Most sales professionals aren’t super keen on the idea of cold calling. But the truth is, this form of outreach can still offer massive rewards, particularly in the world of B2B sales. You just need to know the right calling tips to make good connections over the phone.
Picking up this kind of wisdom was easy back in the heyday of telesales. But nowadays, some of the best techniques are a little harder to discover.
To help you get a head start on the competition, we decided to take a deep dive into cold calling and unearth some of the best tips and techniques known to humankind!
Although cold calling is a little less effective than it used to be, most B2B sales experts still advocate cold calling in the right circumstances.
Why? Well, receiving a call is much more personal than any other channel of communication. Even if you only listen to a voicemail, you get a sense of the salesperson who is trying to make contact. Plus, you’re much more likely to listen to a minute of talking rather than read a 200-word email.
The stats back this up. A survey by MarketingCharts found that 46% of B2B marketers regard the phone as one of their top three channels for outreach and prospecting.
However, successful cold calling isn’t just about picking up the phone. The best exponents of this technique have a clear strategy, which they adapt for different audiences. They also do plenty of research before placing a call, and they usually have a set plan for following up.
Wondering how to harness the power of cold calling to the same degree? We have your back!
Whether you are trying cold calling for the first time or trying to up your game, the following list of tips is guaranteed to help you get better results on the phone.
As with any sales or marketing strategy, effective cold calling is based on good research.
Just as importantly, research can inform your whole approach to cold calling and how you pitch to individual clients. The proposition you make to a company that has just raised a few million dollars is likely to be different from the offer you deliver to a small startup.
Of course, good research can take time — which is why some sales reps try to skip this step. But by utilizing a tool like Datanyze, you can speed up the process for your whole sales team.
Our easy-to-use extension lets you find accurate contact details and key information about any LinkedIn user. It works on company sites, too.
Another advantage of doing research is that the information you collect can help you understand who is likely to become your customer. You can take this one step further by creating buyer personas.
Building complete buyer profiles, you give your sales team a better understanding of the people they are calling. In turn, this will help them to use the right language and tone of voice for each type of potential customer.
Buyer personas can also inform your overall strategy, from the messaging you use to the timing of your calls.
Selling over the phone is really hard. To give your reps a fighting chance, it’s a good idea to give them a template to follow.
A good cold calling script doesn’t have to prescribe every word. In fact, a clear outline is often more comfortable to use, because it allows reps to move with the conversation.
But whichever type you choose, using a script of some kind is really important.
Scripts provide structure for each call, and a reminder of all the key points you need to hit. By getting your team to follow the same templates, you can also collect data, run A/B tests, and optimize your messaging over time.
You could try building an outline yourself, but we would recommend at least starting with proven cold calling scripts as your base.
With your strategy and your script in place, the next step is to begin making some phone calls.
When you’re just starting out, it might seem like a reasonable idea to simply pick up a landline or use a regular VOIP client. The problem is, cold calling only works if you’re making a lot of calls every day — and dialing numbers by hand is really slow.
Instead of wasting your time, invest in a sales dialer from the outset. Many platforms, such as Salesforce, have this feature built in. If your CRM doesn’t have it, find a good third-party add-on and thank us later.
While the whole of your sales pitch is important, the latter parts will be irrelevant if you don’t get the first part right.
In particular, the first two sentences really matter. In just 15–30 seconds, you need to introduce yourself and give someone a reason to keep listening.
Generally, the best way to achieve this is by mentioning some common ground, and delivering a one-line pitch that directly targets the pain points of that prospect.
If you find that people start putting the phone down after these opening lines, you might need to change your script — or do a better job at identifying likely customers.
Back in the heyday of telesales, researchers George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson tried to figure out why some reps performed so well, while others at the same company struggled.
What they found was that 80% of new sales professionals were reluctant to make calls. Even among more experienced reps, 40% didn’t really want to make calls.
If you’re a salesperson who feels the same way, there is only one real cure for this problem: make calls anyway. However, you can reduce your anxiety levels by preparing well for each call (see Do Your Research) and using fidget toys to get rid of nervous energy. After each call, be sure to focus on the positives.
Sales managers can also play their part by encouraging reps to make more calls, while reducing pressure on outcomes. This approach is far more likely to produce good results than if you make your coworkers feel stressed.
Before you can even deliver your pitch, you first need to reach the person you’re trying to contact. Timing is often the key.
Studies show that most people are more likely to pick up in the afternoon. That said, it’s worth using data from social media and other sources to see if your target audience fits with this trend.
