Freddie Marryat, Marketing Manager, EngageIQ
Love it or hate it, cold calling is by far the most effective weapon in an SDR’s arsenal.
It might be stressful, says ConnectAndSell’s Gerry Hill on Linkedin, but no other channel is better for information gathering. You’ll be able to get much more information over the phone than through an email or LinkedIn message. Even if you don’t book a meeting, you can still get valuable information that can help move a prospect down your funnel.
Below we’ve collected 10 tips from our own superstar SDRs as well as some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. Start using them today to have more quality conversations, gather more information and book more appointments.
Be Quick to Make an Impression
The biggest problem with cold calls is that you’re being judged as soon as you start talking. That means you need to act fast to convince prospects to stay on the line.
Start with an opening line to break the ice and warm up your prospect. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Classic opening lines can still be incredibly effective — like the weather, for instance. According to our SDR James Davies, mentioning the weather works because it’s so familiar for British people. We’ve been talking about the weather for hundreds of years, and we’re so used to doing so that people are automatically put at ease.
Next, get to the point of why you are calling. Remember, your prospect is taking time out of their day to speak to you. It’s important to respect that fact by being succinct. Don’t ask if they are the right person or whether you have caught them at a good time. These kinds of questions make it easy for prospects to say no. Instead, have an impact statement prepared that demonstrates your awareness of their problems and how your product can solve them.
Address the Elephant in the Room
If you want to smash the ice at the start of a cold call, rather than just break it, consider outing yourself as a cold caller immediately. Both you and your prospect know you are a cold caller, but being upfront about it can be disarming. That kind of brutal honesty can also make prospects more likely to hear you out.
Gong’s Sarah Brazier recommends acknowledging the elephant in the room immediately. During recent cold calls, she’s taken this tactic even further by highlighting how weird it is to be making cold calls during a pandemic.
“What are the challenges that these types of prospects have that your product or service can solve?”
Personalise as Much as Possible
How many times have you received a call from a salesperson who clearly knows nothing about you? Annoying, isn’t it? Well, that’s just how your personalised calls come across to busy executives.
You need to know about the people you are calling, says sales coach Wendy Weiss. It’s not enough to know who they are and where they work. Ask yourself: “What are the challenges that these types of prospects have that your product or service can solve?” Only then can you deliver the value needed to convince a prospect to book a meeting.
Directive’s Sarah Drake goes the extra mile to make each call as personal and relevant as possible. In a world filled with irrelevant, impersonal cold calls, that level of personalisation makes her pitch stand out. So much so, prospects have gone to the trouble of expressing their appreciation on LinkedIn after getting off the phone.
Talk about Benefits and Have Proof
The difference between features and benefits is one of the first things you learn in sales training. So you don’t need us to reiterate the importance of addressing benefits to prospects.
What you might need, however, is a reminder to come prepared with proof of those benefits. Any benefit is irrelevant if you can’t back it up with a case study. That means you need to ask what issues your prospect is currently having, listen carefully to what they say and provide a case study of how your product has solved that particular issue for a similar organisation in the past. Do this perfectly, and there’s no reason for your prospect not to book an appointment.
“The buyer never ends the discussion or hangs up on you when they’re doing the talking. You get them talking by sharing information that you think they might find interesting”
Encourage them to Share
Not every call will end in a booked appointment, but every call is an opportunity to learn more about a prospect and their organisation. That’s why it pays to get your prospect to talk.
Author Mark Hunter says: “The buyer never ends the discussion or hangs up on you when they’re doing the talking. You get them talking by sharing information that you think they might find interesting.”
Empathy can also open the door to a fruitful conversation. Be genuinely interested in your prospect’s problems. Offer advice and value that doesn’t revolve around pitching them your product if you can. That could be introducing them to an industry contact or sending over your latest whitepaper.
The more you ask, the move value you’ll be able to add. The more help you can offer, the more likely the prospect will be to close in the future.
Master your Phone Manner
How you say something matters as much as what you say. You could be selling the exact solution your prospect needs, but if you come across as bored or dispassionate, they won’t feel compelled to find out more.
Here are several strategies you can use to sound more engaging and confident on the phone:
- Stand up. You’ll be more alert and more confident.
- Smile. You can tell when someone is smiling on the phone. It will put you in a good mood, too.
- Pace your message. Speak clearly and confidently without rushing.
Mastering your phone manner takes practice, which is all the more reason to pick up the phone and make more cold calls.
Always be Progressing
Your goal shouldn’t be to book an appointment on the first call. All you need to do is get your prospect to take the next step and move ever so slightly down your funnel.
That’s why Tony Morris, creator of Killer Sales, recommends asking yourself what you can do at the end of the call to move things forward. It’s the buyer that closes the deal, not you. Your job is to simply move them to the next stage.
Visualise your Success
Strategy to Revenue CEO Mark Savinson recommends spending a minute to visualise what a successful call looks like before picking up the phone.
It’s okay to be scared about making cold calls, he says. Everyone is a little scared. If you’re not, it’s because you’re not thinking about it. But visualising focuses the mind and puts you in a position to succeed. If this tactic is good enough to help Usain Bolt win races before he even starts, it’s good enough to help you have a successful call.
Closing is often the hardest cold calling tactic to master — especially for new SDRs. EngageTech’s Callum Henderson recommends getting over your fear of closing by addressing the matter early on in the call.
As soon as you’ve made an engaging introduction, highlight the fact that you are looking to schedule an appointment with them to discuss your product.
Not only will this put you at ease and get you used to closing conversations early, but it can also help manage expectations and set the tone for the call. If the discussion carries on, you know there’s a good chance they’re going to be interested in speaking further. You just need to get them to say yes.
Have a Script
If you’re worried about remembering all of these tips during a call, we don’t blame you. A successful sales call has a lot of moving parts, and it can be hard to keep track of everything you need to say or do.
That’s where a sales script comes in. Every time one of our reps makes a call, they have an outline of the conversation they want to have to hand. It includes a lot of the points we’ve mentioned above, including a personalised opening line, the benefits of the product, notes on a case study, and a close.
But it’s not a speech. We don’t want our reps to sound like they’re in a call centre reading soullessly from some pre-approved sales script. Being successful in sales is all about having a genuine conversation — and often that means going off-script. Nevertheless, it’’s important to have a guide to hand so that, when you need to draw the conversation to a close, you have the questions you need to ask right in front of you.
You don’t even have to create your own sales script; you can steal our tried-and-test formula right here. And if you need additional help, our SDRs can help create a personalised sales script specifically for your product.
Have we missed your favourite strategy? Let us know in the comments.