According to Investopedia, cold calling is the process where salespeople call prospects who have never had any interaction with them. This is one of the oldest methods of telemarketing. According to Lead Lander, the success rate of a cold call in 2022 is only 1-3%. A low one, but still a way to generate sales.
There is talk in certain quarters about how cold calls have become antiquated and ineffective. Social media is changing the way we sell and purchase things, seeing how it dominates large swaths of our lives and thus, greatly influences consumer preferences. But cold calling is not dead. It’s still known to be quite effective in turning prospects into sure customers.
While it has been around for a couple of decades, cold calling isn’t easy. Imagine calling someone out of nowhere and start offering them the products or services you’re selling. An amateur might not make it past the introduction phase. Cold calling requires a good salesperson to get through the call and an even better one to close the deal.
If you’re looking to improve your cold calling skills, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you.
Research Your Prospects
Calling a prospect without knowing anything about them is a waste of time—you’re less likely to close the sale that way. Researching your prospect helps you build rapport with them and allows you to connect your product with their business or job.
The internet is your best friend; it contains almost all the necessary information on a business—their locale, the trend of their industry, and even recent events of their company. According to Market Reach, LinkedIn is a good place to start. A company page would most likely highlight everything you need to know about them; use it as leverage.
For calling prospective consumers, it helps to look them up on your CRM or through different social media sites whenever applicable. Ensure that, when you’re dropping researched information on them, it won’t feel stalker-ish. Otherwise, a prospective consumer will hang up on you or might even report your number.
Another way of researching happens when you’re already on a call with them. Asking the right questions will give you very useful answers to the call. The Brooks Group says you can ask questions about the problems they want to resolve, solutions they’re looking for, and the budget plan they have.
Prepare a Script
A script serves as a guideline for what you’re supposed to say during the call. It includes the technicalities of the call such as the products and services you offer, its benefits, etc. But how are you going to build the script accordingly?
When calling business prospects, the structure of the script relies heavily on the industry of the companies you’re calling. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the different industries; what works in a tech industry might not work in the healthcare industry. On the other hand, when it comes to consumer prospects, you can simply prepare a generalized script.
Business News Daily says that the script should start with an introduction about yourself and the company you’re representing. Remember to greet your prospect beforehand; you could start with, “Hi [prospect’s name], how are you doing? I’m [your name] from [company.]” It should be followed by questions that’ll get the prospects to talk about themselves. This is where the different questions mentioned earlier come into play.
Then, the questions should be followed by a positioning statement. Since you’ve researched ahead, you can proceed with using the information you have to start your pitch. After the pitch, you can either close a sale on the spot, promise to make a follow-up call, or get rejected. Prepare your end-scripts for any of these possible outcomes.
Practice Makes Perfect
Now that you’ve prepared a script, you have the chance to practice what you’ve written. This is important because once you’ve mastered what to say, you can focus on how to say it. When you’re confident about your flow, it’ll show, and the prospect will definitely perceive it too.
Crank Wheel also says practice will portray professionalism. When you know what to say, it’ll decrease the chance of you saying filler words like “um” or “like.” When you start using filler words, you’ll most likely be distracted throughout the rest of the call and may get lost along the way.
Besides going over the words, you should also practice your delivery. Lead IQ states that a call should not last longer than ten minutes, but that doesn’t mean you should rush the call. Speak slowly to avoid eating your words. At the same time, don’t speak too slowly to avoid making your pitch too robotic.
Keep the tone conversational. This is what you need to work on the most. You need to make the prospect as comfortable as possible. Being too formal or aggressive will make your prospective client feel the opposite.
Sending a Sales Email
Nothing’s wrong with hyping an upcoming cold call with a sales email. According to LinkedIn, certain experts suggest sending an email before calling. The idea here is to inform your prospects that you’ll be calling them at a given schedule.
It’s best to keep the email short. Introduce yourself, include the purpose of your email, and ask them if it’s good to call at a specific time or if they’d prefer to set a more convenient schedule. Ideally, they’ll respond to your question and give you their preferred schedule. This would imply that they’re interested in talking to you.
Remember that you’re not sending a cold email. You’re simply warming up your customer for the call that will come. If you receive an immediate rejection upon emailing the prospect, that’s one less prospect to call. But then, if you don’t receive a reply, you can give the prospective customer the benefit of the doubt and proceed with making the cold call.
Personalize Your Call
Imagine being on the receiving end of a cold call where the other person is aggressively selling you something within the first five minutes. Chances are, you’ll drop the call without thinking. That said, you should learn how to converse with your prospects and make them stay on the line. Close says that to win the prospect over, you should convince them that you’re different from the rest.
This is where your research comes in. After saying a brief introduction and the reason behind your call, personalize the call. For example, since you already know your prospect’s locale, relate it to the products and services you’re offering. You can share statistics like how many companies in their area have bought from your company, etc.
