Let’s face it: Cold calling is hardly the average salesperson’s favorite activity. One needs a thick skin and unwaveringly positive attitude to deal with the hang-ups, the rejection, the rudeness of the person on the other end of the phone—that faint tone of annoyance and bewilderment when you explain why you’re calling. It can be thankless, except when it’s not. There is a reason cold-calling is still a thing: it gets enough business development results to be worth your while.
In fact, according to a recent survey by DiscoverOrg, a full 60 percent of more than 1,000 polled senior executives from the IT industry reported taking an appointment or attending an event after receiving a cold call or unsolicited email.
There are definitely a few ways to make cold calling less…cold. Here are a few top tips for becoming a cold-calling pro:
Stop Thinking Of Them As “Cold” Calls
Instead, consider them “introductory” calls, and lower your expectations. Closing business on the first go-round is not likely in most cases, so take a realistic approach. The introductory call should be dedicated to finding the right person to introduce your business to. As Entrepreneur Magazine puts it: “Phone prospecting takes longer to pay off than other types of marketing efforts, so go into it knowing you’re exploring a new frontier and it’s going to take some time to get results.”
Have A Plan
Cold calling is a volume game (50 calls in 150 minutes is a good goal), but starting with a targeted list of qualified prospects can give you a leg up. Knowing a bit about who you’re calling can help you tailor your approach accordingly. For instance, if you’re selling financial products, you might find out about when a prospect’s fiscal year ends so you can plan to catch them in their budgeting cycle. If advanced research takes too much time, try starting out with a qualifying question. For instance, if you’re selling pet grooming products and are calling veterinarians, simply ask at the outset, “Do you offer pet grooming services?” to weed out the inapplicable customers—and track that in your sales log.
Script It Out
As an ancillary tip, make sure to write down what you're going to say in the event that the answer you get back to a qualifying question is “yes”. Having a framework of the questions you need to ask (and the ones you may need to answer) will boost your success rate. Consider the fact that according to Forbes Insight, 58 percent of potential buyers report that sales reps are unable to answer their questions effectively. Just be sure not to read the script—it’s more of a guide for points that you need to hit.
Identify The Buyer
This one’s simple, and follows on from having a plan: According to Gartner, a typical business with 100-500 employees has an average of just seven people who are responsible for most buying decisions. Make sure you have a goal to connect with the right people within the organization—this could mean being transferred around a few times (and sweet-talking gatekeepers).
Stalk Your Prospects
Using something as simple as Google Alerts, stay on top of major organizational events among your prospect base. Change is an opportunity, after all, so knowing about things like new executive hires, large customer announcements, company expansions, M&A activity, and funding will not only give you a basis for the conversation but also lets you know who may be open to new purchases and business strategizing.
Remember The 10-Second Rule
According to Inc. Magazine, once you have the right person on the phone, you have about ten seconds to grab their attention and communicate to the prospect that you're worth talking to. Research comes in handy here.
Track Your Success
Your business phone system may have Salesforce integration, which can help you track call connects. You can later analyze trends in this data to understand which days are better for cold calling than others or to see which customer segment or sales tactic is giving you the most success.
Warm Up Your Prospects
Unlike a decade or two ago, these days there are ways to begin an interaction or boost your credibility via social media. Vorsight research shows that a person with whom you share a common LinkedIn group will be 70 percent more likely to be receptive to a cold call. Another way to establish “pre-contact” is with an email, or even a freebie gift sent through the mail.
Leave A Voicemail
Without having a set appointment for the call, it’s likely that the majority of the calls you make will go to voicemail. Most salespeople tend to simply hang up without leaving a message; however, this is an opportunity to spread brand awareness.