5 Cold Calling Tips to Heat Up Your Sales Pipeline

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I hate the cold. It makes everything horrible. It kills the beautiful leaves, freezes my bones, and ruins soup. But I especially hate cold calls. I’ve had nightmares about cold calling. No one likes to place them and no one likes to receive them.

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Sadly, cold calling is a necessity. Cold calling, whether in person or on the phone, is the best way to open up the door to a relationship. Relationships are crucial to making sales for every product, and their importance only increases with the price of your product. Ain’t nobody got time for your $50,000 car unless they value you and your brand. Without a good relationship in place, they’re buying the working hunk of junk from the neighbor down the street instead.

While in-person cold calling is also a skill worth mastering, we’ve assembled a plethora of great tips for cold calling via phone from our sales people here at Capterra. And since cold calling is a part of the job, even, many would argue, the most important part of the job, what can you do to make it easier? Maybe even fun? Keep reading for tips that can warm cold calling right up, much like what I’m about to do to this cold cucumber soup with the microwave. (Because, really, people – the whole point of soup is to be warm! Cold soup is just sauce!)

1. Cold calls are not sales calls.

This is one of the most difficult things to remember as a sales person mainly because you’re a sales person. You’re supposed to be selling something. You never just call people up for fun. (Even off the clock. Hello? That’s what texting’s for.)

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But the fact of the matter is: a cold call will never go well if you’re making a sales pitch.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is: to make a great sales pitch, you need to know about who you’re selling to. You need to know why they need your product. You need to know how to sell to them. You can’t do that in your first interaction. You need to learn about your prospect, and they need to learn that they can trust you.

So what do you do on a cold call if you’re not selling something? Make your goal to gain an email and to learn a few key points about your prospect. The best part about having this goal? People love to talk about themselves. By asking the right questions, you can easily get your prospect to open up. That’s not ever going to happen if you barrage them with information about you.

2. Warm up your calls with a little pre-call interaction.

There’s a lot of ways you can reach out to a prospect before you hit up the phone. These days, there’s email, LinkedIn, Twitter, snail mail, and whole host of other options. You can use an email marketing campaign to help your prospects get familiar with your brand before you call in. (The best email marketing campaigns can even convince your prospects to call you.) You can send an email yourself, or reach out via LinkedIn. You could even send a brochure or informational packet in the mail.

The trick to these interactions is to stand out. People’s inboxes are flooded – your subject line needs to grab their attention and encourage them to click. In many ways, that’s why snail mail is not dead. Sending something physical is a lot rarer these days. Additionally something physical can come in almost any form, unlike digital interactions, which are more-or-less relegated to words. Don’t be afraid to get creative with material sent via snail mail.

And do not forget: a warm-up is meant to ultimately let your prospect know that you’ll be calling shortly. Get that in there somehow.

3. Script yourself.

A lot of people don’t like the idea of having a script for cold calls. They say that it causes sales people to sound like robots and the prospect can tell.

To some extent, that’s true. But here’s the thing – if that’s happening to you, it’s because you’re using scripting wrong.

Scripts shouldn’t be making you sound robotic. People who use scripts most often and know how to work with them (actors) bring scripts to life and make it sound as if they aren’t using a script at all. Rather than viewing a script as a set of words you have to say, you should view it as a practice drill to hone your skills, much like athletes practice on the field.

For athletes, practicing the same motions over and over helps them perfect their skills so when they get out on the field, they are able to create the perfect play. As a sales person, a script can help you practice the ideas and wording over and over again so you know which ideas to get out when. A script should empower you because, with enough practice, you know all the topics you need to hit and how.

Scripts are good for another reason, too. A sales team that works off one single script is able to improve their cold calling techniques more efficiently. Every time a team member improvises on the phone and finds what they did works better, they can share it with the team. And since everyone’s working with the same framework, that tip is easy to implement.

4. Don’t give easy outs.

When someone first picks on the other end, it’s very easy to say something that offers that person an easy out of a phone conversation. A question like, “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” or “Is now a good time to talk?” offer your prospect an easy way to just say no.

There are a couple of ways to overcome this. One that we use at Capterra is to ask “Did I catch you at a bad time?” While people will always say that it’s not a “good time” to talk, they’re a lot less likely to say it’s a bad time, unless it actually is.

Another way to overcome this issue is to show immediate interest in your prospect and ask questions. If you’ve done your research on the prospect, now’s the time to show it. Mention that you’ve heard of a problem their business is having, or of something they’re looking to do. Then see if you can ask a few questions about that. This tactic doesn’t sound like a sales pitch and, as a bonus, like I mentioned earlier, people love to talk about themselves. This is a surefire way to get your prospect to open up enough to at least get their email.

5. Use the power of Yes.

Once you’ve gotten through the initial opener without giving your prospect an easy-out, your prospect may try to get off the phone anyway. A common thing cold callers hear is, “Just send me some more information and I’ll look it over and get back to you.”

We all know this prospect has no intention of reviewing the information or ever getting back to you. You’re back to square one.

Unless… you know how to turn this scenario into an opening.

Instead of passively agreeing to this, tell your prospect yes and ask for their email. Follow this up by asking another question: “Just so I’m sure to send you the most relevant piece of information, [ask an easy qualifying question].”

This is a scenario that, with care and good listening, you could even coach into a full blown conversation. The trick really is to listen, though, exactly as if you were having a regular conversation with anybody, and to be prepared to jump off the phone at any sign of their annoyance with the conversation. Accommodate and treat your prospect like a fellow human being you’re interested in sparking a relationship with, not a prize you seek to win, and you’re well on your way to creating the relationship you want.

At the end of the day, cold calling can be scary because trying to start a relationship with someone is scary. If selling can be compared to dating, cold calling is the same as the first call you make to ask someone out. It’s scary because they could reject you, but if you are interested in them and don’t barrage them with information about yourself, you’ll probably get a first date.

What cold calling tips do you have? Add them in the comments below!

Looking for Sales Force Automation software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Sales Force Automation software solutions.

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Cara Wood

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Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of Mary Washington! When she's not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.

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