Some people like to say that cold calling is dead.
While this may be a fun phrase to repeat for those who aren’t fans of cold calling, the truth is that cold calling is still very much alive.
In fact, 49% of buyers say that the phone is still their preferred method of contact.
Among C-level and VP buyers, this number jumps to 57%.
In other words, cold calling is only dead if you’re not willing to put forth the effort to do it right.
To help you improve your cold calling skills and close more deals, we’ve gathered some effective cold calling techniques. Let’s make sure your cold calls aren’t dead.
Use these 9 cold calling techniques to step up your game.
1. Open with a clear introduction and a reason for your call.
When your prospect answers the phone, they immediately want to know two things:
- Who are you?
- Why are you calling?
Don’t try to sneak in a sales pitch without fully explaining who you are and the reason for your call. Get this information out there right off the bat: then they won’t have to interrupt your pitch to ask you who you are or what company you’re with.
First, start off with a clear introduction:
“Hi, this is Amy Closer from Copper.”
Make sure to include your last name and the name of your brand. Even if neither of these are recognizable to the prospect, including them will make you sound more authoritative and will help you gain their respect.
Now, the prospect knows who you are. It’s time to tell them why you’re calling.
A study by Gong.io found that using the phrase “The reason for my call is…” can actually increase your success rate 2.1 times.
Keep your reason short, sweet, and honest. Don’t try to sell them right in the first sentence, but make it clear what you’re offering and why you chose to call them in particular.
This ‘reason’ sentence is the crux of your introduction, and will help your prospect decide whether or not they’re interested enough to keep listening.
2. Develop the art of maintaining interest (not just gaining it).
Now that you’ve caught their interest with your opening, it’s time to keep it.
Even if you have the perfect introduction, the rest of your call is what will really define your success. If you nail the intro but botch the pitch, you still won’t get a sale.
Everything you say should lead to the next point. Make your script so clear and engaging by cutting out any unnecessary words and following a direct conversation path. Each sentence should leave them waiting for the next one, all the way to your pitch.
Not sure how to maintain the interest of your prospects on the phone? Here are three different cold calling techniques to pique (and keep) their interest:
Mention a competitor.
You can pretty much guarantee that your prospects are interested in anything that will put them a step ahead of their competition. So, mention their biggest competitors directly.
“It seems like you and [competitor] are on the verge of a major showdown.”
“I noticed that you recently included some new features to your product. [Competitor] must be starting to get worried.”
Then, turn that into a reason why they should be interested in your product.
“Something [competitor] isn’t doing well is [what customers use your product to accomplish]. If you really nail that, you could get a leg up on them.”
Now your prospect has a seriously good reason to keep listening.
Use pain points to show you understand them.
You’ve done the research, you know the industry, and you know your prospect.
At this point, you shouldn’t be asking what their biggest business issues are. You should already know them.
So, what are their pain points? What are the problems that keep them up at night? What dangers are currently threatening their business?
Use insights based on those pain points to capture their interest:
“You know as well as I do that keeping track of all the conversations your sales team has with prospects isn’t easy. And losing that kind of information could mean losing a valuable lead.”
Using common pain points in your pitch shows you understand their business, and sets you up as an expert. Once your prospects see you as an expert who gets their problems, they’ll be more willing to hear about the solution you’re offering.
Offer a result, not a product.
When you’re going in for the pitch, make sure it’s based on results, not features.
If you’ve already mentioned their competition or highlighted a pain point that they’re experiencing, they’re now primed to hear about your solution.
Just remember: don’t focus on the product. Focus on what it will do for them.
“If you could save all your prospect info in a way that lets the whole sales team have easy access to it, you’d make your team a real sales powerhouse. And I think we can help."
Use one or all of these points to keep your prospect’s interest right through to the pitch.
3. Perfect your tone and pace to portray genuine confidence.
Nobody wants to buy from someone who isn’t confident in what they’re selling.
On a cold call, you need to build trust quickly. If you’re not speaking confidently and clearly, you’ll lose the interest of your prospects.
Start with your tone. If you’re using a script, don’t read it like a robot. While it can be difficult to sound natural when you’re repeating the same words over and over again throughout the day, this is important. A more genuine tone that sounds like how you speak in normal conversation is more likely to build trust than sounding like you've been droning on disinterestedly about this for the past five hours.
So, make this a normal conversation. Don’t script out every word you’re going to say: instead, keep the general ideas and the line of conversation that you want to follow. That way, you’ll be able to speak more naturally instead of repeating the same words.
Next, make sure your pace is good. While it’s tempting to talk fast and get through the pitch quickly, speed-talking on a cold call could easily confuse and overwhelm the prospect. On the other hand, talking too slow makes you sound unsure of yourself.
To find the balance between talking too fast and too slow, take advantage of other experienced salespeople on your team. Run through your pitch with a colleague, and ask them to point out where you should slow down or speed up.
To improve the rhythm of your pitch, remove filler words like "um," "uh," "I mean," and "you know." They make you sound less confident. Record yourself saying your script out loud, and practice until those fillers are completely gone.
You’ll know you’ve perfected your tone and pace when prospects stop asking you to repeat yourself and the conversation flows naturally without abrupt stops and starts.
