Of all the tools in the sales rep’s toolkit, cold calling has to be one of the least used. It makes sense since cold calls can be quite challenging. Rejection rates are high, many prospects don’t answer, and it is hard to convert those calls into leads.
However, while many a salesperson isn’t a fan of cold calling, that doesn’t mean the practice doesn’t have merit. With the right tools and processes, it can become the cornerstone of your business.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at how to convert cold calls into sales.
Step One: Create a Targeted Prospecting System
The primary issue with cold calling is that many people getting called don’t want to hear from a salesperson. However, what if you could warm things up by ensuring that each number called has someone who may be interested in getting more information?
Rather than buying a list of numbers and calling every one of them, it is far better to curate your list through prospecting.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, prospecting is the process of finding qualified leads. This tactic aims to ensure that you trim the field and only focus on potential customers. But, how can you do that?
Here are some methods for high-quality prospecting to make cold calling more palatable:
- Refine Your Target Demographic – Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, narrow your focus on niche buyers. For example, instead of calling all women ages 35-45, your best bet may be to call married women with at least one child. You have fewer numbers to call, but your interest rate will be much higher. If you are a B2B company, focus on specific businesses, not industries.
- Find Your Audience Where They Are – Social media and email make it easy to reach out to new leads, but not all platforms or communication methods are ideal for everyone. Figure out how your demographic likes to receive information and use that. That way, cold calls only go to those individuals who prefer it.
- Build Inbound Content – If new leads are approaching your business for more information, they are much more likely to be open to cold calls. Inbound marketing tools like blogging and social media branding can help your sales team find warmer leads and avoid as much rejection.
Step Two: Create a Cold Calling Script
Another reason why so many salespeople hate cold calling is that it can be awkward when talking to a new lead. Trying to figure out what to say can create tension and unease, fostering negative feelings toward the process.
One way to alleviate this problem is to script your cold calls. That said, this step is not as easy as just writing a single page of dialog and having your sales reps memorize it. Here are some tips to make a cold calling script that works.
Tailor the Introduction
Instead of greeting everyone with the same opening line, customize it to fit a particular prospect’s interests. You don’t have to get granular with the intro and make one for every individual, but have a few options for your reps to utilize.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Reading a script and saying the lines out loud are two very different things. If your salespeople aren’t practicing how they talk to new leads, they will likely fumble. Have reps partner up and practice their pitch with each other.
They can also simulate rejection calls and negative reactions to help build an immunity (more on that later).
Focus on Problem-Solving, Not Features
Running through a list of product features isn’t going to sell anyone over the phone. Since they can’t see what you’re talking about, the words are meaningless. Instead, sell the benefits and solutions that the product offers.
For example, a kid’s toy isn’t the best because it has the brightest colors – it’s the best because it can provide peace and quiet for the parents (or whatever the case may be).
Update the Script Regularly
It’s almost impossible to predict what someone will say over the phone, particularly when trying to write a cold calling script. Once you have something written, the job isn’t done. Be sure to check in with reps often to see which elements work and get the most traction. Based on this feedback, make changes and take note if they get more traction or rejection.
Step Three: Have Your Team Embrace Rejection
No one likes getting hung up on or yelled at over the phone. Many sales reps hate cold calling because of the adverse reactions from potential customers. That’s why an inbound call is so much more appealing – the prospect is clearly interested already.
That said, rejection doesn’t have to be the boogeyman of cold calls. Here are a few ways that your reps can learn to accept and even embrace this aspect of the job.
Reinforce the Idea That Cold Calling is a Numbers Game
If a salesperson believes that they need to close a deal with each call, rejection can be harder to tolerate. After a handful or dozens of hang-ups, the representative will start to dread the next phone number on the sheet.
A better way to approach the process is to understand that rejection isn’t a bug – it’s a feature. Most prospects will not be interested in hearing what your reps have to say, no matter how appealing the pitch.
That said, this aspect of cold calling may not be evident to everyone. Whether you utilize training or just keep reminding reps that the key is volume, reinforcing those truths can make the process easier to manage. If a salesperson expects to be rejected eight times out of 10, they can brush any hang-ups off as par for the course.
Overall, this tip is about relieving pressure. When salespeople are pressured to close more deals, they can tense up, making it harder to sell. Alleviating that tension will lead to more relaxed calls and better interactions.
Turn Rejection Into Learning
There are many reasons why prospects reject cold calls. Perhaps they are currently busy, maybe they view the call as an invasion of privacy, or it could be that they are not interested in the product.
