Let’s face it: cold calling is probably one of the hardest things that a salesperson has to do.
Especially if you’re new to the sales world (or if you’re just not an extrovert), cold calling can seem pretty daunting.
It’s no wonder that articles promoting the death of cold calling are so popular.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
While it’s true that technology has opened many doors for the first contact with a new prospect, cold calling is still one of the best ways to begin conversations and start new prospects on the road towards a sale.
According to a survey by RAIN Sales Training, 69% of buyers have accepted phone calls from new providers in the last year.
The same survey found that 57% of C-level buyers prefer to be contacted by phone over other methods.
And if you think it’s easier to grab their attention with a snappy email, think again: the average businessperson receives 97 business emails per day.
Speaking to your prospects over the phone gives you the ability to make a one-on-one connection and get one step closer to your next sale.
But, let’s be honest: these stats don’t make cold calling any easier.
Thankfully, there are some simple and effective methods that many top performers use to nail their cold calls.
Using the following 15 tips, you’ll have a better shot at cold calling successfully.
They’re divided into three sections:
Let's conquer the cold calling beast.
Here are 5 ways to prepare for cold calling.
Set and focus on a clear goal.
Setting real, tangible goals and writing those goals down has been scientifically proven to help you reach them.
So, what is your main goal for a cold call?
Here’s a hint: it’s not the sale.
Too many salespeople are looking ahead to the last inning when the game’s only just started.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll get a sale on the first cold call with your prospect. If you’re too focused on the sale, you could come off as pushy or desperate.
Instead, focus on what you want to accomplish by the end of this call.
Do you want to set up a meeting? Are you pushing for a product demo? Will you need to set up a discovery call with other decision-makers at the company?
Choose one clear goal to accomplish on your cold call. Then, before you even pick up the phone, remind yourself of that particular goal. Rehearse in your mind how you’ll bring it up to the prospect, or even write the goal down and place it somewhere you can see while you’re on the call.
This will fix your goal firmly in mind, which will help give your cold call a clear direction.
Develop a helping mindset.
What does your product do for customers?
No, I’m not talking about its features or its great user interface.
What can customers accomplish with your product? How do they feel when using it? How does it improve their daily life or their business?
These are questions you need to have in mind before you begin your call.
Think about how many sales offers your prospects receive every single day. You need to stand out as different.
The best way to be different: show you genuinely want to help your prospects.
When you have a clear view of how your product helps customers, your sales pitch won’t just be about features or technical details: it’ll be about the value you can provide.
The same survey found that sellers who were value-driven were twice as likely to rate their prospecting as excellent.
The point is, this is not just about closing deals: it’s about genuinely helping people.
When you develop a helping mindset, your prospect will feel that authenticity. Set talking points that focus on specific value, such as what your prospects will be able to accomplish with your product.
You’ll set yourself apart from other sales calls, and help prospects see the real value of your product.
Set time blocks for cold calling and remove distractions during those hours.
If you really don’t like cold calling, it can be extremely difficult to get motivated.
That’s when having a set schedule for cold calling can help.
In your daily or weekly schedule, set aside a block of time that’s specifically for cold calling. If you use a calendar app like Google Calendar to organize your daily schedule, put your cold calling time block into your calendar.
Set the event to repeat daily, weekly, or on certain days of the week, and be sure to set a notification. That way, you’ll be reminded when it’s time to start cold calling.
Also, setting this in your calendar will help you avoid planning meetings or other calls during your ideal cold call hours.
Speaking of which: what are you ideal cold call hours?
The internet would love for you to believe that there is a magic time during the week when all cold calls are answered and every prospect signs up for a meeting.
Unfortunately, that’s not true. (You may also want to stop looking for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.)
Each salesperson has their own personal schedule to consider, as well as the individual schedules of their prospects.
The best thing that you can do is analyze your past calls and find patterns between the time of day, the day of the week, and the most successful calls.
Track your calls in your CRM, or even in a simple Excel sheet. Write down the time of day you called, plus the results (whether they answered, accepted a meeting, or if you had to leave a voicemail).
Copper’s activity trackers shows your call history with prospects, so you know what day/time they’ve answered your calls in the past.
After some time, you’ll see which times of the day (or which days of the week) get you the best results.
Once you’ve discovered your ideal times for cold calling and blocked off those times in your calendar, it’s time to remove all distractions.
First, set your phone to silent to avoid getting interrupted by another call or notification.
Next, make sure your computer notifications are turned off. This can be adjusted in the Do Not Disturb settings on Mac, or the Focus Assist settings in Windows 10.
If possible, make sure your teammates know that you’re not available during that time as well. If you have an office door, close it.
If your team uses Slack, change your setting to Do Not Disturb so you won’t receive notifications and your teammates will know that you’re busy.
