In this guide you will find:
Reasons You Should Use Cold Calling
It sounds human. People may communicate through web chats with bots but this interaction will never replace real human voice. According to a recent survey, phone conversations remain among the top 3 B2B salespeople’s methods for reaching prospects, taking second place (46% respondents) after referrals.
Source: ValueSelling Associates
It is no surprise because cold calling can provide your sales representatives with immediate feedback: if the client is interested or not (and if they talk to the decision-maker they can figure out if the company really needs their product or service). They can read a full stack of emotions from a client's voice and decide on how to act. It is preferable to customers as well: another survey shows that more than half of senior-level buyers want a phone call:
“C-level and VP buyers prefer to be contacted by the phone (57%), even more than directors (51%) and managers (47%)”
“69% of buyers have accepted phone calls from new providers in the last 12 months.”
Source: Mike Schultz, Bob Croston, and Mary Flaherty, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting Benchmark Report, RAIN Group (2018).
It allows your team to be proactive. It goes without saying that email marketing is important as well as social media and web chats. But all these communication channels require you to sit and wait for the user's response God knows how long. With cold calling your salespeople have the freedom to initiate conversations with the target audience quickly and enough time to prepare. Moreover, if combined with social media or email marketing cold calls work even better. For instance, your salespeople can start following and building relationships with leads on LinkedIn and schedule a call with them later after making deep research. Or to make follow-up calls after cold mailing.
It allows your company to stand out from the information flow. Nowadays people are overwhelmed by tons of information. Your email may never be opened because your clients receive hundreds of them every day. Their Facebook or LinkedIn feeds may be also littered with tons of ads as well as corporate messengers. Phone conversations allow your team to establish more personalized contact with leads.
Don’t think that phones are a thing of the past. According to Saleshacker’s research, 44%CxO, 51% VP, and 53% of directors still have office phones. 53% of prospects who share their mobile number said that they react positively to calls on that line. So don’t hesitate to use cold calling in your sales activities.
How You Can Benefit from Cold Calling
As it was already mentioned, cold calling helps your company to stand out from the information flow. But this is not the only benefit. Making cold calls, you can set the ground for further outbound activities. For instance, successful call attempts will give your salespeople a contact pool for sales calls.
It saves time. Your sales reps don’t need to wait when a prospect will answer their email or message on social media. Cold calling allows them to get instant feedback and that matters because time is money.
It is a good way to check some hypotheses and sales techniques. Again, because this won’t take too much time. Just prepare the hypothesis you want to test, create a call script and start dialing. Even the first replies will show you how viable your hypothesis is.
It enables you to impress the prospect with your knowledge of their company more than via other communication channels. That’s when deep research comes in handy. It will allow your sales representative to learn more about what the prospect is looking for as well as to understand if your company can solve the problems the potential customer faces. As phone conversation allows establishing more personal contact with customers it is possible to impress the prospect stronger than via messenger conversation.
Main B2B cold calling tips
Start it right
In the 2006 film, The Pursuit of Happiness unpaid stockbroker intern Chris Gardner (Will Smith) cold-calls his prospects using only a telephone book. In 1981, when the story is set, it was very hard to do thorough research on potential customers. That made things difficult for salespeople but did not prevent them from achieving success. Now we have information on fingertips so it would be unreasonable not to take that advantage. Deep research gives your salespeople a great chance to learn about their prospects as much as possible and define if this company may benefit from your product or service.
Define your list
When the research is done, define your list of targets. It is important to organize and segment it (for instance, by industry or business size). Your team should also keep track of their activities: note who is already pitched, which calls weren’t answered, calling results (if there was a conversation), etc. Any modern CRM system has such options.
There is also an option to buy a broker list. It is a list of companies that may become your potential customers. But there are some disadvantages that you should take into account. Firstly, broker lists are expensive and are not up-to-date. Secondly, your team has to pay attention to legal issues. For example, if you are going to launch a cold calling campaign in Europe, make sure your broker list doesn’t violate EU regulations (in some cases, data can’t be collected without the subject's consent).
Cope up with the fear of rejection
Be ready for rejections. Experts recommend considering them as lessons. When the prospect declines your offer from the start, the agent should work out these objections without pushing for a sale. The customer’s rejection may reveal valuable information about your value proposition or selling tactics.
Choose the right time
As recent research has shown it is better to contact prospects early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It is the time when your salespeople can directly reach decision-makers. The best days for contact, according to CallHippo’s surveys, are Wednesday and Thursday. By the middle of the week, people have already settled their working routine and can continue their working process.
Prepare the script
Call scripts are useful both for newbies and skilled sales reps. In the first case, the script should be detailed as much as possible. A new person neither has time nor possibility to improvise. So you should include all information they may need during the conversation as well as all possible objections and ways to overcome them. A script for a skilled salesperson can be written briefly. They don’t need details, just some obligatory points to declare during the conversation. Remember that the main goal of cold calling is not to sell but establish valuable relationships with the prospects. Read more about the most effective call script structure in our guide.
Ask the relevant questions
Questions are essential to the success of your cold calling campaign. Relevant questions will give you valuable information about the prospect and help you establish lasting relationships. Paying attention to some sales techniques may be very useful while preparing a call script.
CHAMP (Challenge, Authority, Money, Prioritization):
- Challenge. Start from determining the main pain points your prospect is facing. Questions like “What are the main business challenges that you are dealing with right now?” will help your agent get the necessary information and understand whether your product or service can solve the prospect’s problem.
- Authority. At this stage, an agent has to ask questions that will help them understand who makes decisions in this company: “Who else is involved in decision-making in your company?”.
