The Ultimate Guide to Cold Calling

Gautham  Nagaraj

By 

Gautham Nagaraj

Published 

May 20, 2022

The Ultimate Guide to Cold Calling


In today’s digitally adept world, consumers typically associate cold calls with annoyance. When asked, most people would prefer not to receive a cold call. However, as a sales representative, it becomes imperative to boost outreach and sales, and a great way to achieve this is by acing the art of cold calling. But how do sales reps deliver effective cold calls? Let’s find out. 

Is cold calling dead? 

Gone are the days when sales reps would flip through a telephone book and pick up the phone manually to reach prospects. In a world of caller IDs and insistence on taking appointments, it might seem like cold calling is dead. In fact, according to a study, cold calls are ineffective 69% of the time and have a significantly low conversion or win rate. 

So how then do modern businesses protect themselves to get new leads? 

The answer lies here - if you think about it, cold calling isn’t dead; the concept has developed into effective strategies that sales reps use to generate leads. 

If you’re wondering how to cold call for sales, we are here to help. 

What is cold calling? 

Cold calling is the manner in which a sales rep solicits a prospect without having had any previous interaction with them via call. One of the oldest forms of cold calling is telemarketing, where salespersons would convince prospects to buy products on the phone via cold calls.

Initially documented in 1873, cold calling began as a way for John Patterson to hone his sales training and convince strangers about how beneficial the products he was selling would be to them. In the 19th century, telemarketing became a popular mode of advertising as these telecentres began to be set up across North America where telephone operators would individually call strangers using a phone book to sell them products on the phone. 

Over time, telemarketing became an extremely popular form of sales as it formed the foundation of customer outreach and lead generation. Today, cold calling has developed into a more targeted form of communication where salespeople avoid losing out on even a single prospect by being thoroughly prepared for their sales pitch.

Cold calling vs warm calling 

Yes, there are two types of calls that sales reps make - cold calls and warm calls. What’s more effective when it comes to cold calling vs warm calling? 

Cold calling is a practice where the prospect is contacted by a sales rep without having expressed any prior interest in the product. A warm call on the other hand is one where the prospect (or customer) has already expressed interest in the product. 

Become a pro cold caller: cold calling tips 

B2B cold calling involves two businesses interacting with each other. For example, a logistics company calling a retail cosmetics company to pitch their warehousing and delivery abilities. As part of B2B sales, cold calling is highly essential. 

This is primarily because most buyers at the senior level prefer personalised phone calls. Having said that, the B2B sales calling journey can be a tough nut to crack. Let’s take a look at some tips for successful cold calling in the B2B space: 

1. Research your prospects

As a B2B sales rep, you often speak directly to the executives in a company. Therefore, it becomes all the more important for you to know your prospect well. Hence you must explore the business, understand whom you are speaking to, and go through their annual reports.

Additionally, you could also go through their publicly available financial or press releases to understand their needs better. You never know what information helps you strike a conversation with them, or better, crack the deal. 

2. Reach the right people

Often cold calls don’t work because they are made to the wrong people. If you’re cold calling a business and trying to make a sale, it’s important for you to reach someone who has the authority to take a purchase call. Ensure you do your homework and call the right people who can make business decisions and take commercial calls.

3. Memorize the basics

Pitching to B2B prospects can be difficult. That’s why we suggest keeping a script handy. Use the script to save time, have an introduction prepared, and make some space in the conversation to discuss why you are a right fit for the prospect’s business. Keep in mind that while a script acts as an outline, it can also sound repetitive and robotic. 

So, as you go with the script, don’t forget to create a personalized approach that helps the prospect understand you have taken the time out to get to know them, understand their background, and also appreciate their time. A script can be excellent for boosting your confidence, so use it to your advantage.

4. Build trust

When you’re cold calling, you’ll likely have the first few seconds to build trust with your prospect so that they don’t simply disconnect the call. The first thing to ensure that is to call from a local number. 

The minute someone sees that the call is coming from an unknown number, international number, or a call center, they are more likely to reject the call. 

5. Qualify your leads

While cold calling seems like something one would do off the bat, it also involves a little bit of preparation. If you want your cold call to be successful, qualify your lead before speaking to them.

Understand the prospect’s background and demographic, find common ground to strike a conversation, find out the challenges they are facing vis-a-vis their business, and understand their goals or objectives. This will help you create a strong customer profile or persona, and help you make a pitch that stands a better chance.

6. Timing is everything

Calling prospects at the right time is very important, especially if you’re reaching out to high-level executives and management personnel. Since they have other priorities, you need to speak to them at a time that they have the bandwidth to digest what you are saying to them.

There are some tactics around making a cold call at the right time. Some studies say that a great time for B2B cold calls is on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Avoid making calls at the start or the end of the workweek. 

7. Don’t just focus on hard selling

In the following scenario, what do you think is going to work in your favour? 

(a) providing your prospect with the features of your product in a file they can download 

(b) giving your prospect a solution to their business’ pain points

A great way to crack a B2B sales call is by building a relationship that begins with showcasing assistance. If your prospect senses that you’re actually there to help them out, they may be encouraged to know more. 

