Did you know that a staggering 49% of buyers prefer cold calling as the first point of contact?
Cold calling is not dead.
On the contrary, it has been found that a large number of prospects, especially in the technology and professional services, respond well to cold calls.
But does that make your job easy as a salesperson?
Well, to be honest, cold calling, though useful, continues to be one of the toughest aspects of sales. Understandably, it isn’t easy to deliver a practiced pitch to someone who hasn’t shown any interest in your product previously. Besides, no two calls are ever the same – which can make the experience exciting, as well as a little scary at times.
Yet, it is a fact that cold calling remains one of the most effective ways of gaining customers for your business – which is why we have compiled this list of 20 cold calling tips that will help you deliver more value and connect better with your prospects in the first go.
1. Focus On Your Voice and Intonation
When you make a cold call, do not sound apologetic. Instead, sound cheerful and energetic, as positive behavior is usually quite infectious and tends to mirror with your prospects, leading to a better response. Remember, in the absence of body language and facial cues, up to 38 percent of spoken communication is comprehended according to your tone or how you mouth your words, and only 7 percent is comprehended from the words actually spoken. Hence, it is vital to ensure that you sound enthusiastic and understanding, instead of being impatient or irritated when you call up a prospect.
Another cold calling tip that works well is mirroring the speech patterns of your prospects from time to time to connect with them better.
2. Speak Slowly & Use Pauses For Maximum Impact
Very often, we tend to rattle off a stellar script quickly on a cold call, waiting for a positive response from the prospect but end up being rejected. The reason, very often, is that people who talk fast may be hard to understand and come across as under-confident, which means they may not be taken seriously by prospects.
Talking slowly not only helps your prospects comprehend and absorb what you are saying, but it also shows that you are in control of the situation, building confidence and trust.
Speaking slowly and impactfully is an art that you must master with practice to improve your cold calling strategy. If you think you talk too fast, try including deliberate pauses in your speech or use a timer device to improve your delivery.
3. Respect Your Prospect’s Time
When you are cold calling a prospect, you are essentially intruding into their time. Therefore, it is vital to prove your value within the first few seconds of the call or risk being hung upon. One cold calling strategy that helps in such a situation is asking for permission from your prospects to go ahead. For example, you can ask something specific like, “May I take 35 seconds of your time to [value statement]” to raise your prospect’s curiosity and also gain their approval to speak further.
Even after the prospect gives you the go-ahead, it is essential to keep your conversation short and sweet, while focusing on the next steps to fix an elaborate meeting or demo wherein you can push the sale. One cold calling tip that we like to stress upon here is creating a targeted list of prospects before you even begin calling. Instead of making random calls, value your time and that of your prospects, by only calling individuals who fit into your targeted lead personas.
4. Ask Open-Ended Questions for a Two-Way Discussion
Cold calling is not supposed to be a monologue, but rather, a two-way exchange of information or conversation. Therefore, it is vital to prepare your calling script in a manner that it contains several open-ended questions, allowing your prospects ample room for response. For example, questions that start with ‘what,‘ ‘where,‘ ‘when,‘ ‘how,‘ etc., give your prospects a chance to share their point of view or experience, which leads to more engaging and personalized conversations.
Once you engage your prospect in a prolonged conversation, using an open-ended question, don’t forget to fill up the small pauses in the conversation with encouraging words that show you are listening to the speaker and comprehending what he or she is saying.
5. Be Prepared for Objections
Did you know that 58% of potential buyers feel that sales reps are unable to answer their questions effectively?
That’s precisely why it is imperative to prepare a compelling cold calling script, before picking up the phone, to objectively list your value-proposition and also prepare answers to common objections and questions that may come up during a call.
One of the best ways to do this is by documenting all the objections that have come up in your previous calls and preparing detailed answers to questions about your products and services. You can also exchange notes with your peers to come up with a possible list of reasons outlining why prospects may refuse your product or service, so as to be prepared in advance to overcome these objections for a successful outcome.
6. Make Use of Voicemails
A large number of cold calls go unanswered and end up as voicemails. However, many salespeople consider voicemails to be a waste of time, which is not exactly right. On the contrary, an effective voicemail can lead to a call back from your prospect, who is already ‘warm‘ by now, as you have previously made contact with them via voicemail.
But how do you ensure your voicemail delivers the results you desire?
Well, the idea is to be different. We suggest that instead of starting with your name, which is the usual practice, start your message by outlining your value proposition, followed by your name and contact. It is also a good idea to keep your voicemails under 30 seconds, as anything longer will distract your prospect almost certainly.
You can also keep a few voicemail scripts ready and test their efficacy over a period of time. This will not only save you time but also improve your success rate in terms of getting callbacks from your prospects.
