Do you hate cold calling?
If your answer is a resounding yes, then you’re in the majority. After all, according to sales consulting firm the Brevet Group, you’ll have to call a potential customer at least eight times before you get through.
While we marketers and salespeople may have many options today to reach customers—emails! Social media! Instant message!—what’s clear is that the good, old-fashioned phone call isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Does cold calling work? The Brevet Group confirms that much, noting how most interactions with customers will take place on the phone, 92 percent in all. That means phone calls are unavoidable, as is cold calling.
Cold calling is reaching out to a lead you have had no prior interaction with. Sounds daunting, right? Yes, daunting but necessary.
You might not like cold calling, and that’s okay. By finding ways to make your cold calls more effective, you can spend less time on the phone calling prospects. In this article, we’re proudly presenting 20 cold calling techniques that really work. You’ll not only learn how to cold call, but how to do it in a results-driven way.
1. Know When to Call
No one wants to waste their time calling back the same prospect over and over. Yet if you’re calling them at the wrong times, that’s just what will happen.
Wait, there are right times and wrong times to call a prospect? Absolutely! Peak Sales Recruiting says one of the worst times to ring up a prospect is on a Friday afternoon. This makes sense, as, by this point, most people are tuned out. They’re waiting out the final few hours of work so they can start their weekends.
Another poor time to call is on Monday morning. Again, this one makes sense when you think about it. Many people are kind of in a daze on Monday morning, dragging themselves to the office while wishing it was still the weekend. Of course your calls wouldn’t be answered then.
When should you call? Try Wednesday or Thursday. You have two windows: early morning or later in the day. If you’re an early bird, then try calling anytime between 6:45 and 9 in the morning. If you prefer the afternoon, then give your prospect a call from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Try to err on the earlier side of things, since you might miss your prospect if they leave the office at 5 o’ clock on the dot.
No matter which day you choose to call, time is of the essence. Peak Sales Recruiting says that you can see a 391-percent conversion rate boost by calling a lead a minute after they’re been generated. That soon? Yes, that soon. This is pique curiosity time for the prospect, which may lead to higher receptivity.
2. Invest in a Headset
If you’re just picking up the phone and cradling it between your head and neck, you’re doing it wrong. Not only are you going to end your day in pain, but you’re not being as productive as you can be.
According to data from Peak Sales Recruiting, it’s possible to boost your cold calling effectiveness by 50 percent just by using a headset. There are plenty of other reasons to invest in a headset as well.
One of them has to do with your health and pain levels. As mentioned, cradling a phone isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. When you do it every day for years on end, it can cause some health issues. You might have back pain, neck pain, and even postural problems. A headset prevents all that.
Headsets.com shares that noise-canceling headsets can reduce background sounds quite well, cutting out 75 percent of this noise. Binaural headsets are even better, as they are designed to go over not just one ear, but both.
You also get more freedom when you’re using a headset. Your hands are open to do anything, such as take notes, type, or even organize your desk (although be sure to focus on your call). You can’t do any of that when cradling the phone.
3. Learn the Right Tone
You could say all the right words, but if your tone of voice doesn’t match, then you’re not going to make the sale. Sales software company Close.io says that, according to research, your tone can determine how successful the cold call will be at a staggering rate of 93 percent. Yes, that’s right, 93 percent.
With such a stunning statistic, you can’t afford to use the wrong tone. No monotone here, please. You also have to sound confident. If you’re bored, your prospects will hear it, and they won’t want to close a deal with you. After all, if you, the person selling the products, can’t be enthusiastic, why should they?
It can be tough to maintain that enthusiasm day in and day out, but your tone must be confident yet friendly during all calls. You want to be sound assured and strong but not too pushy. There’s no room for aggression in cold calls. Yes, you’re trying to make a sale, but maintaining the same tone, even if things aren’t going your way, is important.
4. Consider Using a Script
The first few times you make a cold call, you’re going to be nervous. This is especially true if you’re a new salesperson who has only ever contacted leads you emailed with first. Even some seasoned salespeople can feel that a cold call is daunting.
When you’re nervous, you tend to talk too fast, stumble on your words, and forget important points. None of these are good if you’re trying to make some cold-call sales. If you talk too fast, your prospect might not be able to decipher all the points you’re trying to make. You’re practically talking over yourself in your anxiety.
