The principles of cold calling were first documented way back in 1837. You'd think we'd have perfected the art by now in all that time. Even if you're comfortable talking on the phone, are an expert in your product, and have done intensive pre-call research, cold calling is still incredibly challenging.
While cold calling, you're subject to countless hangups, brush-offs, and "sorry, not interested" responses. Not to mention getting hung up on can feel highly discouraging.
To help you out, we recently assembled a top-notch team of experts to share their wisdom and drop some serious cold calling tips.
Jason Bay of Blissful Prospecting is one of the best cold call trainers. Will Aitken, Head Sales Evangelist at Sales Feed, is one of the best sales content creators. Together, they joined LeadIQ's own Ryan O'Hara and Jon Mazza for RateMyPitch: Cold Call Edition.
We ran through live mock cold calls with a few brave sales professionals willing to put themselves out there and receive live feedback on their actual cold calling techniques.
You can also watch the entire webinar. By the end, we hope you'll have some takeaways to help you love cold calling.
Ok, enough talk, let's jump into some of the best tips shared by Jason and Will.
Jump to a tip:
- Avoid early objections with a priority drop
- Don't put prospects on the spot
- Slow down a bit
- Open-ended questions are your friends
- Ask "above-the-line" questions
- Master the art of Question Stacking
Become a Cold Call Master with These Tips
So you were lucky enough to have your call answered. Now comes the more challenging part, getting the conversation started and keeping your prospect on the line.
Instead of digging right into proposals, start at a higher level and do what Jason Bay calls a "Priority Drop," which can help set the context for the call and help steer the conversation to what's top of mind for the prospect.
To pull off a Priority Drop, instead of digging right into proposals and value props, you can start a little higher level.
For example, instead of saying, "We can help you with X," say, "People like you tend to focus on these things; which one of these is a bigger focus for you?
Positioning the call around what your prospect is interested in will ultimately help you learn through discovery how to focus the rest of the call on what's top of mind for them instead of just guessing.
Fewer people will ask what you do, what company you're with, and have fewer objections overall.
When conversing, if you uncover a problem the prospect is experiencing, don't ask them to provide a specific example right away.
Asking too soon could put the prospect on the spot to consider an example and derail the conversation.
Instead, Will Aitken suggests following up with, "I'm sorry to hear that; how often does that happen?" Doing this can help build momentum to more complex questions as the conversation naturally progresses.
Start with more straightforward questions and build to more difficult ones. This way, the prospect get's a little more comfortable opening up to you.
You might be feeling nervous, maybe you are experiencing a rush of pre-call adrenaline, or perhaps you know you have a limited amount of time to make an impression. Sometimes it's easy to talk too fast on a cold call.
Remember, whenever you initiate a cold call, the prospect you have reached out to is task switching and might not be ready to give their full attention.
Slowing down and adding pauses and inflection can help you have a more confident, natural conversation without sounding like any other cold call or a telemarketer.
When thinking about the pace of your call, Jason suggests thinking like any charismatic person that's giving a speech like a Ted Talk.
In that situation, the speaker is not in any rush because the audience is there to hear them talk.
Think of the prospect as your Ted Talk audience, don't rush through it.
Pair up the problems you might know are relevant to your prospect with open-ended questions that you can ask on your call.
You want these spotlight questions to be how or what-oriented to get your prospect to talk about how or why they are doing something.
These questions will showcase problems the prospect might be facing and get them thinking about something they're currently not able to do that your product can solve for them.
Sales trainer Skip Miller wrote an entire book on selling above and below the line.
Jason Bay points out that this essentially means that ICs, managers, and directors make decisions differently from VPs and C-Level execs.
Make sure you tailor your questions and conversations to your audience. If you are talking to a VP or C-Level exec, you do not want to be passed "below the line" and kicked down to take a meeting for someone who may not have ultimate decision-making authority.
Since you'll only have time to ask a few of them, it's essential to make sure they're well thought out and that you make them count.
To do this, Jason stresses the importance of what he calls question stacking.
With question stacking, you essentially make a statement first and ask a question second.
Doing this can provide context to the question, making it easier for the prospect to understand your request and provide a more detailed response.
Jason provides an example:
"As a VP, you might have big targets you need to hit your quarterly goals. When you don't have accurate data on prospects, your SDR teams can really struggle to get appointments set. I'm curious, how are you making sure that your reps have valid phone numbers and contact information for as many of your prospects as possible?"
See what Jason did there? Stated the problem first and then asked a question.
Watch us review Cold Calls live
If you found these tips helpful, check out our recent RateMyPitch: Mock Call Edition. We had so many great salespeople put themselves out there with live mock calls and actual scripts.
You'll see how we arrived at all of the great tips above. Also, make sure you follow our friends Jason Bay and Will Aitken on LinkedIn and check out Blissful Prospecting and Sales Feed for more cold calling and prospecting tips.