7. Use a Local Phone Number For Making Cold Calls
When you are making a cold call, it is always best to use a local number to win the trust of your prospects in any time zone. The reason being that customers naturally feel more comfortable receiving a call from a number with recognizable area code.
You can see a staggering increase in conversion rates while using local area code numbers as compared to toll-free numbers in the figure below:
Another advantage of having a local number is the added convenience for your customers who can reach out to you quickly via local calls.
8. Keep Small Conversion Goals
Your aim is not to close a deal on a cold call. In fact, you should not even intend to sell during the first call. Instead, keep a smaller goal of building a rapport with the prospect on a cold call and discuss the next steps, such as fixing a time slot when you can speak in detail or have a demo.
However, don’t attempt to mold a prospect to your buying process. Instead, suggest the next step, listen to their feedback, and facilitate the buying process for them to seamlessly move them to the next stage of your sales funnel.
For example, say something specific like "Will Thursday at 11 am be a good time to talk?" than saying, "Let’s connect sometime next week to discuss this further." Your aim is to get your prospect to commit to the next meeting during the first call rather than ending the call on a vague note without any follow-up plan.
9. Follow-Up Promptly
It is a fact that it takes multiple calls to convert a lead into a paying customer. Yet, most salespeople avoid making follow-up calls. Remember, persistence pays rich dividends in cold calling; most experts agree it takes a minimum 7 or more attempts to convert a prospect. (use some other website for stat ref. already used once) - other stats are by Velocify; a general statement has been included instead.
It is also a good idea to send a follow-up email after a cold call. You can always end the email with a direct question to set up a follow-up call to move forward in the sales process. While following up is great, you are also expected to be punctual, which means if you promise a prospect a call back at a specific time, make sure you do that, lest you lose your credibility with the said prospect.
10. Don’t Multitask While Calling
Sitting at your desk and cold calling for hours, repeatedly trying to connect with your prospects, getting through switchboards and IVRs, can be quite dull at times - but cold calling requires a high-level of focus.
Remember, no two calls are exactly similar, and you may lose out on some vital information within a few seconds of distraction. So, don’t let the humdrum of routine tempt you to entertain yourself with other things, such as social media, texting, or daydreaming while talking to prospects. Instead, follow the good old cold calling strategy of jotting down notes during your calls to stay focused and take regular breaks to prevent boredom from setting in.
11. Use Sales Dialer to Increase Your Productivity
Sales personnel spend a significant amount of time in cold calling each day. Yet, unfortunately, many of these calls go unanswered, and sales personnel end up wasting time in leaving voicemails and waiting for leads to call them back.
To make things easier, you may invest in a sales dialer, which can boost the efficiency of your sales team immensely. One of the most significant advantages of a modern sales dialer is that it can be integrated with your CRM to give you deep insights on every prospect, saving a lot of time for your sales reps. Predictive dialers are also designed in a way so as to automatically limit abandoned calls and comply with all the local regulations in your area around cold calling. Another benefit is that sales dialers usually match to a local number while calling prospects, which is known to increase the rate of the conversations.
12. Be a Good Listener
Every good salesperson is also a great listener. Yes, cold calling is not just about talking; it is also about listening to your prospects to make them feel valued and also understand their concerns.
When you listen actively, you keep the focus on the prospect, which is rewarding for both the parties because the prospect feels good talking about himself or herself while you win their trust and also gain information that may help you address their pain points better.
13. Accept Rejection With a Smile
This may sound a little philosophical, but rejection is part and parcel of your life as a sales rep, especially if you make a lot of cold calls. It is a fact that nobody closes 100% of their prospects – which means you will face rejection many times. However, you cannot let it get to you.
Instead, keep a positive attitude, replay call recordings frequently to understand what went right and what went wrong, and continue doing your job with confidence as there is nothing to feel sad about.
14. Know Your Prospects Before You Call
If there’s only one cold calling strategy that you intend to follow, it must be this – researching your prospects before you call them up. You can use market research and social media to find out more about your prospects and how your product can deliver value to them. This will give you a significant advantage as you’ll be able to talk to them about their business and needs when you call them.
To make this process much more efficient, you can also use an intelligent lead generation software like Clodura, that helps you identify companies in your target market and reach out to the decision-makers with complete contact information, including email Ids and direct dials. The software also provides intelligence on 25+ vital buying signs to identify low hanging sales opportunities to close more deals.
15. Measure Your Call-to-Conversion Ratio to Achieve Your Goals Faster
Like all salespersons, you certainly have a sales target to meet. But do you know how many calls will it take you every day to achieve this goal?
Well, you can figure out the magic number of calls you need to make each day to hit your monthly quota by calculating your call to conversion ratio. For this, simply count the total number of calls you made in the previous month, how many of these calls were answered, and how many of those answered calls actually qualified into the next stage of the funnel.
