Willingly making cold calls feels like insanity sometimes, doesn’t it?
You put on a happy face (smile while you dial!), turn on your headset, and start making calls knowing full-well that you will most likely get shut down by multiple people.
It’s one of the hardest skills to master in sales, but if you’re able to get good at cold calling, you will find yourself booking more meeting and closing more deals than you ever imagined.
Whether you’ve been doing it for years or you’ve been doing it for twenty minutes, making cold calls can be scary, unpredictable, and frustrating.
But there are a few things you can do to up your chances of getting through to your prospect and booking a meeting! Here are three cold calling tips to help you become more effective.
When the prospect answers: pattern interrupt
Have you ever been driving home from work and all of a sudden you pull into your driveway but you don’t remember any of the drive home?
That’s because your brain often goes into auto-pilot mode for certain day-to-day activities.
The same thing happens when you answer the phone and you hear a telemarketer. You know the familiar sound. An overly cheerful person who says “Hello, is *your full name* available please?”
Upskilling Your Workforce
Are your people strong enough to compete?
Three seconds into the call and your defenses are already up, because you know this is a sales call and you know the person on the other end of the phone wants something from you.
To avoid having the exact same effect on your prospect, we suggest trying something different. 😉
Starting your call with a unique question or phrase is a called pattern interrupt, a technique that is designed to, quite literally, interrupt the pattern of auto-pilot defensiveness.
Some examples of openers that will do the job are:
“How have you been?”
“Amanda, how’s your morning going?”
“Do you have 2 minutes for me?”
Anything outside of the normal “did I catch you at a good time?” will be enough to break cadence and grab their attention.
Once you have their attention: ask questions
Now that you’ve got your prospect live, you have to keep them on the phone.
Research from the call analytics app Gong.io found that “successful cold calls are almost twice as long as unsuccessful cold calls. The longer the call, the greater your odds of getting the meeting.”
And the only way to keep your prospect on the phone is to get them talking. Ask compelling questions that will elicit a response and perhaps even begin unveiling some pain points.
Don’t drone on about yourself and your company – that’s what the demo is for (if you can book it!).
Instead, quickly tell your prospect the reason for your call and ask him an open-ended question to get the conversation going.
When handling gatekeepers: fake authority
Most people in power will have a person who manages their calendar, screens their calls, and decides what messages they receive: this is the gatekeeper.
Whether or not you get through to your prospect is all dependent on how you speak with the gatekeeper. It is her job to prevent sales calls and solicitations from getting through, which is clearly detrimental to your mission.
Giving your name and company name, sounding overly enthusiastic, anything that makes you sound like a salesperson – these will all lessen your chances of being passed through.
But making a few small changes to your approach can drastically improve you success with gatekeepers!
Act like you belong. If you had to call your dad at work and his assistant answered the phone, how would you speak to her? Would you be overly enthusiastic and ask her permission to be put through to your dad? Of course not, he’s your dad and you have authority in this situation. Assume the same authority with the gatekeeper.
The key to being good at sales is acting like you aren’t trying to sell them anything. It’s extremely counter intuitive but unfortunately that’s how it works.
Your job as a sales rep is to make the person on the other end of the phone believe you have the authority to speak to the prospect. Here’s how it’s done.
Instead of saying “Hello, can I speak to Mr. Thompson please?” Say “Hi, is Jack in?”
You can also try “Jack isn’t in, is he?” This gives the illusion that you know Jack and you are aware of his busy schedule, ie. that he likely isn’t in at the moment.
Practice this out loud 10 times. Grab a teammate and role play with each other. Practice having complete authority with speaking with a gatekeeper until it comes completely naturally.
Implementing these cold calling tips will help you increase your success on the phone, but why stop there? Talk to your sales enablement manager about implementing some of the other sales techniques we’ve written about and watch as you rise to the top of your team! 😀