Reps should absorb the script + Learn to improvise

You’ve made a script. It’s done and dusted. You pack your bags and head out. Well, no. As the author of the timeless classic “Dune”, once said,

One learns from books and example only that certain things can be done. Actual learning requires that you do those things.

Frank Herbert

To ensure that your reps are able to learn the script, remember it, and absorb it enough to improvise on it, they have to practice their learnings. While practicing the scripts you need to train them on the importance of the tone of voice, the pace at which they deliver the script, and how long they can hold the conversation for.

  1. Becoming a maestro: Listen to call recordings + Coach reps on best practices, mistakes

Once reps have learned what to say and how to comfortably make hundreds of cold calls, you need to push them to improve on the nuances like how many calls they can make and maintaining the quality of the calls as the number increases. The learning never stops. We’re not going to whip out another quote by another godfather, because you know the point. Learning to cold call fearlessly was just the first step, then they have to make calls that convert, they have to rewrite scripts, reinvent new ways to handle objections, and crush quotas that are nearly impossible to achieve. From your part, there are many conversation intelligence tools that allow you to go through a rep’s call recording and assess their performance and coach them.

Inside the training module: 

Phase I: Scripting the call

1. How to create a script

Every script follows a strategy to achieve an objective. It could be SPIN, BANT, MEDDIC, PAS, which are some of the most popular techniques used to frame questions that help qualify the prospect. The objective of most cold calls is to book a successful meeting. Any cold caller worth their salt knows that the only way to achieve that is by moving one step at a time, not by directly asking for a meeting on the third question. An unwritten rule in your cold calling strategy is that you should never sell a product or a service or a feature in your call. 

A very stripped down version of a cold call includes these four elements: 

  • A clear objective,
  • qualifying questions, 
  • your value proposition, 
  • and a CTA. 

2. How to do research for the call

Having a script is only going half way. Before reps start their calls, they have to dig up some information about the prospects, and do some preparing. Of course, engaging in research will depend on your cold calling strategy. 

The amount of research reps have to do is also dependent on the deal size, and the number of calls to make, among other factors. For now let’s assume there is time to do research and let’s call it the pre-call ritual

To-do’s ahead of the calls: 
  • Research the prospect on LinkedIn: Check their bio, experience, and recent posts. This will ensure that the rep has reached the right person.
  • Research about the prospect’s company: Read up on their product offerings, their team size, their competitors. Check up on their blogs, their social media channels to uncover information about new product releases or any new company information. Such news can serve as openers for the cold call, and put reps in a much more comfortable position to initiate the conversation. Here are some trigger events reps can use as openers: 
    • A new round of funding
    • New Hires
    • Any news articles
    • Events/Conferences
    • Changes in regulation
  • For in-depth research: Find out more information on their company by checking out their annual report, or by using a tool like Buildwith or 6sense

By doing the above exercises before the calls, you are pre-qualifying the prospects. 

4. Create question maps to help deal with various situations: 

Jot down the different questions/responses reps can ask or say in various stages of the cold call. Keeping a question map handy is essential because no cold call is going to go according to script. It will diverge at some point, in all probability, earlier than expected. In such a situation the map will help reps deal with any scenario.  

A set of different types of cold calling questions

5. Teach how to gauge prospect’s response: 

Even though it is a skill that is nurtured over decades of experience, you can equip your rep with the basics on how to gauge a prospect’s response. For example in a cold call….

  • If the prospect Is giving short answers,
  • The caller refuses to connect you with the decision maker, 
  • If the prospect is not giving you a timeline

It means that the prospect is not interested in engaging with you and is simply wearing you out. These cues that often become the subject of water-cooler conversations help reps qualify prospects. 

6. Provide a cold calling playbook: 

Every sales team would have designed an efficient cold calling process. If not, you can build one using the information here. Document the process and share it with your sales reps. 

Add all the best practices too. All your reps are not using the same opening line, or selling the value proposition in the same manner. Sometimes what sets successful sales reps apart are probably the smallest tweaks, the microcosms of change they must have added to the existing scripts. 

Your cold calling playbook should include the following: 

  • Current cold calling process: 
    • Research, 
    • Making the cold calls, 
    • Taking call notes, updating the call status in the CRM, google sheet..etc.
  • Best responses to handle objections (Check this out for tips and best practices)
  • List of best CTAs

Resources:

  1. How to build your cold call from scratch.
  2. Tips and techniques every sales rep must know.
  3. Tools to use to speed up and optimise your cold calling process.
  4. Here are 3 cold calling scripts.
Phase 1: Coach’s Checklist

☑️ Create a Script

☑️ Pre-call Research

☑️ Question Mapping

☑️ Gauging Prospect Response

☑️ Cold Calling Playbook

PHASE II: Absorbing the script

Reading out the script like SIRI will not make cold calls all that effective. Reps should train to deliver the script the right way every time. Reps could make up to a hundred calls, out of which 50 calls may turn into conversations. That means they need to be able to handle 50 different scenarios. This can be taught through a number of ways. In this stage you should also inculcate active listening skills which is when the exercises will come in handy. 

1. Shadow a mentor: 

First, assign the reps a mentor, who is ideally a top performing cold caller. They should shadow these mentors for the first month and learn crucial aspects of bringing the cold call alive from them. 

