Overwhelmed and frightened by having to make cold calls? You’re not alone. To take some stress off your shoulders, we’ve collected 9 simple tips to make cold calling a little bit easier.
Cold calling, the bane of existence both for consumers and companies. Do you hate cold calls as well? Do you see it as a method that requires far too much effort for such poor results? And is it far too stressful?
If you yes to any, or all, of the above questions then I’m pretty sure you are not alone. ValueSelling Associates and Selling Power research says that 48% of sales reps are afraid to pick up the phone and make cold calls. The reason? In 2007, it took an average of 3 cold call attempts to reach a potential buyer.
In 2014, According to TopHQ the situation has got much worse still, and it now takes 18 calls to actually connect with a buyer. I am not really surprised, though considering how many people see cold calling as a nuisance.
And with the number of other available means to reach potential customers, like emails or social media, shouldn’t cold calling be deader than disco?
Well, if you consider cold calling to mean phoning hundreds of random people with the hopes that someone will be interested in your product, then you’d be right that it doesn’t work anymore. But with a few tweaks to the old cold calling approach, many companies are finding to their surprise that this method is still working well. 41% of respondents to Marc’s Wayshak study said that phone calls are actually their best sales tool! How is that possible?
Well, a lot of cold callers still use those ancient “spray and pray” strategies. If out of a dozen calls they get one interested person, that’s a success for them. Don’t sell yourself short that way! If you adapt your cold calling strategy to modern times, you can get much more done in a shorter time and with far less frustration than now. How? Here are our nine cold calling tips on how to change cold calling from a daily chore to a vital asset in your company!
Nine cold calling tips for 2021
#1 Carry out pre-call research
We’re all familiar with those salespeople who call out of nowhere with a “fantastic offer”. Too bad it’s not at all what the consumer wants. Or maybe the client is interested in the offer, but later learns they’re not actually eligible for it. Case in point: some months ago, I answered a cold call about a Fibre internet plan offer. Unfortunately, the moment I declared my interest, it turned out that there’s no optical fiber cable in my neighborhood! Awkward, isn’t it.
You can avoid such embarrassing situations by:
- carrying out thorough research on your prospects before calling them
- knowing essential information about your consumers, it will help you customize offers to their needs and also help you to maintain their attention, without wasting your own time and energy on hopeless leads
#2 Write a cold calling script
Making several cold calls a day and talking with different people is no easy task. And it’s even harder (and more stressful) if you are a newbie and just started to learn the ropes. Having a call script with all of the necessary information, plus offering details and tips about how to deal with demanding or rude customers, would be incredibly helpful for both your new sales reps and experienced ones.
It would give them...
- a clear list of steps to take during cold calls
- detailed answers to frequently asked questions
- advice about facing sales objections
In case your sales reps get distracted, a cold calling script will help them get back on track.
Of course, a script isn’t there for your sales reps to read word for word. If a consumer thinks that they are listening to a pre-recorded message because of how robotic the call sounds, they will hang up. Treat it more as a helpful checklist of what should be mentioned during each call.
Don’t fear changing the script based on what does (and doesn’t) work during the calls either!
One of the main reasons people react with an annoyed groan to a cold call is awful timing. A sales pitch on Friday at noon? Or maybe a call on Monday morning?
Plenty of salespeople seem to prefer phoning in the early morning for some reason. Perhaps they think it’s better to call prospects before they start work and become too busy? But really, the last thing people tend to think about in the early morning is a new sales offer. You need to find a better time to call.
A good tip here is to analyze the call records you have in order to find out what days and times people most often answer the phone. Scheduling your calls to that time of the day might be just what you need to improve your sales performance.
#4 Learn how to deal with objections and rejections
Hearing a yes on a first sales call was possible several years ago, but nowadays the vast majority of customers will have their objections and doubts. But dealing successfully with sales objections might be just what seals a deal.
