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Cold Calling In Sales: Tips and Tricks for Turning Chilly Leads Into Hot Prospects

author Ranee profile imageRanee Zhang
Feb 03, 2023-1 mins
What Is Cold Calling?

Cold calling: These two words can strike fear into even the most experienced sales reps. It's easy to understand why - the thought of reaching out to a stranger with no prior relationship or connection can be daunting. But despite its reputation as an outdated and ineffective tactic, cold calling still plays a vital role in the business world.

Unlike warm calling, where there is already an established connection, cold calling in sales involves reaching out to prospects who have never heard of you, your products, or your services.

Because there is no relationship to bank on, the client does not expect to hear from you. This can make it challenging to get your foot in the door and set up a meeting.

Cold calling can have its advantages. For one, it's a great way to personalize your sales pitch. Reaching out to a prospect allows you to tailor your message to their specific needs and interests. It also allows for immediate feedback and follow-up and lowers the likelihood of a prospect ignoring your message.

But before you pick up the phone, it's essential to understand the basics of cold calling. This article will explore the definition of cold calling, provide examples of its use in the real world, and offer tips for making them more effective. Whether you are a rookie or a seasoned sales professional, this guide is your cheat sheet to get started with cold calling.

What Is Cold Calling?

Cold calling in sales is reaching out to potential customers or clients who have yet to express interest in your product or service. It's making unsolicited calls to individuals or businesses to secure a sale or set up a meeting.

While it may seem outdated in today's digital age, cold calling is still a widely used tactic in the sales industry.

But with the current increase in scams and unwanted calls, companies have started to prefer warm calling—contacting someone who has previously shown an interest in your product or service.

Does that mean cold calling is dead? Not exactly. It can still be effective with the right approach and techniques.

How Cold Calling Works?

Cold calling involves reaching out to potential customers or clients through phone calls, email, or even in-person visits. The purpose is to introduce yourself and your business and then ask the prospect if they would be interested in learning more about your offer. If they agree, then you can move forward with a warm call.

The process typically has a high attrition rate. For every potential lead, a salesperson may need to make multiple calls or visits before securing a sale or setting up a meeting.

It's not just about making calls. It's also about researching the target market and preparing ahead of time. Marketing cold calling requires persistence and the willingness to face repeated rejection. But when you do it correctly, it can be an effective way to generate leads and close deals.

The Difficulty of Cold Calling

Cold calling takes work. It can be difficult and time-consuming, especially for sales professionals who often face rejection from potential leads. According to research, 92% of sales professionals give up after four rejections.

However, it's worth noting that about 80% of prospects say "no" to a pitch four times before saying "yes." This highlights the importance of persistence in cold calling. Unfortunately, many salespeople don't have the stamina to push through multiple rejections. According to data, 44% stop trying after the first rejection.

It's not surprising, then, that cold calling is the least favorite sales activity for 63% of people in this profession. The lack of interest and engagement from potential leads can make it challenging to maintain motivation and enthusiasm. Additionally, close to 5 out of 10 sellers feel they don't have enough information before making a cold call —this can make it difficult to be convincing, and it's easy to feel like you're not making progress.

Sales professionals face another major challenge: inaccurate contact data. Research shows that incorrect or outdated contact data can take up 27.3% of their time—546 hours per year! That's the equivalent of almost a month of lost productivity per year.

However, persistence and thorough preparation are the keys to dealing with such challenges. The more accurate your contact data are and the more upbeat you stay despite difficulties, the better your chances of closing the deal.

Cold Calling Examples

Cold calling can effectively generate leads and close deals, but it is more successful when you structure an approach. There are several critical elements to a successful cold call, including:

Introducing Yourself

This is an opportunity to make an excellent first impression and establish credibility. It's essential to be clear and concise when introducing yourself. Also, provide your name, title, and company name. For example, "Hi, my name is John Smith, and I'm a Sales Representative at XYZ Company."

Setting the Stage/Establishing Rapport

The next step is to provide context for why you're calling, whether to follow up on a meeting or introduce yourself. This is your chance to connect with the prospect on a personal level and build trust. For example, "We met about two weeks ago at the Chamber of Commerce meeting." Be specific about what you discussed at the meeting and how it relates to your call. For example, "You mentioned that you were looking for new software solutions."

