In an ideal world, every new client would come knocking on your door. They would find your website near the top of Google search results, or read a great article on your company blog and go looking for more.
Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t always work that way. There are times when you will need to go out looking for prospects, even among people who have never previously engaged with your business.
Cold calling is one method of reaching out that has been used for decades. Over the years, it has been a key part of the sales process for large corporations.
But does it still work, and is it worth your time? We have answers.
What Is Cold Calling?
In simple terms, cold calling is when you phone someone who has never interacted with your business, product, or service.
Most of the time, this form of telemarketing is not necessarily about making an instant sale. It’s more about seeing who might be interested in making a purchase down the line — qualifying your leads, to use some sales lingo.
If someone shows interest in your product or service, you can guide them towards your inbound marketing efforts. For example, you can send them a slidedeck and add them to your mailing list.
Alternatively, you can take a more direct approach with interested leads and schedule a follow-up call.
What Are the Benefits of Cold Calling?
Calling a long list of people just to qualify their interest seems like a time-consuming task.
However, the numbers show that cold calling is actually one of the most effective and efficient ways to drive sales. That holds true even today, in a world of live chat and social media.
Here are some key benefits:
- Calls are more personal than any other form of marketing
- Many decision-makers prefer to talk
- Prospects can get answers instantly
- You can adapt your pitch based on what the prospect wants
The statistics back this up. In a comprehensive industry survey, Rain Group found that 69% of buyers accept cold calls and 57% of C-Level executives and VPs prefer calls over other forms of communication.
What does that look like in terms of revenue? Data from Chorus.ai provides a breakdown of the average cold-calling sales funnel:
In summary, cold calling helps you stand out. When your prospects are receiving dozens of unsolicited emails every day, being able to jump straight into a conversation can give you a head start on the competition.
What Are the Disadvantages of Cold Calling?
Every marketing tactic comes with pros and cons. Cold calling is no exception.
Many of the key benefits of cold calling are coupled with challenges. For example, conversations can lead to meetings and sales — but they take time. In addition, sales staff usually have to call each contact several times before they get through.
The average conversion rate for cold calling varies massively based on many variables. That said, the figure is usually under 5%.
For this reason, it is B2B companies with larger contracts that often see the best results from cold calls. The bigger your average deal, the better.
Of course, cold calling also has a certain reputation. There is sometimes a fine line between “persistence” and “nuisance”.
So, how do you avoid these pitfalls? Let’s take a look at some cold-calling best practices.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Cold Calling
You might think of cold calling as simply dialing numbers on a list. While some businesses definitely try that approach, the most successful campaigns are finely tuned — from the contacts you call to the length of the pitch.
If you want to make a success of cold calling in your organization, we would recommend following these steps:
1) Create an Ideal Buyer Persona
Cold calling can be very time-consuming, so it’s important to focus on individuals who are likely to strike a deal.
The best way to prioritize your efforts is by creating a buyer persona for your ideal client. Or perhaps more specifically, the ideal client who is likely to respond well to cold calling.
You can then shape your entire strategy around this avatar.
Ideally, the inspiration for your buyer persona should be data. Look at your existing clients or those you want to target, and consider the following points:
- What is their demographic profile?
- What is their job title?
- What size of company do they work for?
- Which industry do they work in?
- What problems do they need to solve?
If you don’t have data within your organization to answer some of these questions, you can use market research to fill in the gaps.
2) Find and Research Potential Clients
Once you have your ideal buyer persona in mind, it’s time to go out and find a match.
In terms of B2B leads, LinkedIn is the ultimate resource. With a quick search, you can find every dream client and identify the best point of contact.
LinkedIn also provides a wealth of information that can help you prioritize the right people and build credibility with prospects. For instance, you can check the size of the target business and take note of any major milestones, such as funding rounds or product launches.
The one thing that LinkedIn doesn’t provide directly is a contact phone number. For that, you will need to use a tool like Datanyze.
When you visit any LinkedIn page or company website, you can use our browser extension to get accurate contact details for any decision maker.
3) Create a Pitch
As with any marketing push, it’s important to create an offer specifically for cold-calling efforts.
While lead magnets and content may attract people online, buyers on the phone want to hear a concise pitch and a clear call to action. You only have seconds to establish credibility and explain how your product or service might solve their problems.
For this reason, many telemarketers draft a script for the start of each call. We will take a closer look at scripts a little later.
However you choose to introduce yourself, your pitch needs to guide prospects towards your sales funnel. In most cases, the best call to action is setting up a follow-up call or meeting.
4) Start Dialing
Picking up the phone is obviously an essential part of cold calling. However, timing is important.
