10 Tips for Successful Cold Calling
As a B2B call center, we make cold calls all day long, every day. With each call we make, our goal is to set an appointment for our client so they can potentially close the sale with the new prospect. The following is a short list of what we have learned over the past sixteen years.
1. Work Past Your Fears: Many people have an innate fear of cold calling stemming from a preconceived stereotype of cold callers as annoying, intrusive people who try to sell you things you don’t need or want. To get past these assumptions, challenge them with statements that will not only help you overcome your anxiety around cold calling, but are also more aligned with the truth. An example would be: “Cold calling is informative. It lets my potential customers, whom I care about, learn about my great product or service that I know will help them do X, Y & Z.”
2. Remember It’s a Human on the Other End of the Call: When you’re making call after call, it’s easy to forget this basic fact and become progressively more robotic and monotonous. But, it’s crucial that you do not. People respond positively if they sense that you are trying to connect with them. If you sound like a robot who has done this 25 times already, they will instinctively be repelled.
3. Use an Ice Breaker: Take a few minutes before each call to learn a little bit about the person/company you are calling and then use that to break the ice. It can be as simple as the weather of the city they are living in or the win of a local sports team the night before. The idea is that it helps to bring the prospect’s guard down and make a more human connection between the two of you.
4. Be Friendly, Professional, Conversational & To the Point: Tone of voice is an important aspect of successful cold calling. Try to sound friendly and conversational, while also being professional and getting to the point. An effective way to transition from the conversational part of the phone call to the sales part is to say something like, “I know your time is valuable and that you’re very busy, so let me tell you why I called you today.”
5. Use a Script: This may sound counter intuitive considering our previous three tips, but having a script will actually free you up to be more human and conversational, as well as help you be a better listener. If you are thinking too much about what you are going to say next, you’ll stop listening and start breaking the rapport you’ve built with the prospect thus far. Having a script to refer to alleviates that pressure.
6. Ask Questions: Don’t just jump right into your pitch. Ask questions first. This will help you qualify the lead as well as gain vital information to help you close the sale when the time comes. For instance, if you’d like to sell them your accounting software, ask them what they use currently and if they are happy with it?
7. What to Do When They Ask You to Send Information: If your prospect asks you to send information very early in the call, it’s usually a polite way for them to get off the phone with you. Odds are, they won’t look very closely at what you send them, if at all. To get around this scenario, try saying something like, “Of course! I will send that right out to you. Just so I can make sure you get the best information possible to answer your questions and address your specific needs, can I ask you ….?” This will hopefully bring their guard down and open them up to conversing a little more with you.
8. Adjust Your Expectations: Don’t go into the call expecting to close the sale. Nobody in their right mind is going to make that rash of a buying decision. Instead, make it your goal to get an appointment, or have them sign up for a webinar you are hosting. A successful cold call is one that brings the prospect further down the sales pipeline.
9. Just Ask: A common issue many of our new callers face is the fear of asking for the appointment – closing the sale in the cold calling world. They’ll do great on the call all the way up to the point of the close, and then they hesitate. This hesitation is the kiss of death because prospects always pick up on it, and are thus more likely to say no. Each new caller we hire gets better at the ask over time for two main reasons: a.) the caller figures out how to ask for the appointment in a way that makes him/her feel most at ease and b.) the caller becomes more and more desensitized to the fear of rejection with each call.
10. Keep Good Records: Good records are indispensable to successful cold calling. At VSA, we try to make every record more intelligent with each phone call. All our callers take notes as they’re talking to the prospect so they don’t forget anything. Say, for instance, you learn that your prospect is a big Yankees fan. Take note of that so that the next time you call or meet with them, you can use that as an ice breaker or a way to establish a more human connection.
While it’s natural to dread the B2B telemarketing portion of your sales pipeline, it’s still one of the best ways to find new business. And, unlike an email or piece of marketing collateral, you have some measure of control over how your information is received because you can influence it with the art of conversation.