Next, ask a question to gauge interest in what you're offering. For example, "Are there any areas where your current system is not meeting your needs?"

This step sets the stage for your conversation and makes the prospect comfortable with you. Avoid asking too many questions at this point and instead focus on providing background information about yourself, your company, and how you can help.

Use a Positioning Statement

A positioning statement summarizes the unique value that a company or product can bring to a prospect. This statement should be tailored to the prospect's specific needs and interests and delivered clearly and concisely.

For example, "We specialize in providing industry-specific solutions for small businesses" is better than "We offer a wide variety of services." The former tells the prospect exactly what you do, while the latter leaves them guessing what business you're in.

Demonstrate Your Value Proposition

After establishing yourself as an industry expert and providing a clear statement of your value proposition, it's time to get into more specific details about how your company can help the prospect's business grow. It's important to remember that they are looking for reasons to say "no" as much as they are looking for reasons to say "yes."

Therefore, clearly articulate your product or service's benefits and why those benefits are so significant. For example, when selling a software product, explain how it will help their business save time and money by automating a mundane task.

The next step is clearly stating how you will deliver on those promises. For example, if you're selling software, describe how other companies have used the product and what results they've achieved.

Cold calling can be a very effective means of generating leads and closing deals, but the best approach is to develop a strategy based on the target market's needs. Once you know those needs, you can create a compelling sales pitch that will resonate with them.

Discovery Sales Call Script Example

Here's an example of a discovery sales call script that a salesperson might use:

Salesperson: "Good Morning, [Prospect's Name]. This is [Your name] from [Company Name]. We met at the [Event's Name] last week. I talked to you about my company's products and services, and you told me that you were interested in learning more about what we offer. Is this a good time for us to talk?"

Prospect: "Yes, this is a good time. What did you want to talk about?"

Salesperson: "I'd like to get more information from you to see if what we offer would be a good fit for your business. Would that be okay?"

Prospect: "Sure, what would you like to know?"

Salesperson: "First, could you tell me about your current [industry/function] process? What are some of your challenges in your [industry/function]?"

Prospect: "Well, we're currently facing [specific challenges]. It's been a struggle for [specific problem]."

Salesperson: "I see; that sounds like a real challenge. If I may, allow me to ask you some more questions about your current process and how it affects your business. May I proceed with that?"

Prospect: "Sure, go ahead."

Salesperson: "Great, thank you. Can you tell me more about your goals and objectives for [industry/function]? And how do you measure success in your current [industry/function] efforts?"

Prospect: "Our main goal is to [specific goal], and we measure success by [specific metrics]."

Salesperson: "I see; that's very helpful. And lastly, may I know your budget for a solution like this?"

Prospect: "Our budget for this solution is [specific budget]."

Salesperson: "Thank you for your time. It was great speaking with you. Based on what you've shared, our [product/service] could be a great fit for your needs. Could we schedule a follow-up call to discuss this further and see if there is a potential fit?"

Acceptance Response:

Prospect: "Sure, that sounds good."

Salesperson: "Great, I'll schedule a follow-up call for [specific date and time]. I hope that works for you?." Let her confirm that the scheduled time and date work, then proceed with the thank you for your time.

"Thank you for speaking with me, and I look forward to hearing from you soon."

Rejection Response:

Prospect: "I appreciate your call, but we're not interested in your product/service right now. However, I'll keep you in mind for future opportunities."

Salesperson: "I understand; thank you for your time. If you ever change your mind, please don't hesitate to reach out. Have a great day."

NB: Remember that this script is not a universal solution and should be adapted to fit what you are selling and the prospect's needs.

 With this script, the salesperson can gather important information about the prospect's current situation, challenges, goals, and budget to understand their needs and determine if the product or service can meet them.

Be gracious and professional in both acceptance and rejection responses. When the prospect accepts, schedule a follow-up call as soon as possible and show your appreciation. On the other hand, when they decline, respect their decision and avoid pushing further.

It's also important to note that even though a prospect rejects your product/service, it doesn't mean they would never be interested in the future. It's always good to leave the door open for future communication.

20 Cold Calling Tips To Increase Sales

Cold calling is essential to sales and marketing but can be daunting for many professionals. To help increase your chances of success, we've put together a list of 20 tips to help you improve your cold-calling skills and achieve your goals.