Here’s a list of points to note: 

  • What their pre-call rituals are,
  • What their cold calling process looks like,
  • Their tone of voice and how they control it while delivering each part of the script, 
  • The pace at which reps deliver the script, 
  • How they handle objections

2. Practice through role play: 

Second, after nearly a week of shadowing the mentor, reps can start role playing with their colleagues. The only way to absorb those learnings is through practice. Set aside 1-2 hours daily for their practice/roleplay sessions. 

Another addition to make the sessions more useful is to let them score each other on various parameters that make a cold call successful. This exercise will highlight areas they need to improve, and make them more confident to call strangers. It will also improve their active listening skills. Stephen Covey said, “most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Hence, such exercises will help them actively tune in to the prospect’s responses. 

One of the biggest struggles for sales people everywhere is the fear of cold calls, so much so that a research found nearly 48% of them are afraid to cold call. That’s why role playing and confidence building is so important as part of the training process. 

A worksheet designed for salespeople who are practicing cold calling through roleplaying exercises.

3. Practice objections and rejections with colleagues: 

Practice like you’re preparing for an apocalypse, especially the objections. But sometimes, nothing you or your reps do can help when the prospect is simply not interested. And you must train your reps to be prepared for those rejections. 

This fear of rejection is also the primary culprit that holds reps back from going all in with cold calls. So let them know that it’s okay to be rejected. The key here is to build confidence and drive to keep on going. 

They can practice getting various rejections from colleagues. Meanwhile, train them to handle what is actually in our control: Objections. 

Create an exercise sheet filled with common objections shared by your experienced SDRs. Leave some space for the responses. Get the reps in training to fill them out towards the end of their training period. 

Resources:

  1. Go here if you want to turn these objection handling exercises into a collaborative, fun team session. 
  2. Try out the 10-day rejection challenge to help reps be more comfortable with rejections.
  3. Check out the “round Robin” role play game to keep your cold calling exercises fun and engaging.
Phase II: Coach’s checklist

☑️ Shadow a mentor

☑️ Roleplay exercises

☑️ Objection handling exercises

Phase III: Becoming a maestro

1. Listen to call recordings: 

Reps should listen to at least 10 cold calls and discovery calls (combined) daily for every month for the first six months to adopt best practices. This helps them pick up more information about the audience’s problems, objection handling skills and or adopt new strategies. 

Meanwhile you can listen to their call recordings and coach them on ways to improve. 

Use call intelligence tools like Gong to identify important call metrics like best time to call, best duration, the most successful caller. These tools will help you: 

  • Identify best practices during the cold call,
  • Find mistakes so it shouldn’t be repeated, 
  • Test out different call strategies
  • Review callers’ performances and provide feedbacks

Here is what reps can learn: 

  • The SDR’s tone of voice and modulation throughout the phone call.
  • How experienced SDRs handle objections. 
  • How long a good cold call should be. A sales intelligence company reports that call durations that run up to 5 minutes are more successful than those that take up less time.

2. Self review:

In the final phase of the training, reps need to be able to review their own work. That is, they can listen to their own calls and pinpoint areas they can improve. Most sales engagement tools will have a call recording feature built in. You can find more on such tools here.  

Reviewing their own calls will help them take ownership of their growth and help them stay motivated. 

3. Listen to prospects:

To understand the audience’s problems, their needs, and their pains, reps need to regularly listen to recordings of discovery calls or silently participate in these conversations. 

The most important learning here is that reps will get the audience’s language –  how they talk about their pains. Do they talk in terms of numbers? Or are they more focused on customer satisfaction? Noticing the small details will help reps tailor your company’s value proposition in a way that solves their particular pain point. 

4. Set up cold calling benchmark metrics

This is not a one-size-fits-all approach here, you have to choose your call KPIs according to your industry, product or service, deal sizes etc. To begin with, note what your current top performers are scoring and use it as a benchmark to assess the performance of your newer reps’. 

There are two most common metrics that you can use to rate your reps’ performances:

1. Quality,

  • Tone of voice,
  • Pace,
  • Objection handling,
  • Productivity – Are they able to follow through on the calls that did not convert.

2. Quantity,

  • Total number of calls placed per week
  • Call duration,
  • Call conversion rate.

Resources:

  1. Check out the top conversation intelligence tools you can use for coaching
Phase III: Coach’s Checklist

☑️ Listening to call recordings

☑️ Reps’ self-review

☑️ Listen to prospects – Demo + Discovery calls

☑️ Set up cold calling benchmark metrics

That’s all folks. Happy training. Do let us know in the comments if you have added any training exercises that have worked wonders for your team.

2 Comments

  1. Cold calling can be highly effective, especially if the sales reps are properly trained. The call needs to feel natural, and the better trained the sales reps are, the more naturally the call will flow. Call guides, role play, mentoring and other tips like these all help less experienced sales reps improve their skills and confidence.

  2. Time can really be an asset in today’s sales landscape, especially if you convey to your prospects that you respect their time and want to make their lives easier. Then, make sure your entire sales process helps them make a “yes” decision quickly and easily. Often, there are hidden roadblocks and “friction points” that can undermine your approach—finding and eliminating these gives you a great competitive advantage.

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