Despite what you may have heard, cold calling is still one of the most effective sales techniques out there. But as we all know from experience, cold calling done badly is guaranteed to turn a potential customer into someone who never wants to hear from you again. So what are those winning cold calling techniques that will turn your prospects into paying customers? I’ve got it all here for you – how to cold call for sales like a pro in 7 easy steps…
#1 Take time over your call list
One of the most essential cold calling tips is something you should do before you get anywhere near the phone. You can’t just work your way through the phone directory. Take some time to compile a well-researched call list that will give you the best chance of making sales. The people you are calling need to be decision-makers in an industry that your product or service is targeted at. This ensures that your calls are not wasting anybody’s time – yours or theirs – and that what you are offering can really make a positive difference to the prospect’s business. You’ll reduce the chances of getting those morale-sapping rejections and increase your success rates.
#2 Have a script but be prepared to go off-road
Yes, in an ideal world your prospect would just answer each of your questions simply and end neatly on a ‘sign me up!’ But people are different, and you may not have two calls the same. I do believe that having a script, or a structured list of questions, is important. Particularly in the early days of a campaign, having a script in front of you is like having a roadmap to where you want the call to lead. If you get sidetracked, you can refer back to it and try and guide the conversation back onto the right path. As you gain experience, you’ll get an instinct for where the call is going and how to handle unexpected queries. Make sure you know your brand, product and service inside out so that you are ready for anything the prospect might have to ask.
#3 Rejected? Great!
Wait, what? Yes, that’s right, rejections are super useful. Think of your cold calling strategies as an ongoing learning process, with every step of the way giving you new information that can help you make your cold calling techniques even better. If you can, ask a prospect why they are not choosing to go further with your offering. Or note down which part of your script or which question it was that went wrong. Keep examining this kind of data to look for patterns and see where the problems are – then you can work on making it better!
#4 Timing can be key
Part of learning how to cold call is learning when to cold call. It may vary between industries, but generally prospects have been found to be more receptive at certain times of the day, with the best times generally being first thing in the morning, around lunchtime, and just before the end of the day. Research has even found that some days of the week are better than others, with midweek calls delivering better results than the beginning or end. You can monitor your own data as it comes in to find out when your cold calls are bringing the best results, and alter your strategy accordingly. There is one more way in which timing can be crucial – deciding when to end a call. One of the best cold calling tips is not to let a call go on too long, and to recognise when it has gone as far as it can and move on to the next one.
#5 Be ready for objections
There will be many occasions where prospects will raise objections to what you are saying, reasons why they cannot buy into your offering. Don’t lose your cool, be ready. Work out in advance what the likely objections might be. For example, if the upfront cost is likely to be an issue, calculate how much can be saved in the medium or long term with your product and counter the objection that way. Prospects are entitled to raise objections – your job is to convince them that the benefits will compensate them!
#6 Don’t try and sell too soon
It may seem strange to be saying don’t try and sell on a sales call, but not pushing for a sale on the first call is one of the best tips for cold calling. By definition, a cold call is the first time you speak to someone. Think of it as an opportunity for you and the prospect to get to know each other, not a hard sell. However, you should aim to move the prospect a step closer to eventually converting to a sale, maybe by arranging a face-to-face meeting, a follow-up call, or sending over some more detailed information about how you can help them.
#7 Straight to voicemail? Don’t hang up!
Okay, so probably A LOT of your cold calls might get put straight through to voicemail. This is why having a prepared strategy for voicemails in your campaign is one of the most vital cold calling tips. A lot of business opportunities can be lost if you’re not ready for the beep. Unlike a conversation, this is your chance to say what you like without interruption, but keep it short, and make sure the first part of your message is engaging enough to make the prospect want to return the call. Make sure they know who you are and why they want to speak to you, but keep it friendly – don’t go hard on the selling in a voicemail.
I’ve found that cold calling can be a really great sales tool when used properly, and it’s still a big part of our campaigns. Just like with any marketing technique, make sure you keep analysing the results your cold calling activities are delivering, keeping what works and changing what doesn’t.