You can even set a schedule in Slack so that you’re always listed as Do Not Disturb during certain hours.
With a distraction-free environment, you’ll be able to focus your full attention on the call and accomplish more.
Use the right tools to discover valuable insights about your prospects.
Cold calling can’t begin without doing some research first.
This is obviously not the first time you’ve heard about the importance of research, but here are two tools you might not be using to research your prospects.
I think all salespeople have heard how great LinkedIn is when you’re looking for information about a prospect. Your prospects’ profiles give you information to start conversations, like where they went to school, where they’ve worked, and their current job roles.
However, LinkedIn Premium gives you some special insights into the companies that you’re calling that can help you provide more value to prospects.
For example, it lets you see an overview of the company, including total employee count, growth over the last few years, distribution of employees by function, and recent hires.
This can help you adapt your sales pitch according to the company’s size and needs and provide more personalized value.
🚀 your prospecting
Learn more about how to prospect effectively in this free webinar with PersistIQ's CEO.
Social media is the place to be when you want to know what’s going on with your prospects and your industry.
However, spending a lot of time trawling through conversations on social media probably won’t make your boss happy.
Instead, use a tool like Hootsuite to set up social listening and monitor conversations online without spending all your waking hours perusing social networks.
With Hootsuite, you can monitor conversations using specific filters based on hashtags, keywords, or even channels and profiles.
Using specific keywords related to your prospects or your industry, you’ll be the first to know about things like:
- Recent mergers or acquisitions related to your prospects
- Important industry updates
- Common industry pain points
- New comments about your brand or product
You can even set up social listening for specific negative keywords related to your competition. For example, set up monitoring that includes your competitors’ username or brand alongside keywords like “disappointed,” “unfortunate,” “not working,” “unavailable,” or “I wish.”
Then, you’ll be the first to know when someone is dissatisfied with your competitors, giving you the opportunity to swoop in with a better product.
Warm up a cold lead using social media and email.
Before you actually pick up the phone, it’s time to warm up your cold leads.
While it’s true that some buyers dislike receiving cold calls, they may be more receptive to hearing what you have to offer if they already recognize your name or your brand.
Again, the best place to start is LinkedIn. If you’re doing research on LinkedIn about your prospects, they can see that you’ve looked at their profile. So, don’t be a LinkedIn stalker—send them an invitation to connect.
Along with your invitation, make sure you send a personalized message.
These messages are limited to 300 characters, so make your message short and sweet. Don’t mention your product yet; just try to make a connection. For example, you could mention a recent post, or an update to their job position or accomplishments.
Just remember: there are two sides to LinkedIn research. If you’re using LinkedIn to research your prospects, don’t forget that they’re also using LinkedIn to research you.
In fact, 82% of buyers will look at your LinkedIn profile or your company’s page before they reply to your outreach.
The point: make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to snuff before you start sending connection requests. That means making your profile's headline and summary clear about who you are, who you work for, and what your job is.
Sending a cold email is another way to warm up a lead before you make the call. A brief introduction through email allows prospects to get to know you, and may make them feel less put-on-the-spot when you call.
However, a warning is in order: only 5% of sellers say that bulk emailing is effective. So, if you’re going to send an email to warm up cold leads, make sure it’s personalized. While you can definitely use email templates, do your homework and include at least one thing that makes your email personalized to this particular prospect.
Alright, you’re prepared to start cold calling. But, what should you do once you’re on the phone?
Follow these 6 guidelines while you’re on the cold call.
Craft the perfect opening words.
Your introduction is a barometer for how the rest of the call will go.
If your introduction is sloppy or unclear, your prospect will already be getting ready to hang up.
So, make sure that your introduction is clear and gives them a reason to keep listening.
First, start with your full name and the name of your company.
“Hi, this is Amy Copadis from Big Business Inc.”
Now, your prospect doesn’t have to stop you and ask who you are halfway through the pitch.
Next, give a clear reason for your call. For example, you could cite something interesting from your research about their company:
“I’m calling because I saw that your company recently acquired Company X, and I think [your product] could help you with [resulting problem].”
“I’m calling because your post about [competitor] just came up in my LinkedIn feed. It seems like you’ve been having some issues with [problem], and I just thought you might be interested in hearing about how [product] solves [problem].”
Or, you could mention industry news:
“I’m calling because a lot of businesses in [field] have been complaining about [recent issue]. That’s why we recently released [solution].”
You can also use a brief customer success story to hook prospects:
“I’m calling because a lot of businesses in [field] have trouble with [problem]. One of our clients was actually [problem], but after using [product], they saw [results].”
Explaining the exact reason for your call with one or two sentences will allow the listener to relax a bit, and can open the door to continuing the conversation.