Research

Research is a crucial step in the cold-calling process. By researching your prospect's company, industry, and decision-making process, you can tailor your message and understand their pain points, needs, and goals.

This will help make the call more effective, increase your chances of success, and avoid wasting time on unqualified leads. Additionally, it allows you to personalize the conversation, build a good rapport, make it more relevant, and increase the chances of a positive response.

You can also research a company by visiting its website, checking its social media accounts, or using a professional networking site. Remember, the more you know about the person you're calling, the more likely they will engage with you.

Write an Outline of The Script

Before making a call, write an outline of what to say and include the key points you want to discuss. This can help you avoid rambling or getting off-topic, decreasing the chances of success.

Outlining your call will help you to be more organized and efficient, thus making the most of the time. It is also helpful to include some possible objections that could come up during the conversation to prepare for them in advance.

Cold Calling Scripts or Templates

Cold calling scripts or templates can be helpful when making cold calls as they can serve as a guide for the conversation and help ensure that you cover all the critical points. Having a script can also help boost your confidence, especially when new to the idea.

However, avoid sounding robotic and use the script as a guide, not a rigid rulebook. If your conversation with a potential customer takes a different direction, then go with it.

Remember to tailor the script to fit the specific prospect and their unique needs. Some people find it more comfortable to use a template rather than a script, as it allows them to have a structure without any constraints. Whether you use a script or template, remember to tailor it to make the story unique.

Take Some Time to Go Through Your Call List

Taking 1-2 hours to review a call list before making calls can help you tailor your message and increase your chances of success.

This will help you identify the ideal people to call, what to say and how to close the conversation.

Reviewing the call list can help identify unqualified leads and save time allowing you to spend more time with the right prospects. This can increase a salesperson's chances of closing deals.

 Find a Calling Schedule That Helps You Reach Your Goals

Identify the best time to call a prospect and make the most of the time. For example, research shows that the best times to reach a prospect are generally in the morning or the early afternoon, while the worst times are in the late afternoon or evening.

Additionally, some days of the week may be better depending on the target market and the business industry. Therefore, test and experiment with different calling schedules to find the best time for you and your prospects. This can increase your chances of connecting with the right people and making the most of your time.

Start with A Memorable Line

Using a memorable line when making a cold sales call can make prospects more likely to engage in conversation. It can also help build rapport, showing that you have done your due diligence and are familiar with their business.

The line can be a clever opening statement, a question, a joke, or a reference to something you know interests the prospect.

Some examples of memorable lines include:

· "I have something that might interest you."

· "I noticed that in your industry, [insert key phrase here], and I have an idea that could help with this."

· "Have you heard about X? Our company does Y. We might be able to help with Z."

The key is to be creative and to make it relevant to the prospect.

Don't Run Away from Rejection. Instead, Embrace It

Rejection is a natural part of the cold-calling process, but it should not discourage you. Instead, embrace it as an essential step towards success.

Rejection can be a valuable learning experience, as it helps you understand what works and doesn't. Therefore, remember that it is not a reflection of your worth but a part of the sales process!

It also is worth mentioning that a prospect's rejection doesn't necessarily mean they don't have an interest. They may not have the budget, be interested at that moment, or are not ready to decide. Follow up with them again as their interest may evolve with time.

 Practice your Script Like An Actor, Not A Robot

This means practicing your script but also allowing room for improvisation and adapting to the flow of the conversation. The script should be something you can use as a reference point, but it shouldn't feel like an anchor that keeps you from being natural.

When remembering what to say next, pause and let the other person talk. This will give you time to collect your thoughts and develop the following line.

Taking an actor's approach to your sales calls will help build rapport with the prospect and come across as more genuine and trustworthy.

Call Reluctance Sets You Back, Overcome It

Call reluctance is the dread or anxiety that comes with making cold calls. This can occur due to fear of rejection, lack of confidence, or not knowing what to say.

Overcoming call reluctance is essential to achieving success in cold calling. Do this by setting small goals, practicing your script, using a call list, and focusing on the benefits of making the call.

Get Noticed by Using Trigger Events

A trigger event is a specific event or change within a company or an industry that can indicate a potential need for your product or service. Examples include a merger, acquisition, product launch, or legislation.

Trigger events are important because they indicate where there is an opportunity for your business to enter the market and provide value. Keeping track of these events and using them to start a conversation with your prospect is an effective way to get your foot in the door.

