Cold calling is not easy and can often be quite discouraging, but it’s a necessary task to keep your sales pipeline healthy by feeding it new opportunities, which leads to more sales.
We have all been there, either through our own first-hand experience or witnessing a colleague pick up the phone, dial lead after lead, only to come out with no new sales appointments. While some people may say cold calling is dead, studies show that 57% of C-Suite level executives prefer that salespeople call them versus email communications. Let’s look at how we can overcome the daunting cold call sales task by examining four tips to make contacting leads as productive and successful as possible.
1. Examine your lead list
A quality prospect list is critical for effective cold calling. Makes sense, right? A vast majority of B2B providers, however, have insufficient lists, with old contacts or inaccurate and bad data. There are a few questions that you can ask while assessing your current list:
How old is the data on the list?
If you feel like the data is older, it might be worth it to invest in a “data scrubbing” or “data matching” service to weed out any old or questionable contacts. With people changing roles and companies closing, it’s a worthwhile investment to make sure your data is current rather than spending tedious time trying to find the correct contacts through a Google search.
Does this list contain correct information for your targeted industry and customer type, or has there been a pivot in direction and company focus, like going after a new vertical?
Many companies pivot the direction of their business or enter a new vertical. Make sure that you have your target customers specifically defined, and that your list matches your company’s focus. It could be a specific industry, job title, total company size, revenue, region, or any number of other factors. Make sure you’re going after the right person and casting a wide enough net to get the results you’re after.
Is the size of the list large enough to support your calling activity goals?
Make sure that you have enough contacts to begin filling your pipeline with leads to nurture. If you don’t think you have enough contacts, there are many options to source a new or additional contact list. Instead of having your talented sales team spending time researching and hunting down contacts to manually build a list before calling, consider outsourcing this piece to a professional services organization versed in this arena.
If you are uncertain in your ability to assess the quality of your list, set aside a week to call into various portions of the list to test and verify its accuracy. One thing to not lose sight of: Quality is much more important than quantity. An extensive list of insufficient data or the wrong prospects will not get you anywhere.
2. Commit to consistency
Cold calling is a numbers game, and it is important to dedicate the appropriate time to this task. In fact, 82% buyers book meetings as a result of a cold call. No matter how much salespeople may dislike this aspect of their job, it is a fact that cold-calling success depends on hitting the right activity KPIs. For example, if you set a goal to hit two new appointments a week, you likely need to make between 100-200 dials in order to reach your benchmark.
The only way to make that many dials is to set aside dedicated time for calling and necessary admin tasks to track and log call activity. Sales managers also must hold sales reps accountable for hitting those numbers and activity benchmarks. If a rep is not hitting their quota or getting the results they need, look at the “actual” or recorded time they spent calling. If the sales rep is dedicating the appropriate amount of time to cold calling but still not hitting their numbers, there may have another problem, such as an unpolished pitch or script.
Consider how you would like your sales reps making the best use of their time. Evaluate partnering with an Outsourced Sales Provider to support and maintain your lead list to free up your sales team and keep them focused on closing deals.
3. Perfect your pitch
As previously mentioned, activity metrics are important in cold calling, but the actual pitch is just as critical. Your sales reps must showcase your product or service’s value in the first two sentences of a pitch after they have connected with the correct buyer. Come up with a captivating “hook” to grab your lead’s attention. Focus on how your product or service can help the prospect – which of their pain points can your company help solve? One important tip is to ask prospects questions that require more than a simple yes or no question to get them engaged in sharing information.
Salespeople should set aside time to work on their pitch, practice, and perfect it. Reviewing call recordings to see what worked and what didn’t is a helpful training tool. If a rep is calling the same contacts regularly, they should change up their pitch or script each time to try and capture leads using new angles, and reworking information sent in follow-up emails based on individual conversations.
4. Stay top of mind
Even after the initial call, it’s important to stay in contact with prospects. All calls don’t lead to an appointment. In fact, studies show it takes an average of six calls to win a sale. Approximately a third of prospects may have some interest but are not ready to buy yet, which is why it is essential to stay in touch with those prospects over a regular cadence.
An effective way for your company to stay top of mind and engage with your prospects is to send valuable, educational content regularly. Providing useful collateral is the best way to nurture a respected business relationship and move someone through the sales funnel to close. It’s also important in follow-up calls to build and establish a relationship with your prospect. Try by asking a question not related to the product or service you’re selling, such as local sports, pets, hobbies, or current events and start building from there. It’s proven that buyers will remember those more personal connections than something operational or technical when it comes time to make their decision.
While cold calling is time-consuming and not a favorite task among salespeople, it’s still an extremely valid and more personal way to connect with potential buyers. If you’re interested in reaching out to more buyers with cold calling, MPI can help. Contact us for more information about our outbound calling programs.