When you think about cold calling how does it make you feel?
Are you excited? Can’t wait to get on the phone?
Well, the truth is most salespeople dread cold calling. They put it off as much as possible because of the stress and anxiety it creates in them.
But to fill your sales funnel and grow business you have to make cold calls.
Since the majority of buyers don’t enjoy getting pitched to by a salesperson, you’ll need a good strategy in place before you even pick up the phone.
This post gives you simple tips and guidelines to help you make cold calls like a pro.
When to Make Cold Calls
Studies show there are good and bad times to call prospects.
My personal thought is that sales reps should be cold calling everyday if possible. The more often you make those dials, the greater chance you have of reaching an interested prospect.
I’ve successfully connected with prospects at days and times that weren’t ideal according to these studies done. Yet, the timing was perfect for them since they were just about to begin their buyers journey.
You’re probably well aware that buyers today are almost 57% of the way through their buyers journey before they even contact a sales rep. They conduct most of their own research and ask peers for product and supplier recommendations. So, it’s advantageous for you to be the first to reach them and provide whatever information they may need.
Here is some data from the studies conducted which highlight the ideal time to call prospects.
Worst Days to Cold Call
Mondays and Fridays are considered the worst days to cold call. Of course, this makes sense since it’s the beginning and end of the work week.
Monday morning people are trying to get back into their daily routine after being away. And, sometimes prospects have weekly department or team meetings already scheduled.
Friday afternoons aren’t the best either. You’ll find most people already thinking about their weekend and winding things down before they leave. The last thing any buyer wants to do is start a new conversation with a salesperson.
Use this time instead to gather a list of prospects you want to call the following week. Do some research so you’ll be well prepared when speaking with them. Pay attention to the fact that today’s informed buyer expects you to have done your homework about them and their company.
Best and Worst Times to Cold Call
The best time to cold call is in the morning between 8 – 9am. Prospects are at their desk, ready to begin their day. Because it’s early in the morning there are fewer interruptions so you’ll be able to ask questions without both of you feeling rushed.
Another good time is in the late afternoon between 4 – 5pm. Most are completing projects and other tasks and can spare a few minutes to talk. If some are still busy they’ll ask you to phone back in the morning. This now gives you a warm call to make.
The worst time to call anyone is during lunch between 11 – 2pm. Prospects are out to lunch and those working through their lunch will be irritated that you disturbed them. Make use of this time to follow up with other duties that require your attention and to take your lunch.
6 Tips to Cold Calling
1. Designate a specific time for cold calling.
As you start making cold calls you’ll quickly notice when you’re connecting with the most prospects. If you find it’s in the morning, then block this time off on your calendar and stick with it.
Be strategic and cold call at times that are best for your prospect even though it may not be the time that you prefer. This will really minimize the number of voicemails you run into.
If your find your calls are being blocked by a gatekeeper, then this post on How To Get Past A Gatekeeper can help.
Keep distractions to a minimum and focus solely on cold calling. This will allow you to get into a good rhythm of making call after call and you’ll soon build momentum.
Anyone who says cold calling isn’t a numbers game obviously hasn’t done it themselves!
2. Don’t let a no slow you down.
When you get rejected don’t take it personally or slow down and lose that momentum. It’s vital you continue making those dials and move on to the next call. Salespeople who have mastered the art of cold calling don’t dwell on the no’s. They understand that to get to a yes you must go through the no’s.
This doesn’t mean if they don’t have a current need or budget you should hang up on them. Instead, let them know your call isn’t to sell them something but rather you’d like the opportunity to find out more about their business.
Later when they begin their buyer’s journey to find a solution to a problem, they’ll know who you are and what your company offers.
So, schedule that appointment!
3. Pay attention to your voice.
I know it’s easier said than done but try to relax when you make cold calls.
Some people get so nervous their voice gets higher pitched or they begin talking a mile a minute.
You’ll need to get any anxiety you have under control so you can project confidence over the phone. After all, you’re trying to win over a prospect and want them to have confidence in you so they become a customer.
While it’s natural to be nervous cold calling strangers, here’s a few things to help you relax:
- Take a few long deep breaths before you begin your call. If you find yourself still rushing, then do this again to slow down your speaking.
- Acknowledge that you’re feeling nervous and anxious. While these feelings may not go away, you’re better able to manage them by accepting the uncertainty of the call – the worst that can happen is a prospect will say no or hang up on you.
- Imagine you’re speaking with another professional you’re already familiar with. Now try and be yourself so the conversation flows naturally and you engage them.
Relax, you’ve got this!
4. Smile and dial.
In sales, we already know that a smile transmits over the phone. That’s why it’s so important you smile when speaking with customers and when cold calling.
