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What is cold calling?
It’s sort of like trying to get into a party without an invitation, except you can’t just turn up with a bottle of tequila and instantly become everyone’s best friend.
If you’re feeling a little unconfident going into a cold calling role, you’re not alone.
63% of sales reps say that the one thing they most hate about their job is having to make cold calls.
Here’s the thing, though:
Cold calling can be essential to sales success. So, something’s got to give in order to get tangible results.
With the right cold calling techniques, you can regain your confidence and handle even the most grumpy prospects effortlessly. This article will show you how you can succeed with your cold calls.
To start, let’s define cold calling.
Cold Calling Definition
Salespeople grade leads by temperature.
Not quite as fastidiously as your local chef, though (hopefully).
We use a bit of a goldilocks system, with leads being described as:
A hot lead is one that’s ready to go... That is, the prospect is poised to buy.
A warm lead is someone who is aware of your business, and might even show some interest in your services. They might have:
- Seen your website
- Clicked on your ads
- Read about your services
- Spoken to another sales rep
A cold lead, however, has had zero interactions with your business – they might not even know you exist.
The customer is ready to buy
The customer has a mild interest in your company
The customer has no clue who you are
So, what is cold calling?
Cold-calling is the art of calling someone who has had no prior engagement with your business, with the goal of turning a conversation into a next step, such as a meeting with an account executive, or a direct sale.
It sounds tricky, but with the right techniques, sales agents can become masters of cold-calling.
Just watch Jordan Belfort’s cold calling technique in Wolf of Wall Street to get the picture.
Many salespeople dread making cold calls, and this, coupled with the fact that hot and warm leads tend to take priority over cold ones, means that this form of prospecting is rarely looked at.
For this reason, many sales organizations hire dedicated cold-callers (known as BDRs or SDRs) to perform this duty, removing that conflict of interest.
But does cold calling actually work?
If you’ve had a bad run of cold calls, where you’ve been dismissed mid-sentence or hung up on, you might start to believe that cold calls just don’t work.
Around 69% of consumers accept cold calls and around 82% of them will accept to meet with you after they've talked to you on a cold call.
It takes patience, agility, and a lot of practice, but cold calls certainly turn into sales for companies in every industry.
If you have:
- A fail-proof script
- A deep understanding of your target audiences
- A knowledge of expected objections and how to tackle them
- An ability to speak authentically without going off-topic
You can use cold calling to further deepen your business’s knowledge of its target customers, and the best ways to turn conversations into sales.
Different Industries Where Cold Calling is Commonly Used
So, does cold calling work? And if so, where?
Here are a few common examples:
- Mortgage brokers
- Insurance agents
- SaaS companies
- Office suppliers
- HVAC companies
Why Is Cold Calling Important for Inbound Sales?
Cold calling is still very much alive and kicking.
Cold calling empowers sales representatives to anticipate what the customer needs beforehand. It allows the team to connect with people well before the competition does. Plus, it’s way cheaper than going door-to-door.
Still, you shouldn’t make cold calls without knowing as much as possible about the prospect you want to engage.
That’s one of the biggest mistakes most businesses make today.
Between social media and sales intelligence tools, there’s really no excuse to call a person or brand you know nothing about.
Bear in mind that the results gained from cold calling techniques vary by industry, though most will benefit greatly from them.
Here are 5 reasons why cold calling is still very important when it comes to inbound sales:
1. Get in Front of New Customers
The primary benefit offered by cold calling is that it gets you in front of new potential customers that would not have heard of you otherwise.
To that end, it’s a great way to boost your company’s brand exposure and test your product-market fit.
2. The Chance To Identify Targets And Decision Makers
The cold call is most often used as a prospecting tool.
That is, the goal of the initial call isn’t so much to land the sale, but to figure out:
- If the prospect is really a good fit for your company,
- Who the KDM (Key Decision Maker is),
- And to land the opportunity for a further conversation to discuss how you might be able to help them
Of course, if you can jump straight through the next steps and right to the close in one call, then all power to you!
3. Strengthen Product Demo Effectiveness By Pre-Qualifying
A fairly common scenario, especially in the SaaS sales and B2B cold calling world, is for a Sales Development Rep to cold call new leads, pre-qualify them, and then hand them over to an Account Executive to perform a demo.
That AE is >way more likely to convert that lead into a buyer> if they already have some intel on them, and they know that they’re a good fit.
That is, cold calling leads to pre-qualify them leads to higher conversion rates post-demo.
