Ditch the Script: How Modern Sales Pros Can Make the Most of Cold Calling
If you must make cold calls, here are ways to boost the likelihood of making them pay off.
May 16, 2017
Rejection. Nobody likes it. But it’s what you must brace yourself for every time you pick up the phone to make a cold call. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of cold calling. But I also understand you’ve got a sales number hanging over your head. For those of you who continue to stick with cold calling – or simply feel there’s no other choice – here are ways to lessen the chance of rejection…and gradually reduce your reliance on cold calling.
Start with Your LinkedIn Profile
B2B buyers review an average of 10.4 sources in any buying situation. Now multiply that number by all the people involved in a complex purchase. It’s easy to see why prospects do their homework before spending the time to meet with you after the initial interaction. They don’t want to waste precious time with the wrong person.
Since a majority of buyers and execs use social media to make purchasing decisions, they are quite likely to check out your LinkedIn profile to find out who they’re dealing with. Don’t bother making a single call until you create a LinkedIn profile that makes a good first impression. Then budget time each week to gradually improve your profile.
Warm Things Up
According to various research, the majority (80%) of sales happen after the fourth sales conversation, with many requiring double-digit interactions before they close. It goes without saying that you’ll never get to that fifth discussion if you can’t get prospects on the line in the first place. The ideal scenario is to secure a warm introduction from a common connection. But when that’s not possible, you can still decrease the likelihood of rejection or no response.
Winning sales professionals take the time get to know their prospects and top-of-mind issues, establish trust, and build relationships over time. So do some research on LinkedIn. Figure out if this is the right person to engage. If it is, try to uncover a possible company initiative or even a shared interest you can use to warm up the prospect.
Whether you get someone on the phone or leave a voicemail, lead with a provocative insight or the mention of a common connection, interest, or background. Something as simple as “I see you and I share a passion for bicycling” can greatly improve your odds of a response. And that’s the first step to cultivating a relationship that might just translate into a purchase.
Down with Cold Calling Scripts
If you are going to make a cold call, please at least ditch the script. They’re too rigid and treat every conversation the same. That’s not exactly going to inspire prospects with the feeling like you’ve done your research.
A better “cold calling script” is a really short, Mad-Libs style one that demands you come to the call with an insight or icebreaker to spark a conversation. Our own research found that B2B buyers are 5x more likely to engage with a sales professional who provides new insights about their business or industry.
It’s also a good idea to have at least one thought-provoking question at the ready – one that triggers the prospect to talk so you can learn more and ask intelligent follow-up questions.
Reduce the Need to Call Cold
If your opportunity pipeline is always full of hot prospects, you can do away with cold calling altogether. Many sales pros reach this nirvana by cultivating strong referral networks. You can do the same by prioritizing a referral strategy. Make it part of your regular schedule to strengthen relationships with existing customers and others who can send business opportunities your way. This takes time, but if you work at it steadily, you will develop relationships that ultimately yield referrals. Remember: always reward those who send you potential buyers by providing exceptional service and by continuing to thank them in new and creative ways.
For more ways to leave cold calling behind, download our eBook, The Post Cold Call Era.