Jim: “Hi, am I talking to Stevie? I am Jim Halpert speaking from Dunder Mifflin Solutions; is this a good time to talk?”
Stevie: “No, you’ve got the wrong number.” *long beep*
Jim: “Hi, this is Jim Halpert from Dunder Mifflin Solutions; we sell smart software solutions that can really help your business. Is this a good time to talk?”
Stevie: “Umm, no, this is a bad time.”
Mark: “Okay, when can I call you again? When would you be available for a quick discussion?”
Stevie: “I will call you back later.” *long beep intensifies*
Mark: “Hi, Stevie. This is Jim from Dunder Mifflin Solutions. IT businesses like yours are facing problems dealing with data flooding their databases; I’ve found that you are too. We can help you manage it with our data management framework. Is this a good time to talk?”
Stevie: “Hi, yes, Mark, go ahead! What solution are you offering?"
To reach a weekly target of 300 calls, you are suggested to make 60 calls a day. Imagine every salesperson living by that rule and every prospect having to respond to that many cold callers a day.
Now, find a place to sit down before you read this - cold calls have a lead generation success rate of 1%.
Moreover, 63% of sales representatives identify cold calls as the worst part of the sales process.
However, it’s not all bad news. Cold calling done right goes a long way in building strong business relationships. Sure, there’s no magic spell to convert your prospects to customers via cold calling, but there are frameworks, steps, and best practices that you can use.
So here’s a 5-step game plan to structure your cold calling pitch and make it an integral part of your sales strategy. It is loaded with cold calling techniques, actionable sales scripts and best practices you can adopt to make your way to make outbound sales calls work.
Benefits of cold calling: Not so cold, after all!
When they work, they REALLY work
Did the 1% statistic scare you into thinking cold calls were dead?
Well, how about this - 48% of reps admit to not following up on leads even once
Over 44% don’t do a second follow up
Meanwhile, 60% of leads say no four times before finally saying yes.
Oh, and 80% of sales need at least 5 follow up calls!
Put the pieces together, and the data tells a story. Sales calls don’t work when they are not done right. When there is no persistence or strategy behind them.
But when they work, they REALLY work
No wonder 55% of high growth companies say that cold calls are nowhere close to being dead
Builds rapport with the prospect
Let’s face it, no one likes getting cold calls. On top of that a bad cold call, with a rote templated script and no personalization whatsoever? Yeesh, you could really ruin someone’s day.
But when you do it right, it’s amazing. The warmth, the human connection, the instant connection you can potentially achieve trumps a message or email by a mile.
The key is to establish your credibility and value proposition with a decision maker. Keep it mellow, confident, meaningful, and most crucially, not pushy, and you can build connections. Then, even if your product isn’t what they are looking for right now, due to any reason - budget restraints, company size, etc. - a good cold call can land you into their good books and a successful follow-up.
Your prospects can bookmark your blog, give a reply to your LinkedIn message and then completely forget about it the other day. But cold calling - when made a personalized experience for your prospect - can seal the deal like no other approach.
Pro tips for writing a cold calling pitch
Personalize, personalize, personalize
When you call a prospect, you can’t be just reading off a template. The last thing you want to do is make it all about yourself, what you do, and your product. Only 13% of the customers believe that a salesperson can understand their needs; the rest just think of the reps as salespeople trying to push their own agenda.
So make your potential customer’s cold calling experience personalized. They’ll be more likely to stay on call, listen to you, and develop trust. That’s when you even begin to discuss your solution. So begin with a template, but then customize it for each prospect you call.
Here is how you get there:
- Research: Know your prospects beforehand rather than facing any surprises or saying something on-call you should’ve known better about. Researching your prospects can help you tackle the common objections and know your prospects' pain points in advance - giving you all the information you need to personalize your sales pitch.
- Be friendly: Begin with a “Hi, <prospect’s first name>, this is <your first name> from <your company name>.” Being on a first-name basis adds a sense of healthy friendliness. Personalization max!
- Listen: Maintain a talk : listen ratio where your prospect talks more than you. Pause liberally and ask questions. Try to identify their obstacles. Above all, don’t interrupt, even if you have a solution to the problem being described. Instead, take notes and use them later.
- Address challenges: Let it out in the open that you understand their pain points and how they are struggling with the same; only then can you align your solution with their problems.
Get the intro right
The first 30 seconds are the make-or-break part of your sales pitch. The best cold calling pitches have intros that hook the prospect and make them want to listen to what you have to say. Start with relatable information - whether it’s a problem the prospect is facing, or a relatable use case of another customer.
Of course, there are as many winning intros as there are industries, markets, customer demographics and more. What works for one may (and likely won't) work for another. The only solution is to keep iterating, keep experimenting, and learning from what works.
What’s not inconsistent is that you should be paying special attention to the first 30 seconds of your pitch every single time.
Be specific about why you called
Confidence is a shaky thing. Even seasoned reps can sometimes lose their nerve.
However, if you can’t establish a specific reason for your call right off the bat, you are likely to lose the prospect.
Here’s a 3-step checklist to help you clarify your thoughts and present them better on cold calls:
- What problem do we solve?
- Why do I reckon this prospect is facing this problem?
- Why do I believe this prospect wants to solve that problem?
For example, these might be the corresponding answers:
- We help streamline marketing ops and improve efficiency.
- They have opened new offices recently, and there has been a significant hike in the number of leads they are pursuing.
- They have been looking for tech-driven solutions that could help them simplify their marketing efforts.