4. Economical and Hassle-Free
If you’re looking for an affordable way to boost sales, generate quality leads, and increase your conversion rates, then cold calling is a smart move.
Even after accounting for the cost of hiring reps, implementing sales software, and buying some headsets, you’ll still pay on average just $1.75 per cold call.
But how do you know who to call?
One of the greatest parts of cold-calling is that you can buy a mountain of sales leads to call from a reputable provider, and your cost per lead is dangerously low.
5. Remote Sales Are Easy
Another benefit of cold calling is that you can do it from anywhere.
You don’t need to be travelling around racking up miles in your company vehicle. Heck, you don’t even have to be in the same country.
This means you have access to a world of sales reps when hiring, and you can reduce your overheads by not needing to provide office space or travel expenses.
Common Challenges Sales Teams Face During Cold Calls
Okay, so we know why cold calling is a good thing for business.
But it’s still a tough gig, right?
Well, it can be, but only if you’re unprepared for the challenges and objections you’ll face.
So, with that in mind, let’s get you prepared!
Challenge 1: A Whole Lot of Rejection
You’re gonna get a whole lot of no’s as a cold caller.
It can be tough, no doubt, but it’s a bit part of the role.
Learning to become comfortable with rejection will do you well in a sales role (not to mention in your personal life).
Challenge 2: Actually Getting Your Prospect on The Phone
One of the least motivating cold calling statistics out there is this:
It takes, on average, 8 phone calls to reach your prospect.
That’s a lot of dialling. (Hint: an outbound dialer can help you speed this process up.)
Challenge 3: Poor Quality Leads
An unfortunate side-effect of purchasing outbound sales lead lists is that only a percentage of them are actually valid leads.
That’s because it might take, for example, a year to work through the list. During that time, many companies will go under, or change their contact details, rendering part of your lead list invalid.
For that reason, we’d recommend complementing your cold calling efforts with an inbound lead generation initiative.
Challenge 4: Sales Objections
Objections are one of the hardest parts of the sale process.
Let’s look at 3 common objections, and some sales call tips for solving them.
1. We're Not Interested
This objection is oftentimes a knee-jerk reaction by prospects once they realize they have just answered a cold call. Often, they just want to get you off the phone as fast as possible.
What To Do About It
Keep in mind that this is a prospect you’re contacting for a reason. Thus, the game is not over yet.
This is an objection you can pre-empt in two ways:
- Ask them for 10 seconds of their time – this often makes them pause because it's not an unreasonable request, and gives you time to present your pitch slowly and carefully before asking for their response.
- Ask them a direct question that pertains directly to what your product does. Let's say you're selling real estate valuations. You could just say "Any idea what your home might be worth?".
2. It's More Expensive Than My Current Product
When the price is a barrier, it can be tricky to overcome the objection. It is possible, though.
What To Do About It
This is where you need to sell on value:
- Identify the price difference between your product and your competitor
- Understand the key difference in the products’ features and benefits
- Communicate to your prospect how the additional cost brings additional value
- Try to tie in some form of ROI here
3. I Need More Information
This is usually a pretty good sign, as it tells you they’re interested in what you’re saying.
However, it can often be a false objection, when the prospect says: send me an email with some details. Generally, they are simply trying to get you off the phone.
What To Do About It
Find out what it is they want to know about. If they are appearing to rush you off the phone, try something like:
“It sounds like I’ve caught you at a bad time. So I can help you understand how we can be of benefit to you, might it be a good idea to schedule a time to give you a callback?”
Effective Cold Calling Techniques
Cold prospecting is one of those activities that separates the men from the boys, as it were.
Many new sales reps won’t last more than a few months. Others will go on to be sales champs.
If you want to be one of those salespeople generating millions using effective cold calling techniques, check out these sales tips for cold calling reps.
1. Don't Run From Rejection, Embrace It
What is cold calling without rejection? Rejection is something many salespeople face when making cold calls.
It’s unavoidable, not least because nobody can close 100% of their calls.
No one, well no human can close 100-percent of their potential customers. Rejection is part and parcel of the game.
Here’s how to deal with rejection:
- Don’t take it personally. It’s just your job, and they’re probably just doing theirs.
- Learn to expect a No. It will make that Yes all the more rewarding.
- Find out why. Seriously, just ask them.
- Have a bitch session with your colleagues. It can feel good to vent and talk about all the awkward and uncomfortable conversations you’ve faced this week. Then put them aside and get back to the hustle.
