Cold calling has something of a reputation. Many sales professionals feel uncomfortable about it and customers often don’t respond. Yet, the practice still persists. It stands to reason then, that it can be an effective sales technique.
Businesses can attract leads with advertising and boost their visibility with Google My Business software. However, sometimes you’ve got to go out and find your customers.
This is especially true in business-to-business (B2B) sales. If you’ve got something to offer that can solve a problem for a business manager, they’ll be receptive.
When using this method, it’s important to manage your expectations. Making a cold call isn’t likely to result in a sale there and then. If done right, however, it can turn stone cold leads into red hot ones. Or at least it can start a process of warming a lead up ending in a quality sale.
What is cold calling in the 21st Century?
Once upon a time, cold calling meant knocking at someone’s door uninvited. This was in the time before telephony was invented. With the emergence of widespread telephone communication, cold calling grew into what we know it is today. In reality, cold calling means any unsolicited communication for the purpose of making a sale.
Communications methods used for cold calling:
- Text message.
- Message via social media.
To be effective, cold calling needs to be a thought out process. Make sure you have the right equipment, too, by selecting from the best phone systems for small business. Successful strategies will lead to sales. Let’s take a look at the hallmarks of successful cold call strategy.
Preparing for success
1. Who you gonna call?
Not the Ghostbusters, unless you’re selling ghost containment solutions. No, you’ll need to conduct some research to find potential leads.
Draw up a call list of realistic customers. Find the organizations you want to target through LinkedIn and Facebook. There you’ll find the necessary contact details and the individual who’ll be the point of contact. This person should be a decision maker within the target business.
2. What do you say?
Write a cold call sales script to kick off the conversation – you can even use it across communication mediums. You need to tell the potential customer who you are, why you’re calling, and what you’re offering. You can use different cloud phone systems to carry this communication. A script will help you keep focused and steer the conversation in the direction of a sale.
Ensure your opening is warm and friendly. It seems obvious, but it makes a good first impression. It will strengthen your possibilities of making sales. Don’t ramble on about just anything though. You’re contacting someone at work who has things to do. Respect their time.
3. Tailor your approach
The script is just a rough guide you can use across your call list. It doesn’t need to be read word for word. In fact, that can come across as monotonous after a few calls, so you might take steps to avoid coming across as overly scripted. Your actual conversation should be tailored to the customer or business you’re wanting to sell to.
Your research should tell you more about what you’ll need to say in each case. Before each call, see if there’s anything you’ve found on social media that you can mention in the call. For example, perhaps the customer posted on LinkedIn that they’re celebrating five years with their company. Congratulate them!
4. Come up with an open question
A good way to end your script is by asking an open question. Let’s say you’re selling an eSignature service. You could ask, “What eSignature solution do you currently use?” They may tell you that they’re very happy with their current DocuSign subscription. Conversely, they may tell you they don’t have one or they’re looking for alternatives. Now you’ve got your foot in the door.
Image sourced from hotjar.com
5. Set up a call log
You’ll need to establish a process for recording the details of calls. You could record the calls themselves, as long as you do so legally and with consent. Most importantly though, you’ll want to record how far along the sales journey you got with each call. This allows you to learn how to improve, and keep track of your leads. You’ll know which ones are worth pursuing again.
6. Don’t hide your number
Some cold-calling companies hide their number, hoping it will improve their chances of success. The call receiver may see a number that’s from a local area code but the call could originate from elsewhere. This is a mistake. People are familiar with this tactic and will likely ignore the call. So when contacting a potential customer via phone, display your actual business phone number.
Timing is everything
7. Are they ready to buy?
Your research will show how your product or service can help the potential customer. It may also reveal that they’re not ready to purchase from you anytime soon. Social media may reveal that a target is especially busy at the moment as is unlikely to be receptive. In this case, don’t waste your time or theirs by calling. Keep their details on file for a time when they’ll be more receptive. It’s possible to convert cold prospects when the timing is right.
8. Call at the right time of day
Image sourced from zippia.com
Generally, people are busy in the mornings. As a result, making B2B sales calls in the afternoon will yield more responses. Specifically, between 3pm and 5pm. People are also more likely to pick up the phone from 11am to 12pm, people are also more likely to pick up than at other times, as they’ll often begin slowing down for lunch. With that said, this isn’t a rule set in stone. Your research may uncover that a target has a different schedule, so adjust accordingly.
9. Call on the right day
According to research, the best day to make a cold call is a Wednesday. Call success rates are a staggering 46% higher than Mondays. Thursdays are a good day too, but expect less success. Again, these statistics are averages, and you should use your own research to decide when a call will be most effective.
On the call
10. Keep your focus
Upon getting the call going, be wary of the conversation meandering. Go with the flow of the conversation but make an effort to steer it to the purpose of the call. Make notes and answer questions, and always keep in mind that your ultimate aim is to generate business.
11. Don’t let them go easy
Ensure you avoid easy-outs. Once a customer picks up, do your best to keep the conversation going. Don’t ask if they have time for a chat, just start with your script. With that said, you have to respect their wishes if they insist they must leave the discussion. In that case, book a follow-up.
12. Be happy
No matter how the call is going, keep a cheerful disposition. This will improve your chances to convert. When you’re unable to make a sale it’ll be easier to try again if you’ve ended the conversation on good terms.
Don’t get disheartened
13. Overcome the nerves
Cold calling is a challenging activity, and it’s not unusual to feel nervous or reluctant. If you try to power through but you’re not feeling it, your potential customer will pick up on it.
When you’re feeling like this, take a breath. Have a cup of tea and relax for five minutes. Then, look over your script and your research for the next number on the call list. You’ve done the preparation so you can be confident when you’re making the next call.
14. Always learning
B2B lead generation is a numbers game. Not every call is going to be successful. Use failure as a learning experience. It can be painful but let it motivate you to improve. Review your call log to see where changes in approach can be made. Even successful calls will offer up lessons. Heed them.
15. No answer
You must leave a voicemail if nobody picks up. As of 2020, 94% of calls went straight to voicemail: this is still an opportunity. Write a script for these situations.
Most enterprise VoIP solutions will have an answer phone function. You can use it to get your main message across. Tell the lead what you’re offering and why it’s great in as concise a way as possible. Make sure to leave contact information and your web address.
Success: What does it look like?
16. Book a follow-up
It may be that you make a call and the person on the other end of the line is genuinely busy. In these cases, ask if you can make an appointment for a further call. If they agree, then you’ve got a warm lead to work on. If they’re unable to commit to a specific time, just ask if you can call again.
17. Call again and again
You can’t expect to make a B2B sale on the first call. On average, it takes six calls to convert a cold lead. Business buying decisions typically involve several stakeholders, so be patient and persistent. Your efforts will be rewarded.
Shown above are the hallmarks of a successful cold call strategy. Use these tips to up your game. Using a predictive dialer for call center operations makes cold calling even easier. Confidence, patience, and persistence makes cold calling a useful weapon in your sales armory.