What is Cold Calling? And why the cold call is dead
A B2B cold call is sales outreach when the seller knows only the name and company of the prospect. In the modern era, the email equivalent is “spamming” potential contacts by sending cold emails retrieved from a third-party list.
Prospects are unlikely to respond to a cold call or email — but they do respond to warm calls. Using tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, sellers can learn about prospects, and their industry to approach with relevant insight. Cold calls become warm calls, and eventually, hot leads.
Cold call conversion rates hover around a dismal 2%
On average, it takes 18 or more dials to reach a tech prospect with cold calling.
63% of sellers say cold calling is the worst part of their job.
Cold Calling Tips, Techniques, and Strategies for the Modern Seller
1. Sales Insights
75% of B2B buyers use social media as part of their decision process. Sellers must dive into those channels and gather insights prior to the initial conversation.
87% of LinkedIn Sales Insights customers said they have gained insight about their sales leads they wouldn’t have known otherwise.
2. Find the Connections
Leading with a common connection is powerful, and can increase the likelihood of an appointment by 70%.
TeamLink, one of the key features of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, automatically shows how a prospect is connected with members of your organization.
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1. Do your research
In the age of Google, finding relevant information about a prospect is not difficult. Sellers can quickly search for background information on prospective buyers and their companies. On LinkedIn, sellers can even get more granular, quickly analyzing prospects’ posts, what college they attended, and other information that can serve as ice breakers.
2. Use an Effective Attention-Getter
If possible, sellers should quickly explain how they came across the prospect (“I saw your post on LinkedIn” or “I noticed we attended the same school”). Any time sellers can offer a free resource, such as a demo or limited trial, with no expectation of reciprocation, they’ll increase their chances of a response.
3. Strive for a Friendly Introduction
One surefire way to warm up a cold call is to be referred by a mutual acquaintance. This personal touch can help ensure a response from a prospect. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator’s TeamLink feature enables sellers to find fellow employees who might have a LinkedIn connection with a prospect.
4. Convey a Customized Value Prop
Industry knowledge is invaluable. On prospecting calls, sellers might lead off their outreach to prospects by referencing a news story and asking how it might impact their business. Ultimately, understanding the market can also help sellers customize the value prop for specific buyers.
5. Strike a Conversational Tone
Sellers should avoid jargon in outreach. A cold call or cold email should sound conversational. Sellers should explain the product or service’s benefits in plain English, as if a friend were doing the recommending. This kind of approach can help warm up a cold call.
6. Position Yourself as a Listener
LinkedIn’s State of Sales report showed that active listening is a trait that buyers value in the sellers that call on them. Anita Nielsen, LDK Advisory Service President, says that sellers can demonstrate their listening prowess with two crucial phrases. One is “help me understand.” This phrase can be used, for example, like this: “Help me understand your supply chain priorities.” It shows the seller is there to listen. The second phrase is “Sorry, I didn’t get that.” It demonstrates that the seller is someone who wants to “understand and serve,” Nielsen says.
1. Employ the 3x3 Research Method
The 3x3 is a research methodology designed by sales consulting firm Vorsight to help sellers prep for prospecting calls. Basically, a seller finds three pieces of relevant information about the prospect in three minutes. Some key information sellers can look for include online content, a college or previous employer, and competitive products they currently use.
2. Find the Perfect Call-To-Action
Asking for a meeting during the first call or in the initial email isn’t always the most effective call-to-action. Instead, sellers should attempt to push ahead in different ways:
Email a senior person in the company asking to be sent “to the right person”. There is a much higher likelihood of a response when the initial contact comes from the boss.
Offer them to meet your CEO at a trade show. This kind of call-to-action tends to be more effective than offering a face-to-face meeting with the seller.
Invite them to attend a webinar. Enticement with a free educational be an extremely effective first contact.
Send a free demo or trial of your product. More companies are using their product itself as an effective sales and marketing tool.
3. Double Down on the Double-Dial
Here’s a little trick called the double-dial. Call a prospect. If they don’t pick up, immediately call them back. The second time the phone rings, it tends to pique curiosity. “This must be important. They’re calling back.”
1. Going Into the Call Blind
There are some quick ways to gain a basic level of knowledge about your prospect within just a few minutes. Sellers can use advanced search to find their prospects on LinkedIn, view their profile for recent job changes or mutual connections, or take a look at the company’s LinkedIn Page for insight.
2. Talking Instead of Listening
Listening is much more important than trying to solve. On outreach calls, sellers should be all ears, and let the prospect do the explaining. By carefully absorbing the details, sellers can customize their offering for their prospects’ distinct needs.
3. Failing to Provide Specifics
A common cold calling technique is the use of vague language to create intrigue. Sellers are far more likely to gain traction by providing real, relevant data like concrete numbers and benefits.
4. Bragging About Your Product
Obviously, sellers should be confident in what they’re selling, but salesy language is a huge turn-off. When you do discuss the benefits of their product or service, tailor the pitch to the prospects’ specific needs.
5. Making Assumptions
Even if sellers do their research, they will not know everything about their prospects going in. While it is great to ask about the obstacles they face, sellers should not presume to know what they are.
Q: What are the best techniques that top sales people employ?
“What separates top performing sellers is their commitment to research, which turns cold calls into warm conversations. Top-performing sellers measure twice, cut once. They research the industry, learn about competitors, understand trends, and act as thought leaders in their space vs. pounding phones and spamming emails.”
Q: Why is combining inside sales tools with social selling an important tactic today?
"It’s important to view social selling as a layer to your prospecting efforts, not the only way to prospect. Defining a cadence within your current prospecting efforts to include socialselling strategies — when done correctly — is the most effective approach. I would rather see a sales organization spend two to three minutes researching a prospect socially and then reach out, versus batching and blasting 100 automated generic emails."
Q: What are some challenges companies face in implementation?
"Change can be difficult, and using new tools requires a learning curve. But I think anyone who wants to be successful in sales has to be active on LinkedIn. People were really into Navigator because it’s the most in-depth. We rolled out Navigator first, and then we incorporated social selling into that after people got used to using the tool."
Q: What would you recommend companies do to overcome those challenges?
Gather a cross-functional team to work on your social-selling program with team members from sales, marketing, sales enablement, and marketing and sales operations.
Focus your social-selling program on people. Business is all about people, so put people first in your program.
Start your social-selling program with a small pilot. Make sure to identify social employees, develop policies and processes, identify how you will measure success and decide on one or two tools you need to start your social-selling program. That may mean starting with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, for example. After that, set the pilot time frame and measure everything you do.