Shortness of breath.
Do you feel these unpleasant symptoms at the thought of making cold calls to potential new clients?
You are not alone.
In fact, many people (including myself, at one time), would cringe at the thought of making hundreds of daily unsolicited sales phone calls to strangers worldwide.
However, if you work in the selling profession, then cold calls and prospecting for new business is an essential part of any sales role. And you need to quickly acquire the vital skills and tools you need to start closing more sales sooner rather than later.
That’s why I’ve devised a master list of proven and effective cold calling techniques I use every day at my job working in inside sales for Seamless Contacts, an online tool that helps salespeople sell 10X faster by automating their two most time-consuming yet essential tasks: prospecting and conducting pre-call research.
By using these helpful cold call tips to get more sales, you too will quickly shed the preconceived notion that cold calling has to be painful, awkward, and embarrassing.
In fact, as you put these simple ideas into action, you will soon find that cold calling is actually…wait for it…fun!
And when something is more fun, you’re more likely to do it, right?
How can cold calling be fun?
When I tell people that I love to cold call, they look at me like I have two heads.
They ask me things like, “Don’t people hang up on you or get mad that you’re trying to sell them something?”
Sure, it happens. We all have our good and bad days in life, and sometimes I’ll dial someone up and catch them at the wrong time.
But you know what else might happen?
Sometimes you will cold call a person who could really use your product to solve a major problem that is holding their business back from achieving success.
And when that opportunity comes, I want you to be prepared and have the best possible chance of closing the sale.
Here are 5 cold calling ideas that really work:
5. Sell the main benefits, not the features
After the initial introductory greeting (I keep mine short and simple: Hi, Ms. Prospect, this is Jim Kim with Seamless Contacts), many sales professionals will commit the cardinal sin of every sales call:
They jump right into listing all of their product’s features.
They are so eager to prove their value and pack as much information into the cold call as possible that they blurt out every shiny product feature without taking a breath.
Some of us may have even been on the receiving end of these types of cold calls. The caller rattles off a laundry list of features and all we’re thinking about is how the heck can we get off the phone NOW.
If you’re guilty of this verbal diarrhea on your cold calls, then please stop it right now. You’re not impressing anyone when you do this. In fact, you’re probably digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole you’ll never escape.
The biggest enemy of all sales professionals
By gumming up the works in the initial conversation and listing off product features (e.g. your 24/7 customer service and cloud-based backup capabilities), you are simply giving the prospect more things to reject.
Overwhelming your prospect on a cold call with features will only accomplish one thing: you are giving the prospect more excuses to retreat quickly back into the safe confines of their life before you called.
And that is the biggest obstacle that all sales professionals must contend with: the status quo.
Afterall, life was pretty decent before you called, so why should they change?
Even if your product will save your prospect money, time, and improve safety, you will not advance the sales process if you do not first get your prospect’s attention and help them to understand the value in how your product can improve their status quo.
Like the old saying goes: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
And as a professional salesperson, your job is to help the horse realize he’s thirsty.
Get your prospect’s attention
Everyone is crazy busy these days. Chances are, when you call a prospect, they may be in the middle of five things at once. Your call is interrupting them, and you need to quickly differentiate yourself from the dozens of cold calls they get per week from everyone else trying to sell them something.
Your first challenge on a cold call is to grab the prospect’s interest within the first 3-5 seconds of the conversation.
The best way to get their attention is by clearly and succinctly stating the beneficial value in doing business with your company.
Do this well, and you will focus your prospect’s attention away from email/Facebook/lunch plans/other work and onto your message.
Do it poorly, and you’ll be selling to the dial tone.
How to communicate the end-user benefits
Here’s how I quickly communicate the main end-user benefits to my prospects on cold calls.
After the initial greeting, I know I have about 3 seconds or less before my prospect decides enough is enough and they want to end the call. My fate is decided in what I do in those 3 seconds.
Just for background, my company’s main product is an online sales automation platform.
