Teaching your reps how to sound better on the phone is an indispensable part of sales training. But cold calls can be anxiety-inducing for newbies. Sounding both professional and natural is a balancing act, and instilling interest in someone who’s never heard of your product is much harder than persuading someone who is already familiar with your organization’s offerings.
What are cold calls, and why do we need them? Simply put, sales reps call potential prospects who they have no prior communication with to see if they might be interested in their product or service. The point of the call is ultimately to increase sales.
The basic structure of a sales cold call includes a greeting and introduction, an explanation of the motive for the call, open-ended qualification questions to assess the prospect, and a request. Though some skeptics will tell you otherwise, cold calling is alive and well. It’s often necessary to get past the gatekeepers, and if done right, can be highly effective!
Here are 8 cold calling tips to help your sales reps succeed during cold calls, and after.
Stress the importance of doing your research. Start out by making a list of prospects based on relevant criteria. Remember, be smart about who you choose to call. Be mindful of your own and other people’s time, and focus on contacting those who could actually benefit from your product or service. After all, efficiency is in both parties’ self interest.
Once your list is ready, be sure to compile all resources and materials you need for the calls. Research the needs of the industry, common problems faced, and of course, familiarize yourself with leading competitors’ offerings. Write important details down so you don’t blank during the call.
Calling at the right time can do wonders. Do things with intentionality; don’t just dial in at random breaks in your schedule. Research optimal calling times for your particular targets and industry and take care to make adjustments based on your personal experience. Other members of your team will certainly have insights in this regard, so be sure to ask what their experience has been, and when they’ve had the most luck. Finally, use your time wisely. Organize your schedule to maximize calls during key times and leave sufficient time in-between to regroup your thoughts and prepare for the next one.
Practice, practice, practice! Familiarize yourself with your call scripts so you don’t fumble and mumble your way through each of your calls. It’s important to sound in-control of the situation throughout, so avoid sounding nervous by speaking far too quickly (or too slowly). Keep a lively pace that’s just slightly above what you’d use in regular conversations. If needed, memorize important parts, but allow room on the script for customization to suit different prospects.
Insecurity is palpable, but thankfully so is confidence. If you want your customers to trust you, you’re going to have to sound the part. Attention helps sales reps work on their delivery to become top sellers in a matter of weeks. By recording calls and offering live guidance, Attention can support your sales reps as they build the skills they need to inspire confidence in others.
Another important part of preparing for cold calls is researching frequently asked questions. What do your future customers want to know? Would you be ready to respond? Don’t be caught off guard, have common objection rebuttals pre-prepared. Be ready to adequately address the most common objections, such as not having enough time or money, not being the right fit, or already using a competitor’s service.
Of course, all the preparation in the world won’t be of use if nobody enjoys speaking with you. To avoid having prospects hang up in the first five seconds, work on crafting your best phone voice. Project your voice to sound confident, lively, and engaging. Think of each call as a performance, not an exercise in repetition.
Be sure to speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard, since call quality can vary substantially. If you suspect the connection is wavering, check in with your prospect to see if they can follow. Stress important points using inflection and volume. If you keep your tone too even throughout, you’ll risk sounding mechanical, and trust us, no one wants to speak with a machine. Avoid overwhelming your prospect with a barrage of information and use pauses to your advantage. Silence doesn’t have to be awkward. Rather, pauses give prospects a chance to process and respond to your comments, enriching the overall discussion.
Trying to trick and scheme your way into an immediate deal is not the goal of a cold call. Cold calls are about relationship building, so remain firm but polite throughout the call to enhance your chances of long-term success.
Establishing a personal connection with the prospect is your best bet. Find out what’s on the minds of your other clients that could be relevant to your prospect and ask how they feel about these issues. Don’t overlook the power of courtesy, so go back to the basics and use “please” and “thank you” to sweeten the conversation. Remember, intrusive or arrogant behavior is rarely rewarded. The real power lies in being disarmingly friendly.
The level of formality during the call will vary depending on your target audience and even the individual prospect, so examine the particular context to determine which titles to use and whether you’re on a first or last name basis with the prospect. Learn to read the tone of the person on the other side of the line so you can make changes as needed throughout the call or for future conversations.
No one needs to know everything about your organization the first time you speak. Keep presentations well-organized and on the shorter side to prevent your prospect from checking out. Though there’s no golden time limit, keeping the call within the 5-7 minute range is a safe bet.
If rambling becomes an issue, ask yourself whether some points can be grouped together, and prioritize questions that have led to the most engaging conversations in the past. Rework your script as necessary to make the most of your time on the call.
Is the prospect the right fit? Based on your discussion, determine whether the account is qualified and gather more information. Determine problems and needs, establish a timeline for a potential purchase, assess the expertise level of the prospect on the product or service, and inquire about other decision makers relevant to the purchase on the prospect’s end. Don’t skimp on the next-steps discussion portion of the call. Communicate a concrete ask and agree with your prospect on the next steps to make sure you are on the same page.
Another piece of advice: don’t try to over-manage the process. Give your prospect some power to amend plans to suit their particular needs and make them feel like they are in control throughout the call.
Most cold calls likely won’t be easy wins. While a series of bad calls can feel discouraging, don’t be offended! It’s not a personal failure unless you don’t learn anything from it. If you get the chance, ask for feedback on the call. Track reasons for rejection over time to help you and your team improve. Write down what prospects are looking for and note any information about competitors or tools they are currently using.
Reflect on what you could have done better and share areas of difficulty with peers and your manager. Top sellers did not improve in a vacuum, so don’t be scared to ask for help. Sales training technology can also help you identify weak spots and monitor your individual learning process. Attention gives instant feedback during coaching sessions and helps you sound more self-assured during calls.
As you continue to build your cold-calling skills, keep in mind that one of the most valuable competencies is being able to forge a connection between you and the prospect. Concentrate on learning from calls, especially at the beginning of your sales journey, and take a problem-solving mindset with you during each conversation.
Becoming a cold-calling pro takes time. In order to master the art of fruitful calling, your sales reps will need a great deal of practice! To help your team get there, try Attention today.
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