If you stumble on your words, then again, your message is not clear. Finally, if you forget important points, then the prospect is not getting the whole sales pitch. Why would they say yes to buying your product or service? They don’t have the entire picture.
It’s okay to be nervous, especially if this is your first cold call or if you’re new to sales. However, you cannot act jumpy when talking with a prospect. This is where a script comes in handy. If you have a line-by-line dialogue to follow that gives you pointers on what to say, it becomes harder to trip up.
Just because you have a script doesn’t mean you can let your tone go by the wayside. You don’t have to recite the script line-by-line, but rather use it as a guide. Your prospect will be able to tell if you’re reading the script verbatim because you’ll sound robotic and inauthentic. Remember to keep that cheerful, inviting tone in your voice.
Want some more tips for creating a cold calling script? We thought you would. Without further ado, here’s how to make a cold calling script that works for your business:
- Begin by clearly stating your name and that of your company. Make a note on your script to enunciate this part and pause when necessary. If the recipient can’t hear you because you speak too low or you grumble, it’s all downhill from there.
- Talk a bit about a recent milestone the prospect has had. You can glean this information from reviewing past communications with the prospect through a CRM (more on this later). Don’t ask anything too personal and creepy, of course. If done right, this question and a few follow-ups can establish rapport and get the recipient warming up to you faster.
- Next, introduce your positioning statement. Describe your company a bit, including your sales team and how many members it has. Mention the goals and even pain points of your customers. By doing this, you’re pinpointing why your prospect might have a need for your products/services.
- By asking them to describe their pain points or goals in more detail, you can then begin talking about how your products/services can solve their issue.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Leave a Voicemail
Uh-oh! You tried calling your prospect and they didn’t answer. Now what?
Immediately, you want to leave a voicemail. Your sales company might not have a script for voicemails, which means you’re on your own. How do you approach a voicemail?
You want to keep the message short and concise. Peak Sales Recruiting advises your voicemail be eight to 14 seconds, no more than that. It’s okay if you didn’t know that and left a voicemail that was far longer, but now that you’re aware, you can shorten it for next time.
Fourteen seconds does go quickly. To ensure you can fit in your whole message in that time, you might want to practice. Time yourself and see how much you can fit in that 14-second span. Then, cut down on your message so you’re only giving the most important information.
For instance, you want the prospect to know your name, your company, and why you’re calling. You also want to give them your phone number so they can get in touch. Don’t rush through this last part, as it’s very important.
Voicemails can be an invaluable method of keeping the ball rolling with a prospect. After all, with spam calls and telemarketers aplenty, most people don’t answer their phone if they don’t recognize the number. By leaving a voicemail, you incentivize the prospect to call you back.
6. Be Prepared to Follow up
Don’t leave the ball completely in the prospect’s court, though. According to Peak Sales Recruiting, once you have an initial meeting with a prospect, your work is far from done. You might need to call a minimum of five times from there. At least that’s the experience with most salespeople, about 80 percent of them.
Whether your prospect answers the phone right away or you need to leave them a voicemail, it’s your responsibility to call them back. Don’t wait for them to get in touch with you. After all, you’re the one trying to sell to them, not vice-versa. They have no obligation to maintain further contact, while you do.
7. Practices Make Perfect
What if you’ve tried this whole cold calling thing and you’re just not good at it? You get nervous and talk over yourself or perhaps you get dejected when a prospect turns you down. What do you do?
Keep practicing. You know the saying that practice makes perfect, and it really is true in this instance. The more you speak with people on the phone, the faster your nerves will dissipate. After a while, you won’t even be nervous about making cold calls.
If it’s rejection that’s getting you down, you have to remember that you can’t take it personally. The most successful salespeople have been turned down, too. Instead of feeling bad about yourself after a prospect tells you no, get introspective. Take some time to ponder why the prospect may have turned you down.
Could it be because they didn’t have enough information about the product or service? Was the product a bad match for them? Perhaps it’s too expensive or they don’t need it. Did you do a thorough pitch or did you get nervous and forget some points? How was your tone? Were you friendly or did you come across as too pushy?
Keep perfecting your sales approach and you’ll be able to answer most of these questions much more easily.