It helps anyone working in sales to accelerate their sales process 10X by automating the two biggest time-sinks for salespeople:
- Hunting for leads with the right contact information (email and direct dial).
- Gathering all the relevant reports and news you need on a prospect and company before you pick up the phone and have that all-important first sales conversation.
The benefits that I communicate to prospects in the first few seconds of my cold call are:
- We help salespeople at digital marketing agencies, SaaS, and other B2B services to quickly expand their pipeline of qualified opportunities by 10X, resulting in selling 10X more products 10X faster than before.
- We help companies increase their revenue by 10X (because we help their salespeople to sell 10X more 10X faster to 10X more qualified opportunities.)
I don’t bombard them with all the other features that dilute the impact of the main value proposition and end-user benefits.
I let that value proposition sink in, then I go for the close, which is an appointment for a more in-depth conversation (Ms. Prospect, how does your calendar look for next Thursday at 3pm your time?) where I evaluate their current selling process and their needs for sales automation tools.
So basically, I save all the talk about product features for the actual sales presentation, because that’s the right time to demonstrate my product’s capabilities.
But on the initial cold call, I just want to pique their curiosity and reel them in with the bait, which are the end-user benefits of using my product.
What your prospects really care about
Remember, your crazy busy prospects only care about one thing: what’s in it for them.
Through trial and a lot of error, I learned to avoid talking about my product’s features and overwhelming/confusing my prospects on the initial cold call. In fact, they couldn’t care less about those things when they didn’t even know about my company 10 seconds ago.
That’s because on the first initial prospecting call, your mission is simply to get your prospect’s interest and book an appointment for the product demonstration.
It is not the time to ramble on about features without context that will confuse your prospect and have them scrambling to get off the phone with blowoff objections like “Just send me some information” or the classic “I’m not interested.”
(Note: For an in-depth look at how to respond to the “not interested” sales objection, check out my previous article How to turn “Not interested” from a sales objection into a sales WIN.)
4. Stand up when making cold calls
By standing up during your cold calls, you are allowing for better circulation throughout your body. The increased blood flow will keep your mind sharp and alert.
You are not slumped in your chair ready for a nap. You are locked and loaded and ready for action!
Also, by standing up straight, you are putting yourself in a better posture which gives your voice better projection.
The tone of your voice and inflection are vitally important when making cold calls, as these are the two things, along with your message, that will ultimately influence your prospect into agreeing to discuss your product further.
Invest in a quality headset for your cold calls
If you’re on the phone for 8+ hours everyday, then it can get pretty uncomfortable, especially for your neck, shoulders, back, hands, etc.
And if you’re uncomfortable and unfocused, then it will carry over into your sales conversations, making them less effective in achieving your goals of setting appointments for sales meetings and demos.
I’ve tried a variety of different headsets, and what I’ve found is you definitely get what you pay for. My advice is to not waste your money on a cheap headset that is uncomfortable, has poor audio quality, and will break in a day.
Headsets give you the freedom of having your hands free to take notes or make hand gestures. If you have a wireless model, then you can even take a leisurely stroll around the office while making calls. Plus, not holding a phone up to your ear will make it feel more like a natural conversation, allowing you to keep your mind flexible and reactions sharp.
Lately, I’ve been using the Jabra SUPREME Bluetooth headset for my cold calls, and I’ve been very happy with it. The sound is great on both ends, and one charge gives me almost 2 full days of talk time.
3. Play the “No” game
In sales, every ‘no’ gets you closer to a ‘yes’.
By piling up the ‘no’ responses, you are statistically getting yourself that much closer to hearing the ‘yes’.
Set a goal each sales day to hear a certain number of “no’s” from prospects. Start with something small, maybe 5 “no’s” per day.
Once you start aiming for “no”, you will find that the “yes’s” quickly follow.
This is especially true when you consider your sales process as a funnel.
The Sales Funnel (the kind you can’t chug out of)
At the widest part of your funnel are your leads, or people who may or may not have an interest or need for the product you’re selling.
These are folks who visit your company website, follow your social media, download your eBook, and may be interested in your product but are not a buyer yet.