4. Use call data to determine the best day and time to cold call.
Everybody seems to have a different opinion about the best time to cold call. Looking through the (very) varied results of different studies (like this one... or this one), it’s perfectly normal to wonder if there really is a good time for cold calling.
The truth is, there may not be a “perfect” time to cold call, but there is probably a time that’s better than others. That being said, it has to be adapted to your prospects.
So, try this: track your call data in your CRM or even in an Excel sheet. Keep score of essential metrics such as:
- Number of calls made at a certain time
- Number of answers
- Number of calls that went to voicemail
- Number of answers that led to setting up a meeting
Then, take that data and figure out your answer rate and success rate for different times and days. With that information, answer these essential questions:
- When did your calls get answered most?
- What time had the least amount of answers?
- What time or day did you have the best success rate?
Doing this will allow you to organize your call data. Then, it’ll be easier to find the best time to cold call your unique prospects.
5. Take advantage of email tracking to nail your cold call timing.
If you track sales emails with your CRM, you’ll be able to see when people open your emails and attachments.
Then, instead of just waiting around for a response, you can take the initiative and call them while they’re still thinking about you.
Obviously, don’t be creepy: don’t call them right when they open your email or tell them that you know they opened your email.
Instead, wait a little bit. See where they go from your email. Did they click through to your website? Or maybe they followed a link to some information on your blog?
These are signs that these leads are warm. Once you’ve given them some time to digest your email or peruse your website, it’s time to get on the phone.
6. Ask open-ended questions that get them to talk.
Asking questions that lead to a yes or no answer gives you a 50% chance of getting shut down with a firm “No.”
Instead, try to phrase your questions so that they allow for a more elaborate answer.
Don’t say: “Would you like to try a CRM that integrates with G Suite?”
Instead, try something like:
- “What do you think about using a CRM that integrates with G Suite?”
- “Why do you think a CRM that integrates with G Suite would be useful?”
- “How do feel about using a CRM that integrates with G Suite?”
Then, when prospects answer these questions, make sure you’re really listening. The insights they provide here can help you guide the conversation and tailor your talking points to their specific needs.
7. Use the right questions to work around brush-offs and objections.
Sales objections are a part of cold calling. But don’t just give up. Instead, try to turn the conversation around with well-crafted questions.
One popular brush-off is when the prospect asks for information to be emailed to them, and then promises to get back to you.
Check out how one sales rep used a smart question to turn the call around and still got his meeting:
Questions can also turn around an objection. For example, if the prospect says they already have a solution, you could say:
“I get that changing to a new solution might seem like it’s not worth the effort. But if you don’t mind, I’m just curious: are you completely satisfied with the solution your using, or is there something you feel like you’re missing?”
Asking insightful questions when appropriate allows you to dig into the motivations behind the words, and may provide an opening to present your product as the solution they really need.
Of course, never be pushy. If a prospect is insistent on saying no, trying to continue the conversation will only antagonize him.
8. Shut down distractions while you’re cold calling.
Technology has made the world accessible to us wherever we are; and we in turn are accessible to the world.
The urge to check LinkedIn or Facebook, the email pop-up on your screen, or the ding of your team’s Slack chat—while the phone’s still ringing—are all very real distractions.
It’s time to turn those off.
If you’re using a Mac, turn on the Do Not Disturb setting (or Focus Assist in Windows). That way, you won’t see new emails or other notifications. In fact, you can even set your computer to go silent during certain hours of the day.
Focus Assist on a PC
Next, do the same with your phone.
Then, before you start doing any cold calling, make sure the only tabs up on your screen are the ones you need to make the calls.
Keep your CRM open to this prospect’s information, or keep your script on-screen. Everything else needs to go.
Cleaning up your computer, or even the desk it’s sitting on, can have a healthy effect on productivity. In fact, one study found that people’s performance decreased when objects in their field of vision were in disarray instead of being nice and neat. Clean up your field of vision, and you’ll be more focused on your call.
9. Take actionable lessons from every rejection.
Rejection is inevitable, but don’t let it get you down. Instead, make an effort to learn something from each rejection.
To start, try working on your script. Every time you get a rejection, make a note of where you were in your script when they shut you down.
Later, look back at the data. Is there a pattern? Is there one particular spot where you got more rejections? If so, it’s time to rewrite that part of your script and see if you can spice it up.
You can also try to learn something during a call. If the rejection was nice enough and the prospect seems willing, you could try to say something like this:
“I appreciate your honesty. If you don’t mind, I’m just curious: why don’t you think our solution will work for you?”
Use this question to get genuine feedback from rejections, and see what you can change to improve your script and perfect your cold calling skills.
Master these cold calling techniques and close more deals.
You have a goal when cold calling: ultimately, you’re trying to close. Whether the call ends with the promise of a meeting or another call, you’re working toward that ultimate goal.
However, the success of your cold calls depends on your finesse on the phone. You’ll need to speak clearly, maintain their interest, and ask the right questions. This will allow you to overcome some objections—but not all, so whenever you face rejection, consistently learn from your mistakes and improve for the next call.
These cold calling techniques are your next step towards reaching your full selling potential.