9 Cold Calling Techniques That Really Work

Cold calling is a time-tested part of every salesperson’s toolkit, but there is still a lot of uncertainty and disagreement about how to choose cold calling techniques that really work. Making sales calls is more than just a numbers game. Yes, you need to make a large volume of calls and be prepared for a lot of rejections, “not interested” responses, and hang-ups along the way. But with the right cold calling strategies, your sales calls can become more effective and higher-yield.

Cold calling techniques

What is Cold Calling?

Cold calling is one of the foundational sales call techniques. It involves calling prospective customers who you don’t know well, who have not heard from you before, and who might not know anything about your company or your product. This is where the “cold” part of cold calling comes in: you’re going into the conversation “cold,” and if you’re not careful, the prospect might give you the “cold shoulder” instead of a warm welcome.

There’s an added challenge in making cold calls because the prospect might not be ready or interested to hear from you. With smart cold calling techniques, you can quickly introduce yourself to the prospect, immediately build trust and rapport, and try to open a larger conversation and build a sales relationship. Cold calling is often done in the early stages of the sales cycle, especially as part of cultivating new business prospects. Sales development representatives and appointment setters often use cold calling to drum up a list of new business leads.

Cold calling is rarely used to close a deal. Instead, it’s most often used as a sales and marketing strategy to create an opening conversation with a prospect, and to get the prospect ready for a product demo, initial sales meeting, or commit to another preliminary step in the sales process.

Think of cold calling like an elevator pitch, where the customer is halfway to closing the elevator door on you. You need to quickly show the prospect why you deserve their attention. Show the customer why they should hold the door open for you and wait to hear more.

One of the most important skills in cold calling is being able to speak from a call script, but in a natural, appealing, convincing way. Over the course of making dozens or hundreds of cold calls for a certain product or solution, good sales people will find shortcuts and patterns that work for them, certain turns of phrase or ways of moving conversations forward. Sometimes cold calling is a matter of trial and error, and finding a rhythm that works for your personal style.

Cold calling is not for the faint of heart. You need to have confidence, persistence, and positive energy. Many people struggle with the idea of calling people out of the blue to ask for a business meeting or try to make a sale. But in today’s hectic world of too many emails and too much digital clutter and noise, cold calling in sales can be surprisingly effective. Sometimes picking up the phone and just creating a conversation with your prospects is one of the best ways to break through and generate sales momentum.

Most Effective Cold Calling Techniques

1. Speak to pain points

Remember the most important question on every customer’s mind: “What’s in it for me?” Show that you understand the biggest problems and “pain points” that your prospect is dealing with, and then use that pain to build a conversation around how your solution can help.

Instead of opening your cold call by talking about your solution, talk about the customer’s problem:

  • “Lots of companies are struggling to find qualified software developers. What if you could boost your existing team’s productivity by 30%?”
  • “Shipping costs in your industry have been volatile lately. Would you like to hear more about how to reduce your shipping costs by 15%?”
  • “Companies are still having a hard time adapting to Work from Home and hybrid work. Would you like to keep your team organized and in-touch, without too much effort?”

If you can show that you understand your prospect’s problem and know what’s keeping them up at night, you’ll be one step closer to building trust and creating a larger sales conversation.

2. Build social proof (if possible) by mentioning referrals

Even if the prospect doesn’t know who you are or hasn’t heard of your company, you can build trust by showing examples of other companies that have purchased your solution. This type of social proof is especially powerful if you have a personal referral or have done business with someone in the prospect’s network.

Here are a few good ways to work social proof into your cold calls:

  • “We currently work with 30 other companies in your industry.”
  • “So-and-so gave me your name and number, and thought you’d be interested to hear from us.”
  • “I talked with your colleague yesterday, and she said you’d be happy to chat.”

3. Spark a personal connection based on what you know about the person

Before making cold calls to a high-value prospect, be sure to do your research. Try to learn something about the person that goes beyond their job title. Have they been quoted in any recent media coverage? Do they have a blog on the company website? Are they active on LinkedIn?

Once you know something unique and special about the prospect, you can use it to personalize your cold call to build rapport and start creating a sales relationship. For example:

  • Does the prospect love to golf? Ask if they happened to watch the latest PGA tournament.
  • Is the prospect active in any community organizations or nonprofit boards? Mention to them how much you appreciate that organization’s work, and thank them for being involved.
  • Did they recently post on LinkedIn about a great experience they had with summer travel or an industry conference? Mention it – but be sincere and authentic. “I saw your LinkedIn post and it really resonated with me…”

4. Build rapport with real-life conversation, not a robotic, over-rehearsed sales script

Build rapport

Cold calling techniques that really workmust strike the right balance between “businesslike” and “warm, friendly, and human.” You have to sound professional but also sound engaging and appealing. Yes, you need a cold call script. But your cold calls shouldn’t sound scripted.

Practice your cold call script with colleagues, friends or family. Find a way to make it sound like your natural voice, as if you were sitting at a coffee shop with an old friend. You can be professional without being stuffy.

