The questionable reputation of cold calling has led some people to think that it’s “dead,” or at least it should be. However, that perception ignores a simple fact: Cold calling is still an effective way to acquire customers.
In a report from the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, 69% of business-to-business buyers accepted calls from new providers in the previous 12 months. It also found that a majority of C-level buyers prefer to be contacted contact via the phone (57%), along with approximately half of all directors (51%) and managers (47%).
Sales strategist and bestselling author Marc Wayshak surveyed around 400 salespeople, and 41.2% of them said that the phone is the most effective sales tool they have. He said:
Even with so many tools now at our disposal, we still need to use the phone as a way to get in front of prospects, to connect with prospects, and to sell to prospects. It’s such an important reminder, in a world dominated by conversations about social media and email and marketing automation, that the phone really works.
New and experienced sales professionals alike need to know how to cold call prospects to maximize their success. The following section outlines ways you can improve your cold calling technique.
10 Essential Cold Calling Tips
Here are some of the most crucial cold calling tips and tricks.
1. Overcome Call Reluctance
In George Dudley’s “The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance,” he noted how call reluctance plagues both newcomers and seasoned professionals. He found that 80% of new salespeople fail due to call reluctance, and 40% of veterans stop cold calling because of it.
It’s natural to be fearful and anxious of cold calling. A lot of experts cite unpreparedness and a shameful attitude toward people who perform cold calling as common reasons for that reluctance. Another factor is that some people, such as introverts, are simply less comfortable with calling a stranger and asking them to purchase a product or service.
You can overcome those fears. Try not to let negative depictions of cold calling impact how you view this part of your job. You’re offering something valuable, and there’s no shame in being rejected — that’s part of the process. The rest of the cold calling tips in this list can help you feel more prepared.
2. Target the Best Days/Times to Call
Being aware of the best days of the week and times to call can improve your results. PhoneBurner, a company that sells a cloud-based power dialer, analyzed more than 11 million dials over a period of 4.5 years to determine how days and times impact call answer rates.
The best days to call are at the beginning of the workweek. Tuesday leads the pack at a 15.42% answer rate, and Monday isn’t far behind at 15.01%. The numbers gradually decline for the rest of the week.
|Day of Week||Answer Rate|
The best time to call is at 10 a.m. in the recipient’s time zone, when 15.53% of calls were answered. Then there’s a 3% drop off to the next best time at 2 p.m., which registered a 15.01% answer rate. The absolute worst times to call by a wide margin are 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., both registering a less than 4% answer rate. Every other time of the day offers between an 11% and 15.5% chance of calls being answered. Overall, the best times are anywhere from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., excluding noon, around lunchtime.
3. Use a Script
You should definitely use a script, but be smart about it. As HubSpot noted in an article on how to create a cold call script, you shouldn’t be “. . . calling your prospects and saying the same thing to all of them . . .” Failing to personalize what you’re saying to each of your prospects is a recipe for failure.
Build a template for some of the core questions and points you want to make. And then insert parts that are unique to each person you’re contacting. Do those two things, and you’ll have a more dynamic, tailored script. As a bonus, you’ll have something that you can practice reading and get comfortable with before you make each call.
4. Research Each Person You Call
One piece of unique information you can add to your script is what you find when researching. HubSpot’s article recommended looking up your contact on LinkedIn to find out what the company does, the person’s specific role, whether you’ve worked with a similar company previously, and one fun fact about them. Those pieces of information can come in handy for planning your opening statement, which is covered in the next two cold calling tips.
5. Don’t Start With an Easy Way for People to Say “No”
“Is this a bad time to talk?” you may ask after introducing yourself. “Did I catch you at a bad time?”
Those questions reduce your chance at booking a meeting by 40%, according to data from Gong, a sales intelligence platform. Some sales books recommend it because it’s believed to give people a sense of control. However, it’s more likely to provide someone with an easy way to say “no.”
Data revealed a better option. Cold calls that started with “How have you been?” secured a meeting 6.6 times more often than the baseline. Even if the two people hadn’t had a previous interaction, the question was an unexpected and open-ended way to start the conversation. Keep those statistics in mind as you work on your opening statements.
6. Polish Your Opening Statements
When planning your opening statements, you’ll want to start with your full name and company.
What you say next can be tailored to your contact. An alternative to asking how they’ve been is to bring up some type of connection, such as if you’re familiar with the person’s current or previous employer. You could also offer congratulations on a recent professional accomplishment you found through your research.
Once you’ve done the hard part of perfecting your hook, it’s time to get into the reason why you’re calling. Gong found that including that phrase early helps put buyer’s mind to rest, increasing the chance of securing a meeting by 2.1 times the baseline.
7. Pay Attention to Your Tone of Voice
When you talk to someone on the phone, you don’t get to make eye contact and give other signs that you care and that you’re paying attention. That makes your tone of voice even more important.
Try to practice speaking clearly and confidently. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a break to refresh yourself, so you don’t come off as uninterested and impatient. Your contacts can pick up on your attitude and how caring you sound. Make sure you’re making a positive impression.
8. Take Notes
It’s simple but effective. If you’re making dozens of phone calls in a short time frame, you can easily forget important details. Note what you learn about your contact’s role, challenges they face, what you discussed, and next steps. When your contact isn’t interested, you can write down anything that might lead to a successful follow-up phone call. For instance, if that person is waiting until their contract is up to consider a new marketing company, you can note when that takes place and offer a custom plan for the company’s needs.
9. Prepare to Leave an Effective Voicemail Message
As you can imagine, a lot of people you call won’t answer. What you may overlook, however, is the idea that what you say on people’s voicemails can make a huge impact in your efforts.
How much of an impact? A well-crafted voicemail message improved response rates by an average of 4.8%, according to sales software firm InsideSales. It can increase rates by as much as 22%.
You only have 18 to 30 seconds to make your pitch. Introduce yourself and give a little bit of background about your company. Then explain how that benefits your contact; a short “proof story” about why your contact should believe you can be helpful. Finally, ask the person to make an appointment to talk with you more.
10. Watch for Trigger Events
Always be on the lookout for ways to improve your cold calling success. “Trigger events,” according to HubSpot, are occurrences that present an opening for marketing or sales opportunities. Examples include new executive hires, a new role for current contacts, and company events like expansions, relocations, and new products/services. You can use LinkedIn or Google alerts to track those kinds of events automatically. Once you have a good trigger event, you can better customize your cold calling script to make it more effective to your contact.
Using cold calling tips can help you become a more successful sales professional. You can also enhance your career and take the next step with an online business management degree. You’ll gain the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a lucrative career like going into sales management. Sales managers earn a median annual wage of $124,220, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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