Quick Look: Cold calling can be scary. It can terrify even the most seasoned broker. Call recipients are wary of this tactic too, afraid to pick up the phone and have their time wasted. But cold calling is an important tool for any salesperson to have in their arsenal. Use these tips to help overcome your fear, refine your skills, and grow your book of business.
Overwhelmed and intimidated at the thought of making a cold call? You’re not alone. Cold calling can be frightening. And despite the horror stories, cold calling isn’t dead – thousands of sellers practice this approach every day.
Cold calling is a form of telemarketing in which a salesperson attempts to gain new business from potential customers who have not previously expressed interest or knowledge in a product or solution. Awkward conversations with a stranger can be the stuff of nightmares, but prospecting via phone is often the first step for an outbound sales team to engage with new leads.
If this fright fest sounds familiar, use these tips to make your cold call a little warmer, a lot less scary, and way more valuable to your prospect.
1. Write a call script
Call scripts are guides that you can use to improve and polish interactions with prospects and clients. Scripts are often thought of as training tools for new employees, but such a limited use really restricts the potential value that they hold to boost your sales, satisfaction, and retention. Even the most successful brokers can benefit by using scripts.
Make sure your script has a strong introduction, personalized connections, good questions, and solutions for common questions and objections. Keep it simple and don’t use jargon or acronyms without an explanation. Don’t give too many choices and keep a clear path. You can always follow up with more information.
Scripts can also be used to improve various client and prospect interactions, including outbound and inbound sales calls, service processes, renewals and open enrollment meetings, in-person or electronic presentations and proposals, and securing referrals or testimonials.
2. Establish your call goal before picking up the phone
The more structure you can put into your process, the easier it will be to make a successful call. What do you want to achieve? Are you seeking an in-person appointment? Are you following up on a lead nurturing inquiry? Trying to move a prospect along the sales journey? What is your call-to-action? If you clearly define your goals and know exactly what you need to say, how to overcome objections, and how to answer some common questions, you’ll feel a lot better about making the call.
3. Start strong
Your opening line can make or break the call. On average, you have 20 seconds to craft and deliver an opening statement to prove you’re worth talking to. If you don’t get the prospect interested right away, the odds are that they’ll hang up as soon as they realize you’re a salesperson.
But once you get the ball rolling with a great opener, try to personalize the call and establish a connection. It could be a mutual friend or colleague, a referral, an event, or a recent study in their industry. If you can’t do that, plan a powerful offer or impressive data point about potential results or return on investments.
Here are some strong opening sentences to help solidify a connection with your prospect:
“I noticed you manage ___”
“I saw your recent LinkedIn post about ___”
“Congratulations on ___”
4. Practice makes perfect
Good sellers often practice cold calling by recording themselves to assess tone, pace, and the conviction in their voice. And when it’s time to make the call, some seasoned pros keep a mirror in front of them to offer visual cues to stay positive and enthusiastic; others stand up or walk while on the call to keep the energy high. While a good call script is important, a strong delivery is what helps seal the deal.
5. Be likeable and genuine
Remember, you need to establish a relationship. Be personable, friendly, and familiar — but not too familiar. Keep it professional. Use their name a few times. Use their company name. Affirm, agree, use positive language. Focus on information gathering and building the relationship. It’s a common adage but true: people do business with people they like.
6. Don’t assume
When talking with the C-Suite, you may think they understand health insurance and employee benefits, and they may, but don’t assume. And be careful about assuming too much about their needs, their problems, or their industry. Get them talking about their problems and show how you can help solve them. Even if you make a lot of cold calls, keep in mind the individuality of each person you speak to, they aren’t all the same – each has different wants, challenges, pain points, and personalities.
7. Do your research
Research your prospect, their company, and their industry before you call. Check their LinkedIn and other social pages, website, competitors, and your CRM for possible past engagement. Plan what you want to say. Note the key points you want to make and order your talking points to get a good flow. By tracking down key information about your prospect, you can deliver calls with value and keep their attention.
8. Know the best time to call
According to Hubspot, Wednesday and Thursday remain the best days of the week to call a prospect. By this time, people have settled into their working week and are least likely to view your call as an interruption. This research also shows that the best times to make a cold call are late morning before lunch, between 10:00 and 11:00 AM, or the last hour of the workday between 4:00 and 5:00 PM.
9. Ask for a specific commitment
At the end of each sales call, you should ask your prospect to agree to a specific next step. In general, you might ask the customer if they would be willing to schedule an in-person meeting, book a demo, or receive additional information via email. Avoid letting your prospect give a hard no. Even if they don’t buy from you today, they might tomorrow, so keep them in the funnel and stay connected.
10. Plan the follow-up
Your follow-up strategy will be just as important as your initial outreach. It’s here where the substantive information is gathered and where the relationship evolves. If your prospect shared any personal details (their favorite sports team or tv show, for example), note that information to personalize future interactions. Add follow-up dates and action items to your calendar. Go above and beyond. If you see an interesting article about their industry, forward it. Keep in touch.
Cold calling doesn’t have to be a nightmare on sales street. The next time you pick up the phone to make a cold call, consider these tips to ensure you don’t scare away new customers or prospects.
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