Cold calling is one of the most powerful tools a salesperson can use. You get to develop a human connection, build trust and rapport and strip away all the biases like looks and height that get in the way.
In this guide we’ll go through how to motivate yourself, what to do when faced with gatekeepers, the first 30 seconds of the call and how to deal with objections and more!
Hi I’m Dave McCleary and this is your cold calling success guide from RealtimeCRM.
First of all let’s have some realizations at what we’re talking about with cold calling, very few people like cold calling strangers that they don’t know calling them out of the blue especially when the goal is to get something from them. At heart we’re reciprocal creatures and we like to create a sense of obligation before we ask anything it’s only natural and you also don’t really want to look like a fool.
Cold calling is an amazing tool for sales
You don’t want to create a confrontation during your engagement on the phone it’s going to drain your motivation for the rest of the day if you start off with that mindset, that fearful mentality then you’re doomed. Instead, try and think that the telephone is an amazing tool that allows you to reach out to many more people than ever before and can make efficient use of your time it strips away a lot of the intangible bias that people have if you don’t look the right way or anything like that it doesn’t matter on the phone it’s a huge advantage.
So the purpose of this guide is to help you get over that fear. We’re going to break down what a cold call is, and you know you’ll realize that it’s not a terrifying thing. You’ll see that good cold calls have certain features and we’ll go through the preparation that’s needed as well to help you achieve the maximum return from your cold call.
Lastly, before we get into this if you do want more sales tips like beginner’s guide to cold emailing or how to build a sales process then check out our blog https://realtimecrm.co.uk/posts/. We’re always writing new content so you can learn from our own experiences, both successes and failures as we’ve grown RealtimeCRM to serve more and more customers.
So, let’s start by having a look at your frame of mind – your voice is a really powerful tool and you can use it change the emotional states of people around you.
You know the old saying that smiles are contagious – well you want to be able to smile through the phone call and that will affect your voice, your tone and your pace of speech.
Imagine you’re feeling down you’re terrible and this call is going all wrong. It will show in your voice. You’ll mumble and you’ll be quiet. You’ll be unclear, you’ll sound meek. It will turn off the other person on the other end of the line – no one wants to talk to people that make them feel down.
What’s your motivation for making the call?
In order to be in the right frame of mind, to smile through the phone call you need to be motivated so figure out and state explicitly to yourself why are you doing this call.
You’re going to face rejections. You’re going to need to be able to walk through them, pick up the phone and make a fresh call as if you didn’t just get told no to your face.
The motivation is the main reason it could be that I want to get more customers to make more money for my company so that I can gain financial independence retire early. It could be you want to travel the world – make sure you have that in your mind. Those are reasons they may not be your reason but it’s something that’ll give you that determination, the boost of energy in the sharpness when you need to pick up the phone.
You don’t want to be speaking to a prospect when you’re tired or you’re annoyed. It’ll come across in your voice and it will work against you.
The next step is to ask yourself why you’re calling them? What do you want to get out of the call? And that leads us on to the rest of this guide, on how we achieve the overarching goal – you obviously want them to know that your product or service exists but you also want them to decide whether your offering can help them.
That is fundamentally the purpose of the cold call so we need to prepare. We need to connect.
How to connect with people on a sales call
One of my biggest gripes in getting a cold call you get the question can I speak to someone in marketing or sales?
For me, it automatically triggers spam in my head. When the cold caller asks for a person, I don’t automatically disregard them. This is hugely important and you’d be surprised what percentage of cold calls don’t even bother to do this bit.
There are a ton of databases out there like LinkedIn where you can look up a person, see their role in the company that you’re calling and find out a little bit about them. And importantly, see if there are any issues facing them that you can help with.
You want to have a list of people that are active so you’re not wasting time calling dead numbers, and make sure you know who the decision-makers are so again that you’re not wasting time.
Think of it this way, if you make it 100 calls but you never get through to a decision-maker then you didn’t make a hundred cold calls because you never got the chance to speak to anyone.
You might as well have done nothing. Do not be one of those people who think that any work is good work it isn’t.