Make Use of Tools to Eliminate Tedious Tasks

A salesperson can streamline the time-consuming aspects of cold calling using sales automation tools while concentrating on building rapport and closing deals.

Various tools can help with tasks such as lead generation, data organization, call prioritization, and tracking.

The key is to find a tool that can increase your efficiency and productivity, not one that takes away from your sales efforts.

Outline the Conversation You will Have in Advance

An outline better prepares a salesperson for the cold call and increases their chances of success. They can do this by creating a script or a list of key points to cover during the call. The outline should include a brief introduction, the reason for the call, and what you will discuss during the call.

It should also address any concerns the prospect may have, potential objections, and ways to handle them in advance. The outline should be brief and straightforward, as this will keep you on track during the call.

Know When to Ask Questions and Ask The Right Ones

Questions can help build rapport, gather information, and qualify leads. However, asking too many questions or the wrong questions can lead to rejection or a lack of interest.

It's important to know when to ask questions and what questions to ask. For example, open-ended questions can help gather more details and qualify leads, while closed-ended questions may lead to a one-word answer and less information.

Additionally, it's also important to listen actively and pay attention to the answers given, as it can help to tailor the conversation and build a better understanding of the prospect's needs.

Do Not Sell on the First Call

The first call with a potential client should not be about selling but gathering information and qualifying leads. The goal is to start a conversation and establish rapport—not close the deal.

You want to learn more about the prospect's needs and pain points and determine if they fit your product or service well. By not trying to sell on the first call, you are more likely to build trust, establish a relationship, and increase the chances of success in the future.

On the other hand, trying to sell on the first call can cause the prospect to become defensive and may lead to rejection. The best way to approach a first call is to be friendly and open-minded. Ask questions and listen more than talk. When you do speak, focus on asking for information rather than making statements or pitching your product or service.

Keep It Simple, Do Not Overwhelm Your Prospect

When cold calling, keep your message simple and to the point. Overwhelming prospects with too much information can cause them to tune out or hang up. Instead, a salesperson should focus on communicating their product's or service's most important points and leaving out unnecessary details.

This will make it easier for the prospect to understand and remember the offering. Additionally, simple and easy-to-understand language will help connect salespersons with the prospect and make them more likely to engage in a conversation.

 Be Careful with the Words you Use

Be mindful of your words when making a cold sales call. Some expressions have a higher close rate than others, and using them can help to improve your chances of success.

Using words such as "results," "proven," and "guaranteed" can convey a sense of confidence and reliability. Avoid words like "contract" and "obligation," which are perceived as unfavorable and can cause prospects to feel trapped. Also, avoid using the word "sale" or any variation because it implies that you're trying to sell something. Try to use words that convey a sense of freedom instead, like "opportunity," "choice," "information," and "ideas."

These words help create an environment where prospects feel empowered rather than pressured into deciding. By being strategic about your word selection, you can effectively communicate the value of your offer and increase the likelihood of closing more deals.

Influence the Prospect With Social Proof

The testimonials of satisfied customers and the recognition from industry experts can help bolster credibility and trust with potential clients. This can be especially effective if you mention specific companies or organizations that have benefited from your product or service.

Testimonials, case studies, and statistics can all be effective forms of social proof that demonstrate the value of what you are offering. However, do not overuse them—otherwise, they may seem artificial or inauthentic.

Using conditional language such as "if" and "could" can help make your use of social proof more subtle and effective.

Learn how To Overcome Rejection Comfortably

Rejection is a natural part of the process, and it's crucial not to take it personally. One way to do this is to reframe rejection as a learning opportunity. Instead of viewing it as a failure, view it as a way to gain valuable feedback and adjust your approach for future calls.

Setting small, achievable goals can also help you stay motivated and not get discouraged by rejections. Remember, persistence is critical to success in cold calling, and overcoming rejection is a vital part of the process.

Listen More and Talk Less

This approach allows you to gather valuable information about the prospect, their needs, and their pain points, which can help tailor a pitch and make it more effective. It is also a very effective way to build rapport and establish trust with your prospects, leading to more successful sales.

When you listen more, asking the right questions and getting information that may lead to a better understanding of the prospect's needs becomes easy. It also helps identify objections early on and address them before they become an obstacle to closing the deal.

