Is cold calling dead? No, not at all. And quite frankly, it never will be! Over 90% of all customer interactions take place over the phone. Cold calling is still a primary method of communication for the majority of salespeople and it works when executed properly. That’s the key. Bad cold calling is what gives cold calling a bad rap! Here’s some of our tips to avoid the most common mistakes.
Timing is Everything
Most salespeople contact their prospects between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is often the busiest time for employees, so prospects are less likely to take your call. Plus, lunchtime falls in that time frame, and it’s highly unlikely that an employee will want to take a sales call while enjoying that downtime. Try switching your routine to cold calling in the morning as soon as the work day begins – and between 4 and 5 p.m. before employees are getting ready to leave for the day.
Know Your Prospect
Knowing vital details about your prospect could be the key that wins you an in-person meeting. Before you even pick up a phone, do your research. See who your prospect’s current vendors are and if they had recent company changes such as new staffing, mergers, investments and/or funding.
Our rule of thumb is that you don’t need to do more than 5 minutes of research before a call. Review the key players, get a general understanding of what the company does and do a quick online search for any major news. There is no need to search your prospect’s Facebook profile or Twitter feed to gather information to connect with them on a personal level. They don’t know you and you risk appearing like a stalker. If you get them to the next conversation, then it’s acceptable to have done some additional research and you can feel free to leverage more personal things. (ie. ‘I was also at UMass when Marcus Camby played there. Wasn’t the Mullins Center electric during those games?’)
Don’t Pitch Your Product
As counterintuitive as it may sound, a cold call is not the time to pitch your product … yet! The goal of your cold call is to secure a time for a 20-30 minute conversation to determine if you may be a fit to help them solve a problem. That’s the time to pitch your product. When you try to sell on the first call, you’re invariably rushing to get out as much info before they choose to hang up. That’s not selling. If your well-crafted value proposition hits on a particular pain point for them, they may be intrigued enough to learn more in a separate call, where everyone is best prepared to have that conversation. The second conversation is your goal.
Practice Good Phone Etiquette
Whether it’s a receptionist or CEO who picks up your call, you need to be polite. Be respectful in your tone of voice. Don’t chew gum (seriously, some people do…), and don’t call someone while your coworkers are blaring music or having loud conversations. Practice common sense to demonstrate your professionalism at every touchpoint.
Don’t Be a Robot
Having a script for cold calling isn’t a bad thing, but sounding scripted is. Prospects are usually turned off by the typical “sales voice” where the tone feels impersonal and manufactured. Try to be more conversational – as if you’re speaking to a friend. You should also be wary of your opening line. Remember that you’ve interrupted their day–they weren’t expecting to hear from you. So recognize that with a disarming phrase such as ‘Good morning, Carl. This is Jenna Frye from FRONTLINE Selling. I’m sure I caught you in the middle of something…’ They will inevitably say ‘yes’ but allow you to state the purpose of your call. (It’s an innate courtesy built into all of us!) You can also start your call by noting a referral from another prospect (if this is indeed the case). Using that familiar name will immediately get their attention.
Ask, Don’t Tell
Focus on your prospect and let him or her guide the conversation. Be sure to ask relevant questions throughout your sales call. Find out what your prospect’s needs are and if your product can provide a solution. Don’t be too aggressive in your call. Dominating or interrupting the conversation with a hard sell will only turn off your prospect.
Schedule a Next Step
Steer clear of being vague about future plans. Ending with, “I’ll contact you again soon” isn’t going to cut it. Secure a next step with your prospect before your call is over. You need to state the actual specifics and times. For example, “I’d love to set up an in-person meeting with you next week. Would you be available Wednesday between 10 and 11 a.m.?” By securing a next meeting, you can maintain momentum and keep the deal moving forward.
Train Your Team
Even when you know what you should say during a cold call, talking to a stranger on the phone can be nerve-wrecking. Staccato Pro’s Call Simulator allows you and your sales team to practice sales calls before ever contacting your prospects. The Call Simulator guides you through every possible scenario so reps can feel confident – no matter what situation arises.