For example, Joe decided to calculate his call-to-conversion ratio and found the following:
Calls Made – 100
Connected to Prospects - 6
Conversions – 1
This means that even though Joe has a connect rate of 6%, he is only converting 1 out of 100 calls he makes. So, if his monthly target is converting customers, by this calculation, he needs to make about 1,000 calls every month to meet his goal.
To get even closer to your sales goals, we suggest that you craft a compelling sales pitch and tweak it for your prospects after solid market research.
16. Plan Your Schedule
Do you have ten calls lined up for the day with no particular schedule? That’s a mistake that may cost you some eager customers.
Apart from cold calling, there are several other tasks that you must fit into any given day. These include internal team meetings, strategic planning, market research, customer demos, follow up calls, etc.
To ensure you accomplish everything you have targeted for the day, it is necessary to have a fixed schedule, lest you feel overwhelmed. A good idea is to use the best times in the day (which have higher prospect connect ratios) for cold calling while reserving the remaining hours for peripheral activities.
But, how do you pick the best times for your calls?
By finding out the timings when people are most likely to answer your calls.
Think about it – How likely are you to answer a call from an unknown number at nine in the morning when you have just arrived at work, or, at 5 pm, when you are hurrying to wrap-up the day’s work and leave for home?
Also, you can analyze the call records of the prospects you have closed and check if there is any pattern regarding the number of calls received on any particular day or time.
You will notice that prospects are more likely to answer calls when they are not heavily engaged in work, that is, before lunch or towards the latter half of the day. Use this time to connect with your highest quality prospects, and the remaining time in the day can be used for planning your schedule, modifying your script, sending follow-up emails, etc.
17. Know the Best Times And Days To Call
Managing your time can be tricky while cold calling. For example, you may dedicate an hour to cold calling every day but find that your prospects are not always ready to answer your calls when you call them. So, even after your scheduled hour is over, there may be several callbacks, and you must always be ready to answer the phone and do your job superbly.
However, this does not mean that you can’t plan your day at all while cold calling. To ensure maximum results, avoid calling during times or days when you aren’t likely to answer the phone yourself, such as Monday mornings, lunchtime, after 5 pm on Fridays, etc. If you are calling prospects in different time zones, you must also make sure not to call up at an inappropriate hour to cheese them off.
Of course, there’s no guaranteed formula to calculate a golden hour when all your prospects will answer, but research indicates Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to be the best days for cold calling.
Statistically, Wednesday is considered to be the best day for cold calling, with a maximum response rate between 4 pm and 5 pm every day.
18. Make Gatekeepers Your Ally
Do you hate it when a receptionist or secretary answers your call instead of the decision-maker you intended to reach out to?
Well, turn this moment of possible defeat into victory by being pleasant to whoever picks up the phone and seeking their help in reaching out to the right people in the organization. For example, asking something as simple as "I was wondering if you can help me" can open the gates to vital information such as the names of other key personnel in the company and the best time to call them.
19. Prioritize Your Call List
You have multiple calls lined up for the day – but how do you decide whom to call up first?
Well, the most practical cold calling strategy is calling your highest quality prospects first, during a period when they are most likely to answer your call. But how do you separate the highest quality prospects from others is a question worth considering. For this, you need access to reliable market intelligence that will keep you informed of trigger events that may warm up your cold leads.
For example, if you are a hardware company, news about a business moving to a bigger location may signify an opportunity and give you the perfect reason to connect and pitch your service. To track such trigger events and market intelligence, you can rely on various tools, such as setting up Google Alerts, using Hootsuite to ‘listen’ to social conversions, and using a lead management software like Clodura, that provides you with relevant intelligence about sales opportunities, which could be the low hanging fruits you can immediately aim for.
20. Never Stop Practicing
Practice makes perfect – Truer words have never been said! That’s why it is vital to practice your script in front of the mirror, and over repeated calls, to improve your success percentage.
By going through your cold calling script, previous call recordings, and the common objections raised by prospects, you can pick up subtle cues to refine your cold calling strategy further.
For example, maintaining the right tone and pace while talking, recognizing the verbal cues given by prospects, perfecting the answers to common queries and objections, and tweaking and delivering your cold calling script correctly and confidently in every situation.
If you are a sales representative looking at improving your conversation and closing rate, these 20 tips will surely transform the way you connect with clients and help you generate more meetings out of your calls.
However, once again, we’d like to add that you can never convert 100 percent of your leads, which makes it important to keep a positive and resilient attitude towards rejections, learn from them and move on. Even if you face a rude brush-off, maintain your calm, and learn from the experience. By mirroring the prospect’s emotions in such a situation, you are only going to make your day worse. Remember, you are only doing your job, and there’s no time to feel hurt or give up.