woman making call while practicing cold calling tips in with green background

Cold Calling Tips: Your Guide to Successful Cold Calling

Nicholas PriceLast updated on January 2, 2024
17 min

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Making a cold call can be overwhelming — you never know whether you’re going to close a deal or not. Research shows that 48% of sales reps are afraid to pick up the phone. At the same time, the benefits of cold calling have been proved many times over.

Multiple factors go into running a successful cold-calling campaign. You can’t randomly call numbers and expect to make a sale immediately. You need a proper validated call list, a reliable phone connection, the right script, well trained sales representatives, quality control measures, and more.

In this article, we’ll go through all the things you need to do before, during and after a cold call and share tips to maximize conversions. Let’s get started!

What is cold calling?

Cold calling is an outbound call tactic used to create interest and awareness for your product. It also increases the chances that prospects will move through your sales funnel towards the point of conversion.

Cold calling is usually “cold,” because you're calling someone who knows little-to-nothing about your product and/or your business. On the other hand, warm calling happens when the prospect makes the first contact.

It's important to note that just like cold calling, there are other outbound sales techniques that can be used to reach out to potential customers, like cold emailing. While we will mention several cold outreach strategies throughout this guide, this article will mainly focus on cold calling.

Why is cold calling important to your business?

Cold calling transcends the limits of online interaction, for example, it is challenging to know if a person is sincerely interested in your product when you talk to them online. They might be giving you the answers you want to hear, just so they can end the conversation as quickly as possible.

However, with cold calling, you can clearly understand the customer's sentiments through their tone of voice and body language (in-person sales). Thus, you can more effectively navigate the conversation and know if the person is a quality lead or not.

Furthermore, cold calling builds rapport and forms the foundation for a stronger relationship with customers.

Compare the effects of a 15-minute conversation you have with a person to the experience they get from reading blog and social media posts about the launch of your product — which do you think has more impact?

By speaking to them, you can even learn about the pain points of the prospect. It's important to find out the types of questions or concerns they have when buying products or services like yours. This is extremely valuable information. Sales, marketing and product development teams can use this info to increase overall sales performance.

Guide to cold calling: transforming prospects into leads

We've all had an experience like this:

You receive a call from an unknown number, and within seconds of answering, the person at the other end of the line is reciting a sales pitch for a product you don't need. Immediately, you end the call. You might even block the number.

Are your employees falling into the trap of becoming that sales rep who is making unsuccessful cold calls, inefficiently using their time and energy, and losing potential leads? Here are some ways your sales reps can prepare better and improve their results.

Preparing for cold calls

If this is the first time that your team is cold calling or if you're involved in sales team training, then you know that cold calling is a nerve-wracking experience. Research shows that 80% of new salespersons experience reluctance before making a cold call.

It's normal to be afraid, but with some preparation, you can reduce your sales reps' anxiety and help them bring more confidence to calls, as well as sound more authoritative and professional. Your customers will feel it, too!

Here's how your agents should prepare for a call:

1. Research

Cold calling is like your first interaction with your crush. You want to show that you care by doing a little research, but not so much that you appear creepy (i.e. don't Facebook stalk them!).

Conducting a light investigation on prospects will not only allow agents to prepare  engaging icebreakers and talking points  before a cold call, but it's also a great sales personalization technique.

Here is the information that your employees should gather prior to conducting a cold call:

  • Name (learning how to pronounce their name is a big bonus!)

  • Position/role/title

  • Company and industry 

  • Location 

  • Related technologies 

  • Tools they use to perform their job

  • Some interests that you can find publicly online (pets, hobbies, etc.)

2. Send an Email

An email is often the best way to initialize a connection with leads. If the prospect already knows about your brand, you can call them without sending an email. There are three key benefits to sending a cold email.

Firstly, it makes the individual aware of your brand and educates them on the product/service offered. While an email does not have to be responded to immediately, it helps them recall your brand during the actual call conversation.

Secondly, often your email creates a need. Reading about your offer helps them identify a problem they’re facing and lets them know that it can be solved. This gives the individual a reason to listen to what you say during a cold call.

Thirdly, the email can be used as an icebreaker during the cold call. You could say, “I hope you got my email.”

