In sales, cold calling is a must-have skill. At face value, cold calling may seem outdated or inefficient, but it is still a key component of sales strategy. Some view it as a necessary evil, but the best sales reps know how to make the most of their calls and deliver results.
Connecting on social channels and through email are great, but when you finally talk to a prospect on the phone, nothing makes an impression like one-on-one communication. It allows you to hear the inflection in their voice as you uncover their challenges and become a trusted advisor instead of another pitch email drifting further down in their in-box.
Think cold calling is dead? Take a quick look at the stats before we move on:
- On average, a sales rep will connect with 39% of C-level executives on the first cold call attempt, 72% by the second, and by the sixth? 93 percent.!
- In only 1.5 hours of cold calling every day for five days, you’ll win one appointment or referral.
- 75% of decision makers have accepted an appointment based on an unexpected sales call.
Now before you go full Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit film, The Wolf of Wall Street, let’s pause! You want to have quality calls that provide relevant value, which takes more than simply placing a call.
So how do you make the most of cold calling so you connect with more people and make the most out of the conversation once they answer? Keep reading for a few tips to turn cold calling from a chore into a pipeline-filler.
If you want to refine your cold calling, you’ll want to incorporate two essential practices.
Turn Cold Calls Into Warm Calls with Data
Just as data intelligence has transformed every other aspect of business, it’s revolutionized cold calling. The digital revolution has granted us access to an abundance of powerful information. You can now go into a call knowing exactly who you’re calling with strong insights into their organizational needs before you even hear their voice (think intent data, predictive analytics, advanced data intelligence platforms, etc.). In today’s landscape, prospects expect you to show that level of awareness. Bring up a major initiative or significant data point from your research and you’ll have their attention. You never want to resort to asking questions that could have been answered with a Google search. The prospect will wonder why you didn’t bother to research them first and you’ll lose credibility.
Additionally, your prospects will be able to tell if you’re targeting them correctly. The buyer’s journey has changed, and the average buyer is more informed now than ever before. After consuming content on their own, B2B buyers enter the cycle at different times and stages. You’ll need to meet them at that level of understanding by knowing your personas and how to sell to them. After all, no one wants to be interrupted for an unexpected or random pitch – but a conversation that resonates and offers value will grab their attention.
So how can you foster that immediate connection?
Share compelling information in one of three areas: company, industry or role.
Here are a few ideas:
Determine your prospect’s areas of focus by reading through Hoovers, LinkedIn, their earnings announcements, and annual reports. You’ll know what they’re prioritizing, and you can speak to their organizational goals and approach them with ideas in mind about how you can help. If you hit them with generic features and benefits without understanding their company’s needs, you’re wasting their time and yours.
Do some research on challenges in the industry you’re targeting. Maybe you know that tech companies are investing in marketing automation, yet only 10 percent or less are using it to its full potential. That opens a door for you to offer to optimize the prospect’s investment. Does your company solve challenges for customers in a similar industry as the prospect? Be ready to share this information and talk about why your solutions are a fit for their specific industry. Have examples of customer success ready to go.
Let’s say you’re speaking to a finance leader. You might touch directly on their revenue goals by saying, “We’ve helped Company X and Company Y generate this dollar amount in opportunities.” Not only does that establish your authority but you’ll immediately have their attention. You need to know what they care about and how can you help them. Your solutions or service solves different challenges depending on the role of your prospect. The value of your solution or service should not be abstract – your prospect wants to understand what kind of results they can expect. Come from a place of understanding and show them the impact your solution can have on their day-to-day.
Give your sales team superpowers with advanced training
Being a “natural” at cold calling is all well and good, but foundational and ongoing training is what will set them apart. You can’t fake it on the phone. You might begin speaking to an HR leader, who transfers you to a finance executive, who then puts you in touch with the operations team. You need to understand what each area prioritizes and how to make a compelling case from every angle.
Foundational business acumen training is essential. Your team should understand enough about the basics on finance, operations, and cost control to conduct a persuasive high level business conversation. No, they don’t need an MBA, but they should be able to pass a Business 101 class.
Next, you’ll focus on specific campaigns and products. What are you selling? Why? What challenge does it solve? A single sentence about the value proposition will not suffice. Your team needs to understand the nuances of the product for each persona and demonstrate its value to each audience.
That brings us to the third layer: diving deep into buyer personas. Every rep must be able to conduct high value dialogues with business executives in every department. Contact centers do focus on personas, but they often have agents who are too specialized and may lack the knowledge to effectively communicate with different operational areas. The moment they begin reading off a script, the connection will die. Exceptional sales reps won’t use a script. They understand the offering and business well enough to have a conversation.
Connect with the prospect on a personal level to set the right tone from the start. Do the research to find out who the person is that you’re talking to, not only the role they perform. This shows you care about the relationship you’re forming and aren’t solely focused on what you’re offering.
Leveraging data tools and performing a quick search on LinkedIn is well worth the confidence you’ll instill in the prospect by connecting with them on a human level.
You might be thinking that it’s easier to just start dialing for dollars, especially if your team has high turnover. It may seem like a waste of time and resources to invest in deep product, persona, and industry training for reps that may not stick around. However, if you train the right people with valuable information, you are setting your business, your team, and your customers up for success.
We’re lucky enough to live in an era of precise data and valuable insights, that when leveraged properly, can take your sales team’s cold calling game and resulting ROI to an advanced level. By giving your team the tools they need to succeed, you’ll take the fear out of cold calling and empower them to set the bar a few rungs higher.