I used to hate making cold calls. That’s right. Hated it. It’s boring. It’s uncomfortable. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to get good at cold calling. And I could argue that the majority of people in inside sales today have a similar view. But here’s the reality: cold calling is a necessity.
Sending emails and ‘inmails’ don’t come close to having a real live conversation with a prospect. In fact there is substantial proof that cold calling is a key part of direct marketing and selling. It has been proven time and time again that cold calling is second only to referrals as the number one lead generation tactic. So why are people saying cold calling is dead?
Typically when people say something is dead, it’s because they believe it no longer works. For example:
Darn, my car is dead
The battery is dead
The computer stopped working. It’s dead.
The phone is dead
However, here is something I do agree with. Cold calling definitely has changed! Here’s what we have to acknowledge:
The days of making 150 dials/day every time and you’re guaranteed a ‘yes’ are over.
The idea that anyone is a prospect and that you can simply open a phonebook and find a customer, is a method that no longer works for the majority of businesses
It was easier to cold call 10 years ago, even 5 years ago! Today most decision makers have become harder to reach.
I agree with all of the above points.
But none of these things are the issue or the root problem. The issue is that most people today poorly cold call.
Cold calling develops strong communication skills that will only help you later on in your sales career. If you work in a lead generation role (Sales/Business Development, Lead Gen), or even more senior sales positions, whether you send an email, talk to someone at a conference, or over the phone, you are a direct representation of your company. It is key to be able to competently speak and converse your business model to a prospect. Good cold calling is more than reading a script; it’s the ability to create and cultivate initial interest in your company’s business model.
“Cold calling develops strong communication skills that will only help you later on in your sales career.”
So how do I cold call better? The answer is quite simple: Because times have changed, we need to be more efficient with our time and practices when cold calling.
Put yourself in your prospects shoes.
What is the prospect going to think of you if you could get him/her on the phone? Is your message compelling enough for them to stop what they’re doing and take a meeting with you? Why should they be interested in your sales pitch? How does your business model relate to their current situation?
Instead of making random connections on Linkedin so you can inmail them for free, or blindly calling companies without a plan, have a prepared, prospected, targeted list. Take 5 minutes to do a bit of research on the person your speaking with. For a great article on how to quickly and efficiently research a prospect, click here. A little preparation goes a long way and allows you to be able to direct the call the way you want it to go.
Picture your target prospect for a moment. That prospect probably gets solicited 150 times a day. This means that if you sound like the 149 other people that tried to earn his or her business, you probably won’t get very far. As professionally as you can, figure out a way to make yourself pleasantly memorable so you can get and keep his/her attention.
Ask more questions and make it a conversation.
Try to ask questions in a way that turns the call into a conversation, not an interrogation. Make sure the prospect clearly understands why it’s important to take that meeting/next step.
What is the end goal?
What do you want the end result to be? If you’re an SDR, your goal isn’t to close the deal. It’s to set a meeting. If you’re an AE, the goal is to tactfully change the cold call into next steps in the sales process. It is important to note that cold calling should not be confused with closing a deal. Each cold call should have it’s own, specific immediate goal for it to be effective.
Close the call; you’ll close the deal later.
At the end of the call, ask for clear next steps! Ask for the meeting; if the answer is a yes, lock down the meeting with a clear date and time that works for you and your Account Executive. After locking down the meeting, don’t ask; tell the prospect you are going to send a calendar invite and tell them to go ahead and accept that invite. If the answer is a no on next steps, instead of immediately fumbling for a list of objection stoppers, listen to what the reason why they don’t want a meeting is and respond based on what he/she says. Always be as professional as you can be in this regard.
Being cognizant of these simple areas will make you a great cold caller, and in the end put more money in your pocket. Because the majority of people today don’t cold-call very well, if at all, you’ll be ahead of the curve.