Pro tip: Struggling to come up with introductions? Try these 9 non-awkwards sales conversation starters!
Prepare to speak with gatekeepers.
It’s pretty much inevitable that at some point you’ll talk to a gatekeeper. These may be assistants or secretaries who answer the phone and screen calls before passing them to the decision-maker.
It’s important for you not to think of the gatekeeper as a wall that you need to force your way through. Instead, think of them as a door: all you need is the right key.
In this case, the key may be just being friendly. Positivity and a good attitude can go a long way in helping you build rapport with the gatekeeper.
Don’t treat them like crap and show them the same respect you would show the person you want to speak to.
Don’t give them an easy out.
When you’re on the phone with a prospect, you know they weren’t expecting your call. You also know that they’re in the middle of a work day, and were probably doing something before you called.
So, don’t give them an easy way to end the conversation. Avoid questions like:
- Did I catch you at a bad time?
- Do you have five minutes to talk?
- Is this a good time to talk?
In fact, using the first question on that list reduces your chances of getting a meeting by 40%.
Also, try to avoid yes-or-no questions, since these give prospects an easy opportunity to shut you down with a hard “No.” Instead, rephrase these questions so that they’re more open-ended, allowing prospects to express how they feel and give you valuable insights into their business.
For example, instead of asking: “Are you happy with your current solution?”
Try asking: “If you could change one thing about your current solution, what would it be?”
Instead of asking: “Are you willing to try a new solution?”
Try asking: “What kind of results would you expect from a new solution?”
These questions give prospects the opportunity to talk, and reduce the chances of them slamming the door in your face with a quick “No.”
Pro tip: Keep your cold engaging with these open-ended sales questions.
Use social proof to establish authority.
Real results speak, and they have a pretty loud voice.
When you’re talking to a prospect about your product, try to include a brief case study or customer success story.
This kind of social proof is extremely valuable in a cold call. It’s a way of saying, “Don’t take my word for it: here’s the proof.”
Make sure to prepare your case study explanation well. Tell the story in two or three sentences, and hit these three story points:
- The problem
- The solution
- The results
When speaking about the results other customers have seen, don’t dwell too much on the statistics and numbers: in the end, your prospects probably won’t remember every single number.
Instead, focus on the clear benefits that your customers experienced and what they were able to accomplish.
For example, instead of saying that they saw a 57% increase in revenue, talk about how they were able to double their income and used that money to create a whole new line of products.
Focusing on accomplishments gives prospects a clear view of what their future could be like if they use your product.
Many prospects can be quick to say no, especially when they receive many sales calls from different companies. However, if you use the right questions, you can get insights into the “why” behind the “no.”
For example, if a prospect says they’re not interested, you could try asking:
“I appreciate that, and thanks for being straight with me. I’m just curious though, are you currently using another solution, or are you just not interested in [product] altogether?”
These kinds of probing questions can be very useful, as long as they don’t sound like an interrogation. Make sure to keep a casual tone, and use phrases like:
- “I was wondering…”
- “I’m just curious...”
- “Do you mind if I ask…”
All this being said, persistence is not the same as being pushy.
If you try to get around a brush-off and the prospect is still saying no, it’s time to take the hint and sign off.
Remember, the prospect may really have no need for your product, or they may have absolutely no budget to spend on it. In that case, ending the call on a friendly tone will leave the door open for future calls when their circumstances change.
Pro tip: Hearing a lot of "no"s during cold calls? Here are some tips to overcome any sales objection.
Always be specific about your next steps.
Never end a call without knowing exactly when you’ll talk to this prospect again.
Above, we talked about having a clear goal for each call. When you’re wrapping up a cold call, make sure you accomplish that goal.
Of course, you may need to adapt to different circumstances. For example, if you were planning on doing a product demo but you realize during the call that there’s another decision-maker who needs to be involved, you may decide to switch from a product demo to a phone call or meeting that includes that decision-maker.
To introduce your next steps, start by giving a brief summary of what you’ve discussed.
“So far, we’ve talked about how you’re not satisfied with your current solution, and that you’d be willing to consider another solution if it included unlimited users and a more flexible payment plan. Is that correct?”
This shows the prospect you were listening to their concerns, and you understand their needs. It also gives them the opportunity to add any important points that weren’t discussed during the call.
Then, try using a phrase like:
“Based on what you’ve told me, the next step is…”
This tells the prospect that the next steps are adapted to their particular needs.
Before hanging up the phone, set a clear day, time, and place (if applicable) for your next meeting. Also, get the contact information of any other decision makers at the company, and make sure they’re aware of and invited to that next meeting or phone call.
Prepare a snappy voicemail.
Sometimes you’re so focused on preparing the best cold call that the beep of the answering machine catches you off-guard.
