Tactics to improve cold calling success

Posted in Sales techniques and processes.

There is debate about whether cold calling is effective or not in our modern setting. How we see it, cold calling is being viewed in the wrong light. Cold calling is not a means to a sale. Rather, it is a means to set up further communication with prospects. Here are some ways in which you can succeed in doing that through cold calls:

Pursue worthwhile prospects

Of course, a promising prospect should be followed-up on. That is not what we mean. You can call every single person hoping that they may give you time to speak or are interested in what you have to offer, but that is a waste of time. You want to spend your time calling prospects who are the most likely to be interested in what you offer.

Do your research. Prospects should have a problem that your company can help to solve. What many people overlook is whether prospects want their problem to be solved or not. It is not about whether you think they need a solution or not, but whether they think they need a solution.

Lastly, make sure to call the people who can actually act on your offer. You could call Random Joe of company X, but if he can’t do anything, you are wasting your time talking to him regardless of whether he is interested or not.

Learn to handle rejection

No one likes being rejected. It is even worse when the person on the other end rudely hangs up. If you let it get to you it can potentially impact the rest of the calls you have that day. One way to alleviate the weight of rejection is to separate your cold calling persona from yourself. Rejection feels less personal when it is an “act” that is getting rejected and not yourself.

Once you are able to take rejection without hurt, you can more easily navigate the conversation. If the prospect has objections to your pitch, take them seriously. There is a chance that they are interested in something you provide. Try to reposition your pitch. If the prospect stops answering or doesn’t bite, stop right there. If they outright say no, end it.

Do not be afraid to ask why a prospect rejects your offer. You can learn a lot through feedback, especially if the prospect is polite about it. Future calls can then use the feedback you learned. Treat failures as a learning moment instead of a black stain and you will slowly pick a few things up.

Be efficient without being “salesy”

People do not like receiving calls out of the blue. Cutting straight to the point is appreciated. Furthermore, put the focus on them. What is in it for them? What are their thoughts on things? One tactic you could use is introducing yourself as quickly as possible and then begin discussions with a question.

Engage with the prospect with the question. People generally like to talk about themselves. It is shown that successful cold calls involve 50% listening and 50% speaking. Ask questions that surface the problems the prospect is having and use that as a segue into your pitch.

Your cold call is meant for conversing, not selling. Yes, your cold calls are done with sales in mind, but the actual call should not be made for direct sales. You should use cold calls to get a feel of the prospect and lead that into setting up an appointment for future communication. Prospects prefer going through their own sales process instead of being ushered through yours. That being said, do not end a call without some sort of confirmation. You and the prospect need to be on the same page.

Once you have the prospect’s interest to continue communication, end the call. You have, in essence, achieved your objection. Do not keep selling a prospect on a solution they already have positive feelings about. It is tantamount to selling past the close!

Read your script like an actor, not a robot

A robot will read a script as it is without deviating from anything that has been written down. An actor is able to take that script, add to it, take away from it, and mould it so that it fits the context better.

Know your script. Memorise the key details. After that, treat your cold calls as a conversation, not a speech. You should not sound like you are reading from a script – definitely not when you want to appear personable! There are two ways to go about things: either your script includes replies to various objections and questions; or it includes only pertinent information, leaving improvisation to you.

If you are not comfortable taking liberties with your script, do things step-by-step. Write a script and use it on prospects. Figure out where most of them shut you down. Rework the script and do the same process over and over until you can get through your entire script. Then, figure out which questions are the most successful – which ones result in longer answers? The better the question, the more prospects reveal. Once you have refined your script this well, you should be able to work more flexibly with it. Which questions work in which circumstances? Were there times older failures worked really well in a select few contexts? The more familiar with the script you are, the more you can adapt.

Follow up

After hanging up, send your prospect an email with your contact information and any simple information you could not convey in your initial conversation. Outline steps that you and they could follow in the future.

However, you can’t leave everything in the prospect’s court. Send follow-up emails to confirm further appointments and to answer any of the prospects questions. You may even need to do this up to five times.

It is only in follow-ups that you should start selling. Your cold call was only there to earn you the right to more time with the prospect. Thus, it is still your duty to get in touch with prospects.