Every sales mentor and author on the planet will tell you (and they’d be right) that cold calling is one of the least effective methods of generating leads and sales. Client referrals, inbound marketing-generated leads, and old client / prospect lists are almost always going to produce more viable sales opportunities than cold calling a VP-of-something-or-other to get them on the phone.
But unless you’re a rep with a 6-digit-salary working for a Fortune 500, chances are there’s going to be a lot of times when you’re not going to have enough warm leads “just kicking around” in your CRM system to avoid cold calling entirely. And if you’re a lead generation agent, cold calling is often one of the core functions of your entire job description.
Here are some of the best sales techniques to help get you started.
The Top 5 Rules for Making Effective Cold Calls
- The First Rule of Cold Calling is know your prospect.
In the Digital Age it’s shocking how many sales reps still make prospecting calls without doing research. This has become such a generally accepted “sales best practice” that having a rep make a call without it is almost insulting to the recipient. If you can’t cogently state in two sentences the basic premise and positioning of a prospect’s business back to them, don’t bother calling.
- The Second Rule of Cold Calling is have compelling information and data.
Every executive has heard the “more productivity, more revenue, more efficient” pitch. It’s white noise to them. Simply calling to say, “Can we talk?” does nothing for them. Calling to say, “We have what we think is some compelling information for your market/industry, and it may affect you,” tells the prospect that you’re serious.
- The Third Rule of Cold Calling is to get as high on the “trust ladder” as you can.
The “trust ladder” is a variable scale of who a prospect “trusts” to help them make good decisions. The prospect themselves are at the very top of the ladder. As a sales rep, you’re not even on it.
There’s no credibility in saying, “I’m Jill and I work for Company X,” because it creates no point of reference for the recipient—they don’t know you. Instead, as often as appropriate, refer to someone else in your pitch as being involved, even if it’s just your boss—”Hi I’m Jill with Company X, my supervisor is asking us to . . .” Even referring to your boss creates a small sense of relationship, because the prospect mentally relates it to their own relationship with their boss. Referencing your credibility as an industry insider or trusted advisor is even better. A genuine reference to a friend, colleague, or associate is at the top of the ladder.
- The Fourth Rule of Cold Calling is to automate the process with a dialer.
Cold calling is often an intense activity that requires a great deal of thought process and investment to do successfully. If you know that your current position is going to require significant amounts of calling, get a dialer tool to alleviate the pain and stress. A dialer toolautomates the process of placing the calls, makes note tracking infinitely faster and easier, and provides options for sending email and voice messages at the click of a button, freeing up your time from these mundane tasks. It’s proven that calling, voice mail, and email synergize with each other to grab prospect’s attention, so use a sales automation tool and dialer to improve your results.
- The Fifth Rule of Cold Calling is to (as much as possible) enjoy the process.
Celebrate small victories when you set an appointment. If you need to blow off steam after a particularly “creative” rejection, take 15 minutes and do it. Have contests with other reps to see who can set the most appointments. Better yet, set the bar for yourself. Practice different approaches. Listen to other reps’ approaches to glean ideas. Focus on ways to make your pitch more personal, more engaging. Enjoy the conversations you have. This is not to say that you’re going to love cold calling all the time, but it’s rarely uninteresting.