3. Practice

As the old adage goes: practice makes perfect.

Encourage your sales reps to practice their cold call script until it becomes second nature. By doing so, they will make their calls sound natural and persuasive, correct bad habits, and strengthen their weaknesses.

Another advantage of practicing is that they will memorize essential details of the script so they won’t have to rely on it too much during the actual call.

They can practice cold calling by standing in front of the mirror and repeating the script to themselves. They can also roleplay with their colleagues to prepare for various types of scenarios. Another way to practice is to start with colder calls on their list so that they won't feel under as much pressure to be perfect (and therefore avoid making mistakes), which means they can be ready by the time you reach the more important prospects on the list.

What tools do sales reps use for cold calling?

There are three must-have cold-calling tools:

A headset

Holding a phone to your ear can be uncomfortable for long conversations, hence why you need a headset. Ideally, look for a headset with an extended mic. This helps capture your voice while minimizing external noise.

A cloud-based phone system

For cold calling campaigns to be efficient, you need a phone system that can do more than just connect you with another number. Cloud-based phone systems offer better call quality and have a number of features that improve productivity. Often, they also work out to be more cost-effective. With Aircall, you can set up a virtual business number with local area codes anywhere in the world, cascade calls across your team, record calls for quality control, and more.

A cloud-based phone system like Aircall can also be integrated with other existing business tools., e.g. with your CRM platform to help map out customer journeys. This helps deliver seamless customer experiences across multiple touchpoints.

Power dialers and productivity tools

Power dialer software is very useful for large-scale cold-calling operations. By sequentially calling numbers from a preloaded list, it saves agents precious time so they can be more efficient.

Things to consider before your cold call

1. Ideal customer profile

Contacting ten quality leads is a more efficient use of time than calling 100 prospects who are not potentially interested in your product. The key to knowing who your quality leads are is to know your ideal customer profile, which you can define through sales and marketing alignment.

The ideal customer profile tells you the type of businesses and industries that are more inclined to buy and use your product, among other things. For example, call centers and customer service companies are ideal customer profiles for cloud-based calling applications.

Pro-tip: contact someone who has purchasing power (also known as a key decision-maker). Contact someone who has purchasing power. Pitch to decision-makers, not administrative staff. If you talk to a non-decision-maker, ask them to connect you with a person who does have purchasing power.However, if you do run into this situation, you can instead ask them to connect you with a person who does have purchasing power.

On the other hand, cold calling executive-level leaders will get you an automatic no. They will be less inclined to listen to your cold calls and might even form a negative impression of your company for wasting their time.

2. Call at the right time

Have you experienced calling an office after 5pm on a Friday? If you have, you know that people usually don't answer the phone. The same goes for when you call during lunch hours.

Knowing the best time to call helps your sales reps get to the first action of cold-calling, i.e. talking to someone on the other end of the line.

Pro-tip: leverage callings tools and applications to make this process faster and more effective. Many have features that analyze your outbound calls and call answer rate and show you a graph of the times that your prospects are most or least likely to pick up the phone.

When is the best time to make cold calls?

The best time to make cold calls depends on your customer profile. If you’re looking for B2B cold-calling tips and tricks, calling before lunch between 10am and 11am or after lunch between 3pm and 5pm is considered the best time. Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to talk business. Avoid calling on Monday mornings when people are likely to be attending meetings.

For B2C calls, you can schedule a call between 10am and noon or 4pm and 6pm. Avoid calling during meal times. The recommendations can serve as a good basis, but it's important to take notes on the times that the prospect does answer the phone, so you can use this information in the future to optimize answer rates.

Also, be aware of timezones when cold calling outside your geographical location. No one wants to be woken at five o'clock in the morning by a cold call!

Things to consider during your cold call

Your sales reps have now completed the preparation process and practiced to hone their cold-calling skills. Now that they're armed and ready, what are the best practices they should follow during cold calling for a successful sales call?

1. Start with an introduction

Every call must start with the sales rep introducing themselves and the brand. You only have about ten seconds to convince prospects that the call is worth their while, so make the most of your introduction. Be direct with your call script. Address the prospect by their name to make the connection feel personal rather than a spam call.

