Cold Calling Definition: A Sales Rep’s Complete Guide

As a sales professional, your ultimate objective is to boost sales.

This makes sense as, without sales, there won’t be any revenue, and without revenue, a business cannot survive in the long run.

What doesn’t get enough attention is the role of customers. Without customers, you’ll have no one to buy your product or service.

That’s where cold calling comes into the picture.

Cold Calling Definition: What Is a Cold Call?

Cold calling is an age-old sales activity where reps reach out to potential customers who haven’t previously expressed interest in the offered product or service.

You can make a cold call to establish initial contact with a lead, introduce yourself, pitch your product or service, and follow up on an interaction. But cold calling isn’t dialing random numbers on the phone and pitching your product or service to whoever picks up.

To win at cold calling, you need a goal—and a solid strategy to help you achieve it.

You get cold calling right, and you’ll have an incredibly effective method of connecting with potential leads. Getting on the phone allows you to communicate in real-time and establish more personal connections, which is possible over email or social media.

But Wait… Isn’t Cold Calling Dead?

Previously, sales professionals purchased contact lists, and since these were often outdated and inaccurate, contacting leads was more challenging. Fast forward to today, you can generate your own lead by implementing various advantages like online ads, website information request forms, and SEO.

While cold calling has changed a lot over the years, it’s still effective in 2022. Don’t take our word for it—we have numbers to back up our statement.

RAIN Group conducted research on cold calls that found:

  • 71% of customers want to hear from sellers when they are looking for new ideas
  • 82% of buyers agree to meet sellers who reach out to them
  • 62% of buyers want to hear from sellers when they are looking for a solution to solve their problem
  • 57% of C-level and VP buyers prefer to be contacted by phone, which is even more than directors (51%) and managers (47%)

And that’s not it.

The study also discovered that professionals who were good at cold calling generated 2.7 times more meetings, conversions, and demos. Plus, they even closed 11% more business.

So whilst warm calling might be preferable. Cold calling certainly isn’t dead.

6 Super Effective Cold Calling Tips and Techniques

Let’s quickly discuss some of the best cold calling tips and techniques we’ve picked up from our selling experience, as well as from other sales experts.

If you’re trying to cold call and get your sales pitch in front of a potential customer, then these 6 tips will get you there.

1) Build a Targeted List of Qualified Leads

You don’t want to waste anyone’s time, including your own. After all, your productivity does impact your sales quotas.

One of the best ways to make the most of your time is to build a highly targeted list of people to contact. This way, you don’t have to figure out whether the person you’re calling has the authority to take the deal forward.

Putting time into your lead generation efforts now, will make your cold calls more likely to be successful when you pick up the phone. No matter what cold calling techniques you’re leveraging.

Another advantage here is that you’ll face fewer rejections. You’ll only contact people who have a genuine interest in what you have to offer, making them more likely to continue the conversation.

Your prospect list should include companies and contacts you believe you can help. Here are a few common traits to identify them:

  • Industry
  • Geography
  • Company size—revenue, number of employees, number of operating locations
  • Related technologies
  • Role/title
  • Seniority level
  • Tools they used to do their job

Remember, when you call someone who fits your ideal criteria, you’re helping them improve their business and stay productive. But if you call someone who doesn’t benefit from your offer, you’re only wasting their time and yours.

2) Only Contact Prospects

Before you go duh! on us, we want to clarify that prospects aren’t your regular customers.

Let’s assume you have the contact information of two entrepreneurs, Harry and Larry.

Harry knows he has a problem and wants to solve it. On the other hand, Larry thinks things are going perfectly well and isn’t actively looking for a solution.

Harry is your prospect, whereas Larry isn’t. While cold calling Harry might result in sales, you’ll be wasting your time trying to convince Larry.

If you cold call someone who doesn’t care about the problem you solve m—even if they experience it daily—they won’t be interested in your offer and thus aren’t a prospect.

A good tip to identify Harrys from Larrys is to determine the problem you solve, and then consider the following two questions:

  • Why do you think this prospect has a problem?
  • Why do you think this prospect would want to solve the problem?

Pick up the phone only when you’re sure the person is facing a problem your product can solve and is willing to do something about it.

3) Research Your Prospect Before Making Contact

So now you know your Harry. And while that’s great, you don’t want to make a shabby first impression. That’s why you need to do your homework.

Start with a little social selling before you pick up the phone.

Just because you’re cold calling doesn’t mean you have to jump in cold. Research the prospect and find out everything you can about them—what they do, their history, their people. Also, look the prospect up on social media sites to find some common ground topics to start a conversation and keep them interested.

No one likes cold calls, but if you tailor your conversation in a way that prioritizes the needs of the person on the other end of the line, you’re more likely to take the sales conversation to its conclusion.

Another important thing here is to familiarize yourself with the prospect’s pain points.

Figure out how your product or service can help the prospect solve a key pain point and know why your product is the best available solution for it. Not only does this improve your chances of success, but it also helps you get comfortable selling to prospective customers.

4) Know Your Cold Calling Script, But Don’t Follow It Blindly

Successful cold calling is all about humanizing your cold calling script. You don’t want the customer to go “You sound like you’re reading a script “or “Wow, this cold caller sounds just like a robot.”

The whole point of having a cold calling script is to make you feel comfortable with the prospect. It’s there to help you fill communication gaps and continue the conversation smoothly—not stick to it like a robot.

We recommend memorizing your introduction so you can break the ice and start the conversation with confidence. Then, follow this up by noting down a few open-ended questions that move the conversation forward without annoying the listener.

You also want to anticipate any objections, so you aren’t taken off guard or end up rambling.

Lastly, practice your script as many times as you can. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be with the prospect and more likely to close the deal.

Don’t be afraid to leave voicemails, too. Make them attention-grabbing and concise to improve your chances of getting a call back from the prospect.

5) Practice Immediate Learning—Not Immediate Sales

Cold calling is an acquired skill.

Yes, you can be comfortable with prospects, but to steer the conversation towards closure is something you learn with time. That’s why your main priority should be to learn something in every single conversation you have with the prospect—be it good or bad.

A good starting point is to analyze all your sales calls. Then, listen to the answers prospects give to your open-ended questions, and based on your insights, think of high-quality questions. The better your questions, the more likely they are to continue talking.

Figure out where you consistently get stuck in your script. Then, rewrite that section until you stop getting rejected, preferably to the point you go through your entire script during the majority of your conversations.

Make sure you record all your learnings, so you don’t forget your lessons and the quiz. You can also share your findings with seniors who can offer you tips to improve further.

6) Figure Out the Right Time to Call

Yup, there are right times and wrong times to call someone.

While this might not always be the case, Peak Sales Recruiting found Friday afternoon is one of the worst times to call a prospect. This makes sense as most people are tuned out by this point. They worked the whole week and now want to start their weekends.

Applying the same logic, it’s better to avoid ringing up a prospect on a Monday morning. Most people are dragging themselves to the office, mourning the end of the weekend. Not exactly the mood you want when pitching your product or service.

So what time should you call?

Wednesdays or Thursdays work best from our experience. You can call the prospect between 8 AM and 9 AM or between 4 PM and 6 PM.

If you can’t seem to catch your prospect at the right time, ask them for their preferred time slot. You can also send them a reminder about your meeting an hour prior to the call to avoid wasting time.

Many sales professionals find cold calling challenging, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. We hope the above steps help you refine your cold calling skills and take the conversation forward.

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