You’ve probably heard that cold calling is dead. You’ve probably been told that in 2018, in the age of social selling and other modern sales techniques, there’s no place for it. You probably think cold calling doesn’t work anymore. However, many of the organisations that claim cold calling doesn’t work are not doing it correctly.
When you get cold calling right, it can be a powerful weapon in your sales arsenal, even in 2018. Cold calling success comes down to the work you put in before you pick up the phone. The better you plan, the more likely you are to win. Here are 10 ways you can improve your cold calling strategy.
1 – Actually have a strategy
Your cold calling strategy cannot be simply picking up the phone and getting on with it. You need to sit down and plan. One of the first things you need to think about is who is going to be making the calls. Do they have the necessary skills? Do they have the product knowledge? Do they understand what problems your product solves, and for whom?
2 – Define objectives
Before you start, you must work out what you are looking to achieve from your cold calling operation. Are you looking to secure a face-to-face meeting? Are you trying to invite them to an event?
Remember, cold calling is just one part of a multi-stage sales process. It’s not the entire sales process. You may make a cold call to secure a product demo with your prospect. You’ll only sell the product once you have done the demo, which could be face-to-face or over the phone. You may nurture the prospect with email lead sequences during the process. Whatever works best to sell your product.
Don’t try and sell a product on a cold call. Use a cold call as a way to begin the relationship which will ultimately end up with a sale.
3 – Build a highly-targeted list
Being generic will get you nowhere. In 2018, you need to make your cold calling message as relevant to your caller as it can possibly be. Therefore, you need to build a laser-targeted list, focusing on an extremely narrow slice of the market.
Work out a detailed buyer persona and use a tool such as Cognism Prospector to build a contact list that matches it.
4 – Look for clues that they’re ready to buy
The best time to cold call a prospect is when they’re ready to buy. Your prospect may love your product, but if they’re not in a position where they can buy, you will never be able to sell to them. Look to call companies who are in a position to buy. Find companies who have just received a round of funding, for example. Look for companies who are reviewing their PSL. These are the prospects who will be most receptive. Cognism can help you find them.
5 – Know who you’re calling
Once you have your list, find out as much as you can about the people you’re going to call. In 2018, there is no excuse for not looking up a prospect on LinkedIn. It’s a straightforward way to gather valuable information which could ‘warm up’ your cold call. This will also help you verify that you’re calling the decision-maker. Make sure the data you use to build your list is as up-to-date as it can be.
6 – Write a script
It’s best to have a script for your cold call, at least at the start of your cold calling operation. A script makes sure you don’t forget anything in the heat of battle. It helps you convey tried and tested lines which make your prospect sit up and take notice. Here are 4 tips:
Have a reason to call and tell your prospect what it is straight away.
Get to the point quickly. Don’t make your script any longer than it needs to be.
Content-wise, talk about how you help, not what you do.
Keep the tone conversational. Don’t bombard your prospect with jargon or terms they may not be familiar with.
Don’t forget that your script needs a call-to-action that aligns with your defined objectives. If your call is to set up a product demo, arrange a date and time at the end of a call.
Do not leave it open-ended. If you are sending them something, make sure you follow up with them once you have sent it.
7 – Practise
While you will be using a script, you don’t want to prospect to know you’re using a script. You do not want to sound like a robot. Before you start calling, practise your script until you know it inside-out. Think about what objections you may encounter and have a ready answer for them. When you think you are ready, it’s time to smile and dial!
8 – Get your timing right
There are times of day when people are happy to take cold calls. There are also times when it’s just not convenient. Research when the best times are in your industry.
If you find yourself speaking to a ‘gatekeeper’, such as a PA or receptionist, have a plan to get past them and get through to the prospect. Here are some ideas:
Try to sound ‘senior’ – Keep calm and relaxed. Speak confidently, slowly and concisely. If you can do this, you sound experienced and important. The gatekeeper may be less inclined to hold you up.
Don’t sell to the gatekeeper – Your gatekeeper is not a decision-maker, so don’t pitch to them. In fact, say as little as you can get away with. Be friendly, charming and professional.
Give the impression that you know your prospect well – Use first names when you ask to speak to your prospect. If the gatekeeper asks what the call is regarding, use a piece of information you’ve already found out while researching them (Section 5).
Lastly, don’t call your best leads at the beginning of your cold calling drive. Save them until later in the process when you are more confident and more equipped to answer their questions.
9 – Analyse and adapt
To understand how well your cold calling strategy is working, collect as much data as you can. What times of day are best to call? How many calls does it take to get through to a prospect? How long are you spending on each call? How can you improve these numbers? Record calls and go through them with your sales leader to look for ways to enhance your skills.
Look for parts of your script that are working well, as well as parts that don’t.
Use A/B testing of different parts of your script to gauge if certain lines work better than others. A scientific approach works better than a scattergun one.
10 – Be positive in the face of rejection
No one is saying cold calling is easy. No one wants to be a ‘professional interrupter’. You will receive your fair share of rejections. However, the trick is to remain positive and persevere. Never give up. You can do this by accepting that rejection happens. If your success rate is 10%, you need to get past 9 rejections before you get to the one positive outcome. Ask your prospect why they are saying no to you. You may be able to pinpoint something you can change to improve your technique in the future.
When you receive a rejection, don’t take it personally. Stay professional, thank your prospect for the feedback even if it’s negative. Then, take a deep breath and move on. Make your next call as quickly as possible. Don’t let rejection affect your confidence.
Finally, make cold calling fun by sharing war stories with your teammates. You’ll end up being able to laugh about your problems and you may even learn a trick that will improve your fortunes.
Follow our tips and your strategy for cold calling success will be in place. Good luck!
To find out more about how Cognism can propel your cold calling into the age of data, be sure to register for a demo or give us a call on +44 203 858 0822.