Do not ask soft questions, such as “Is now a bad time?”, because your sales reps will be giving prospects an exit strategy and decreasing their chances of making a successful cold call. Instead, asking questions about them, like “How have you been?”, will catch your prospects off guard (in a good way). This will immediately make the cold call feel more personal and natural and can increase your success rate by 10.1%.

How do I introduce myself when cold calling?

Step 1: Start by stating your name, company and the purpose of the call.

Step 2: In a short statement, explain how you got the prospect’s contact details. This makes prospects more comfortable and adds authority to cold calls.

Step 3: Start your pitch.

2. Have a cold-calling script

Cold-calling scripts are both the boon and bane of cold calls. Outbound calling scripts assist callers, giving them basic information on the value proposition of their product, information on their prospect, and much more. In short, scripts ensure that you are maximizing your lead. However, a script loses purpose when your employees—especially those who are still undergoing sales team training—are repeating it word for word. They will sound like robots and will not be able to lead the conversation in the right direction.

To avoid this, have your cold call script in bullet points and improve on it as you gain more experience in your calls. It also helps to have a cold call script template that answers the following questions:

  • What are the solutions that our products offer in order to solve the prospect's problems?

  • Does the prospect have this problem? Why do I believe so?

  • Does the prospect want to solve the problem? Why?

  • How do I help this person?

Remember, your prospects are looking at how your product is relevant and meaningful to them. To be able to create content that shows this, you must have sales and marketing alignment.

Pro-tip: using a cloud calling database enables agents to manage cold-calling scripts more easily and efficiently. Cloud calling databases will have your customer's history and profile in one easy-to-view dashboard. You can also make notes in real time and easily share those important details during your sales and marketing alignment and sales strategy meetings.

How to position my sales pitch when cold calling?

Use cold calling scripts as a framework for your pitch. To personalize conversations, ask open-ended questions. Rather than questions that can be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’, frame questions that prompt detailed responses. Further, while you have a script before you, focus on getting the lead to talk more. Let them explain their problem and thought process. This puts you in a better position to project your product/service as an effective solution.

3. Active listening for sales professionals

You've probably heard this time and time again: active listening is an important part of a sales strategy, whether you’re selling to a customer in person or on the phone. Actively listening during calls requires using verbal cues to indicate that the speaker is being heard and understood.

It makes your prospects feel respected, acknowledged, and encourages them to engage further in conversation. It helps build a bond between the two people in the conversation. As a result, they will be more inclined to share with you important information and be more willing to listen to your value proposition.

Here are a few tips on how to achieve this:

  • Ask open-ended questions starting with “how,” “what,” and “why”

  • Fill conversational pauses with phrases that indicate an understanding of what has been said until now

  • Ask about details that are unclear

  • Summarize a long discussion

4. Frame open-ended questions

Open-ended questions turn five-second cold calls into 15-minute conversations, which research shows increases a cold calling's success rate.

Not only that, it gives you valuable information, such as the specific pain points of your prospect, their company's goals, and main motivators, which allows you to find a vision match between their needs and the product you are selling. Another advantage to open-ended questions is that you make the conversation feel intimate and gain talking points for future conversations.

Pro-tip: Avoid “yes” or “no” questions and too many “why” questions. Doing so will make the call sound like an interrogation and immediately set off alarm bells in the prospect's mind. Instead, focus on balancing expertise, likability, and authority.

5. Define a call to action

Every call must end with a clear call to action (CTA). This tells the prospect what to do next and encourages them to make an actionable decision. CTAs also help reinstate the purpose of your call and the value of your product.

If you are able to close a deal during the call, the CTA is quite obvious. Advise the customer on how to purchase the product or fill out an order form.

Else, schedule a follow-up call/meeting/demonstration to continue the conversation.

Make sure these CTA are documented in your CRM to ensure a smooth handoff between sales representatives.

Other cold-calling tips:

1. Learn from rejection

Rejection is a natural part of inbound and outbound sales strategies. In cold calling, your sales reps will experience this a lot.