Several studies have shown that Wednesdays are generally the best day of the week for getting through, followed by Tuesdays and Thurdsays.
The data around time of day is less secure, although first thing in the morning seems to be less favorable than late morning or early afternoon.
Assuming you get someone to pick up, bear in mind that it might not be the person you are trying to reach. Most high-level executives have a “gatekeeper,” such as a secretary or assistant.
You probably shouldn’t try to sell to this person; simply explain why this call will be useful for your prospect, and gather information by asking questions.
Of course, the majority of calls won’t be answered at all. For this reason, you should have a voicemail script ready to go. You might be surprised at how effective a recorded pitch can be.
5) Analyze and Improve
Collecting data on cold calling can be a hassle, but it’s worth the effort. After a few weeks and a couple of thousand calls, you should see some general trends emerging.
Analyzing your figures can help you find the best times to call people in your industry and assess the effectiveness of your pitch. If your numbers are underwhelming initially, you may wish to make adjustments to your approach.
A/B testing of your scripts is a good way to find what works and what doesn’t, particularly when you first start cold calling.
Cold Calling Best Practices
Most people who write off cold calling have either never tried it, or have made unsuccessful attempts. Follow these best practices, and you won’t stumble into the same pitfalls.
Know Who You Are Calling
Although cold calling involves dialing a lot of different numbers, it’s still worth doing some research on each contact. People respond better to a personalized pitch, and showing some knowledge of the buyer is an excellent way to establish rapport.
Once again, LinkedIn is your friend here. Make notes on the company that your contact works for, and pay special attention to recent news. The Datanyze extension can help you with both tasks.
You should also visit the company website of your target customer, along with their other social media profiles. The more information you can gather, the easier it will be to answer questions and sound professional.
Use a Script
Successful cold calling is all about being concise. Within the first 30 seconds of the call, you need to establish:
- Who you are
- What your product or service is
- Why it may be relevant to the buyer
- Your credibility
- The next steps
In order to deliver this information clearly in such a short space of time, you will need to create a script.
There are many different types of script used by telemarketers, ranging from precise word-for-word greetings to loose bullet-point lists. However, the most successful share some common themes:
- Polite intro – thanking your contact for picking up builds instant rapport
- Get to the point – after that initial greeting, move straight into questions and your 1–2 sentence pitch
- Encourage a conversation – ask open-ended questions that lead towards your offer
- Drop some names and numbers – you can impress your contact quickly by mentioning previous clients and results
- Answer every objection – make sure to think about FAQs ahead of time
- Ask for an appointment – once you have caught their attention, focus on getting that meeting
Every prospect is different, so you don’t necessarily have to plan out every word in the call. People want to feel like they are having a conversation rather than listening to a pre-prepared speech.
Consider the points above as a general structure, and feel free to experiment with the precise language you use.
Qualify the Call
Talking takes time, and time is money. There is zero point in spending 5–10 minutes of your day pitching to someone who isn’t a good fit for your product or service.
For this reason, a critical part of every cold call should be qualifying the lead. This is where you need to ask some questions.
There are a few different frameworks used by telemarketers, but perhaps the most efficient is NOTE:
- Need – what problems does the client want to solve?
- Opportunity – what is stopping the client from reaching their goals?
- Team – who are the key people involved in the buying process?
- Effect – what value can you bring to the client and what are their expectations?
If the answers you hear are favorable, you can hit your prospect with your offer and call to action.
Listen More Than You Talk
This basic rule of sales holds true on the phone. Although you need to make your pitch, you shouldn’t turn a cold call into a one-way conversation.
Stats from Chorus.ai show that during the most productive calls, both the telemarketer and the potential client will talk for more than 30 seconds at a time. Short replies are usually red flags that indicate discomfort or a lack of interest.
One way to encourage the client to engage is by asking open-ended questions, such as those in the “qualify the call” section.
Warm Up and Follow Up
If you use the strict definition, cold calling only applies to new contacts. However, some marketers do some “preheating” to make their leads a little warmer.
Just interacting with someone on LinkedIn, dropping them an email, or even saying hello in person can drastically improve your chances of success on the phone.
Similarly, following up after the initial call is very important.
If you don’t get through the first time, leave a voicemail and try again. All too often, sales reps get discouraged; you may need to call 6–8 times to get through and land that valuable meeting.
After you do get through, send a follow-up email and get that appointment into your prospect’s calendar.
Launch Your Cold Calling Campaign
With an ethically-sourced database of over 120 million business professionals and 63 million direct phone numbers, Datanyze can massively enhance your cold calling efforts.