Published by : Paul E. Lafleur
Salespeople are reluctant to cold call, and the public is intolerant of them - yet cold calls are still very much relevant.
How can you explain this?
There's a stigma associated with cold calls, but they're critical in establishing a preliminary contact with a client.
There are, for example, 5 instances where cold calls are usually required:
- New salespeople - unless new salespeople are fed a lot of leads, they'll need to cold call to fill their pipeline;
- Size of the customer pool - the more prospects there are in an industry, the more chances a rep will need to cold call;
- Size of a rep's network - if a rep doesn't have a large enough network to leverage a constant flow of referrals, cold calling will be required.
- Expectations - if there aren't enough inbound leads for a rep to meet expectations, he or she will need to prospect;
- Skills - The worst a rep is at cold calling, the more of it they will have to do.
Sales teams can leverage proven methods to reduce discomfort and ease the client’s impatience.
What's the goal of a cold call?
The goal of a cold call is to convert a person from a suspect to a prospect.
Whether they pick up the phone and call or use social media to do research and even warm up the call before dialing, reps need their suspect to remain interested long enough to understand that they're reaching out in their best interest.
In other words, to bring a solution to their pain point.
Once a rep apologizes for interrupting the client’s day, they should ask if they could have a few minutes of their time. If the response is positive, they should first make their suspect reveal their pain point by asking the right questions. Once established, the next step is to set a date for a first base meeting to:
- Dive deeper to understand the prospect’s compelling reasons to buy,
- Establish your credibility,
- Build rapport and trust,
- Create urgency
Depending on the product or service, it’s possible to make a sale during this first contact. However, in most B2B sales this preliminary contact is to open the door for future discussions that might lead to a sale.
It’s imperative that the rep identifies an actual compelling reason to set up an appointment. The caller needs to avoid the most common mistakes made during cold calls.
Take advantage of different platforms
The game has changed since 10, 20 years ago:
- For one, knocking at front doors is entirely outdated.
- Second, phone calls, have made a surprising come back.
- Third, there are many more platforms for outreach than in the past: Phone calls, emails, LinkedIn invites, etc.
Telephone calls, i.e. direct human contact, remain the best method of outreach. They aren’t as intrusive as they used to be. Offices aren't as bombarded with the sound of incoming calls as they used to. The phone can be a refreshing change from the onslaught of emails in your prospect's inbox.
Cold call email tips
Too often salespeople confuse prospecting with sending emails. Email plays its role, but it’s become the junk mail of the 1980s – Ineffective.
Emails have become what phone calls were twenty years ago. Decision-makers get solicited by email several times a day. When a person dares to reach out to them by phone, they’re more willing to engage in a discussion.
Another danger is that business leaders tend to skim emails and forward them to people on the team. Salespeople can therefore end-up speaking with people with no decision-making power. They then have to work their way back up the chain to the decision maker - wasting time and prolonging the sales process.
If you’re going to use emails (most sales automation tools do), use them well. Here are a few tips:
- Use emails to warm up upcoming cold calls. Even if the VP or C-suite you’re targeting doesn’t reply, they might still see your name and the subject line.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of your subject line. It might be the only thing that’s read.
- Add value. Too many reps use cold emails to showcase their company, product or service. Instead, show the reader you’ve done your research and tailor your message, then add value and help them notice issues they aren’t aware of.
Takeaway: Avoid using emails, but if you need to, use emails, social media and calls as part of an outreach process.
How to improve cold calling
Only a handful of salespeople enjoy making cold calls. Why? Because it’s part of their sales DNA. It stems from an innate desire for success, the desire to bring a solution. A salesperson who doesn’t have this essential quality must study the various techniques that exist to improve their cold calls.
Whatever a salesperson’s hookups about cold calls, sales managers have at their disposal techniques and tools of great help to the rep.
Sales manager coaching
The fear of rejection is a powerful detriment to successful cold calling.
When a rep forces him or herself to go beyond their comfort level, they get better at whatever it is they didn’t want to do. Once they get better at it, they'll also enjoy it more, and that's the secret to success!
Group activities and competition
Competitions encourage reps to outperform peers and increase motivation and ambition.
Get representatives to conduct their cold calls all at the same time.
Sales managers can appoint a specific time during the day or week for all to do it at once, together. As misery loves company, this mitigates the anxieties that reps have towards cold calling.
Follow the script and role play
Have reps listen in on prospecting phone calls. Establish the importance of having their speech prepared, beforehand. Few things can go wrong once they follow an established, well-tested script.
Doing these activities shows the sales rep how to listen and ask the proper questions. Then, use role play to test their improvisation skills, while remaining loyal to the script.
Incorporate Sale Automation
Sales automation is a tool used to improve prospecting skills and get results. It automatizes the required activities as well as the deadlines to respect. The software helps reduce the possibility of forgetfulness and opportunities to procrastinate.
To guarantee a fruitful cold call, you must use all the available tools and methods at your disposal.
To what methods are decision-makers in different industries more inclined to respond to? Whatever that method is, use it. It’s a matter of personal culture, and as you cannot know which platform will attract your target, use them all. However, never forget – if your first touch isn’t a call then your only goal is to get the suspect on the phone.
Write a script and follow it! Remove the unknowns by sticking to a winning formula. Engage your suspect, identify their pain point and then propose a solution.
Finally, smile - it's felt on the other end of the line.