In addition, there are better times to call and those are early mornings or near the end of the day because if you call in the middle of the workday that probably already begun a piece of work. I will have little or no time for you it’s about being considerate to the person that you’re calling.
How to deal with gatekeepers
When you call you might not get through immediately to the person that you want but instead speak to the gatekeeper. It could be a secretary or receptionist you’ve got to get past them and they will want to stop you because they don’t want to bother their boss.
That’s why you’ve got to be friendly with them so as not to seem like spam and make it so their boss should want to hear from you. They’re human just like you and remember we’re on the phone you can make a human connection so try and build a rapport with them and show some empathy.
Think of it like a mini sales pitch except in this case you’re pitching to the gatekeeper to put you through to the boss. If you get a sense they’re really busy bringing that up to show that you understand and then try to explain briefly why it’s good for them that they should let you speak with that decision-maker is the way to go.
One of the best ways in addition to naming the person that you want is to also be specific and honest about what you’re calling about. Something as simple as
Hi, it’s Mike here from company X could you please put me through to Steve to discuss your company’s VoIP system?
I believe you’re with Y company at the moment but we can make some more services XYZ at lower cost. I think that’s something Steve would be interested in – would you mind helping me out here and seeing if he’s available?
The gatekeepers should always be treated with respect and not seen as some enemy to get through as quickly as possible. You’ve no idea how influential they are and a bad word from them about you or kill off chance of a good conversation with the decision-maker.
So, let’s talk about the call itself.
The first 30 seconds of your cold call
Having a dull monotone voice is worse than not having a script when it comes to cold calling. That’s a bold statement but it’s true. You want to have good energy to speak with a smile on your face as mentioned previously.
You want to boost the energy on the other side. Human beings are reactive so take advantage of that. You know those people who are engaging by the tone of voice that they use and that they put across – you want to sound smart, charismatic, professional and remember sales is a conversation. It’s not a one side monologue to the other side, it’s not about you.
What does that mean? Think of a cold call this way some stranger comes and starts talking to you and it’s all about them.
What are they going to think? I want to end this conversation quickly – it’s your flight response kicking in so when you first get through to the decision maker, slow it down. Answer the first thing that’ll run through their head. Who is this and what is this all about?
Oftentimes, the sales rep will speak too fast and the response they get from the prospect is I’m sorry who is this? That’s not a great start so slow it down, speaking perhaps a little slower than normal and begin with:
Hi my name is David. I’m calling from RealtimeCRM.
We offer sales teams a powerful tool to manage their sales pipeline.
You’ve answered their first query clearly and quickly then all you have to do is finish it off:
Is this something that sounds interesting to you and is now a good time to speak?
Getting permission to make your sales pitch
You want to get permission to speak to them. Don’t machine gun into your script – one excellent way to get permission is to use a mini upfront contract.
So mini upfront contracts, don’t even talk about your product or yourself before getting permission and in order to get permission don’t talk about yourself or your product. Because guess what the prospect doesn’t care about you or your product they care about themselves and their problems. That’s your way in, never forget that.
A mini upfront contract is an agreement between you and the prospect on what will happen. People rarely get upset when you tell them what is going to happen and you give them the option to say no. For example:
Hi, my name is David I’m calling from RealtimeCRM.
To put some context around why I’m calling and whether it makes sense for us to work together, just wonder if I could take three minutes of your time?
That’s it, you’ve shown humility and not being presumptuous assuming that you’re more important than you are. Really, that’s it you’ve shown humility. You’ve not been presumptuous and assumed that you’re more important than you really are.
If someone just goes into a monologue with you the first thing that’s going to go through your head is how do I get out of this call? But by asking for permission you change that thought in their head. You seem more reasonable, more human, less salesy, certainly not a robot trying to get their money. You’ve also set the expectation of what will happen off the back of the three-minute conversation – they’re either not interested or for example you can offer to do a more in-depth demonstration of your product.
That’s your agreement with the prospect, the mini upfront contract.
The jedi mind trick to deal with “I don’t have time”
So now you’ve got three minutes more to do your pitch that doesn’t feel like a pitch. So how do you deal with the I don’t have time can you send me some more information?