Of course, timing isn’t only about the time of day. In order to book a meeting with your chosen prospect, you need to contact them when they are likely to respond to your offer. If you think a certain decision-maker is busy with something else right now, wait for another time to call.
In B2B sales, any cold caller has a number of challenges to overcome. The first is the gatekeeper. This is the person who answers the phone on behalf of a C-level executive or some other decision-maker with limited availability.
Where possible, it’s a good idea to bypass the gatekeeper completely by finding a direct dial phone number. Datanyze can help you here.
But in certain circumstances, you won’t be able to get through to the big boss right away. So, you need a plan for when the gatekeeper picks up.
This could be a script, or simply a value proposition. Either way, you need to focus on gaining the gatekeeper’s trust and explaining the upside of putting you through to the target prospect.
Earlier on, we talked about timing and how there is such a thing as a bad time to call.
Well, there’s also a good time to call.
Specifically, we’re talking about when someone starts a new job, when a company raises money, or when a potential client tries something new. Any of these events could mean they have new ambitions, and new pain points to overcome.
To capitalize on such opportunities, smart sales teams create alerts. Then, your reps will be notified about important news relating to any target prospect.
While a good proposition is likely to deliver higher success rates, sales calls are ultimately about human connections. If the person on the other end of the line doesn’t trust you, they won’t even agree to a follow-up meeting — let alone a purchase.
In other words, building some rapport is essential.
This starts with a simple “how are you.” You might be having a sales conversation, but people appreciate it when you treat them like a human rather than a walking sale.
Then, introduce something you have in common, or talk about a piece of company news that you’ve found through research. This business-related small talk is the foundation for a deal.
Finally, make sure to ask open-ended questions during the call and listen to the response. Really listen. Not only can the replies guide your pitch, but it will once again make your prospect feel valued.
In fact, listening is one of the most powerful cold calling techniques around.
Even if you have built trust and rapport, hard-nosed executives aren’t just going to lap up every claim you make. To persuade them fully, you might need to use some social proof.
Social proof comes in many forms. However, there are only certain types that really work over the phone, particularly in a B2B context. For instance, unless you are quoting outstanding numbers, online reviews just aren’t going to cut it.
Instead, we would recommend citing your customers in the same industry or customers with similar pain points, at least. If you can make a personal connection with another contact, even better.
It goes without saying that you need to choose your words carefully whenever you make a cold call. That includes the precise language you use.
Just a subtle change can make all the difference to how you are perceived over the phone.
When you get through, ask who you’re “talking with” rather than who you are “speaking to.” This alone implies conversation, instead of a sales script read aloud.
The same amount of attention should be paid to your tone. Try to use your voice to sound engaged, positive, and open. This little acting job might feel a bit unnatural, but it could make all the difference.
Another way you can build trust on a call is by using mirroring. This sales technique involves subtly mimicking the tone and language of the person you are speaking with.
It sounds kinda weird, but when you get it right, prospects will warm to you without even realizing why.
A common event in cold calling is what we call the brush off. It comes after you have secured the prospect’s attention, but before you get agreement on a follow-up call or meeting.
People are busy, so they will often say: “Can you email me the details and I will have a look later.” Seems reasonable, right? Ah but friends, this is a trap.
If you agree, you probably won’t hear from that prospect again. The fact is, you need to get them to say yes to that follow-up, or you are back to square one.
You don’t need to be pushy about it. Simply recognize and empathize with their objection, deliver some new fact that could change their mind, and retry your original ask. Chances are, they may give in.
Perhaps the best cold calling tip of all: don’t give up.
The stats show that you are highly unlikely to even get through on your first cold call, let alone make any progress. But the entire premise of this sales strategy is based around probability — so individual calls really don’t matter.
If you keep dialing, you will get through. And once out of so many times you get through, you will set up another call. You just have to stick at it.
All of the tips above can be applied to your next call. And individually, they can all have a small positive impact on your success.
To shift the needle further, you may need to adapt your wider sales process.
Cold calling works well when you identify the right targets, and get to know them. That means you need a good workflow for qualifying and researching potential clients. You also need to make sure you have the right contact information for every prospect.
For this reason, improving your data collection is actually one of the best ways you can enhance your cold calling (and your cold emailing).
When it comes to researching B2B professionals, Datanyze is an essential addition to your workflow.
Our Chrome extension gives you instant access to a database of 120 million individuals, including accurate direct dial phone numbers and email addresses. It’s completely compliant with GDPR and CCPA, and it works on any LinkedIn profile.
Additionally, the extension can unearth great icebreakers to help you start conversations.
Want to give it a try? Sign up today to take Datanyze for a 90-day test drive, and see why so many sales teams have adopted our tool.