If you fear public speaking, you aren’t alone. And if you’re a salesperson who dislikes cold calling, you aren’t alone either. In fact, studies show that 80% of new salespeople fail to meet their quotas because of call reluctance. But like anything else, the secrets of successful cold calling can be learned – and we rarely fear what we can do well.

Here are five tips for successful cold calling. With a little work, you can master the art of the successful call, meet your sales quotas and maybe even learn to like making your calls!

Don’t Go In Cold

It may be known as “cold calling” but that doesn’t mean you should start a call cold – do your homework first:

Prepare yourself

Think about and write down your goals. Keep in mind that it’s unlikely your immediate goal is a sale – it should be a meeting or further conversation. Create both short and longer-term goals. For example, a short-term goal might be one positive call, and a longer-term goal could be learning the best time of day to call your prospects based on data that you keep.

Be sure to create a written outline for your calls. You don’t want a cold calling script – it’s easy to tell when someone is reading over the phone, which can cost you credibility and hamper your success. But memorizing your opening – in which you introduce yourself and grab the prospect’s attention (you have about 5-10 seconds to do so!) – is a good idea. Ideally, you’ll talk about the prospect in the intro – not yourself:

“Good morning, Ms. Abernathy. I’m Joanne Smith with Retail Ventures, and I noticed that you are signed up for our November webinar. I’d love to hear the number one thing you are hoping to take away from the webinar.”

Prepare some social selling points using FOMO (fear of missing out) to your advantage. If you can use the name of a competitor or similar company, great. “Juno Books has seen a 38% increase in sales since they’ve started using our software – and my understanding is that you have a very similar customer base to Juno’s.”

If you don’t have a name to use, telling a success story is always motivating – just make sure to choose one thatís relevant to the prospect, and ideally, one where the story highlights a solution to a pain point that you know the prospect has.

How do you know the prospect’s pain points? You’ve done your research. Research is an essential aspect of cold calling – and can quickly turn a cold call into a warmer conversation. If the prospect knows you understand his industry, pain points, needs and respect his time enough to have learned all that you could before calling, you’re much more likely to gain his trust – and his business.

A Solid Game Plan and Lots of Practice

Because we talk all the time, it doesnít seem like we’d ever need to practice. But if you talk for a living and selling is your craft, you need to practice it. No one would expect Tom Brady to take the field without practicing! Work on your outline out loud. Practice your call – in the mirror, without a mirror, and ideally, with someone else who is willing to listen to your tone on the other end of a phone.

Words and Tone Matter

Using a positive tone (even smiling as you talk – research has shown that people can “hear” your expression on the phone) and choosing your words carefully can make a big difference in making sure your calls are successful.

While most people would agree that a positive tone is essential, if you think there isn’t a big difference in choosing one word over another, consider these two questions:

Did you see a dent in the car?
Did you see the dent in the car?

There’s only one word that’s different – “a” vs. “the.” But using “the” assumes there is a dent in the car, and the question is just whether you saw it. Which question do you think is more likely to get a “yes” response?

Good trial lawyers understand the importance of specific words in questions, and as a salesperson making cold calls, you should too. Always use open-ended words to start your questions:

 Who Would
 What Could
 Where Do
 How Is

For example, “Is there someone else I can call?” can lead to a No answer. But if you ask “Who is your VP of product development? You are more likely to get useful information.

And it seems obvious, but never ask “Is this a good time?” or “Can you talk now?” The answer is always NO!

Finally, don’t shoot – or be rude to – the messenger. If an assistant or someone other than the prospect answers when you call, treat them with the respect you’d give the prospect herself. Don’t be dismissive, and treat whoever answers your call as your ally.

Don’t Forget to Listen

As your grandmother used to say, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Don’t just talk – listen. People spend more than 60% of their time talking about themselves – and they enjoy doing so. Let your prospect talk, and listen to him or her. This has many benefits – you learn from what you hear, your prospect feels valued and you are making a connection that will likely help you achieve your goal.

Knowledge is Sales Power

Keeping track of important information about your calls can be the difference between success and failure. While there are generally accepted rules about time and day for calls – with Wednesday and Thursday being the best days, and 4-5 p.m. and 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. being the ideal time – your industry may be different. Keep track of the day and time of all of your calls. Track which were successful and which weren’t, and the number of calls needed to reach the lead.

At all costs, make contact as soon as possible after an inquiry – ideally within an hour. One study found a 450% difference between calls made within an hour of receiving an inquiry and calls made outside of that hour window. And persistence pays off – 90% of salespeople had success after their sixth attempt at contacting a lead.

Cold Calling stats
Source: HubSpot

Cold calling isn’t easy. Take all the help you can get – you’re on the right track reading articles like this one! Don’t stop here – 2018 is not a time to rely solely on a call list and a phone. See all of the cool tools available at Engageware to help you and your sales team end the calling, chasing and waiting game, and to fill your pipeline with quality leads that will become loyal customers.

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