Whatever the case may be, your sales team can figure out these reasons and learn from them. In some instances, the cold caller may be able to schedule a follow-up call instead.
Practice Cold Calling With Irate Customers
The first time you get yelled at by someone, the experience can be jarring and upsetting. The 100th time, however, it just becomes background noise.
Part of the problem with cold calls is that many sales reps are not used to adverse reactions. To help alleviate the issue, you can practice by setting up interactions with angry leads (who are just other salespeople).
Another way to make the process easier to manage is to have reps talk openly about bad calls. Sharing these experiences will not only make it easier to deal with angry customers, but it can help develop camaraderie among the team.
Step Four: Integrate Cold Calling Tools
The days of sales reps sitting at a phone bank and dialing numbers are soon to be over. With so many apps and software available, there is no excuse to have your sales team do cold calling the old-fashioned way.
Instead, leverage various tools to your advantage. After all, you’re likely already using SalesForce or some other CRM to manage your customers – why not have better software to reach them?
For example, you can use a tool like ConnectAndSell to avoid the menial parts of cold calling. The program will dial the number, wait for an answer (even if you are put on hold), and then connect once the prospect is on the phone. Not only can this system streamline cold calling altogether, but your reps can be more productive since they can handle more calls in less time.
Step Five: Timing Matters
We’ve all heard the old trope of getting a sales call as soon as you sit down to dinner. While that rarely happens today, your team could be calling prospects while they are engaged with some other activity, which can lead to rejection.
To ensure better timing, it helps to understand as much about the prospect beforehand as possible. Here is where research and list curation is going to yield the best results.
If a prospect has a nine-to-five job, the best times to call are after lunch or close to the end of the workday. Otherwise, the person is likely engaged with work and less interested in listening to a sales pitch.
Timing also matters when choosing the right day of the week. Research shows that Wednesdays and Thursdays are ideal for cold calling, but that is not always the case. Have your team analyze which time frames get the best responses and start focusing your attention on them.
For example, if 80 percent of calls made before 11 am are rejected, have your team start cold calling after. Such a simple change could yield significant differences and help your reps close more deals.
Step Six: Set Reasonable Expectations
Regardless of your industry, it is rare for a sales rep to close a sale on the first call. Realistically, a cold call is the first step in the sales funnel, and the goal is to move the prospect to the next step.
However, if your reps don’t know what each step is and where to move the prospect, how can they achieve success? Your sales team needs to know every component of your sales funnel so that they can adapt accordingly.
For example, many prospects will likely ask for more information in an email (since it is much easier to reject). However, some individuals may want to set up a demonstration or follow-up call with a colleague. If that happens, how will your cold callers react?
These steps can be outlined in the script, but you don’t want a rep scrambling and flipping through pages to find the right response. Instead, you need to train your team to know which responses trigger specific actions.
Another benefit of this step is that it can make cold calling easier for the sales team as well. Because they don’t have the pressure to close a sale immediately, they can be more relaxed when speaking to prospects.
Step Seven: Leverage Voicemails
These days, voicemails are far more likely to get ignored than anything else, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to your advantage.
Just as you will draft a script for talking to a prospect, you should also have a script for leaving compelling voicemails. Your reps have to condense their pitch into a concise message – no one wants to listen to a rambling 10-minute voicemail. So, scripting it out can make it that much easier to get a response.
The best elements to include in a voicemail are:
- One piece of valuable information the prospect should know (i.e., your brand is highly recommended, your product can solve a specific problem, etc.).
- A simple, actionable step for the prospect to follow, such as a callback or email response.
- Create a sense of urgency or deadline (i.e., call me back by tomorrow to take advantage of this deal).
- Try to make the message 30 seconds or less if possible.
Bottom Line: Cold Calls Are Valuable if You Know How to Use Them
If your sales team has been struggling to make cold calls or avoid them like the plague, following these steps can help. Talk with your team about the reasons they dislike cold calling and see how you can address them. By opening up a dialog, you can make your reps more invested in the process.
Once your team masters cold calling, you should see a substantial difference. According to research, up to 69 percent of buyers accept a cold call, and 82 percent of them have set up a meeting with a salesperson afterward. So, the value of cold calling is there; you just need to set your team up for success.
Contact Selling Revolution
Building an effective cold calling system is easier said than done. In many cases, your reps may need extra training to embrace the process. Contact us to find out how we can help your team members become cold calling masters.