I read recently that 63% of salespeople say cold calling is what they dislike most about their jobs. Hey, I’ve been there. I know it’s the most challenging aspect of any sales job. I started on the phones, growing my career to become the VP of Customer Success and then Chief Marketing Officer (I’m now Chief Social Responsibility Officer but that’s another blog, for another day). When I read stats like this one, it’s disconcerting because 92% of all customer interactions still happen over the phone. This tells me that cold calling isn’t going anywhere so we need to get good at it. And that starts with doing it differently.
Everyone loves a productivity hack. Here are five that relate to cold calling. These worked for me back in the day and stand the test of time. How do I know? The agents who work in sales roles at our company today are using them with amazing results.
Five tips for sales success
Connect with Prospects: Whether you’re B2B or B2C, we’re all in the business of people. And people like to connect with other people. With the technology available today, no one should be going into a call blind. With just a few strokes on a keyboard, we can learn the hobbies, interests, online habits, buying patterns and pain points of the person we’re calling. Use this information to connect personally.
Here’s a real-life example of this tip done right: One of our agents closed a deal by beginning a conversation with a prospect through LinkedIn. Our agent had done her homework. She sent a direct message thanking the prospect for the work she had done to advance women’s equality in the workplace. This personal piece of information formed the basis for a meaningful connection and a back and forth conversation that eventually led to a signed deal.
Lean on a Script, Don’t Recite from it: Today, authenticity is growing in importance among consumers. They crave it. In fact, one survey revealed that 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. Guess what? This deep level of authenticity starts at the very first touch point, which is the first phone call. Use a script as a baseline for where you need to end up but take the time to personalize and humanize it and be sure to make it all about the person you’re calling. Only 13% of customers believe a sales person understands their needs. You need to flip that number. To do it successfully, you can’t go in with a one-size-fits-all script.
Stop Asking for a Call Back: Can we all agree to never, ever do this again? You’re a consumer. Who are you calling back? The answer is probably no one. So why place different expectations on other consumers? You want to make a connection that eventually turns into a sale, then you need to do all the heavy lifting. Leave a voicemail message in under 30 seconds and tell the prospect the day and time you’ll call again next. And remember to add that personal touch!
Don’t Hate the Activity: If you’re constantly telling yourself how much you hate making calls, you need to rethink your job. Prospects can sense any disdain you have for what you’re doing and this will never translate into a qualified lead or sales win. You need to change how you approach the activity. Think of every interaction as an opportunity to learn and become better at what you’re doing. This one small mind-shift will make a world of difference in how you come to work every day, how you approach each new dial, and how you inevitably deal with or process a failed attempt.
Cold calling will never be mastered overnight. Set a personal goal to learn something new in every conversation, positive or negative. When you do this, you never fail because you’re coming out of each call having learned something that will help for you next call. Remember, it takes an average of 8 cold call attempts to reach a prospect so buck up!
Smile Before Your Dial: I know it sounds cliché but there’s something to it. When we approach activities with a smile, our mood, tone of voice, and posture all change immediately and for the better! Making a conscious decision to lead with that facial expression brings with it an inner peace, which makes us feel happier and more content about what we are doing. And when we’re in that happy zone, we approach each cold call with positivity, which is critical. Believe it or not, prospects can see your facial expression, yes even through the phone so never forget that a smile is worthwhile!
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” — Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends & Influence People