That being said, rejection should not be used as an excuse to not try to turn a prospect into a potential hot lead. Instead, your sales reps should hone their skills to improve their success rate by learning how to navigate such conversations and create a possible opening for future conversations. After all, it takes an average of four attempts to turn a “no” into a “yes”.

So what can you do?

  • Update the prospect profile and see if they still qualify as good leads. In many cases, rejection is simply the result of the prospect not being a good fit for your product.

  • Review call recordings to see if the conversation could have been handled differently and spot missed opportunities.

  • Use insights from rejected calls to improve cold call scripts.

Pro-tip: “I'm busy, send me the details” and similar phrases are not automatic rejections. You can instead turn these around by replying, “When can I schedule the next call? I'll send you a Google Calendar invite with the details.” This way, you can still create an opening for a potential “yes” in the future, and avoid wasting the time you've spent nurturing the lead thus far.

2. Be aware of warning signals

Sometimes, when your sales agents are cold calling, they may encounter a prospect that shows interest in your product but has no intention of closing a deal. In some cases, they might only be interested in copying your product or service rather than buying it. You can identify scenarios that won’t lead to a sale by watching out for the following warning signals:

  • The prospect shows excessive enthusiasm — the person may not be a decision-maker. People in charge usually have a more measured approach.

  • The prospect is too focused on how the technology meets emerging market needs — they could be competitors.

  • The prospect is not willing to make a decision — they may not have any intention of making a purchase.

3. Remember the end goal

The end goal of cold calling is to generate awareness and interest in your product and company, and ultimately, to set a future meeting to demonstrate your product features.

By remembering the end goal, your sales reps will be able to keep the conversation on track and avoid having conversations that are too long-winded. As a result, they will have more time to make other cold calls and increase sales performance.

Things to consider after the outbound call

Cold calling does not end after you put the phone down. Don't forget that you're building the foundations for a stronger relationship with your prospective and future customers.

Here are the steps which sales reps can take after a call ends to increase the chances of turning leads into customers:

1. Follow-up:

to send or not to send?

Irrespective of the outcome of a call, sending a follow-up email is always a good idea. This keeps a conversation open and increases the chances of being remembered. Your email should summarize the conversation and decisions taken during the call. It should also include a way to continue the conversation such as scheduling a follow-up call, a showroom visit, and so on.

Writing a follow-up email

Make sure your email contains the following:

  • Details of the product that the prospect showed interest in

  • If you can, a calendar invite with the details of the next call (so the prospect is reminded about the call and makes time for it)

  •  A direct question at the end that confirms the mutual agreement to move forward in the sales process

  • Your email signature: name, position, company, and contact details.

2. Review and learn

Like many things in life, cold calling is an ongoing learning process.

Schedule regular sessions where your sales reps can review their cold calls and learn how to hone their skills to do better in the future. Encourage your reps to also ask for cold-calling tips and cold-calling guides from their supervisors.

Also include this step in your sales team training so your agents can learn from their mistakes and become masters in the art of cold calling. When their skills improve, they’ll be able to turn prospects into hot leads in just a few minutes.

What not to do in a cold call?

Cold calling is an art that gets better with practice. Here are five mistakes to avoid:

  • Hold a monolog without giving the prospect a chance to speak

  • Ask questions that have a yes/no answer

  • Be pushy when the prospect does not show interest in the product

  • Be vague because you do not know the product well enough

  • End a call without defining the next step

Conclusion

Cold calling is more than thriving, it remains one of the most essential sales strategies for businesses to this day.

What is dead, however, is inefficient cold calling.

Tools like Aircall can significantly increase the capabilities and efficiency of your team's cold-calling. Aircall's power dialer can automatically detect phone numbers from web pages. It then generates a customizable list where you can create call-back reminders and add notes to ensure all prospect information is up-to-date.

A click-to-dial feature is also included, which reduces the time spent inputting numbers one at a time or the chance of misdialing. This ultimately increases call center efficiency overall.

Another benefit of Aircall's cloud-based phone system is that everything is in the cloud. This means your sales and marketing alignment will be easier to achieve at every stage in the lead conversion process, since information can be easily shared in real time between departments.

Want to change those “nos” into “yeses”?

Contact us to schedule a free demo.


Published on January 2, 2024.

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