Don't Give Them an Easy Exit

One of the biggest challenges in cold calling is getting prospects to stay on the line. Giving them an easy exit, such as asking "if they are busy" or "if this is a bad time to talk," can make it easy for them to end the call.

Instead, engage them in conversation and make it clear that you value their time. Use open-ended questions and active listening to keep the conversation going and build a connection with the prospect.

Remember, the goal of the call is to build a relationship and establish trust, not just to make a quick sale. Avoiding giving them an easy exit and showing interest in their needs and pain points can help achieve that goal.

How to Book More Meetings Through Cold Calling

Establishing a connection with a prospect and building trust is essential, but it's not enough. A salesperson also needs to get them on the phone for the call to be productive. Strive for a 20% conversion rate, which means that from 100 cold calls each day, 20 will convert into booked meetings. Here are some tips and strategies to achieve this goal:

Make a Good First Impression using "Talking with" Instead of "Speaking to"

How you greet a prospect can set the tone for the rest of the call. Instead of using the traditional greeting of "speaking to, "try using "talking with." This small change in wording can significantly affect how the prospect perceives the call.

"Talking with" implies that you are on the same level and that the conversation will be a two-way dialogue rather than a one-sided pitch. It also helps create a more personal connection with the prospect and makes them feel like you are interested in having a conversation, not just pushing a sale.

Use The Best Friend Formula to Turn Indecision into Booked Meetings

The Best Friend Formula is a simple but effective technique that can help you turn indecision into booked meetings. It's a three-part formula for breaking the objection barrier and getting people to say yes:

· Relate with the prospect: Get to know them and show that you understand their challenges.

· Bridge the gap: Find a way to relate your solution to the prospect's challenge and show how it will benefit them.

· Close: Ask again for the meeting and get a commitment.

The Best Friend Formula is simple, but it's not easy. It works because you don't have to sell; it's simply about helping.

Use Airgram Meeting Template to Break Ice

Break the ice during a cold call using a predetermined meeting template provided by a tool like Airgram.

This can help guide the conversation and provide a structure for the call, making it less intimidating for both the salesperson and the prospect.

Additionally, using a template can demonstrate that you have done your research and are prepared to have a productive conversation increasing the likelihood of the prospect agreeing to a meeting.

Airgram offers a variety of customizable templates, which means that each interaction provides the maximum amount of value.

Add Action Items and Highlight for Recall

When scheduling a meeting, it's important to include action items and highlights for recall. This will help the prospect remember why they agreed to meet and what they need to do next. Using Airgram makes it easy to add action items, reminders, and highlights to a meeting agenda. You can share this with the prospect, which should keep things organized and on track.

You can increase the prospect's likelihood of committing by clearly outlining the next steps before the following meeting, such as sending over more information or scheduling a follow-up call.

Additionally, Airgram's ability to record meetings and automatically transcribe them into text makes searching for keywords or phrases easy. You can then use this information to follow up with your prospects and ensure they are on track with their action items.

Leave Effective Voicemail Messages

Leaving voicemail messages is an integral part of the cold-calling process. However, many salespeople make the mistake of leaving generic, impersonal messages that don't entice the prospect to call back. To avoid this, use your voicemail messages to build rapport with the prospect and provide a reason for them to call you back.

Please do this by tailoring the message to the prospect's needs and aligning it with their specific situation. It is also vital to keep the message concise and to the point. Avoid rambling on for too long, as the prospect may lose interest.

Additionally, provide a call to action in the voicemail, like an incentive to connect with you, like a free consultation or trial.

Conclusion

Cold calling may not be the most glamorous or popular sales method, but it can still be an effective tool for reaching new prospects and closing deals. The key is understanding the technique, providing a personalized and informative pitch, and following up promptly.

By approaching a cold sales call with a strategic mindset and utilizing the tips in this article, you may see a positive impact on your sales results.

While cold calling can be a valuable addition to your sales and marketing strategy, it shouldn't be the only one. There are other ways you can build relationships with potential customers. Diversify your approach to maximize the effectiveness of every tactic.

Ranee Zhang

Ranee has worked in the SaaS industry for nearly ten years. She loves working with, learning from, and helping develop effective leaders and is willing to share her thoughts through words. Outside of work, you can find her dancing, hiking in the mountains, or reading in a cafe.

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