8. Give the Prospect Time to Talk, Too
The average cold call is about two minutes, says ProSales Connection, LLC. It’s okay if it goes a few minutes longer, but a 10-minute cold call is unusual. Besides, you’re a business, and you have to reach out to X amount of people every day. Spending more than a few minutes per cold call will not help you achieve your goals.
During that short call, you must give the prospect the opportunity to talk. You want to learn more about them, including their problems and their needs. Then you can position your product/service as the perfect solution. Remember that your prospect is an individual, not just another number in a long line of leads.
9. Speak in an Open-Ended Manner
You know how much your tone matters, but what you say is almost as important. Particularly, the way you ask questions can be the difference between getting the prospect to give you pertinent information or not.
You want to focus on asking questions in an open-ended way. Here’s an example of what we mean.
Image courtesy of Yesware
Do you see the difference between the questions? The first question invites the prospect to talk about their thoughts and feelings. They’re telling you about themselves, which is what you need. The second question requires a simple yes or no answer. You learn nothing about the prospect in the process.
If you’re the type who asks yes/no questions, try peppering in a few more open-ended questions next time you talk to a prospect. Even if you don’t get the sale, you’ll be impressed with how much more info you glean.
10. Don’t Give up Prematurely
The nerves associated with calling a complete stranger, the strong chance of rejection…cold calling is difficult. It’s no wonder then that almost half of salespeople (44 percent) will quit if their first follow-up is not successful, says Peak Sales Recruiting.
That’s a lot of salespeople giving up awfully early! We’re not advising you to harass a prospect, but give it more than a single follow-up. Try four or five times. If, at that point, the prospect stops answering, you know to back off. The same is true if they tell you outright they’re not interested.
Once you get to that point, you know you’ve done all you can to win them over and it just didn’t work out that time. Onto the next one!
11. Use CRM
In tip #4, we briefly mentioned customer relationship management or CRM software. If you’re not already using this to influence your cold calls, then you’re making a huge mistake.
CRM can aid you in a variety of ways. For starters, you can gather all your contacts on a CRM dashboard and finally see the breadth of your list in front of you. You can also use this software for lead scoring. EngageBay’s CRM, which is free to subscribers, serves both those functions and more.
To score your leads, you take all the incoming leads and assign them scores based on their behavior, good or bad. For instance, when leads visit your homepage, browse your pricing page, or even buy something, you give them points. If they unsubscribe from your email list or leave a cart abandoned, you deduct points. The leads with the highest scores are the most qualified and thus the ones you want to speak to the most.
CRM also keeps logs of communications you and others have with a lead or customer. This includes phone calls, yes, but also chat logs, emails, and even records of in-person talks. Armed with this information, you can study up on the lead, learning more about them, their interests, their occupation, their family life, and their pain points. That information makes cold calling far less stressful.
12. Pepper Stats and Data into Your Conversations
Who are you more likely to believe in a conversation, someone with stats and data to back them up or someone without these? We’re not saying the second person’s lying, but it’s hard to deny the facts when they’re right in front of you.
The same is true during cold calls. If you have relevant statistics and data to share, you could come across as more believable and authentic. Maybe you still don’t convert even the most skeptical people you chat with, but it might help.
Of course, you do want to reign yourself in a bit. Don’t walk around like a talking encyclopedia, dropping one stat after another just to seem smarter or more legit. Also, don’t reach too hard. If you see a cool stat online but it doesn’t apply to your industry or niche, then skip it during your conversation. You don’t want to veer too far off-track during a cold call or you could lose your recipient.
The more recent your stats, the better, so try to only use ones within the last two or three years.
13. Double-Check Your Numbers
No, we’re not referring to your sales numbers, but rather, the phone numbers in which you call. The keypads on our phones are admittedly sizable, but touch technology sometimes makes it a little too easy to press a digit we didn’t intend to.
Before you hit the big green call button, review the number you dialed and compare it to the one you have for the contact. Did you press a 4 when you meant a 2? Even one mistake will route you to the wrong number.