8. Engage the prospect

Getting a prospect on the call isn’t the tough part; engaging them in conversation is. Start engaging the prospect as soon as the call connects. 

Remember, you have very little time to make a first impression. Know what you are going to say well and talk to the prospect in a personal manner to build rapport.

Here’s a blog post with some rapport-building questions to help you engage your prospects during the dreaded cold call.

9. Use technology in your favour

Choose good software to make cold calls: from the right calling technology (to ensure the call doesn’t drop or has poor sound quality) to automating call reports and gathering data. 

10. Review calls

Great salespeople know that there’s always room for improvement. Reviewing your sales calls helps you keep track of your progress and is great for growing your business. Use reviews to measure the performance of your calls. 

You can hear your voice and see how well you answered the customer’s concerns or how well you utilised the given time to your benefit. Understand what worked and what didn’t work on the call as part of your cold calling strategy. Use these calls for training purposes to help your employees and colleagues pick up on the right tactics and strategies.

11. Don’t let the fear of rejection take over

One of the biggest reasons why people avoid cold calling is because of the rejection associated with it. Since the success rate for cold calls is on the lower end, it’s important to know that rejection is part of the process.

Instead of feeling dejected, continue to be persistent, learn from your mistakes, and use rejections as a motivational push. Handle objections well; learn from them instead of feeling down. 

The above-mentioned tips will help you become a pro cold caller, but what about the rest of the skills? Read this blog to find out what it takes to become the next quota-crushing SDR at your firm in no time.

Effective cold calling techniques and mistakes to avoid 

Today, prospects are more aware of the market. So, as a salesperson, it’s important for you to be completely aware and abreast of dynamics and trends. As a recap, here’s what an effective cold call should comprise.  

1. Make a checklist/ script

2. When you call, make sure you get the prospect’s attention

3. Start driving the prospect curious by talking to them about how your product can make a difference to their business

4. Don’t forget to build a relationship

For a comprehensive checklist on cold-calling, read this blog post.

Sales is tough and even with all the help to make cold calls perfectly, something’s always bound to go awry. But that’s alright. Here’s how you can be smart about cold calling, and avoid mistakes that most sales reps make.

1. Don’t call based on a static list

While cold calling is a great way for you to reach prospects and improve outreach and presence, there’s a lot of rejection involved in randomly cold calling people, especially if that list has become static.

You need to spend some time weeding out the dormant contacts from your database so that your cold calling success rate is higher. 

2. Don’t call without researching the prospect

If you fail to read up on the prospect or the business, that’s a failed cold call right there. Remember, you’re getting an opportunity to speak to a business and convert the cold call.

Before you take that chance, read up on not just your business, but the prospect’s business as well. Understand their pain points and pre-empt where you can fit into their needs. 

Here’s a blog to help you identify common customer pain points and tips to solve them.

3. Don’t Stick to the Script

Most sales reps will tell you that every cold call, even though it starts similarly, ends differently. While it’s important to be prepared with a script that helps you introduce yourself to each prospect, it’s important to make the prospect feel that the call has been personalised to suit their needs, and really listen to the challenges they are facing. 

4. Don’t Be Too Friendly

While it’s important to strike a conversation with the prospect on the other end, it’s also important to maintain a certain level of professionalism on the cold call.

Use formal language and maintain a consistent tone with the prospect. Speak to them in a familiar but confident tone that conveys seriousness. 

5. Don’t Forget About Your USP

When cold calling clients, sales reps can tend to get too wrapped up in the client’s needs. While it’s important to listen to your clients, it’s also important to remember why you’re calling them, what your objective is, and how you can get the message across.

To do this skillfully, it’s important for sales reps to know their product inside out. The minute a prospect talks about an issue, a sales rep should be able to find a way to stitch the product into the conversation, to solve the prospect’s issue. This will help establish trust not only with the product but also help the prospect gauge how well you know the business. 

When is the best time to cold call? 

Most marketers and sales reps consider the time between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM as a great time to cold call prospects. Generally, this is the time that a prospect is more likely to be at their desk and free from operational disruptions. 

Undertake successful sales cold calling 

If you’re still wondering if cold calling works, we hope we’ve given you a few things to think about in this respect. Follow these top tips on cold calling to improve your sales game. While cold call strategies have developed with time, cold calling isn’t dead and yes, it still works. We’ll leave you with one more cold-calling strategy. 

1. Take a pen and paper and jot down the top 3 things your product solves for every customer. 

2. Figure out a validation question to ask your prospect. This involves asking your prospect a question and answering it using your product. 

3. Finally, research online to understand how your competitors are pursuing their prospects and selling to them. 

If done right, cold calling is a great way to reach new prospects and attract more eyes to your business. Every sales rep has their own strategy to cold call clients, and over the years, they end up perfecting the strategy. Use these effective cold calling tips to create your own sales cold calling template, so you can wow your prospects and win them over! 

For more information on how you can perfect your cold calling technique, browse Outplay’s Call of Fame. Listen to real-life cold calls made by some of the world’s leading SaaS providers for some game-changing insights. 

Also, sign-up here to leverage Outplay’s inbuilt dialer and accelerate your cold calling engine 

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