While marketing has drastically changed over the years with businesses adopting content marketing, social media marketing, etc., the art of cold calling is an evergreen, ever-present form of marketing that holds value even today.
Cold calling, however, has a negative connotation attached to it. Sales reps dislike cold calling because of the negative reactions (or lack of reactions) they get over the phone from their prospects.
If you want to maximize your revenue, you probably do not want to ignore cold calling.
In this article, we shall discuss everything you need to know about cold calling to optimize your calls and generate more revenue -
- What is cold calling in sales?
- Advantages and disadvantages of cold calling
- Common B2B cold calling mistakes
- Cold calling techniques and practices for effective cold calling
What is Cold Calling?
Cold calling is the process of reaching out to potential customers whom you have probably never contacted, and who have not expressed interest in your products or services.
As you may already know, cold calling is challenging and can often be an unpleasant experience. Several ‘experts’ have gone as far as to claim that cold calling is dead.
Here are some common myths that you may have heard:
- Cold calling is dead
- Cold calling is forced
- Cold calling is merely a numbers game and quality doesn’t count for much
- Cold calling is too intrusive and interruptive
- Cold calling is forced
According to HubSpot, 82% of buyers accept meetings with sellers who proactively reach out.
Benefits of Cold Calling
Here are some vital benefits of cold calling:
Reaching New People
People often aren’t looking for solutions to the problems they have. In fact, they may not even be aware of their problems. You can cold call such prospects and make customers out of them.
Train Yourself and Mastering Your Sales Pitch
Cold calling makes for an excellent training ground for newbie sales reps. Cold calling allows you to practice your pitch with different prospects at scale. The more cold calls you do, the faster you master your pitch.
Disadvantages of Cold Calling
Cold calling does have its disadvantages. Here are a couple of them:
It Can Get Annoying
Let’s face it - cold calling can get annoying. Calling people you have never spoken to, out of the blue to pitch your products or services can annoy them, making it an unpleasant experience for you.
Difficult to Reach Decision Makers
Reaching decision-makers through cold calling is challenging. You are more likely to connect with them over email or on LinkedIn.
Common Cold Calling Mistakes
If you are learning to cold call, start by learning the common mistakes that sales reps make. Here are the main things you should NOT do while cold calling:
Talking and Not Listening
Talking AT the prospect continuously is a big no-no. Instead of rattling stats and blindly throwing your pitch without any regard for their reaction, stop for a second, ask them questions and listen to what they have to say.
Doing this makes it easier to have a fruitful conversation, find out what they are looking for, show them you can give them that, and ultimately close the deal.
Using automated recordings, universal scripts, and overall sounding monotonous is a big red flag. The last thing you want is to show your prospect that you do not care enough about them to help them solve their problems.
If you sound monotonous, they will get the impression that you are trying to pitch them the same thing you are pitching everyone else.
Being Overly Apologetic
Sure, you need to show empathy and a bit of ‘human-ness’ when you speak to every prospect. However, being overly apologetic is counter-intuitive to getting them to respond. If you open the conversation with ‘Sorry to bother you,’ what do you think the chances are that they will stay on the call?
Not Getting Past the Gatekeeper
Ever found yourself talking to an assistant or a receptionist and politely having them decline what you had to offer. Well, that’s their job - to keep unwanted calls away from the decision-makers. Ideally, you want to pitch your products and services to decision-makers because they have buying power.
Asking Them ' Is Now a Good Time?’
This one is somewhat linked to being over-apologetic. It is NEVER a good time for them, especially if they are talking to someone they do not know. So there is no point in being over-apologetic and giving them a way out right at the start.
If they really do not have the time to talk, let THEM tell you.
Best Cold Calling Practices to Follow
Now that you know what mistakes you should avoid, here are a few excellent cold calling tips you ought to follow to maximize your cold calling efforts:
Do Your Research
No fruitful cold call happens without research. You need to put in the time to do your research before you talk to your prospect. Otherwise, you will not know what the prospect wants, which means that your chances of converting them are abysmal.