One thing that’s reminded me to do this is to place a small mirror in front of my phone. There are times when people ask why I’m so happy or want to know what’s going on at my work to make me smile.
It can be a great conversation starter, especially when they’re the ones initiating the conversation.
To maintain that smile and keep yourself energized try to set small goals for yourself.
Perhaps you could team up with someone next to you and see who makes the most calls in a set amount of time. You could even challenge yourself to see how quickly you can get 30 no’s (you know the yes’s will also come). I’m sure you can think up even more fun and creative ideas.
5. Make it about them.
Your initial call has to be all about the prospect and trying to engage them in a conversation. Find out as much as possible about them by asking open ended questions. Stay clear of sounding like a salesperson on the first call and don’t try to sell them anything.
Take a personal interest in them and their business. Most people love talking about themselves so ask questions about their role and responsibilities. You can also build on things you already know about them from your research.
6. Leverage your connections.
To help open doors with targeted prospects leverage any connections you have. A LinkedIn survey of more than 1500 decision makers and influencers found that prospects are 22x more likely to speak with someone they’ve been introduced to. In order to maximize your chances of success seek out as many introductions as possible.
How To Cold Call
Here are the 5 steps to follow.
- Purpose of call
- Qualifying questions
- Value proposition
Who are you? What company are you calling from?
Greet them by name and state your name and the company you’re calling from.
Purpose of Your Call:
Why are you calling?
Have your elevator pitch ready and make sure it grabs their attention. You’ve only got 10-15 seconds so keep it to one sentence.
“The reason I’m calling is because we help small companies (specific customers in their industry) resolve (specific pain point).”
“Some of my customers in (specific industry) have been struggling with (specific issue), is that something you’re dealing with as well?”
You want to immediately sound like an expert and not a salesperson. The 2017 B2B Buyers Survey Report found that 93% of buyers are looking to do business with those who are experienced and knowledgeable in their industry. So, mention a few companies who you’ve helped and that they’re familiar with to quickly build credibility.
Don’t forget to ask permission to continue talking.
There’s a good chance your prospect was in the middle of something when they picked up the phone. So, it would be rude of you to jump into a conversation without acknowledging your interruption.
Be sure to phrase your question positively instead of negatively.
“Is now a good time for you?” Instead of “Is this a bad time?”
If they say they’re busy don’t just apologize and hang up!
Schedule a better time to call them back and be specific.
“Are you available for a 10-minute call on Tuesday at 2pm or do you prefer Wednesday at 4pm? I want to make sure it makes sense for us to work together.”
Sometimes they’ll tell you to go ahead and ask questions to prevent you from calling back.
What are their pain points?
It’s not always easy getting a prospect to open up so when they do avoid interrupting.
Ask about their roles and responsibilities. Let them know you’ve done research on their company but would appreciate if they can give you more insight.
Keep a list of questions to ask nearby to help you probe deeper and uncover pain points. If you need more help with how to ask open ended questions read How To Qualify Prospects With Open Ended Questions.
A strategy that’s helped me open up the conversation is to get prospects to say yes right at the beginning.
I’d get them to confirm information I already had or ask leading questions that would prompt a yes response. For example, were they the main contact in purchasing or was their department responsible for all outsourcing? Simple questions will do. Your goal is to get them to lower their defenses so they open up.
After a few questions, you’ll hear them relax because they’re saying yes without buying anything. When they answered the phone, they were prepared to say no to anything and everything you were going to sell.
The Value Proposition:
How can you help them?
In order to move the conversation towards a meeting or follow up phone call, your prospect needs to understand how you can help them. Let them know what your company does and how well they do it. What benefit will the prospect get from using your product or service?
Make sure they’re following along with what you’re saying and you’ve addressed any concerns. It’s also helpful to make a list of objections ahead of time along with the answers to overcome them. Keep it handy for reference every time you cold call.
When’s the next appointment?
If a prospect has been following along and is in agreement with everything you’ve both discussed, then schedule the next appointment. Give them 2 options again so they have to make a specific choice. Do they prefer Tuesday at 3pm or Thursday at 10am?
Each and every time you meet with a prospect you should be adding value and moving the conversation along further.
Develop Your Cold Calling Strategy
Use these ideas to help you develop your own cold calling strategy. Set aside time regularly to call prospects and don’t get discouraged easily.
Keep in mind that each prospect is unique and has different needs so listen carefully to their concerns and always provide useful, relevant information.
By continuing to put a prospects needs ahead of your own, you’ll soon find your filling your sales funnel.
If there are other tips you want to pass along that have worked for you, then let us know below.