Try to sound natural and empathetic on your cold calls, like this:

“Hey, I know you’re busy. You probably get lots of calls like this. Here’s why I think we’d be a good fit to help you with your business challenges. Can we set up a time for no-obligation conversation and a free product demo?”

5. Gather Business Intelligence.

Not every cold call will lead to a sale, but almost every cold call can help you learn something about the prospect and the buyer’s organization. This quiet, constant learning is also known as “Business Intelligence.” Even if your prospect is not ready to buy, or not interested in committing to a further conversation, they might be willing to offer some valuable Business Intelligence.

Ask open-ended questions, such as:

  • “How long have you been with your current vendor?”
  • “How recently did you integrate your current system?”
  • “How are things going with the current solution that your team uses? Are you encountering any issues?”

You might gain insights that can help you make a successful sales call in a few months’ time.

6. Make a limited, targeted “ask”

Remember, the cold calling stage is the very beginning of the sales process. You’re not trying to close a sale, you’re just trying to gauge the prospect’s interest and start a conversation. The first step of the process is a limited commitment for the prospect. You don’t need the prospect to agree to spend millions of dollars; you just need them to say “yes” to one small step in a larger sales process.

Have a clear strategy in mind for what is the “ask” you want to make on each cold call. Here are a few examples of how that could look:

  • “Will you agree to set a time to book a meeting?”
  • “I’d love to give you a product demo. Can we set a time?”
  • “Would you be open to having a brief preliminary conversation with our sales team?”

7. Build trust, not pressure – Best Cold Calling Technique

Cold calling is a fine balance between “quickly making a favorable first impression” and “not coming on too strong.” Yes, you need to make sales. Yes, you want the prospect to agree to take the next step in the sales process. But you need to go at the prospect’s pace and help them feel comfortable; you don’t want to make the prospect feel pressured or rushed. When prospects feel hustled, hurried, or pressured, they’ll walk away. Instead, take your time to build trust.

Here’s an example of how that might sound on your next cold call:

“I just have one goal for today’s call, and there’s no rush: will you agree to set up another conversation with our team? We can book a demo at your convenience.”

8. Speak the language of your prospect

Business executives who have purchasing authority for high-value B2B solutions are some of the busiest people in the world. They don’t have time to listen to cold calls from people who are unprepared or underqualified. They want to hear from people who can help their business, and who can speak with them on equal footing as well-informed industry professionals.

Show the prospect why you deserve to be on that call and in that conversation with them. Every part of your calling script should “talk the talk” of the customer’s industry and company culture. If you’re calling on customers of a certain industry for the first time, make sure you know the specific terminology, jargon, and lingo of that space. Do your research ahead of time and make sure you sound natural.

Here’s an example of how this could sound in your cold calling conversations:

“My team has implemented dozens of complex deployments for companies like yours. We know your industry. We’d love to meet with your stakeholders and internal customers to achieve consensus and buy-in.”

9. Cut to the chase

Ditch the pleasantries. It might seem nice to open your cold calls by saying “how are you today?” but it takes too long, it interrupts the flow of your pitch, and it often sounds insincere. You only have a few seconds to quickly get the prospect’s attention, introduce yourself, and figure out whether or not the prospect is interested to hear more.

Instead of “how are you,” your opening lines should be laser-focused on the prospect’s business needs.

This might include: “How would you like to boost your operating efficiency/lower your costs/reduce your downtime?”

FAQs Related to Cold Calling Techniques

How can you write a good cold calling script?

Your cold calling script needs to quickly catch the prospect’s attention and show how you understand their business needs and pain points. Make the script sound natural and authentic to how you speak – not robotic or over-rehearsed.

Why should we use cold calling when we have email, social media and search engine marketing?

There are lots of great digital marketing tools, but in today’s busy world, many of these digital spaces have gotten crowded and cluttered. Think of how packed your email inbox is with spam and irrelevant offers. When you pick up the phone and use cold calling techniques that really work, this can be one of the most powerful sales strategies to get through to prospects, learn about prospects, get business intelligence, and build relationships person-to-person.

What is the #1 most effective cold calling technique?

The exact answer will depend on the salesperson. But in general: try to build a personal connection and start the process of developing a real sales relationship. Whatever unique details you know about the prospect, whatever common experience you can find, whatever social proof you can offer – that’s how you can take the conversation from “cold” to “warm.”

How SSM Can Improve Your Cold Calling Strategies

Cold calling isn’t easy, but with a professional, strategic approach, you can get better results from your sales and appointment setting calls. If you hire Strategic Sales and Marketing (SSM), you can get professional support with a B2B lead generation program that involves targeted sales cold calling, appointment setting, and more. Our professional sales development reps know how to build relationships by phone in a time-tested way, opening the door to further conversations from youand your sales team.

Talk to Strategic Sales and Marketing, Inc (SSM) today for a free, no obligation consultation. Let’s discuss your business goals and see how better cold calling techniques can boost your sales results!

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