Like in other forms of marketing, you need to personalize your pitch for each customer. Otherwise, you come across as someone who cares more about selling a product than giving the customer what they want.
Check their social media profiles, company website, and your CRM (in case you have spoken to them before).
Go Through Your Call List
Go through your call list and continually keep track of all the prospects you are scheduled to speak to.
Have an Idea of What You Want to Say
With cold calls, you do not want to wing it. You will need to have a small script that outlines the primary things you are going to talk about. Of course, reading it word-to-word would hinder your authenticity, but you could use it as a guide while speaking to your prospect.
Make sure you have the answers to the following questions:
- Who are you?
- Why are you talking to me?
- What do you want from me?
- How will I benefit?
Have Scripts for Different Types of Prospects
In general, you want to have multiple scripts to handle different kinds of prospects. For example, your script for a gatekeeper might be different from that for a decision-maker.
Get Used to Rejection
Beyond a certain point, cold calling is a numbers game, which means that you will face (a ton of) rejection. You will have to get used to rejection and move onto the next prospect. The more cold calls you do, the more rejection you will face, and the more you will desensitize yourself to it.
Sure, cold calls are, well…cold. But, that doesn’t mean you should jump on a call without any prior practice. It helps to rehearse your lines or script before you get on the call. That way, you will be fairly ready with your pitch, you will refrain from sounding monotonous, and you will sound more confident.
Practising before the call is especially useful if you are just starting out with cold calling.
Listen More, Talk Less
When you’re talking to a prospect, you need to find out their pain points and help solve them. You will not be able to do that if you do not listen to the prospect. Give them the opportunity exactly what they are looking for, and you will increase your chances of carrying the conversation further.
Don’t Let Them Off Easy
As mentioned earlier, do not open with ‘Is this a bad time?’
People aren’t particularly inclined to talk to people they do not know. Giving them an easy out or an excuse to leave the call will not help you. If they must leave, let THEM tell you.
Time Your Cold Calls
You’ve done your research, have a rough script ready, and you’ve practised your pitch enough. You still need to time your cold calls properly. Calling them at the right time can be the difference between closing that customer or not closing them.
Avoid calling your prospects on Friday or the weekend. According to Call Hippo, the best time to cold call them is between 4:00pm and 5:00pm on other weekdays. You can also call them between 11:00am and 12:00pm.
Talking to the Right People
When you start making cold calls, you will generally find yourself on the phone with a gatekeeper or a decision maker (generally it’s a gatekeeper).
A gatekeeper is put in place to keep cold callers at bay. Assistants, receptionists, etc. are gatekeepers.
A decision maker is someone who has the buying power and authority to accept or decline your pitch. CEOs, sales managers, etc., are decision-makers.
When talking to a gatekeeper, make sure you:
- Polite, friendly, and respectful
- Do NOT sell your pitch to the gatekeeper
- Be honest (for the most part)
When you are talking to a gatekeeper, the objective is to get through to the decision-maker. In other words, you need to build a rapport with the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper has no authority or decision-making power, but they may have access to the decision maker’s schedule.
They may even have control over their schedule. If you want to get through to the decision-maker, you need to build trust with the gatekeeper. Refrain from treating them as an obstacle to overcome. Instead, look at them as a resource you can use to boost your success.
When you talk to a decision-maker, it’s more about your value proposition than building rapport (although this is also important). You need to use the information you get from the gatekeeper to present your pitch in the best possible way.
By that, we mean, pitch your products or services and outline how they can help solve the prospect’s pain points.
While there are different, more popular forms of marketing in this day and age, cold calling has its place. Unlike what many in the industry claim, cold calling is not ‘dead.’ While it is challenging and often unpleasant, it serves as an excellent training ground for aspiring newbie sales reps. If you plan on pursuing cold calling, cold call strategies may not be enough. Consider using a cold calling tool to simplify your cold calling efforts. Outplay’s dialer can help you do this.