Luckily, if you really don’t want to dial numbers yourself, you don’t always have to…
14. Try Auto-Dialing
Another option at your disposal? Auto dialing. Found in many CRM programs, auto-dialing will call numbers for you, no digit pressing required. You can feed a few phone numbers into the CRM and it will then auto-dial them in succession. This grants you the freedom to bounce from call to call without spending time pressing buttons. Sounds pretty good to us.
15. Rely on Post-Call Automation
Auto dialing isn’t the only form of automation that can assist your cold calling efforts. Post-call automation may also make a big difference. Again, you need CRM software for this, so you can see how important it is to your success as a salesperson.
What tasks do you jump on the moment you hang up the phone with a lead or customer? Do you finish up with your notetaking, begin drafting an email, or even make a plan to sell to this person because the call went well? Whatever you do, post-call automation can schedule it all for you. Whether you need email drafts written or reminders for later, you can get it.
Post-call automation can also help with the following:
- Planning meetings with the prospect
- Setting up tasks to take care of after the call
- Saving call notes and data
- Managing call history
16. Record Your Calls to See Where You Went Wrong (or Right)
You know how athletes will watch replays of their games or matches to see how they did? You should begin doing the same. Record all your calls and then, at the end of the day or the week, go back and listen to the most noteworthy ones.
You want to study both good and bad calls. The good calls will let you review which of your tactics work. You can then continue using those tactics or tweak them for further success. The calls where you didn’t do so good? These hold even greater value. By figuring out what didn’t quite work, you can improve on your process and begin making more sales through your cold calls.
17. Let Your Best Salespeople Guide You
Do you know a member of your sales team that always knocks it out of the park? They’re never intimidated by making phone calls, even if they’re reaching out to a complete stranger via a cold call. They might have a script in front of them, but they generally know what to say and almost never refer to their notes. They have a relaxed, professional, but friendly tone and won’t ever trip over their words or stutter. Their calls are as smooth as butter.
Do you wish you could emulate such a salesperson? Of course, you do. No matter how good you do at sales now, you could always stand to improve. Ask that great salesperson if you can spend an hour or so sitting in and listening to how they do their thing. The guidance you might get from this experience can be very useful in making you better on the phone and thus a more efficient salesperson.
18. Just Listen
Earlier, in our eighth tip, we mentioned the importance of letting the prospect talk. While they’re doing that, what’s going on in your head? Are you truly listening? Probably not, right? Instead, you’re reviewing your script, preparing what to say next, and maybe going over it mentally in your head.
Before you know it, it’s back to you and you have no idea what the prospect even said. Sure, but you can always go back and listen to the recorded call later, filling in the gaps, right? You could, but that’s no way to conduct business now.
To make the most of each cold calling experience, you must switch off that part of your brain that tells you to talk, talk, talk, that’s true. You also have to stop thinking of every response you’ll utter. Instead, just listen. That’s it. Listen and absorb what the prospect says.
This helps you come up with comments and questions on the fly. These can benefit you far more than a script sometimes.
19. Try to Make It Fun
Salespeople have strong personalities, there’s no denying that. Still, when you do something enough times, it can become stale and boring. You might pick up the phone and mutter through call after call, just trying to get through the day.
Your energy is contagious. If you go into a call sounding grumpy and disaffected, you’re not going to do a good enough job of getting the person on the other end of the line excited. If you can’t even muster a spark of energy to talk about your products and services, then why should the prospect care?
Although it’s not always easy, try to treat each call as its own individual experience. More so, have fun with it! Talk about lighthearted subjects for a few minutes, smile, maybe even crack a joke or laugh if appropriate. This kind of attitude can drive more sales than you’d think.
20. Track, Measure and Improve
Through your cold calling and other sales methods, you need to see what’s working for your company. This way, you know to keep it up or try something different. The best way to track your results is with analytics.
Each month, sit down with your top team members and discuss which techniques made the most sales for that month. Talk about which methods you want to improve on for next time as well.
Like any sales tactic, cold calling isn’t a static thing. For the best results, you’ll need to make continual changes to how you approach these calls.
Cold calling is almost every salesperson’s nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. B2B cold calling is still an important part of a company’s marketing and sales approach. The above tips can help you finesse your cold calling skills. Whether you call too early (or too late), your tone is wrong, or you stumble on your words, now you know how to fix your mistakes and make more sales. The keys to cold calling success are in your hands!