It’s also best to drop in the market research information you’ve gathered. Mention a current trend that’s relevant to the industry they’re in and how helpful your products or services will be to contribute to this trend. Make the prospect realize that they need you. You can also include other company or industry events that’ll help your case.
In addition, when you’ve done all the probing needed, make it your goal to make them say yes to you. Construct questions that are merely repeating what you’ve already discussed. You can ask, “So your budget is $$$, right?” or “So you’re looking for a solution to this [state problem], right?” When you’re making them agree with you, it makes you relatable too. It increases the chance of closing the deal.
Know When to Drop Your Script
According to Mail Shake, a reliable script is one of the best ways to avoid getting stuck while talking. Having a script helps you to decrease your anxiety about the technicalities of the call and allows you to focus on your delivery. But when the call isn’t precisely navigating toward your desired direction, you need to tweak it a little. Engage in active listening and understand what they’re trying to explain.
So when do you drop the script? Well, first, when we prepare a script, we also expect a specific reply or direction. When you’ve started the script and it seems like it’s going a different way, take a pause. Analyze whether you’re meeting eye-to-eye with the prospect. Understand where the conversation is going and take it back on course.
It’s also important to be wary of using a script because it does have the tendency to make you sound monotonous and contrived. When you’re actively listening, you can provide feedback accordingly. If what they’re saying isn’t aligned with what you’ve prepared, don’t force the script into the conversation. The significant takeaway here is that as long as they’re talking, they are still interested.
Avoid Forced Closure
Somewhere along the call, you can quickly identify whether a prospect is interested or not. There will be those undecided minds that only need a little bit of persuasion. But even with this in mind, avoid forcefully closing the call. So how do you end a cold call?
Usually, a cold call is expected to be followed up by another call. It’s rare to have a closed sale on the spot. Your closing statements differ based on whether the prospects sounded interested or not. You should be prepared for whatever the outcome will be.
According to Social Media Today, the caller should avoid asking permission or getting too pushy in setting the next schedule. Saying, “Can I set a meeting later this week to talk about…” is a lengthy end. It also lacks portraying confidence since you’re not sure about the schedule. While saying, “How does [this date] sound?” isn’t that bad, it still shows uncertainty which shouldn’t be present at all when making a sales call.
The best way to end a call is to toughen up your closing statement. Even though the prospects are still 50/50 about it, act as if you’re confident you’ll close the deal the next time around. You can construct your questions by saying, “I’m free Monday at 3:00 and Tuesday at 8:00; which works best for you?” That way, you’re showing your authority, and the prospect only has two options to consider.
Be Prepared for Rejection
The reality in sales is that there’s not always going to be a win. It’s the same with cold calls—successes and rejections happen. Today, it might be you; the next day, it could be someone else. You can’t convince everybody, and your products and services can’t help everyone. The secret to having the right mindset for making cold calls is accepting that failure is always possible before you even start calling. Novo Call says that rejection in sales is part of the whole experience.
When you’re done accepting failure, think back to what you said to the lost prospect and their reactions. Could you have done it better? Could you have rephrased it in such a way that it’ll make them say “yes” instead of declining? The little changes are what could make a huge impact on your cold calls. Analyze what you could do better.
If you just got rejected and if you’re a newbie, it’ll take some time before you get used to it. But you will eventually. In the meantime, take a breath before diving back in. Because one thing that’s important when facing rejection is to never take it out on another prospect. Make sure that before you dial, you’re already calm and collected. Remember that you still have a sale to close.
Collaborate with Your Team
They say experience is the best teacher. This belief is also somehow applicable to cold calling. When you’ve been making cold calls for five to ten years and you’re training a fresh team member, everything you’ll say will be a big help to the newbie. Any suggestion will help.
Novo Call suggests exploring a more collaborative method. A way to improve your leadership skills is to also learn from others. Although it’s true that what works for you might not work for others, experiences are still valuable. If you’re the top-performing cold caller, please share your best practices with your team. Your cumulative success is the firm’s success too.
In the same sense, when you’re one of the cold callers who struggles the most, ask for assistance from your peers and your bosses. You can write down different approaches or different ways to compose statements or ideas shared by your peers. Helping each other will always be a joy when everyone gets everything they need.
Cold calling is one of the long-standing methods of selling ever known. But just because it’s old doesn’t mean it no longer works—because it does. However, scoring sales through a cold call is no easy feat; it’s tricky, time-consuming, and nerve-wracking.
There’s no sure-win process for closing a sale. But the key to getting through the call is to be well-prepared for it. There’s no other way you can modify what you said once the prospect picks up the phone. You must have done a ton of research, written a reliable script, and been prepared to give a well-practiced delivery.
So, keep practicing. Learn what you can from your experiences and from others’. It’s more than just sheer confidence; it’s a mix of all the tips and tricks given above. Before you realize it, you’ll be closing deals left and right.