Give Your Cold Calling a Boost!
Let’s face it: cold calling is hard. Most of the people you contact won’t have any initial interest in your offering. None of them will be expecting your call.
But when conducted skillfully, a cold calling campaign can yield tremendous results. And while much has been written (including by us) about how not to approach a cold call, there’s less good advice out there about what you should do.
VSA’s been developing field-tested strategies for nearly two decades. Here are a few of our most reliable, time-honored tips:
Know your targeted persona.
There are many people you could talk to at a company, but whose opinion is likely to have the most sway? At a small business, the answer is probably the owner—but at large corporations it’s not usually so simple. Meanwhile, targets such as hospitals, educational institutions, and government agencies are a separate beast entirely.
The most well-prepared cold callers have done their research and know exactly who they’re looking for before they dial. That’s why it’s so important to invest in a thorough, well-researched list. A team that dials efficiently and speaks confidently yields optimal results.
Keep it simple.
Whenever you cold call, you’re an interruption—you don’t ultimately know if the prospect is interested in your offering, but you do know that they’re probably busy. With that in mind, be direct and professional about why you’re calling, and keep your pitch to under 30 seconds. You can even acknowledge that you’re an interruption (just don’t apologize).
Most decision makers will appreciate your self-awareness and candor. They’ll also respect you for allowing them to make their own decision rather than stringing them along.
Respond to your prospects.
Directness is important, but so is sounding human—and humans constantly play off each other in conversation. Just because you’re working with scripted messaging doesn’t mean that your cold calls should be any different.
If you feel like you’re robotically reciting your message, slow down. Take cues from your prospect’s reactions and tone of voice. Answer their questions to the best of your ability. If they’re friendly, don’t be afraid to chit-chat a little bit—but if they seem terse and guarded, stick to your main message and don’t pry.
Remember, the goal of a cold call is to pique the prospect’s interest in a longer conversation. They’re more likely to have interest in a second conversation if the first was pleasant.
Speak to gatekeepers with conviction and purpose.
Most callers assume the gatekeeper is there to screen them out. It’s easy to forget the other side of that person’s job—to screen important calls in!
Getting past a gatekeeper is often as simple as changing your mindset—and truly believing that yours is one of those important calls. Try to come across as friendly and professional but assertive—don’t disclaim or justify your call by explaining too much. You can help your team get the hang of this by roleplaying, or by adding a navigation script to your standard messaging if you don’t already have one.
Understand the numbers game.
Success comes to those who are patient—so don’t give up! Cold callers attempting to reach senior-level business decision makers deal with a lot of rejection; we’ve conducted programs on which it took over 500 dials just to get one appointment. Your objective, when first starting a program, is to learn what your ratio of dials to appointments is so that you can create a repeatable process. It can be difficult for new callers to come to terms with the sheer scope of how many attempts it sometimes takes to yield a single positive conversation.
That’s why it’s important to understand the numbers game up front, and not read too much into a particularly good or particularly bad day of calling. Some sales teams set unrealistic goals for themselves or their callers, which too often leads to disappointment and burnout—not exactly a recipe for success.
Keeping things in perspective will help you remember that there are interested prospects out there. And, contrary to popular belief, most lists actually yield more appointments on the second or third pass through. With a level head and a realistic outlook, you can keep your campaign sustainable in the long term, and fully take advantage of opportunities when they eventually start rolling in.
Cold calling can be hard, but that’s no reason to shrink away from it! With the right preparation and approach, it won’t be long before those hours of dialing translate to a steady stream of well-qualified leads flowing into the top of your pipeline.
Need help getting started? Just ask!