20 Steps to Improve Your Cold Calls
Do you think cold calls don’t work? Think again. Here are twenty effective steps that will put you on the right track to turning your cold calls into eventual hot sales.
Many salespeople never live up to their potential because they fear possible rejection. You cannot afford to be one of these people. The first step to making effective cold calls is changing your attitude about them. If you go into your cold calls with a sense of of dread or apathy, you’re never going to be in the right mindset to generate leads. Dealing with rejection is part of being a salesperson. It comes with the territory. Wear your rejection like a badge of honor. There’s simply nothing that prospects can do to hurt you. What’s the worst that can happen? They yell at you? Hang up their phones? Well, that’s completely fine. Move on to the next call.
Whether it’s a personal goal or a monthly quota, it’s best to have a numerical goal in mind during your cold calls so that you can stay motivated. Start out by determining how many cold calls you need to make per month and divide it up so that you have daily goals to reach.
Weekday afternoons are the best time to make cold calls. Aim for around 3:00-5:00 pm. This is due to most businesspeople being done with their big tasks of the day by the afternoon.
Cold calling can be fun, if you let it. Change your mindset so that you view it as a game rather than a hassle. Don’t overthink how to turn your calls into a game. Just have fun with it—and why not? If the success rate is around one to two percent, that means you’ll have to make around ninety-nine calls to get to a next step. Don’t view it as torture. You’re a professional. This is is a game that you can win.
One common denominator of some of the best salespeople in the world is that they recognize that they can’t always play it safe. If you do, that one to two percent success rate is less likely to ever improve. For example, when a call is going offtrack, you need to be creative and take some risks in order to get it back on track; otherwise, the call will probably spiral out of control and it will be too late to salvage. Taking risks makes cold calls less painful for salespeople because it takes away a feeling of constant disappointment or discomfort. You’ll realize you’re more comfortable by going outside of your comfort zone.
This means that, in advance of your cold calls, you and your company should be doing all it takes to ensure the prospect recognizes who you are and what your company does. Prospects will be so much more likely to want to talk to you if you make as many touches as you can, such as sending emails, sending letters, webinar invitations, stopping by their office, etc. Remember, the more touches you make, the warmer your cold call will be.
Think how much you enjoy your favorite movies. The dialogue in them seems natural and authentic, right? Well, the reason you like your favorite movies is because they don’t seem scripted, but they always are. They’re just scripted well.
As a salesperson, it’s good to improvise every now and then, such as when the prospect takes the conversation offtrack; but your focus needs to stay with the prospect and avoid unnecessary verbiage—this means sticking to an effective script. If you feel you “sound scripted,” that means your script needs to be rewritten until it sounds genuine and authentic. You don’t have to read the script verbatim, one hundred percent of the time, but the script must be used as a guide so that you can communicate well.
Don’t overthink your cold call scripts and think that they need to lead to a sale. Sales on cold calls are extremely rare. Your goal is to simply just get each prospect to commit to the next step, such as a meeting or second phone call.
If you don’t have your initial introductions down to a science, you should strongly consider revising what you’re saying. First impressions are everything when it comes to cold calls being effective. If you have a great opening of of seven-ten seconds, you can buy yourself an additional thirty seconds of time; otherwise, you’ve already lost the prospect and there’s little of chance of saving the call.
Use pattern interrupts to your advantage so that prospects are caught off guard and will think to themselves, ‘This person seems interesting. Let’s hear what he/she has to say.’ For example, you can begin the call by saying, “Hey Steve. [Your first and last name] calling. How have you been?” Notice that, “How have you been?” is written as opposed to, “How are you doing?” This is to catch the prospect off-guard by making him/her think, ‘wait a second, do I know this person?” This is an example of a pattern interrupt that helps buy yourself the thirty seconds you need to get the cold call started off on the right track. Don’t be afraid of this technique—it’s highly unlikely a prospect will ever call you out for asking how they’ve been doing.
You could also use flattery to your advantage and open the call by congratulating the prospect on a recent achievement, assuming you did your research before the call and noticed on a site such as Facebook or LinkedIn that the prospect did something exceptional.
Tone matters. A lot. You must ensure that you’re speaking in a pleasant manner that a stranger wouldn’t mind hearing. The most effective way to go about this is to utilize personality mirroring, and match the prospect’s tone of voice and patterns of speech. Just don’t go too far where it sounds like you’re imitating your prospects or simply just sounding fake.