- Money. This is a critical point in the whole sales process. A salesperson has to find out if the prospect can afford your product or service. A question should be like “Are you ready to invest in purchasing our solution?”. It is also important to mention the average ROI for your product and remind the lead why your solution is worth investment.
- Prioritization. This stage allows an agent to understand how important and urgent the solution is for the prospect. A question should be like “How important is solving this problem in comparison with other priorities?”, “What may happen if you don’t solve this issue? And how will you measure success?”.
ANUM (Authority, Need, Urgency, Money):
- Authority. An agent identifies if they talk to the right person and tries to find out how the decision-making process works in this company.
- Need. A salesperson points out that your product or service is the best solution for the prospect’s pain point: “What problems are you going to solve with the help of such software?”.
- Urgency. Discover if the problem is a high priority for a potential customer. Sometimes it can be a direct question: “When would you like to be up and running with a solution?”.
- Money. Find out if the prospect can afford your product or service. A question should be like “What budget would you be ready to assign for solving your problem?".
Another recent sales technique you can use is GPCT (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline). It will help you identify the goals your prospect wants or needs to achieve; find out what their current plans are; what challenges you can help them overcome; and how quickly they want to achieve their results and overcome the challenges.
As you can see, all these sales techniques have something in common but their approach to the opening statement is different. So while choosing them you should pay attention to the specifics of your business. Also, we’ve reviewed more sales tactics in our articles “Guide to Sales Qualification” and “Different types of sales”.
During the call
Avoid distraction while making cold calls
Distraction is the biggest enemy of your campaign. Your salespeople have to be focused while making cold calls. It would be good to schedule some hours for cold calling only. Your agents have to mute all the distractions during the calls: keep their phones aside, sign out from social media, stay away from noisy conversations, and so on.
Focus on the duration of your cold call
A sales representative has only a few seconds to make a first impression. That’s why it is very important to have a well-planned call script. These first seconds define the success of the cold call.
Use techniques to pass the gatekeeper
Agents should treat the gatekeeper as their ally and remember some tips on how to deal with them. Firstly, a salesperson should always talk politely and sound senior. That will make the gatekeeper believe that they are important and treat them differently. Secondly, a sales rep mustn’t sell to the gatekeeper. Their goal is to get this person on their side and learn more about decision-makers. And last but not least, an agent should build a positive and friendly relationship with them. This will help during the next call.
Build rapport by narrating customer success story
The ability to establish rapport is one of the most important sales skills. In the case of cold calling, a salesperson can do it by storytelling. If your company solved similar problems your agents can mention that during the call. Telling a customer success story shows the prospects that you know how to deal with the challenges in their industry and your experience is enough to help them. It may become a crucial factor for a customer in deciding on your proposal.
What else is important while building rapport? Salespeople have to remember about active listening. It means that they should concentrate on the potential customer's problem by asking questions that show their interest. It is also important to summarize a call. This step will help to sum up the main terms and make the customer feel heard and understood. Active listening is the skill that sets a great salesperson apart from the others.
Use cold calling script but don’t sound scripted
As has already been mentioned, the script for newbies has to be detailed as much as possible. An agent has to learn it by heart but also try adding some personality to it. The script is just a guide on how to handle conversations with customers so salespeople shouldn’t sound like robots. And last but not least, they mustn’t just read the call script from the screen. It is noticeable and makes a bad impression.
Practice your craft
The best way to have a good conversation is a constant practice. Your cold calling script isn’t fixed in stone. It should be continuously improved according to your team’s outcomes. Also, you should gather your sales team for training sessions regularly. It is a good way to sharpen their communication skills and to help newbies sound more naturally and confidently during real calls.
More important tips
Use local number
Having a local number for your business gives you the trust and credibility of your prospects and increases your contact rate. If people see that you are calling from their region they are more likely to call you back. However, there’s no need to set up an office in their region. You can get a virtual local number with the help of any VoIP carrier.
Technology is your greatest helper. It can ease the work of your salespeople significantly, especially if it comes to dialing.
Let us consider an example from B2C cold calling (numbers for B2B won’t be much different). A team of 10 agents works an 8-hour shift. Each of them spends 1.5 minutes on average talking to a customer. Dialing manually, an agent can make 100-120 calling attempts per shift. These actions are like a lottery - you never know if someone will grab the phone. Our data suggest that only 42 (35%) of these calls are answered so the agent wastes a lot of time on routine actions like recalling these failed attempts again and again. So it is no surprise that agent occupancy drops below 20% and sales conversion reaches only 1% of all dialed numbers. ln total, all the team can handle a maximum of 1200 contacts per shift. Only 420 of them are live calls, so their contact rate amounts to 35%.
Our predictive dialing software changes this situation dramatically. It calculates the required dialing speed and places multiple concurrent calls automatically, directing only answered calls to available agents. Detecting answer machines, busy signals, no answers, etc., dialer filters them out and schedules retries due to preconfigured redialing rules. Moreover, using the intelligent algorithm and statistics the software can calculate the approximate time when each agent finishes the call and start dialing the next number for them. Your agents don’t need to waste time on manual dialing attempts and that boosts their productivity:
- Every agent can make 188 live calls per shift.
- Talk time increases from 63 minutes to 5.6 hours, while agent occupancy skyrockets to 70%.
- Sales conversion amounts to 2.5% of all dialed numbers.
Therefore, 10 agents can process 2500 contacts per shift due to dialing automation. 1880 of these are live calls, so contact rate increases to 75%. It is a significant difference, isn’t it?
As you can see, it is still possible to benefit from cold calling. It remains a good way to connect with potential customers, especially if combined with other communication channels such as email or social media. With dialing automation software it works even better. Technology helps salespeople to become more productive and we are happy to be a part of this process.