Cold calling tends to strike fear in many people — especially with younger generations that are accustomed to texting and using emojis to keep a conversation flowing.
But it’s not just millennials and Gen Z (basically anyone born after 1980) that have trouble with phone calls. The lack of body language and social cues makes conversations particularly difficult over the phone and can lead to apprehension for even the most experienced sellers.
But the process of cold calling does not have to be intimidating with the right game plan in place.
What Is Cold Calling?
While the term “cold” sounds a bit ominous in this context, the term simply refers to the lack of an existing business relationship between the buyer and the seller.
Cold Calling Definition
Cold calling is the unsolicited act of calling a sales prospect on the phone for the first time. Its purpose is to lay the groundwork that can lead to the ultimate goal of making a sale.
8 Cold Calling Tips and Techniques
It’s no secret that the task of cold calling is not well-liked. The tactics for a social task such as this differ between salespeople, and it’s up to you to study your results and make the process work for your personality.
Mastering the art of cold calling is an uphill battle and can be emotionally demanding, depending on the reaction of the lead you’re contacting. But the view at the top is fantastic once you get a few wins under your belt. So brush off your jitters and take a look at these tips and tricks for setting yourself up for cold calling success.
1. Arm Yourself With the Right Tools
Before you even begin initiating a customer relationship, consider how you’re going to keep yourself organized. A helpful tool to leverage is CRM software. CRM (customer relationship management) is a sales hub for all current and future customers that streamlines all aspects of the sales process. CRM helps with contact management and email tracking, and facilitates the automation of mundane sales tasks. Keeping yourself organized from the get-go will prevent roadblocks encountered by being disorganized. Plus, sales statistics show that 50 percent of sales teams reported improved productivity with a CRM.
2. Study Your Prospect
Researching your prospect before contacting them will encourage a friendly, approachable vibe and will help the cadence of your small talk. Social media is an easily accessible tool you can use to figure out public details about your prospect. At the very least, find out what industry they’re in, their location and their title. LinkedIn is a great social media platform to utilize for this task. A more intensive strategy would be to use sales intelligence software, which provides information and insights into potential leads. Sales intelligence is a great way to not only generate new B2C or B2B leads, but to target the best ones.
3. Have Your Script Ready
Small talk aside, remember that you’re steering the ship during this call, and the main goal is to further the sales journey with the prospect. Keep your conversation on track and closely related to the sale you’re trying to achieve. You can always reference your script if you feel you’re having trouble keeping yourself on track.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Despite its namesake, you’ll want to warm up before jumping into a cold call. Find a friend who’s willing to constructively criticize and guide you through your script. Don’t have anyone to practice with? Record and critique yourself! Additionally, keep track of the pitches that work well and the ones that don’t. This will allow you to spot patterns and will make it easier to adjust future pitches.
5. Prep a Killer Opening
Unlike face-to-face encounters, leaving a phone conversation is simple and relatively guilt-free for the prospect, so the stakes are high and hooking your lead is an essential step to keeping them from hanging up. Prepare a simple sales call script opening that identifies who you are and hook the prospect with a friendly conversation. Act like you’re meeting a new friend!
6. Prepare Follow-Up Options
Cold calls should open up a new opportunity for a deeper discussion. Try to initiate the next steps towards a warm call. Warm calling is the act of calling a sales prospect on the phone with whom you’ve had previous contact. Offer a specific date and time for a new conversation toward the end of the call or allow them to propose a specific time. It’s wise to set up a specific time before getting off the phone with the prospect.
7. Call at the Right Time
According to a CallHippo study, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days to make a sales call. Friday is typically the worst day since your prospects are probably already in a weekend mindset. The best time to make the call is around 4–5 p.m. since people are more likely to be at their desk around this time. Calling your prospect at these times will likely lead to a more fruitful conversation based on these statistics.
8. Don’t Give Up
This is the most important tip of them all. Rejection sucks. While it’s a normal part of the selling process, don’t let it faze you. Remember that it’s impossible to win every single customer. Just keep your eye on the prize and have a positive attitude.