Oftentimes, when you get through to a decision-maker they don’t want to be influenced by you and want to get you off the phone. Most the time you want to avoid conflict so you acquiesce and meekly say okay, and give the initiative to the prospect. Now, you don’t want to fight the person on the other end of the line but neither do you want to just give up so you have no idea if they’ll actually open your email, so what do you do?
You say “yeah sure I can” then ask for their email.
Now here’s the Jedi mind trick – all you have to do is say “just so I can send the right information to you” and then ask the questions you were going to ask anyway; how many people are working at your company at the moment? What’s your budget? And so on.
If you’re a good conversationalist you’ll end up having the call you wanted with the prospect without them realizing.
Now of course sometimes they’re going to push back – “Hey! I really don’t have time for this”.
That’s fine, be polite, friendly and come back with “look I want to make sure I’m doing my job and sending you the relevant information so I don’t waste your time sending you an irrelevant email. Then, having to waste my time sending a follow-up email and calling you again for another five minute conversation. That’s why I want to ask you these questions to avoid that”.
You have to judge it but don’t be afraid to push back when the prospect pushes. Just remember to be polite and friendly.
You’ll notice that we haven’t yet spoken about the product or the service – guess what? We’re still not going to do that because remember what the purpose of this call is from back in introduction.
This isn’t a sales pitch!
Qualify leads on your cold call
To qualify leads you have to ask questions that enable you to answer the question of whether or not the product or service you’re offering can help them.
If as you’re going through those questions the answer is no then you know not to waste your time with them going forwards. You’re not relevant to them but concurrently they’re not relevant to you. You need to ask good questions and make it conversational. The prospect is only interested in themselves so make it about them and their context.
You do that by asking questions relevant to them and couching your product or service as an answer to their problem if you have some proof.
Now what are the best kinds of proof? The best is their bottom line but failing that time saved but you want something quantifiable ideally. As an example:
Is the actual value of your sales consistently below your forecasts? You’re seeing money slipping through your fingers, right?
Hopefully they’ll answer in the affirmative and then you can respond with
RealtimeCRM has helped companies like yours increase sales by 25%!
When they answer a question don’t just move on to the next question it’ll make it look like you’re not listening and instead sort of reading from a script.
If you ask them for example how many people there are at the company? Then follow-up something like that’s great “RealtimeCRM is specifically designed for small companies like yours. if you were bigger, I think we wouldn’t be a great fit for you”.
It’s so much better to make it conversational. Having that relaxed atmosphere instead of a sales pitch where they’re going to be on guard.
How to manage objections
Let’s talk about managing objections.
Okay, so you’ve got through to the decision maker. You’ve got their attention; you’ve asked the right questions and they like the way you sound but they’ve got their own questions.
That’s fine, you should know the common 10 or 15 questions that you’re going to get over and over again anyway, and create an objection management document perhaps with them all alongside showing a few lines or bullet points of rebuttals that you can go into on the call.
It’s incredibly powerful because it’s not simply about having an answer to their question but the way you answer it. Having that document will allow you to answer it straight away and in a matter-of-fact way demonstrating competence, confidence and professionalism.
You don’t want to be trying to figure out the answer each time leaving awkward pauses or being unclear.
With some objections, the response isn’t so much about the substance but the tone. If they get a ton of cold calls address it and make light of it but be clear as to why they should still speak to you because you can help them with their problem.
If they’re already using a competitor for example don’t run away from that instead bring up the fact that many customers have come over from that competitor. Be confident and make it seem like it’s not a big issue, that frame of mind will then go over across to them and it’ll dissipate any tension that otherwise might have come up.
So, you’ve qualified the lead, dealt with their objections and you’re sure they’re a great fit for you.
Now this is the part where you gather the data you need for your sales pipeline. It’s a very simple and a powerful question – “so what are the next steps to turn you into a customer of ours?”
The answer to this question gives you an idea of the time it’ll take to turn them into a paying customer, the next steps you and your team will have to take in the sales pipeline to get them there.
