The people who think cold calling is dead aren’t doing it right.
They’re either jumping in blind with little to no information about their prospect, or focusing the calls on themselves rather than the consumer.
In reality, cold calling remains an important part of most sales strategies, and it's a valuable skill for sales reps to develop.
There’s no perfect playbook for cold calling since there are so many variables, but there are some old and new techniques that work surprisingly well for most products and services.
So, before you go breaking all the rules, it’s good to get a baseline understanding of what’s working for most companies.
Here are five phone sales strategies to maximize your sales reps' efficiency and effectiveness:
1. Start By Remaining Compliant
If you’re going to make phone calls to strangers, you need to be confident that what you’re doing is above board. For example, back in 2016, the European Union (EU) passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and it went into effect in May of 2018.
Like most laws, it reads a bit complex, but at its core, it means European residents now have more control over their data. Any EU resident can now formally request to know where a business got their data, as well as withdraw their consent to be contacted without their permission. Anyone who violates GDPR could face a significant fine.
This doesn't mean that you should give up on cold calling, but if you're contacting European residents, you need to change your approach. For starters, don’t request a phone number unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll need it.
Collecting and storing data comes with risk, and the less you store, the less risk you take on. Try warming up leads before reaching out via email or phone through lead generation programs so you can allow leads to voluntarily provide their phone numbers and request to be contacted by using a business phone service. In addition, always make sure the reason you’re reaching out provides tangible value.
2. Come Up With a Plan
Productive cold calls come down to proper planning. You can’t build a thriving sales organization on luck alone. You need a system that prepares reps for both the easy calls and the hard ones.
The best sales reps know that well-written cold calling scripts make all the difference. Knowing what to say and, more importantly, what not to say can make the entire process productive and smooth. Before you pick up that phone and make your first cold call think about these questions:
Is there any way to warm up this call? Perhaps you can find information about the prospect or their company on their website or social media or connect via email first.
What’s the goal of the call you’re about to make? Knowing whether you’re going in for the sale or simply booking a meeting is important. It helps you steer the conversation.
Did you prepare for a gatekeeper? There’s a decent chance that you’ll get a secretary or operator. Rather than giving up at the first roadblock, try preparing a talk track for them as well.
What’s your value proposition? Every engagement should add value in some way. It could be sharing industry information like whitepapers or statistics, or helping them diagnose a problem they didn’t know they had.
Answering these questions helps build confidence and gives you a system to follow.
3. Make It About Them, Not You
The psychology of selling revolves around the notion that people buy for their own reasons, not yours. You may think what you’re selling is the best thing ever, but until you figure out what problems people are trying to solve or what ambitions they have, you’re much less likely to close the deal.
It all starts by asking the right questions. People love to talk about themselves and don’t much care to hear a stranger ramble on about things they don’t have time for or simply don’t care about. It begins by identifying the problem.
A question to uncover that crucial bit of information could be:
“What’s stopping you from hitting your 2nd quarter goals?” or “If you could wave a magic wand and change anything about the way your business operates today, what would it be and why?”
As you can see, the answers to these questions aren’t a simple yes or no. They’re open-ended. They dig below the surface and require serious thought and introspection. Keep asking “why?” and prompt them to tell you more until you get to the bottom of things.
4. Ensure Every Interaction Is Value Rich
Effective cold calling techniques are only as powerful as the value you provide. Obviously, having a great product or service offering helps, but it won’t always get your foot in the door. You have to earn their trust first.
A lot of sales reps take the approach of educating first. Doing so positions them as less of a salesperson and more as an advisor. Some ways to do that include:
Providing industry insights and statistics that are hard to find anywhere else.
Sending small gifts adds to the power of reciprocity.
Giving them a no-strings-attached free trial of your software if it’s truly value-added.
Running detailed reports specific to them or their competition.
In short, they’re more likely to give their time if you give something first. If you don’t have value to provide in each interaction or follow-up, it’s likely not worth wasting their time or yours. Following up for the sake of following up rarely works.
5. End on a High Note
All the hard work you put in is for nothing if you can’t close the deal properly. There are numerous effective sales closing techniques out there, and while you may keep a few in your playbook, it’s important to remember that every prospect is different. Each has their own unique reason for buying and will respond differently.
Only through asking questions and building rapport can you figure out which closing technique is most appropriate. Choose wrong, and you may put them off forever. Choose right, and they may pull out their credit card on the spot.
The best way to think of closing is that you have to earn the right to ask for the sale. Putting in your due diligence, building a relationship, providing value, and presenting your solution takes hard work. If they’ve made it to the end, they should expect it, and it should feel natural. If it feels forced, that’s probably because it is.
Master the Art of the Follow-up
The good news is that even if you botch your cold call, there’s another one just around the corner. There will be plenty of swings at the bat, and you can always follow up with prospects you didn’t close the first time around. Sales is a numbers game, and as long as you’re following best practices and following up regularly, you’ll see results.