Cold calling can be a daunting prospect. The thought that you are a calling a person unannounced and hoping they will listen to you long enough to introduce yourself is something nearly all sales professionals have gone through at some point.
Having gone through the experience many times I wanted to share some of my best tips cold calling tips for improving your success rates.
1. Press The Record Button
Recording your cold calls is the single quickest route to refining your phone prospecting craft and to start improving sales performance. When I first started prospecting over the phone early on in my career, none of my calls were recorded. I had far more people hang up on me than I had wanting to speak with me, and it wasn’t until my boss overheard my slow and un-engaging call opening that I realised where I was going wrong.
The process of self reflection is a powerful thing, and it isn’t until we listen to ourselves back that we realise how we really sound. Our tone, clarity, pace, and choice of words all sounds so different when replayed, and this is ultimately how our prospects hear us. If you aren’t recording your calls, be sure to rely on feedback from peers sat around you, and even then - that will only tell you half the story.
2. Capitalising on the first six seconds
Your cold call is an interruption to your prospect. They likely don’t know who you are, who your company is, and certainly aren’t expecting you. Moreover, you can assume that receiving a cold call is going to be one of the last types of calls they want to take at that precise moment in time. From experience, I would say that you have around 6 valuable seconds to get the prospect from answering the phone to be willing to even afford you more attention. It’s a make or break window, and requires confidence and technique to achieve rapid engagement.
One mistake I think sales people make at the opening of their calls, is pitching too early. Prospects aren’t ready, their focus is usually still trapped on the task they were carrying out when you interrupted them, and so to process an elevator pitch right off the bat is just going to fly over their head. Get buy in for more time. That’s the objective here. I’ve found that asking the question ‘do you have 30 seconds for me to tell you why I’ve called today?’ works really well. You aren’t asking for the world, but you’re getting permission for more time. If the say no - you can move on, if they say yes - it’s time to move to the next stage of the call.
You’ve grabbed attention, you’ve moved your prospect out of the task you interrupted them on - it’s time to start to give prospects value. Much the same as any part of the sales process, if you aren’t offering value to your prospect, then you are simply losing their attention.
The most successful cold calls I make are when I present a valid reason for getting in touch. Much the same as if I was crafting a personalised cold email, starting my ‘RFC’ (reason for calling) with a trigger event which sets up my value proposition, is my secret sauce for getting a highly engaged prospect on the end of the line. An example of this could be something like
‘Mr Prospect - I read an article you recently wrote about common mistakes made by sales reps on sales calls, and it really resonated with some of my own thoughts on the topic’
‘Mrs Prospect - I noticed online that you are hiring aggressively for SDRs in your London office...’
Within a matter of seconds, you have made the cold call about the prospect, demonstrated you’ve done your homework, and in all likelihood - earned the right for more time.
4. Pitching with relevance
Been given permission to pitch your product by your prospect? You better make sure your pitch is relevant. What do I mean by that? Well if you’ve opened your call talking about the growth of a sales team, or an article your prospect was featured in, you have to make sure your pitch links back to that opening. Without doing so, your value proposition will lack context, and you run the risk of either confusing your prospect or losing their trust from the off. There's no use mentioning to your prospect that you saw the news of their teams growth, and then pitching how your product increases email delivery rates. A good example of ‘pitching with relevance’ when making a cold call about Refract could sound something like:
‘Mr Prospect - I noticed online that you are hiring aggressively for SDRs in your London office. I was therefore really keen to get in touch to introduce how we are helping other fast growing sales teams get their new hires ramped up in record time, by enabling them to quickly share what ‘good sales calls’ sound like at scale.’
Pitch with relevance, and you immediately start talking to a likely challenge your prospect is facing and increase your chances of higher engagement, and a willingness to talk on a secondary call...
Be aware of the common sales call perceptions and break the mould! Don’t contact a prospect if you can’t deliver something of real value. A former mentor of mine, drilled into me the importance of doing your homework on prospects. This is a teaching I pass on and reinforce to every one of my sales team regularly. Before you begin calling or contacting potential clients get to know; the latest happenings and news within your prospects industry, ensure you are aware of recent changes to the prospect's business or service offerings. And finally, is there a recent compelling event that you can utilise to add further weight and meaning to your call?
Jake Spence, Sales Operations Director at durhamlane
5. Sell the next call
I’d arguably say this is the key objective for any cold call. The purpose of the cold call is not to do a deal, nor is it to start throwing lots of questions to your prospect and elevate the one minute interruption you’ve already made, into a 20 minute discovery conversation.
The aim of the cold call is to earn the right for more time. Interrupted prospects want to get back to their day job. They don’t want to spend unscheduled time being drilled by a sales rep they didn’t know existed five minutes earlier. Sell your prospect on why putting 20-30 minutes aside in their calendar is going to be a worthwhile use of their time. Sometimes it can be tempting to try and turn your cold calls into longer discussions, with the eagerness to generate plentiful conversation given you’ve managed to get your prospect on the other end of the line.
The risk you run here is that you don’t have a fully engaged and attentive prospect who is ready to give you all the answers to your questions. You’re far better off ‘selling the next’ call, and getting dedicated and importantly - granted time from your prospect where you will have a far more productive discovery call.
‘Mrs Prospect, I appreciate I’ve called you out of the blue today, and I don’t want to eat into your day anymore than I already have. Given the fact there may be an opportunity for us to help you with your upcoming objectives of getting new hires hitting the ground running, would it make sense for us to schedule some more later this week where we can explore this potential fit in more detail?’
Don’t sell the product on the first call. Sell the next call.