It’ll provide you with information of other stakeholders that you’ll have to deal with and whether they will be the managing director of the prospects company or their board perhaps. The deal size and how confident they are that you’re going to win the deal. It’s your step by step guide for turning them into a customer and all you have to do is execute it.
The call to action (CTA)
The last part of the conversation is your call to action – it could be a follow-up meeting, it could be a demonstration of your product but make sure you get a concrete commitment to that.
In order to do that you have to sell it too. If it’s an appointment with another colleague then sell that colleague you want to build confidence in the person they’ll be dealing with at the next step. Create a desire that they will want to meet them.
It could be as simple as letting them know he’s your best sales guy, best demonstrator. He’s usually really busy but you’ve been able to squeeze them into meeting him and that’s great for them as he’ll take great care of them.
It’s about maintaining and building the confidence that you’ve created on the call.
The metrics you need to know to see if your cold calling campaign is a success
So how do we know if this is working?
Well, let’s look at metrics do you know what your reach rate is? If you don’t then you’ve got no idea if your cold calling campaign is working or not and what you need to improve. Basically, you’re wasting your time.
Here are the numbers you need:
- You need your number of leads
- The number of leads you’ve dialled
- The number of calls where you reach the decision-maker, the reach rate
- How many of the people you are reaching are qualified to buy your product and service
- And how many of the qualified opportunities did you close
As a basic rule of thumb, you want your reach rate to be around 15% or higher. If it’s less than that then the list of leads you’ve generated is bad and you need to deal with that as soon as possible because your campaigns doomed before it started.
You’ll be spending a lot of time making calls that no one wants. Once you’ve got through to the decision-maker and you realize you’re qualifying only a low percentage of the people you reach you’re probably facing one of two problems.
Either you’re very poor at qualifying leads or more likely you’re calling bad leads. In the latter case you’re going to have to tighten up on the definitions of your target market and set more granular deck criteria for who meets your ideal lead.
Obviously the more qualified leads you have the better. You do want to be wasting your time so you want to be able to qualify at least 40% of the people you reach.
Lastly, how many of your qualified leads are you closing? If this figure is low it could mean your pitch is terrible you need to work on that. It could mean cold calling is not the right way to reach your customers or it could mean you don’t have a product market fit.
You want to be able to close at least 50% of your qualified leads. Cold calling is somewhat of a numbers game but it’s much more about efficiency and with the numbers you can see if you’re being efficient or not, and in what area so that you can target and improve it.
Take-aways from the cold call guide
So, in listening to this presentation what should be apparent to you is that we’ve described the main points that you need to prepare in your sales script.
I understand if you don’t want to sound like a robot reading scripts and you’re right but it’s a worthwhile exercise because it allows you to flesh out the main beats that all of your sales call will go through.
Plus, you can refine it over time. If you want some phrase that really resonates with prospects you can record it in and share it with the rest of the sales team.
The script will be a great point of reference especially on those days when you’re not a hundred percent but you won’t be adrift at sea. As long as you’re professional you have your script guide with you.
The other important point to acknowledge is that you won’t be amazing on day one but with time and practice you’ll get better as you get more confident.
Run dummy calls with colleagues. If it helps, record yourself and play it back to see if you can identify awkward pauses or anything in your tone that doesn’t sound right or is off-putting.
The substance matters of course but on the phone style counts for a lot too. If you’re good at building a rapport with people that’ll be a major advantage.
You’ll also want the right tool to help you and actually we’re going to recommend RealtimeCRM.
It’s free to try and we built it for salespeople and business owners to keep track of what’s going on in their business. You can enter your leads into the system and it will automatically try and find more information about them from their email address and domain.
When you’re ready to make the call you can create the list you want to work with using the tags and then create a favourite from it and dial out a RealtimeCRM, and record the details of your conversation to get all the relevant information that you need into your sales pipeline.
We can help you figure it out if it’s a right fit for you. You can send us an email to [email protected] but in the meantime thanks very much for listening to this guide. I do hope it’s going to be of useful to you in your sales career and I wish you best of luck!