Inevitably, not all of these leads will turn into customers.
Your sales funnel might look like this:
- You cold call 100 leads.
- From these calls, you find 20 actual prospects with the interest, need, and budget for your product.
- Of these 20 prospects, you are able to schedule 10 product demonstrations.
- Of these 10 product demos, you are able to close 5 sales.
And so, if you start to collect more and more “no’s” from these leads, then you will gradually work your way down the funnel to the eventual “yes”.
Hearing ‘no’ from a prospect means you are then free to use your time to find the prospect who will say ‘yes’.
How many “No’s” can you get in one day?
2. Develop your selling voice
Being natural-sounding and well spoken on the phone is a skill that anybody willing to put in the time and effort to learn will master.
Get a tape recorder or use a voice recorder app on your smartphone and record yourself making calls, either with a prospect or role playing with a colleague.
Play back the audio and analyze what you hear.
Do you sound upbeat, confident and knowledgeable? Or do you sound unsure of yourself and meek?
If you’re not recording how you sound on the phone, you will not know what impression you are giving to prospects and customers.
By developing your own style on calls, you will not expend valuable energy in “faking” it.
Instead, you will simply be you, which is much easier than trying to be something you’re not.
And by focusing your energy into simply being you, you will be better prepared to handle the curveball objections and challenges you can easily overcome and to close more sales.
1. Be a lifelong student of sales
All medical doctors must keep their skills up to date. Every few years, they enroll in accreditation courses and must pass exams that ensure their skills and knowledge about the latest medical policies and procedures are up to date.
The selling profession is no different.
Every sales professional is also a lifelong student of the trade.
Even professionals with decades of selling experience under their belts are always attending sales training seminars, reading sales book, trading notes with other sales professionals, subscribing to sales blogs, and constantly learning and staying up to speed on the latest sales techniques and best practices.
It’s vitally important to do this, since the business world is constantly changing at a breakneck speed. What might’ve worked yesterday to write up business may not work the same tomorrow.
Every day in sales brings new possibilities
With so much learning and pushing yourself to improve, you can’t help but get excited to try new things and see what works.
Soon, you’ll grow addicted to the rush of trying a new closing technique or calling into a brand new prospect account. Just like in life, you never know what lies ahead, but you can swing for the fences and see where it lands.
I subscribe to several sales blogs and am usually reading and re-reading several sales books at once. I also start my mornings by listening to motivational recordings by sales greats like Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy.
Below are some recommended sales blogs and books to help you learn important selling techniques and refine your own sales skills.
Sales blogs every selling professional must subscribe to
- Jill Konrath – Looking for practical sales tips and advice to accelerate your selling career? Jill Konrath’s blog is packed with useful videos and great posts to help you achieve your sales goals.
- Zig Zigler – Zig is the reason I got into sales. I live my life by his credo: “You can have everything you want in life, if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
- Art Sobczak – If you make your income from selling on the phone, then Art will teach you the step-by-step tactics you need to hit your numbers and explode your sales growth.
- Brian Tracy – Brian’s practical advice and motivational lessons will not only prepare you for a successful career in sales, but a successful life as well.
- SalesBuzz.com – Michael Pedone is a straight-shooting, no-nonsense straight commission sales expert who will give you the exact advice you need today to close more sales tomorrow.
- Senator Club – Ian Adams has a knack for writing easy and practical sales lessons that can make anyone feel like they can write up a million dollar account on the first touch.
Sales books every selling professional must own
By following these steps, you will quickly blaze a trail to success for you, your company, and your clients.
And by continuing to learn and constantly enhance your sales skills, you will raise your own standards and achieve far greater accomplishments than you ever thought were possible.
Do you enjoy cold calling?
What are some of your favorite cold calling ideas that work for you?
Please share them with other sales professionals in the comments below!
James K. Kim
James "Jim" Kim is a commercial real estate agent with Cushman & Wakefield / Pyramid Brokerage Company in the Capital Region of New York, specializing in retail, office, and industrial tenant and landlord representation.