Lead generation x Min read

A complete guide to cold calling

Summary

Cold calling can seem scary. But it doesn’t have to be. We’ve compiled our top tips and tricks to guide you through the whole process.

To the untrained eye, one could believe cold calling is dead. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or a high-growth startup (like Leadinfo), cold calling is a tool still very much utilised by sales reps globally.

But it’s worth noting that cold calling has changed and evolved in the last twenty years. If you’re still using “spray marketing” tactics and attempting to call everyone and anyone, then you’d be right that this doesn’t work anymore. But adapt your cold calling strategy to modern times via a few tweaks and targeted calling; you can achieve more in a shorter time frame. How? Here’s our ultimate cold calling guide that will walk you through the entire process.

What is cold calling?

Let’s start with the basics. A cold call is when you reach out to an individual who you’ve never spoken to before with the intent of initiating contact and ultimately selling them your products or service. It’s a way of engaging a lead, qualifying them, ensuring they are a good match for your brand, and helping them move further down the sales funnel.

Cold calling is also a nice way to establish a personal connection and learn a lot more about a person. From their level of interest to their needs and expectations, it’s a manner of having a meaningful conversation and remains the most effective way of initiating contact with a lead, second only to direct referrals.

Be selective about who you call

Cold calling is a difficult process, but you won’t increase your odds by cold calling anyone and everyone. Instead, focus on users who fit your target audience, individuals and companies alike who actually need your product.

Even better is to call website visitors, users and companies who visited your site, browsed a few pages but took no action. Using lead scores, you can quickly see which leads are hot, which can help you better prioritise and know where to focus your attention next.

Do your research

We’re all familiar with salespeople who call out of nowhere and describe a “fantastic offer”. But how does that look when certain people later learn that they aren’t eligible or don’t meet your requirements.

Avoid such embarrassing situations by conducting some basic research on an individual before calling them. This will ensure that you’re not wasting anyone’s time while providing you with valuable insights about a person’s position within a company, associated challenges and company goals. Thus, making it easier for you to form a genuine relationship with this person.

To do this, do a general Google search about this person, check their LinkedIn, the company site, any recent PR announcements and your CRM for notes and behaviour patterns. Discover what difficulties they are currently facing or opportunities which could lead a company to need your product or service. This information will help you craft a more tailored approach.

Don’t sell

A cold call is a way of establishing a rapport with someone who is not very familiar with your brand and offering. So don’t attempt to sell right off the bat. Instead, focus on prospecting. Much like cold emails, the focus should be on how you can help this person, not your bottom line.

So put yourself in your prospects shoes and shift your tone of voice from one of assumption to curiosity. Seek to further understand their situation by asking the caller open-ended questions such as:

Open-ended questions to ask a caller

“What challenges is your team currently experiencing?”

“What roadblocks are keeping you from [achieving X goal/trying your product or service].”

“What potential concerns do others involved in this process have?”

“What features are a must-have and why?”

It’s okay, in fact, important to have an end goal in mind for your call, whether it be signing up for a free trial to participating in your next webinar. But be sure you approach this process in a way that adds value to the customer rather than viewing it as a pitching opportunity.

Have some guidelines ready

No one likes talking to a robot, but having guidelines to demark how you’d like the conversation to go can boost your confidence and help you stay on track to ensure you clearly convey your message.

So write down a roadmap for how you’d like the conversation to go. It can be as detailed as line by line to simply your introduction and the points and questions, like the ones above, you’d like to touch upon. This ensures you know who you’re calling and why, thus helping you steer the conversation in your favour.

However, remember not to read your script once you pick up the phone. Instead, engage in genuine conversation to bring the human side of your company forward.

Practice scenarios with colleagues

Practice makes perfect, and cold calling is no exception. You have to be ready for anything once you pick up the phone. Practising can prepare you for either rude or more difficult people. So ask a colleague to sit down with you and practice worst-case scenarios.

Have this person give you the worst response they can think of or ask weird and complex questions.

Beyond keeping your cool and making your pitch, ask for feedback on your tone of voice and choice of words. Such an overview will help you further refine your script and call strategy.