Remove phrases like this as quickly as you can. If a prospect has other stuff going on during your call, he or she will tell you; otherwise, always assume that it’s perfectly fine to go ahead with your cold calls. Many prospects will use that question as a means to lie and get out of the call.
Your cold call voicemails should be no longer than thirty seconds. Script out your voicemails in advance so you’ll know exactly what to say every time and avoid unnecessary pauses like saying, “Uhhh…” Your goal must be, after stating your name and company, to quickly make a statement that piques the interests of your leads. You could pick the most likely pain point or challenge you think the prospect is experiencing and state that your company has solutions. Remember, the goal isn’t to make a sale, it’s just to pique people’s curiosity.
Stay positive and don’t let rejection bother you. It’s easy to get discouraged, but every call is a new opportunity. Never take rejection personally. It’s business, not personal. You’re too talented of a salesperson to let rejection discourage you.
The focus of a cold call should never be on you. All that matters is finding solutions for your prospects. The more you talk about yourself, the more likely it will be that prospects will lose interest in engaging with you. That’s why you need to engage with them. You’ve got to quickly get to the purpose of your call get right into it. Cut down as much as you can on sentences explaining your company and your story. The prospects just don’t care. They care about themselves, which is why you have to focus on them.
Open-ended questions avoid “yes” or “no” responses and allow prospects to explain their challenges and pain points. Try to start your questions with ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how.’ This will allow you to give your prospects ample room for responses.
One of the best way to engage prospects during cold calls is to focus on challenges that they may be having in their industry or market. Not only will this set up your prospects to reveal what their true challenges are, it will also help ensure that you seem knowledgeable and caring. You want to appear to be an expert, not just a salesperson. The more you can get your prospect talking, the more likely you are to get a second meeting and close the sale. For example, you could say, “I’ve noticed a lot of companies in your marketplace are dealing with X, Y, and Z.” This quickly gets into the challenges so that prospects can talk about themselves and what they’ve been facing.
For example, after talking about challenges, ask a question such as, “Steve, do you often experience any of these challenges?” This will invite the prospect into the conversation. Even if the prospect says, “No,” then you can follow-up: “Fair enough. But can I ask you one final question? If there was one thing you feel you could be doing better with X [Prospect’s main responsibilities], what would it be?” Next, let the prospect fill the space.
The more prospects talk the more likely they are to stay on the phone so that you can find an opportunity to get a next step that will turn into a sale. Focus less on pitching what you have to sell and focus more on simply just engaging your prospects in an authentic, two-way conversation. Have fun, be yourself, and make sure your prospect talks instead of just being talked to.
Don’t automatically go into pitch mode once the prospect is talking. For example, when a prospect says, “Actually, one of the challenges we’re dealing with is this…” don’t say, “Well, I’ve got the solution for you!” Remember, just because you’re a salesperson doesn’t mean you should sound like one. All you need to say is, “Tell me more.” Dig deep so the prospect will feel engaged and realize the value of what you have to offer as he or she continues to talk.
This is the most important step of the cold calling process. You must establish a next step, otherwise, the cold call was for nothing. The goal of any cold call isn’t to get a sale, it’s just to get a next step. Whether it’s a face to face meeting, another call, or a webinar—it really doesn’t matter. Just get a date and time set up.
Once a prospect agrees to a next step, send out a calendar invite while you still have the person on the phone. Don’t stop there, confirm with the prospect that he or she received the invite and accepted it.
Here’s an example. Say, “Why don’t I come to your office and sit down with you to show you how our company has been able to solve challenges similar to yours?” If the prospect says, “Sure,” ask what date and time works best for them. Then say, “Okay, great. Are you in front of your computer or phone by any chance?” The prospect will say, “Yes I am.” Then say, “Ok great. I”m going to send you a calendar invite right now. If you don’t mind, can you confirm you’ve gotten it while we’re still on the phone? That way, we avoid any unnecessary back and forth.” The prospect will agree. This way, not only have you confirmed there will be a next step, but you’ve gotten in set in stone.
Great cold callers don’t make five cold calls at a time. They keep pushing through and maintaining momentum. Regardless of whether prospects are picking up or agreeing to next steps, the cold caller must get in a rhythm and stay in that rhythm for as long as possible. This is especially important due to the low percentage success rates of cold calls.
Implement these twenty steps into your cold calling routine to ensure that you position yourself to get more next steps than you ever have before. Stay consistent and positive. Before long, your cold calls will put you in position to make hot sales.