2. Make Use of The Tech At Hand
There are a plethora of tools and technologies out there that the modern salesperson can use so that they don’t have to waste time doing inefficient and tedious sales tasks.
A typical sales tech stack is made up of:
- Sales intelligence tools
- Enablement and engagement platforms
- VoIP phone and dialer
- Email provider
- Video conferencing
- A sales CRM
- Reporting and analytics tools
- Sales and marketing automation
Let’s dig into that last tool.
More than half of what a sales rep does on a daily basis can be automated.
By taking advantage of AI-powered automation tools, you can save yourself a tonne of manual work, resulting in twice the amount of time spent actually selling (or half the labor cost).
3. Don't Be Afraid To Go Off-Script
Cold calling scripts are ideal for training and developing new reps, but there’s a problem:
They sound like scripts.
Use them to learn how to guide and navigate a conversation, and elicit a positive response for your prospects.
Once you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt, though, try switching over to a more natural and fluid conversation.
You can still achieve all of the same goals as you would with the script, but you’re going to have better engagement from your prospects as you’ll be having real, meaningful conversations.
Before you make the switch, try practicing with your colleagues by doing a few role-plays.
4. Create A Proper Calling Schedule
Cold calling for 8 hours straight is pretty emotionally draining.
To combat this, try setting up your day so that you have calling sessions, with time for administrative tasks and meetings in between.
For example, a typical day might look like:
- 8.30-9am - admin
- 9-10.30am - 90min calling session 1
- 10.30-11am - admin
- 11am-12.30pm - 90min calling session 2
- 12.30-1pm - lunch
- 1-2pm - internal meeting
- 2-3.30pm - 90min calling session 3
- 3.30-4pm - admin
- 4-5.30pm - 90min calling session 4
In addition, leverage your sales reporting tools to identify which times and days work best for cold calling.
You’ll find that certain days work better than others, and certain times of day will be more successful too.
For example, people are less likely to answer their phones when they are deep in work mode.
However, if you can catch them coming in and out of tasks (typically around lunchtime and regular coffee breaks), they’re more likely to answer your call.
5. Nail The Voicemail
The last of our cold calling tips and tricks is this:
Around 80% of your calls are going to go through to voicemail.
To maximize your sales effectiveness, you’ll want to have a really powerful voicemail script nailed down.
Here are three examples:
Why It Works
Hi John, it’s James. Could you give me a call back on XXX when you get a chance, please?
The prospect has no idea why you’re calling, and they’re intrigued. So, they’ll likely call you back to find out.
Hi John, it’s James from XYZ Company. I’ve been working with ABC to achieve 123 results, and I think that we could do the same for you, but I’m not quite sure. So if you could call me back please on XX? Again, it’s John.
If your offer is truly enticing, then why wouldn't they want to speak to you about it?
Hi John, it’s James here. Been trying to reach you about your account but I can’t get through. Could you give me a callback today, please? My number is XXX.
When you sound urgent, the prospect will be more inclined to dial back quickly, as it appears to them that there is a problem to be resolved hastily.
Make sure you leave your phone number and let them know you’ll follow up with an email as well.
3 Examples of Incredible Cold Call Success Stories
To give you a feel for companies that have owned this sales process, let’s check out 3 cold calling examples.
1. Timber Rattlers (An MLB's Milwaukee Brewers Affiliate)
Timber Rattlers implemented a Cold Call Training program with the goal of trying to up their cold call success rate. Just 10 days after they completed the program, the company recorded a 40.5% cold call success rate and a 24.1% voicemail response rate.
2. Clayton Strunk (AVI Systems' Sales Rep)
Clayton Strunk, a fiercely competitive sales professional underwent a cold call training program that was conducted by the Cold Call Coach and immediately he was done with the program he started getting more and more successful by the day.
3. Sean Casper (Paradime Media's President)
Before Sean integrated a cold calling program in the company, they were doing poorly using this sales technique. However, once they learned the true art of cold calling everything changed and they started converting twice as much as they did before the institution of the program.
What is cold calling has definitely changed in the last couple of decades, but it is still a very relevant and helpful one in today’s marketplace. It’s only the strategies that have changed over the last couple of years.
Now, more than ever, cold callers are using a myriad of advanced software platforms to help them identify new prospects, build intelligence on their customers, and automate the hell out of every manual task they can.
With a bit of know-how, you can do the same.
And where do you get that know-how?
Well, you talk to us! Book a demo with one of Ringy’s experts today, and find out how we can transform your cold calling process.