Cold calling typically gets a bad reputation because of high failure rates. The truth is, most people that slam cold calling haven’t applied essential techniques that tremendously boost chances of success. While cold calling takes the right mentality and lots of effort, it’s still a great way to acquire new leads and expand your sales. But it takes some practice.
Cold calling is a telephone-based outreach to a business or customer that hasn’t been primed to know your brand. Door-to-Door salesmen are the physical retail equivalent of cold calling. You don’t know them, but they are eager to retain your attention.
Among the primary functions of cold calling is lead qualification. You’re probably not going to sell many customers on the first call unless they are already in a place to need what you’re selling.
Cold calling is a delicate task. In order to succeed, you must balance confidence, social awareness, timeliness, and consideration/empathy. Your job begins well before their phone rings. You need to know how to respond based on their first words when they pick up the phone.
Coming in hot and chipper may create anxiety and frustration in a customer who starts the call with overwhelm from three children making noise in the background. Your job is to switch on at the moment the other party answers, pull in as much context as you can, and immediately be able to build rapport with the call recipient.
When you’re looking to qualify leads through cold calling. You have to know your plays, what you need from them, and how you might be able to help them. If you’re selling CRM software to a small business, you might need to know things like their:
- Budget - How much can they afford to spend on software?
- Authority to Purchase - Do they need a business owner’s permission to pay?
- Need for your offering - Do they actually need your software?
- Timeline for purchasing - How long do they have until they need your software?
If you’re looking to partner with a mid-sized business, they may be more oriented toward their goals than their immediate budget. You might focus on their:
- Challenges - What do they struggle with as they are scaling?
- Authority to Purchase - Are you speaking with a first-line technician or a director?
- Money to Spend - They can probably afford it but how much do they need?
- Prioritization - What are they working to improve? How can you fit into their plans?
A large, enterprise-grade business often has more complex concerns, so you will need to be a little more thorough in evaluating their situation. You’ll want to consider things like:
- Goals - What do they do? How do you fit into their strategy?
- Plans - What will they do next? How can you help them do it?
- Challenges - What stands between their brand and success?
- Timeline - How quickly are they willing to buy-in?
- Budget - How much are they willing to spend for your solution?
- Authority to Purchase - Do they have authorization to spend on your solution?
- Negative Consequences - Will their superior punish them for improper spending?
- Positive Implications - Can your solution save time and capital expenditure?
Some of the most common cold call blunders can be attributed to a lack of preparation. People often fail to rehearse what they will do when their customer doesn’t respond as their script anticipates. If they haven’t rehearsed these contingencies, they must be able to move forward with impromptu selling.
Methods that can help with this include:
Sometimes, however, the representative is selling flawlessly, or at least as flawlessly as they can when the customer yawns and proclaims…
“Yeah… I don’t think we are a good fit.”
A definite confirmation that your brand isn’t what they need (yet). This is where lead qualification will create an opportunity. A solid rep will have asked them questions that you will be able to reference later, made detailed notes about everything they said, and probably even knows what they had for breakfast that morning.
If the rep plays their cards well, however, that “hard no” can convert into a “hell yes!” in the future. You may run into a barrier here, however—if the reps aren’t making enough calls, they may come off too rehearsed or unrelatable. Perhaps even worse, they may push a big-ticket sale without having any connection or clearly relating how that sale can benefit the customer.
Cold calling is about being real with customers, while also leading them to reach the conclusion that they really, REALLY need your business to help them. Sometimes this nurturing process can take weeks, months, or even years. Patience is the number one most important skill for a salesperson to have, but pay attention to these useful cold calling tips.
Salespeople need access to a baseline of how your customers might interact with them. Without a script, they can wing it, but they may struggle to close deals that a script could’ve won effortlessly. Scripts do require rehearsing, but they can’t cover everything a customer might throw at them. Flexibility is a huge strength in sales, one that can be trained through repeated use.
The first thing a salesperson must do is build rapport with their call companion. If there’s no connection between the caller and the recipient, then nothing will be sold. Part of establishing rapport lies in having a clear goal from the outset. If you’re calling an unqualified lead, that may be introducing them to your brand.
Regardless of which stage of the call you’re at, listening will always take priority over closing the deal. The fastest way to kill deals lies in turning your ears off and letting your mouth roll on autopilot. When you stop listening, you’re likely to come off as pushy and callous, perhaps giving an impression that their words don’t really matter.
For most of the sales process, you’re going to be focused on deepening the conversations you have about the sale. That may include talking about price, about the lifestyle of many previous buyers, speaking on competitive advantage, and especially on topics like sustainability and business ethics.
The reason patience is such an important skill in sales lies, perhaps most strongly, in the tone of your voice. Speaking too slowly may cause their interest to taper off, while speaking too quickly at the wrong times can make them feel pressured. Tone is about more than just speed, however.
A friendly tone can help warm leads to your brand and build rapport from the first word exchanged.
That sounds very different when your voice is ringing with liveliness and the customer can hear how excited you are to speak with them, as opposed to when your voice is flat and monotonous. 93% of cold call success comes down to the tone of your voice.
There’s a simple benchmark for success in sales:
If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you’re crushing it.
Reach Rate measures your ability to get a response from someone. If you can get a response from 30% of people you contact, you’re on track for a solid quarter.
Qualification Rate means that a customer has taken some form of action that you have instructed. That may be providing their email, booking a consultation, or even just giving you permission to call them again. If this describes over 50% of the people you reach, pat yourself on the back.
If you’re getting stonewalled at “Please send me more information,” you’re failing to get their attention meaningfully. They don’t want to be rude, but they aren’t willing to give you the time of day.
When this happens, eagerly noting your intent to oblige and asking for their email is a great way to carry their momentum forward while also keeping yourself from over-asking, or wasting their time. If they give it to you, asking about a certain interest is a good way to further qualify them.
Don’t forget, people are exponentially more likely to comply when given a reason. One common reason for asking the interest is to send them the most relevant content. This shows that you care about their time and that you don’t intend to spam their inbox with irrelevant content.
Close Rate tracks how many sales you’ve made. If you’re able to sell to 50% of the people you’ve qualified, then things are working as intended. The closer you get to 100%, the better, but 50% means that all of the targeting, research, and preparation has been effective.
Whether you’re a business owner, sales manager, or other authorized representative with a need to drive sales in short order, reach out and speak with us about managed sales operatives who can support you today and as you scale into your tomorrow.
Topics: cold calling