Basic Cold Calling Scripts
It’s important to be natural and conversational during a cold call, but don’t forget the main reason why you’re calling your prospect: to make a sale. While you don’t necessarily need to read a script word-for-word during a call, you’ll want an easy reference point for when the conversation steers toward the product you’re selling. The prospect needs to know you’re offering them something of value. The following scripts are meant to be basic foundations. Build upon them where you see fit with company wins, statistics and product facts.
This is the most important part of the script but also the most basic. You have a very short amount of time to catch the attention of your prospect. Make sure you identify yourself right away so your prospect knows what to expect — don’t leave them wondering. The opener should also immediately address how you plan to help them.
“Hi (prospect name). I’m (your name) from (your company).”
Opening Continued: Building Rapport
Establish some comfort and familiarity by asking some warm-up questions, but don’t start building a conversation that will lead you off track. Big questions with long answers should be saved for later meetings — right now you want to build up solid and personable groundwork.
“How’s the weather out there in (prospect’s location)?”
“How long have you been in (prospect’s job title) role?”
“How’s your day going so far?”
“I noticed your company just (recent achievement from the prospect’s company). Congratulations! That’s great news for the (industry).”
Building Your Position
Now is the time to ease into the point of why you’re contacting them. You’ll want to hit this point rather quickly. Don’t spend too much time on small talk. Lead your prospect into the idea that you’re calling to help them, but don’t jump right into what you’re selling. Keep your tone conversational.
“I work with (your industry) professionals. These teams typically have (industry issue). Would you agree?”
“I work with (your industry) professionals. Would you agree that (industry issue) is becoming more prevalent?”
“I’m calling because I noticed you work for (company) as (title). How is your team handling (industry issue)?”
“I was hoping to connect with you and see if I can help you with (industry issue).”
Hooking the Position
Once the prospect knows why you’re calling them, you can lead into how you can help them. This is where your personal research comes in. Additionally, now is the time to give your company a glowing reference and mention how well the product you’re selling would fit with the prospect’s needs.
(If an issue is brought up) “That’s definitely a common issue. We’ve had plenty of clients solve (issue) with our product, actually.”
(If an issue is brought up) “We work with clients that have similar issues all the time. (Talk about how your product helps).”
“I’m aware you’re using (competitor product). Do you know how we stack up against (competitor) and (talk about how your product is better)?”
“Our product was recently (talk about company achievement here). I think our product would be an asset to your team/company. Not only would it help (industry issue), but we also excel at (talk about another achievement here).”
“Do you use (product type) at all at (prospect’s company)? If not, I think it will help with (industry issue). In fact, our product helps in so many ways. (Talk about how your product will help).”
Since this is a cold call, there’s no pressure to close the sale. Noting that, don’t feed them an exorbitant amount of information. Keep your prospect interested but curious. The nitty-gritty details can bore the client on an initial call and should be covered in later meetings. The goal here is to book time to speak with them again.
“Are you sure? Someone else in the industry recently raved about (the product). They weren’t sure about it at first either but (share positive product results from other clients). Perhaps we can agree on another time to discuss how this can help you?”
“I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. Just so you’re aware, our product is (talk about a product strength that insinuates longevity). How about I send you some additional information over email?”
No Time Right Now
“Sure, when would be a better time to speak? How about (day) around (time)?”
“Understandable. I’ll be in your area on (later date). Maybe we can chat in person then? Which day works best for you?”
Not Enough Budget Right Now
“Completely understandable. Do you have 30 minutes to spare this (day) to chat more about our pricing options? I’m sure we can make something work.”
OK, I’m Interested
“Great! I’d love a chance to speak to you again. Does (day) work? Do you have an email where I can reach you?”
Next steps with cold calling
Cold calling isn’t easy, but your skills will get better with practice. The key ingredients to a perfect sales pitch depend on many variables, but ultimately it comes down to confidence and practice. With the right attitude, rejected pitches can be seen as a positive learning experience. If you still need help, see if your company offers sales training and onboarding software to help accelerate your learning process.
Ready to learn more about cold outreach? Learn how to create the perfect cold email outreach strategy in 2019
Tricia is a research analyst focusing on office and design software. Tricia started at G2 in October 2018 after spending nearly five years in the competitive intelligence industry, which led to extensive market research knowledge and experience. She is currently maintaining the integrity of her space by building out new categories and writing data-driven content. Her coverage areas include office and design. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, attending concerts, and gaming.