Reaching a prospect by phone is actually becoming easier, and more effective. With outreach via emails and social on the rise, cold calling an opportunity is becoming increasingly rare. This opens up a huge opportunity in picking up the phone in addition to leveraging your other sales channels at the same time.
More than 75% of CIO’s have taken a meeting or attended an event that came to them via a cold call.
You’ve heard it before, there are plenty of articles out there on cold calling with titles like ‘Cold Calling Techniques for Sales’ and ‘Tips and Secrets for Cold-Calling Success’ that all say the same thing:
- Feel confident, act confident
Stand up straight, square your shoulders, keep your head up. Obviously this works in person, but these techniques also trick your mind into feeling confident.
- Don’t try and force a sale right away
Most prospects aren’t ready to buy out the gate, especially if this is the first time they have heard of you. You should be learning more about them and their needs. A great cold calling goal is to schedule a follow up meeting to further the relationship and get into the details
- Focus on them, not you
Getting someone on the phone is not permission to launch into a sales pitch or monologue. Make sure they are listening by first getting them to talk. You will have a much more receptive prospect once they know you understand them.
- Prepare ahead of time
Cold calling doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know anything about your prospect. Plan ahead and be prepared. Know how you are going to connect with them. Personalize it, and use references whenever possible.
These are all great cold calling tips, but how do you put them into practice?
Since the real key to success here is forming a connection, let’s focus on techniques you can use to maximize the chances to connect with a prospect on a cold call.
Understand the existing sales landscape
Most sales training is focused on product, services, features, not on how to sell. This leaves you with great product knowledge, but not much awareness of what your prospects want or how to speak to their needs. The simple fact is: Most sales reps sound like telemarketers & sales people. When is the last time you were excited to speak to either of these?
Remedy- Don’t sound like a “salesperson”. Instead of pushing a product or service, focus on relationship building. The cold call is an opportunity to get the relationship started. This makes even more sense when you take in account the statistics around buying cycles.
While 40.5% of buyers are poised to begin a conversation, only 3% are actively buying. Your best bet is to get in early and develop buyers rather than trying to go after only the 3% who are ready to make a purchase.
Form a Hypothesis
B2B buyers report that just 20% of meetings with sales pros focus on their specific needs.
Don’t come in cold- do the research. Assess the risks, accomplishments, needs & trouble for the target business and your intended prospect. Use their social media accounts, published articles and statements to research their behavior. What articles do they share, what are their interests, what groups do they belong to, what are they good at? You can always connect over a shared interest at this early stage.
If you know nothing, learn something about the industry, verticals, or existing customers. How can this information be related to your reason for calling? Are several of their competitors using your product? Is it well established in the industry or vertical? How does it give them an advantage?
Develop a plan and structure your outreach
Create a plan for each contact point- this should include what you plan to say on the call, voicemail, email, and in social channels.
64% of sellers are not effective in engaging customers on the phone.
There is no sales script for leaving voicemails, it should depend on you research on the individual, but generally it will involve one of the following:
- Generate Curiosity (keep it generic & concise)
- Share information
- Get forwarded (to another more relevant or receptive individual within the company)
- Get on their radar
- Get return call
You don’t always need to ask for a callback.
As a general rule, stop leaving messages after 3 voicemails in 30 days. Data has shown that there is a negative impact after 3 in 30 days. This doesn’t mean you should stop reaching out- stay persistent, try and catch them on the phone or via email.
LinkedIn – Connect to executives with shared connections or join a shared group. You can use this to send an Inmail for free or connect to prospect later in sales cycle as a nudge.
Twitter – following is like a handshake. Follow and mention to get on radar, familiarize yourself with their interests and activities. Remember to keep it light and informal without diving into products until you have established a relationship.
Use in combination with calling and social media outreach.
Adding videos to your email [like Video Mail] Increase email engagement by 44%
– Sunday Sky (Stats of Online Video Report)
- Know their name, how to spell it, and what they actually go by. The subtle difference between Steven vs. Steve can put your email right into the trash.
- Forward sent items (this makes it look like conversation already exists).
- Send to CXO of company- Start at the top and ask who is responsible for this in your organization, or ask for your email to be forwarded to the correct individual. Emails from CXO’s, Directors, and Group leaders all are more likely to elicit a response.
- Email Length- Keep it brief, it should fit on the single screen of an iphone. This is not the time to outline your entire pitch.
- Pay close attention to the subject line
Use these techniques to increase your email open rates:
- Ask a question
- Add something about them, like a recent activity, post, or article they wrote or attended
- Mention a social connection or friend/associate in common
- Leave the subject line blank
- Add the word ‘video’ and send a video email
Having the word ‘Video’ in the subject link increased email open rates by 5x
– The Relevancy Group
Persistence and Perseverance
It takes an average of 5-8 touches to reach a prospect, but most give up after the 3rd try
By using these techniques and multiple channels to reach out to your prospect, you are turning your cold calls into warm calls. This means you should be calling. Call frequently, even if you’ve recently left a voicemail– getting someone on the phone can be the connection that generates the relationship, and ultimately the sale.
It’s not you, it’s them
Why is nobody returning my calls or emails?
There are many legitimate reasons for a lack of response from your prospects, here are just a few:
- There is a gatekeeper
A personal assistant or receptionist is filtering your calls and emails.
- Communication is going to spam
There could be a companywide filter, inbox rules, or messages are getting blocked/sent to spam some other way.
- They are no longer at company
- You have the wrong contact information
- They are busy
Don’t let a lack of response affect your confidence or approach. Often you are reaching out to very busy people and your messages get lost in the noise. It’s not always clear why you are getting radio silence from your prospects, but doubt can kill your motivation and self-confidence. This is where professional persistence pays off. By staying present and continuing to reach out in a professional manner, you can outlast your competition and gain an unexpected appreciation from your new client.
Watch the full webinar with Vorsight co-founder, Steve Richard on how to Turn Cold Calls Hot