If you’re in sales, the ideal situation is when your prospects have browsed your website and downloaded some resources so you have insight into their pain points, they become a warm lead, and you can base your first conversation on the level of interest they have already shown. But, among other circumstances, when there is low awareness of who you are and what you do, prospecting and cold calling is more effective at reaching the right people. In the Digital Age, prospects are already inundated with ads and emails for all kinds of products and services. Perhaps that’s why a good portion of B2B buyers actually prefer phone calls. According to the RAIN Group, 57 percent of C-level and VP buyers, 51 percent of directors, and 47 percent of managers prefer to be contacted by the phone. For the record, cold calling still works. It can be used to warm up a potential prospect and up your chances of having a meaningful conversation with them in the future. While both certainly have changed a lot in the digital age, prospecting and cold calling remain effective selling tactics for those who do it right. Here are some tips to inform your strategy:
Research Your Prospects Before Cold CallingResearching your prospects involves finding people who truly need your product or service to solve their challenges and pain points. The Internet and social media can be used to your advantage when it comes to prospecting. It can help you uncover possible leads and learn more about them. The better you know your target, the more effective your cold call will be. Start with proper research about your ideal prospects. Who is your target? How big or small are they? What kind of position do they occupy in the industry? Who are their competitors? What are their challenges and how exactly can you help them? What do you have in common as individuals? Study your ideal customer profiles and create personas to use as a guide when prioritizing and segmenting your prospects into call lists. When making lists, don’t ignore the value of talking to influencers. They can help convince the buyer to talk to you, resulting in a warmer conversation with the decision maker.
Create Your PlanDecide who you are going to contact, when you’ll contact them and how you’ll contact them. You have your day-to-day prospecting and pipeline activities to complete, so set aside a definitive amount of time and give yourself a timeframe to make your cold calls. How many people will you call in a day? When will you call? And how will you contact them? Of course you should also record all their contact details, including their office address, phone and email address.
Find Your ConnectionIf you do your research, you can get some ideas about how best to contact prospects and how you might be able to warm them up for a sales conversation. Remember that you are calling this individual out of the blue, so connecting with each prospect on a human level will help make you stand out. Use your research to make a personal connection. You may discover you share an alma mater, a previous employer or a friend. Maybe you attended the same industry conference or trade show, but never met. Social media and LinkedIN are great places to look for connections of this sort. You may discover a connection or common point of interest during the course of your conversation, too. This is why it is necessary to spend a bit of time talking to the person during a cold call before getting to what you are selling. Just be sure not to talk so long that you don’t have time to sell.
Prepare Your Opening ScriptAfter completing your research, you can develop a solid opening conversation to be sure to make it past the first conversation. No one likes being ambushed, and you don’t want to be marked as spam, blocked on a social network, or added to the Do Not Call registry. To turn your “cold call” into a “warm call,” position it as something that is worthy of their attention. Regardless of the medium, you should:
- Introduce yourself properly. Clearly say your name and which company you’re calling from. When people aren’t expecting your call, it takes a little time to register what you have said, so introduce yourself and wait a couple of beats before picking up your conversation. If you normally ask if you have reached “so and so,” don’t. Everyone else does that. Breaking a pattern and not saying the same thing as everyone else will reset the prospect’s frame of mind.
- Have a strong hook for opening. This is a good time to use the research you conducted based on the prospect's pain points. Use a short introduction or question that directly relates to the prospect’s business concerns. Using machine learning to analyze over 1 million sales calls, Gong came up with a list of words that facilitate good sales calls and one for those that inhibit sales. It’s worth your time to look up these words and other tips on talking to prospects before you make your calls.
- Guide expectations. In closing, repeat their pain points (and that you can help) and schedule the time when and how you plan to call or contact them for a follow-up (e.g., demo, meeting, call, email).
Connect at a Steady PaceGive it time to nurture your leads once you have made the initial connection, but have a “close” in mind for every point of contact you make. Whether you make a call, send an email, pass along a report or white paper that the prospect may find useful, the goal is to move the needle. If you have a close defined for each time you connect, you will be better able to track your progress with the lead. If the prospect isn’t ready because of an existing contract or other constraint, your steady contact will keep them engaged, so that when they are ready to make a purchase, you are the first person they turn to.
Track Your ProgressMost importantly, keep track of those cold calls if you want them to convert! At a minimum, record the following:
- Who you called and how it went
- What you did to follow up
- How many of those cold calls led to appointments
- How many of those leads converted to sales
Subscribe to Funnel Vision
Get the latest and greatest right in your inbox