Do you make cold calls all the time in the hopes of filling your pipeline chock-full of leads?
Or do you ever think to yourself, “Man, I really should be making more cold calls in order to generate more opportunities”?
No matter your current relationship with cold calling, I have news for you: The world of cold calling has changed dramatically over the past few years.
Why? So many new technologies have been introduced—and prospects are just plain savvier than they’ve ever been before.
This means that there’s a totally new dynamic when it comes to cold calling these days. If you’re doing what you did even just a couple of years ago, chances are it’s not going to work.
In this video I’m going to show you the truth about cold calling and sales. Check it out:
Cold Calling Video Summary:
Cold Calling Tip #1: Quit cold calling.
If you’re still making pure cold calls today — by which I mean you’re finding a random contact, picking up the phone, dialing, and making freezing-cold sales calls — then you’re in big trouble.
Salespeople these days need to be doing so much more than traditional old-school cold calling like we saw in movies such as Glengarry Glen Ross and Boiler Room. While it might have seemed compelling on film in the 90s and early ’00s, the reality is that true cold calls just don’t work anymore.
So stop thinking to yourself, “Man, if I just made more cold calls, then good things would finally start to happen…”
You need to be mixing in so many other different strategies with cold calling in order to make it effective. Read on to learn exactly what.
Cold Calling Tip #2: Use a prospecting campaign.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying that you should never pick up the phone and call a lead ever again. What I’m saying is that when you’re making those calls, you should be making them within the broader context of a prospecting campaign.
The whole point is to warm up those cold calls, so you’re never making a freezing-cold call where the prospect has no idea who you are—ever again.
This means that you should be using every tool in your arsenal to get in front of that prospect, in addition to cold calling: cold emails, LinkedIn messaging or connections, direct mail, voicemails, FedEx packages, etc. That way, by the time you actually get the prospect on the phone, they already know who you are.
By combining these “cold calls” with a prospecting campaign, you will dramatically and significantly increase the likelihood that someone has a positive response to whatever it is that you’re looking to accomplish.
Cold Calling Tip #3: Map out your entire process.
This is an area where so many salespeople get it wrong. Even if salespeople are using different channels such as email and LinkedIn to contact prospects, most are not really mapping out the whole process. They tend to be pretty haphazard: a call here, an email there, and follow-ups only when they happen to remember.
Instead, map out every step of the process. Let’s say you’re mapping out a prospecting campaign over a six-week time frame. Over the course of six weeks you want to make about 20 touches with each prospect. Well, what do those touches consist of and in what order? What’s the timing of each touch, assuming that you don’t get through to the person until the end? You should have a clear answer to these questions.
Cold Calling Tip #4: Script out each step.
There’s potentially no piece of selling advice more effective and yet more controversial in the than scripting. But when it comes to cold calling successfully, you absolutely need a script.
In fact, whether you’re making a cold call, sending an email, or reaching out to a prospect in any other way, you should be following a script—or at least a template that you can personalize. If you’re just picking up the phone and saying whatever comes to your head, you’re completely screwed. It’s just ludicrous.
Imagine watching a movie where the actors are just saying whatever comes to mind. It wouldn’t make sense. Even actors at a great improv show are still following a loose structure based on tons of practice to make sure that what they say is actually funny.
It’s the same thing with sales. Have your scripted process laid out so you know exactly what you’re going to say when you get the person on the phone.
Cold Calling Tip #5: Do your homework to personalize.
In today’s world, prospects are more bombarded by salespeople than ever before. There’s nothing that will help you stand out more effectively than good personalization.
By personalizing your outreach in a way that’s relevant to the conversation you’re trying to have, you show the prospect that you actually care about them, you’ve really done your homework, and you know what’s going on in their world.
One of the best ways to do homework to personalize is to use LinkedIn or LinkedIn Navigator for research on the prospect. Find out the basics such as where they’re located, what they do, what their title is, what they’ve done in the past, other companies they’ve worked at, who works for them, and the number of people in their department.
When you can personalize your outreach in a way that shows you’ve done your homework, you will be so much more effective than if you just use a boilerplate approach to cold calling.
Cold Calling Tip #6: Make at least 20 touches.
The data shows that top salespeople make at least 20 touches to prospects before they determine whether someone is a fit.
Now, 20 touches doesn’t mean 20 dials. It means 20 different ways that you’re reaching out. So that could mean phone calls, voicemails, emails, LinkedIn messages, letters, FedEx packages, in-office visits, etc. Whatever those different touches are, do them over the course of about six weeks to show that you’re persistent, you understand them, and you’re really providing value to them.
Those 20 touches are going to make such a difference as opposed to just making that one dial and then giving up.
Cold Calling Tip #7: “No” is very good.
At my organization, we do outbound cold email prospecting for our clients. One of the things we find most valuable is a negative reply. A “no” is actually a really good piece of data. First of all, it allows you to take that prospect out of your prospecting campaign. But it also gives you feedback along the way around what kinds of people are and aren’t a fit.
Obviously “yes” is good, but “no” is also good. We want to narrow the field of people we never hear back from, never get through to, or just never get anywhere with. So we appreciate that a “no” is not a bad thing.
If you pick up the phone and someone tells you to take a hike, that’s great. If you send them an email and they reply with “not interested,” that’s great. Now you know that person isn’t a fit, so you can move on. And what’s more, you’re starting to get some data around who is and isn’t a good fit.
Cold Calling Tip #8: Always get a clear and scheduled next step.
I have a forum of clients who are constantly asking me questions about selling, and one of the scenarios I always hear is, “I had a great call, and they said they’d get back to me in two weeks. I never heard back from them. How can I prevent this?” This is such a simple thing to change. All you have to do is get militant about scheduling clear and scheduled next steps. That’s all.
Clear and scheduled next steps are all about the calendar invite. Simply ask the prospect, “Do you have your calendar in front of you?” (which they always do) and then send them a calendar invite—even if it’s checking in for 10 minutes on Tuesday of next week. It’s fine. Make sure that it is clear and scheduled every single time.
By the way, this isn’t just for prospecting. This is for everything in sales. No matter where you are in the sales process, you always want to have a clear and scheduled next step.
Cold Calling Tip #9: Use assumptive calendar invites.
This is a technique we’ve recently started implementing that we really love. And we love it because it works. When you’re prospecting, often times the easiest way to actually get someone to respond is via email.
So let’s say you’re going back and forth with a prospect, and they say, “Yeah, sure. Why don’t we set up a call.” If you reply with “Would Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. or Friday at 1:00 p.m. work for you?” you have created a step that then requires them to go into their calendar, determine whether that date and time works, and then reply back to you.
Instead of doing that, use assumptive calendar invites. If someone replies and says, “Yeah, this sounds like something I’d be happy to talk about,” email them back and say, “Really appreciate it. How would Monday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern work for you? I just sent you a calendar invite, and if that time doesn’t work, let me know. Otherwise you can just accept the invite.”
And what we find is that most people accept the invite. Done! Now you have that call scheduled in your calendar and in theirs. Assumptive calendar invites are so powerful, and the actual close rate for an appointment is so much higher using that approach.
So, there you have it. Now you know the truth about cold calling and sales. Which of these ideas did you find most useful? Please share below in the comments.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.