Some say cold calling is dead. However, the numbers don’t lie. In 2019, 69 percent of buyers report accepting one or more cold calls; and 82 percent of buyers say they’ve accepted and arranged meetings with salespeople after a series of calls—which initially began with a cold call.
If you aren’t having success, you may be making the same cold-call mistakes time and time again. It’s easy to blame the customer or the product, but to strengthen your skills and grow as a competitive salesperson, it’s important to take ownership, learn, and try again.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” — Robert Collier.
The “Don’ts” of Cold Calling
If you’re making the following mistakes, it’s time to rethink your approach. Making small, simple changes day after day, call after call, can lead to significant improvements.
1. Not Listening
“Most people think “selling” is the same as “talking” — but the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.” — Roy Bartell
Listening is not the same thing as hearing, which is why your ability to listen, like actually listen, is imperative. Learning how to listen can actively increase your emotional and social intelligence, both of which are in high demand within the modern workplace.
To truly listen to someone, you need to process not only the words they speak but also their tone of voice. If a prospect asks you a question, don’t start rambling on about what you think is important in regard to their question or concern. Instead, pay attention to what it is they’re saying. What are they trying to get out of the conversation?
2. Not Engaging the Prospect
If you go more than 30 seconds without engaging the prospect or client, then they’ve likely lost interest. More importantly, when you do not bother to engage the individual on the other end, you’ll miss out on valuable information. Once you open up communication, you will begin to understand what a prospect’s needs are — and then by identifying those needs, you will be able to move farther along the sales cycle.
“How you sell matters. What your process is matters. But how your customers feel when they engage with you matters more.” — Tiffani Bova
Even asking something as simple as, “sounds good?” or “do you have any questions for me?” can provide you with insight. Ask open-ended questions that count. You want the prospect to open up because the more you know, the easier it will be to strategize and adapt. What you don’t want to do is open your initial conversation with “hey, how are you?” — it annoys prospects and immediately screams salesperson. The goal is to not sound like everyone else.
3. Being Dead Set on Pitching and Nothing Else
“Sales is not about selling anymore, but about building trust and educating.” — Siva Devaki
If you’re pitching before you’ve built a rapport, it’s time to reinvent your approach. If you make the conversation about you and not your prospect, you’re not going to get very far. Regardless of what you’re selling, you need to remain genuine. Approach cold calls as if you are real people, talking about real things because that’s exactly what you are.
4. Sounding like a robot
There’s being prepared and then there’s sounding like a robot. Although it’s important to have some sort of script to follow, don’t allow it to weigh you down. Those who are most successful speak to their prospects like they would their friends or family in terms of their tone. Of course, you’ll want to inject a little extra pizazz and professionalism — but the main thing to remember is, people wanted to be treated like people.
In many ways, cold calling is a performance. Just like an actor, you can have a script — you just can’t read directly from it.
5. Giving Up Before It’s Began
Have you called a prospect three times and haven’t yet spoken to them? If so, know that it takes an average of eight cold call attempts to reach a prospect. When it comes to cold calling, you need to be persistent and determined. Even when you do get a hold of a prospect, don’t expect an immediate close.
Considering 80 percent of sales require five follow-up calls after the first meeting, and 44 percent of sales reps give up after one follow-up, you need to keep your eye on the prize. Don’t give up—be realistic about what it takes.
The “Do’s” of Cold Calling
When it comes to cold calling, DO…
1. Ask Questions That Engage
“When reps take the role of a curious student rather than an informed expert, buyers are much more inclined to engage.” — Jeff Hoffman
Asking good, thoughtful questions is the way to a prospect’s heart. The right questions boost engagement which results in greater momentum. In order to increase leads, you’ll need to focus on balancing your ability to steer a conversation with your predetermined list of what you’d like to find out.
For example, based on your conversation and the questions you ask, you should be able to determine:
- If you have a viable prospect on the line — Ask: How involved are you with the use of your current product/service?
- If there are any potential roadblocks that will impact the sales process — Ask: What is your budget? What do you like most about your current product/service?
- Who your core competitors are — Ask: what are you currently using?
- The needs of a prospect — Ask: what challenges are you having with the current product/service you’re using?
- A prospect’s budget — Ask: What are you currently spending? This is how we compare…
- Who has buying power — Ask: Will anyone else be working with us? Meaning, who’s in charge?
- The best avenue to plan an effective close — Ask: Have you been through this process before? Gauge what went wrong in order to offer a more optimal solution.
2. Focus on Relationship Building
“You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.” — Patricia Fripp’
When you focus on building relationships, this strategy will humanize your cold calling conversations. As you get to know prospects, your conversations will become more natural and so will the sales process. When you first call someone, they don’t know you, and may even view you as an intruder in their day.
That is why when you first contact someone, you need to call with the anticipation of meeting someone new. When you humanize your calls, you sound less artificial. The best thing you can do is allow the conversation to evolve naturally, approaching new prospects in a non-aggressive manner.
3. Understand the Value of Immediate Learning
“Refuse to attach a negative meaning to the word ‘no.’ View it as feedback. ‘No’ tells you to change your approach, create more value, or try again later.” – Anthony Iannarino, best-selling author and keynote speaker.
Not every call is going to go according to plan, and when it doesn’t, there will be something to learn from it. Once you understand that some calls are about immediate learning instead of immediate sales, your expectations and approach to cold calling will change, for the better.
4. Harness the Power of Technology
While all you technically need is a phone and someone to call, your chances of success will skyrocket when you leverage the many tools available to you. If you’re using Salesforce CRM, it’s time to make each call count. DialSource can help you turn conversations into revenue and improve the connection you have with your customers.
By automating key tasks within your sales process, you will be able to focus on what really matters — connecting with the person on the other end of the line. Learn more here. In addition, focus on how technology can improve the conversations you have in terms of building relationships long-term.
“Instead of using technology to automate processes, think about using technology to enhance human interaction.” — Tony Zambito
5. Leave effective voicemails
The reality of cold calling is that more than 90 percent of your outgoing calls will end in a voicemail. The last thing you want to do is leave a sales spiel. Instead, your goal should be to pique a prospect’s curiosity. Whether you let the prospect know who you are or how you can help them solve a problem they likely face, get to the point, don’t ramble.
Once again, this can be a learning curve. If you have created numerous voicemail scripts, keep track of which scripts work best.
If you’re ready to take your cold calling approach to new heights, you need to focus on the systems you have in place. These systems will support you along your journey so that you can focus on what really matters — the prospect on the other end of the line. Whether you require assistance with outbound and inbound calling, data and analytics, coaching and management, CRM automation, or workflow management, DialSource supports a more productive, and engaging sales strategy.