It’s especially worthwhile to learn how to answer the most common sales objections such as:
- “it’s too expensive”
- “I don’t need this product right now”
- “I’m already using something similar”
To help your sales reps overcome such obstacles, it’s a good idea to include guidance about how to deal with specific objections or doubts in your sales script.
Another issue that your sales reps must be familiar with is dealing with rejections. Try as they might, reps won’t be able to close every deal, so it’s crucial for them to learn how to take a “no” in their stride and move on to another prospect.
#5 Don’t start cold calls with a sales pitch
A lot of sales reps make this mistake. They start the call by immediately presenting their offer, without even asking for an opinion of the person on the other end of the phone. And if there is something that the consumer is looking for, reps often dive straight into selling their product or service. They might get lucky, and their solution might be exactly what the recipient needs at the given time, but is a sales reps job really about “being lucky”?
If you called me and started immediately talking about how excellent your product is without letting me say a word, I’ll just politely thank you and end the call.
However, if you...
- took your time to ask me what I need
- tailored the offer you are calling with to my needs
- and than started a sales pitch
...it’s an entirely different story!
If you want your prospect to stay on the line, start by gauging their needs and expectations, or risk them ending the call before you even manage to finish the pitch.
#6 Calls are a dialogue, not a monologue
Sales reps who start immediately with a sales pitch also often make another mistake, which is that they talk endlessly. The prospect may try, but they simply aren’t allowed to say a word, unless it happens to be “yes.” It’s like such reps think that the longer they talk, the more convinced the client will be. Quite the opposite is true in reality.
If you don’t give your clients enough time to talk about their needs and ask questions, you will likely be regarded as yet another pushy seller, and the call will be hung up. Besides, do you think that your prospects have the time to listen to a few minutes long speech? If there’s nothing in it for them, then no.
#7 Leave a voicemail
Some people don’t answer calls because they are busy or they just don’t notice the phone ringing. But there’s also another reason for not answering. 87% of respondents to a recent survey said they do not answer calls from unknown numbers.
No surprise here really, I don’t answer a call before checking the number either. So should you give up, or call several times during until the prospect answers the phone? In the first case, you are losing a chance to connect with that client. In the second, there’s a very high chance you will get blocked. Any other way?
Yes, leave a voicemail. I do check the names of people/companies that called me, but does it tell me why they called me? If you leave a voicemail with your name, company, the reason for calling, and your phone number, it’s more likely that the prospect will call you back.
Voicemails should be short, clear, and straight to the point. According to Hubspot, the best length for voice messages is between 20 and 30 seconds. It’s a good idea to have a voicemail script prepared in advance so as not to waste precious seconds on unnecessary details.
#8 Don’t give up...too fast
Cold calling is much more demanding nowadays than it was years ago, at least that’s what 61% of Marc Wayshak’s survey respondents said. What’s more, 44% of salespeople leave just one follow-up and then resign. Calling more times or sending further emails will only make them seem like nagging salespeople, won’t it?
Surprise - 75% of online buyers want to receive between 2-4 phone calls before a sales rep gives up on them. What might be even more surprising for you is that 95% of all converted leads are reached by the 6th call attempt. By not following up on a prospect, you are missing out on a large number of possible deals!
Be careful not to go overboard with following up on them though - you wouldn’t want to receive 12 calls, 2 emails, and a text message during a single day yourself, right?
#9 Automate your sales
Are you still updating your database by hand, putting important info on sticky notes, or scoring leads manually? You are wasting too much time and energy that you could spend on making calls.
Wouldn’t it be much better if...
- scheduling follow-ups,
- dialing numbers,
- updating the database,
- sending messages
What’s more, thanks to inbuilt analytics tools, you can quickly spot which of your prospects are most likely to be interested in your offer and which aren’t worth your time. Not only does that mean higher productivity and work performance, but also much less frustration!
For plenty of sales teams, cold calling is a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few strategy tweaks, a handy sales script sitting next to your reps, and smart automation tools like CloudTalk, you might be pleasantly surprised that making cold-calls is no longer as difficult as it once was. And maybe you’ll even think that people who say cold-calls are alive and well are actually right?