How to get past the gatekeeper

Now that you know what you’d like to stay and have practised your ideas, it’s time to pick up the phone. However, some decision-makers will have gatekeepers which you will need to get passed.

Do not pitch or argue with the secretary. Instead, speak with respect and confidence and aim to bring this person on your side. If you’ve exchanged emails or connected on LinkedIn, be sure to explain that their supervisor has requested that you phone them.

Alternatively, if you have been referred to by someone else within the organisation, be sure to mention that. As this immediately establishes and boost trust levels by 84%.

If the above is not the case, don’t try to sneak past the gatekeeper, this will most likely backfire and blow your chances. Rather, establish yourself as an industry expert and build a rapport with this person. Convince them that you’re not aiming to sell, and this person will let you pass.

Lastly, strive to not simply leave your phone number with the gatekeeper but rather to obtain an email address or phone number and affirm that you will call back later. This lowers the impression that you’re calling purely for sales reasons and strengthens the importance of your message.

The act of calling

Once you have a lead on the phone, start by presenting yourself. Give your full name and company name upfront, so the caller knows who they are talking to and, potentially, why you called them. Also, be sure to mention a colleague or reference name, if you have one, in your introduction. This will decrease your chances of being hung up on.

Next, although the internet is torn about this subject, our sales experts recommend briefly asking if this is a good time for a chat. Aim to ask this question in a way that yields a positive result and state of mind. For example, instead of saying, “Did I catch you at a bad time?”, turn the question around and ask, “do you have a minute to chat about X?”. If the caller says they are free, you are less likely to be cut off as they have assumed the obligation of hearing you out.

Much like cold emailing, after introducing yourself, you need to pique the caller’s interest as you explain the reason behind your call. Curiosity is linked to lower defensiveness and stress levels, so leads who are curious might give you more of their time.

Focus the conversation on the value and ease your product or service can add to the lead’s company. In addition to asking questions and listening to what the caller has to say, mention powerful numbers, say if a competitor of theirs is using your products or services, and mention your USP’s that differentiate you from the crowd. All the while keeping your end goal in mind.

Lastly, remember to keep your tone of voice firm, confident and sober. No need to slow down your speech during phone calls; keep your discourse at an average pace to sounds confident and smart. Avoid trying to sound overly cheerful as that raises suspicion rather than building trust.

Keep it short

Even once the lead has agreed to a phone chat, you are still intruding into their day. Therefore, even if the conversation is going well, keep it short.

If the caller expresses that they don’t have time to talk now, aim to get a concrete callback time by offering them a choice, thus showcasing that you respect their time. For example, “would tomorrow morning or afternoon be a better time to reach you?”. Often, these individuals are trying to get off the phone as quickly as possible, so they will agree to a new call time and be more open during said meeting time.

Track your efforts

Regardless of your cold call outcome, be sure to jot down some notes in your CRM or keep a list for yourself. This enables you to see what works and what doesn’t, helps you keep track of who you talked to and when, in addition to any necessary follow-ups or scheduled call back dates.

Don’t get bogged down by rejection

We know first-hand this is easier said than done. But getting people to spend money can be tricky, and the word “no” will be a common response at times. So focus on the aspects of cold calling you can control, such as who you call, what you say, how you say it, the number of people you call, and let go of the elements you cannot.

Adopt a mindset of helpfulness

View your cold call efforts as a way of offering help to a department or company. If they don’t have a need for it or don’t want it at the moment, it has little to do with you, your actions or your company. You’ve put your best foot forward; the rest is out of your control.

Beau Gielesen
Beau Gielesen Sales Development Representative DACH

And when possible, ask the lead why they are not interested in your offer. This will allow you to keep refining your cold calling strategy.

Turn talk into action

If you’re looking to step up your outbound lead generation efforts, try cold calling. It may appear scary at first, but they’re one of the most effective tools for building relationships with leads, making sales, and closing deals.

As you polish your cold call technique, keep optimising as well. From deciding who to call and conducting research to practising and tracking your efforts, experiment to see what works best. Once you have finessed your cold calling skills, watch your conversion rate increase.

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