How to Win at Cold Calling

“Hello, am I speaking with the readers of this blog? I am? Great! My name is Simon, and I’m the Content Writer at noCRM.io. Haven’t you always wanted to up your cold-calling game and convert more business? If the answer is yes – and I’m sure it is – you’re going to love our new post, titled “How to Win at Cold Calling”.

How was that for an opening? Grabbing people’s attention is never easy. At least the medium of writing offers enough time to construct a message without worrying about an instant response. It took me 10 minutes to draft the intro for this post, a further five minutes of editing, plus the bonus of leaving it for 24 hours before re-editing.

Salespeople that make cold calls don’t have the luxury of time. Sure, they can invest in crafting a well-spoken opening sentence. But then it’s just them and the caller, and they need to be ready for live reactions on the other end of the line.

Some people love the challenge that cold calling provides. In reality, though, it’s one of the least desirable tasks in a sales role, as opposed to face-to-face meets. Striking a connection is easier when you can gauge another person’s body language while knowing you have time to discuss business.

Illustration of face to face sales meeting

Trying to sell a product or service to someone over the phone is the ultimate game of poker. There are ways to master the art of cold calling, however. And we have put together these tips to turn even the most resistant cold caller into a top-level salesperson.

First Impressions Count. Don’t Rush

If salespeople do the correct research, learn about their contact and present a way to solve pain points, they are likely to do a stellar job. Yet on the phone the margins are small. A rep has around 30 seconds to capture attention and convince the call recipient to give them the time of day.

That doesn’t mean you should go in all guns blazing with your sales pitch and cover the main selling points within the short time period. In fact, doing the opposite is more likely to bring success. The initial target is to keep them on the line, which needs to be done with an aura of calm while taking time to listen to their reactions.

Ask the prospect if it’s the right moment to talk, releasing an element of control in the process. Take your time and don’t be afraid of silence. Say “hello”, introduce yourself and leave it at that. Most people find awkwardness in pauses, so they feel obliged to fill the silent space themselves.

Don’t be a Sales Stereotype

Illustration of a salesperson insisting on a deal

The vast majority of people label sales reps with, let’s say, unflattering stereotypes. The words loud, pushy and arrogant are often bandied about when people speak unfavourably of reps.

As a salesperson, the last thing you want is to let prospects buy into such a theory. We live in an era where customers don’t have to do much to attain extensive information about a brand, product or service, so there is no need for the hard sell.

Avoid being pushy over the phone — especially if you firmly believe the product or service you are selling is of high quality. The callee will also appreciate a calmer attitude and be more inclined to get on board with what is on offer.

First, Start a Conversation. Then Persuade

Cold calling isn’t about pushing your content in the recipient’s face the minute they pick up the phone — it’s about listening. The best salespeople are the ones who listen more and speak less.

There isn’t much point listing the strong points of your product until you know the exact needs and problems of your prospect. Most of the time a recipient will be cautious about a phone call they weren’t initially expecting. Be polite and don’t give them an easy reason to hang up.

Some people are naturally blessed with an ability to get what they need from a conversation, while others have to work a little harder. But whatever your natural skill, you first need to gain confidence from your prospect.

Listen to them, understand the need, and have an answer to match their questions. Make it clear they aren’t simply a number on a call sheet, and that you have called for a specific reason. Also, don’t be too ambitious on the first call. Most of the time cold calls are about turning potential prospects into qualified leads in your pipeline — you aren’t necessarily closing the deal over the phone.

Choose your language carefully and say the right words. Get the prospect interested by helping to understand the challenges they currently have in their business. Show confidence in what you are selling by referring to use cases or even direct competitors to show how it helped customers in a similar position. Use facts (often provided by marketing) to drill home the quality of the product or service.

It’s All in the Tonality

Illustration of a person singing

What we say is never as important as how we say it. How you sound during a call will make or break your chances of progressing it to the next step. The tone of voice is one of the most important aspects of breaking down initial barriers.

Keep a friendly, relaxed tone while sounding upbeat and positive. Make the call as personal as possible so that your prospect feels like it’s going be more than a simple a to b transaction. Have the right attitude, and you will be better placed to create a comfortable environment in which you can gauge whether there is serious interest.

Smile while calling, even if your prospect can’t see you. Your positive attitude will have an impact on the call. Even the setting from where you make the call will play a significant role in the process. Sometimes you can only work with the tools provided but, if possible, avoid calling from a noisy location that could come across as a call centre.

If someone thinks you are calling a large amount of people, they are less likely to feel like you are specifically solving their problems.  

Prospect and Sales: Same Goal

Sometimes salespeople fall into the role of “us v them”. It can be easy enough for this to happen, especially if it seems the prospect is somewhat resistant at first. Just remember that you are selling something that is going to solve one of their business needs.

You aren’t selling a fake dream, otherwise what would be the point of making the call? Salespeople are on the same side as their prospect and surely want to sell a product that genuinely solves a problem a callee faces.

Sometimes people are afraid to sell over the phone for fear of annoying people. This is especially true of first-time reps and young entrepreneurs who need to make calls themselves. Just remember: if you’re calling people you have identified as being in genuine need of your product or service, you are essentially solving their work problems by providing a product that makes them stronger. There is no reason for fear.

Keep it casual, yet, at the same time, don’t be afraid to embrace your sales persona. Once you feel you have earned their trust, highlight the positives and progress the call. This doesn’t mean you need to revert to “hard sell” mode — it’s all about getting the feel and vibe of the call.  

Welcome to your New Cold Calling Life

Despite the insistence that cold calling is on the wane, it’s still an essential part of the process of obtaining new clients. The practice also happens to be one of the harder aspects of sales, thanks to the barrier a phone creates.  

But if you have the right attitude, are prepared to treat your prospect as a human, rather than a statistic in a long line of calls, and put the work in, you can become an efficient and successful cold caller.

Practice makes perfect, so does having methods in place and a friendly demure. Combine all the above feats, and you will be an A-star caller.

Remember: Take time, breath, listen, and smile.