That’s why it’s important to have a concise, clear voicemail prepared in advance.
First, don’t ramble. Your voicemail must be under 30 seconds long, since every extra second from there means a decrease in response rate of 2%.
You can use some elements of your introduction, such as your full name, company, and a clear reason for your call.
However, don’t try to fit your whole pitch into the voicemail.
Instead, leave them hanging: craft a hook that will make them want to call you back.
Here’s an example:
“Hi John, this is Amy Copadis from Best Solution Inc. I’m calling because I saw your company is looking for new sales hires. One of our clients actually removed all their job postings for new sales hires when they started using our app. There was one particular feature that almost doubled their sales productivity during the prospecting stage: I’d love to tell you what it was if you give me a call back.”
Leaving that kind of cliffhanger at the end of your message may be the motivation they need to pick up the phone and call you back.
These tips are some of the best ways you can improve your cold calls and get more prospects working towards the next step.
But don’t forget: your work isn’t done just because you hung up the phone.
Never forget to do these 4 things after your cold call is over.
Learn something from every rejection.
Rejection is a part of life. Unfortunately, rejection becomes a much more frequent part of life for a salesperson.
It can be discouraging to hear people say no to you over and over again. But each and every rejection can teach you something valuable.
So, change your attitude: view rejections as an opportunity to learn.
First, try to find the common factor in your rejections. For example, do a great majority of your prospects stop you during a certain point in your pitch? Is there a place in your script where you’re not clear on how to move from one point to the next, giving prospects the opportunity to shut you down? Is there a question that needs to be rephrased?
Using these questions, you may realize that there’s a part of your script that needs to be adjusted, or that you should write out a clearer transition from one point to the next.
Next, try to get real feedback from your rejections. If the prospect is relatively amicable, you can ask them why they’re saying no.
Again, this is purely for the purpose of learning. Maybe they’re not interested because their company is too small, or they’re not the right person to ask. In that case, you may need to improve your research before calling.
Whatever the reason for the rejection, make sure you’re learning something from it.
Pro tip: Need a little help with dealing with sales rejection? Follow these tips.
Send a follow-up email within 24 hours and confirm your next steps.
If you’ve successfully set up another call or meeting with the prospect, don’t just wait until that day to talk to them.
Without anything in writing, it’s easy for your prospect (or worse: you) to forget you had a call set up.
So, within 24 hours, it’s a good idea to send a follow-up email.
Start by reviewing some of the points you discussed, and your next steps. Then, confirm the day and time of your next meeting or call.
This friendly reminder will cement your next steps in their mind (and calendar).
To take this a step further, use your CRM to set up a calendar event and invite the prospect. That way, the event will show up on everyone’s calendar, and no one will forget.
Since Copper integrates with G Suite, you can use it to create an event directly in Google Calendar.
Just go to the prospect’s profile and click the + sign next to “Calendar Events.”
Then, you’ll be redirected to Google Calendar to create the event. Add the details, and an invitation will be sent to the prospect automatically.
Update the prospect’s information in your CRM.
Every point of contact includes essential information that should be accessible to the whole sales team.
That’s why, from the moment you get off the phone with your prospect, you should be logging important details you discussed in your CRM.
In Copper, for example, you can add information from phone calls and meetings directly in the prospect’s profile, and even @mention other team members when you need their advice or help with something.
After talking with your prospect on that cold call, you’ll have discovered essential details about their business, their needs, and their position in the buyer journey. These are all great things that you can include in your sales notes.
Over time, you’ll build a collection of information that evolves into a living picture of your brand’s relationship with the customer.
This collection can include emails that are automatically imported from Gmail, phone calls, meetings, calendar events, tasks, and more.
Analyze call data to improve.
No matter how good you get at cold calling, there are always ways to improve.
RingCentral is a great tool for sales teams to use on their cold calls (or all of their calls). Among other features, it allows for automatic recording of inbound and outbound calls, meaning you can go back and listen to the call to see how you can improve.
RingCentral also gives you incredible analytics that include metrics like voicemails left, average answer speed, and average calls per day and time.
When you integrate RingCentral with Copper, you can also see a call report that shows you how many of your calls resulted in demos or meetings, how many calendar events were added, and how many emails were sent.
Taking these analytics and studying them can help you find the best times to call, rework your sales script, or increase your sales productivity.
This is just the start: learn how to cold call the right way.
It’s true: cold calling isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s dead.
You’re the one who determines whether or not your cold calls will be successful.
By putting these methods into practice, you’ll be preparing, calling, and following up for optimal success.
The more time you spend learning and practicing what you learn, the better you’ll get at cold calling and sales in general.
So, it’s up to you: are you ready to get out there and learn how to cold call the right way?