Focus on engagement, not sales
On a cold call, you are long away from actually closing the deal. You are just at the beginning of your sales process.
Sure, the long-term goal is lead generation, but the immediate purpose of a cold call is to build a connection with your potential customer. Make them feel you understand them, and aren’t here just to pitch a product and make a sale. For better prospect engagement on a sales call, here are a few things you need to remove and those you need to adopt:
- How can I sell to this prospect? → How can I help this prospect?
- Being assumptive about their needs → being curious about their needs
- Speaking out your scripts as they are → engaging with your prospect while using your scripts
Anatomy of a cold calling pitch: parts, scripts, and best practices
Intro and elevator pitch - a quick value prop
As emphasized before, the first 30 seconds of your pitch can make or break your cold call. Your introduction needs to hook your prospect while giving them an impression that although it’s a cold call, you are interested in understanding their problems.
Here are three ingredients you must put in your intro recipe:
- Pain point + value proposition
Now, here’s an example of how to execute that:
“Hi Jessica, my name is Jim. I am from Dunder Mifflin Solutions. We are currently working with IT companies to get actionable insights from their enterprise data. I have an idea that businesses like yours struggle with extracting valuable data points from overloaded databases. Is that an issue for you?”
What to do to deliver a bang-on elevator pitch:
- Research beforehand to identify the problems of your prospect, and how your offerings align with their needs. Use social channels such as LinkedIn to find out what and whom your prospects are engaging with. 78% of sales professionals who use social media for prospecting report higher sales than those who don’t.
- Keep it sweet, short, crisp, personalized, and engaging. Talk as if you want to start a conversation with them, not as if you just want to sell your product.
- You can also use behavioral analytics tools such as Humantic.ai to know your prospect better
What NOT to do to deliver a bang-on elevator pitch:
- Do not overwhelm your prospect with a pitch that just doesn’t seem to cease anytime soon.
- Do not use jargon or product terminology that your prospect might not understand. Or if you do, use it in an informative way, while also explaining what that means and how it solves your prospect’s problems.
Engagement questions - what’s your ask?
Asking your prospect questions gives them the space to talk, which in turn provides you with a lot of useful information and further direction for your sales pitch. Questioning makes your pitch a two-way conversation and makes your prospect feel like you value their concerns, making them open up to you.
Here are some examples of how to frame your questions:
- “So, Jessica, correct me if I am wrong, but I think if you can get powerful business insights quickly, it will take a lot of load off your analysts’ shoulders. So, does that help streamline your business operations internally?”
- “Have you tried solving this problem in the past? What measures did you take?”
- “I would really like to know what other analytics-related problems you are facing right now?”
3 best practices to turbocharge your question-session:
- Do not overwhelm your prospect with too many questions; it will make it seem like more of an interrogation rather than a conversation.
- Your questions need to be super-relevant and perfectly timed. You shouldn’t be asking if they want to try out your product via a quick demo when you haven’t even allowed them to talk about their pain points yet.
- Listen to how they answer and make notes to address those points in an empathetic manner when the time is right.
Objection management - how to rest your case
An objection is your prospect’s reason for not closing the deal. For example, “I don’t have the budget for it”, “We already have a vendor”, or “I’ve never heard of you”.
Objections might sound like a plain ‘no’, but the reality is quite different - by objecting, your prospects are actually throwing the ball in your court. Consider this a starting point from where you can dive deeper - to understand your prospects’ key business challenges.
Best practices to handle objections like a pro:
- Anticipate objections so that you know what’s coming. Here are a few things that can help you do that: research, cold calling practice, and analysis of pre-recorded calls with sales analytics software(like Wingman).
- Wear calm as your color. Calmness is a sign of confidence – show that you are confident that your solution can address their challenge. The last thing you want to do is get charged up and self-sabotage the sale.
- Try to understand why your prospect raised that objection so that you can find a strategy to solve it.
- Be ready to tackle the commonly raised objections. Here are some cold calling scripts to help you with objection handling.
Deep dive of the pitch
This is that part of your outreach when you bring in the meat of your pitch. For all the times you held back to discuss your product in depth - if you’ve come this far - go ahead and seize the pitch. Now, you have built a connection with your prospect, and they have discussed their pain points with you. You can finally list the benefits of your products by aligning their problems with the ways your solution addresses them. But do not come to this part of the cold call too late otherwise, your prospect would feel that you’ve wasted their time.
Your deep-dive to-do list:
- Practice, practice, practice! Roleplay with your sales manager or teammates to practice how to deliver this part of your pitch. There must be some common pain points in your industry and specific ways your product caters to them. Research and prepare your script accordingly.
- Remember when we asked you to make notes when the prospect shares their key challenges with you? This is where you use them. Go through those points one by one and pair them with the right aspects of your value proposition to come up with a solid pitch that works!
Closing with call to action:
Being your sell-wisher, I would expect the closing part of your cold call to arrive as late as it can. If you’re unable to build a connection with your prospect or engage with them in the way they want, then you might face objections like “I am not interested” or “I will call you back later” - which you can still handle with a confident, respectful stance. You can say, “well, that’s absolutely fine, Jessica. I can tell you more about how our product solves your XYZ needs and can <biggest pain point resolution here>. So, how about I schedule a meeting for another time when you’re free?”
But let’s assume that in a series of fortunate events, you shined throughout your cold call, handled objections the right way, and could build a friendly connection with your prospect. Now, how do you close the call? Confidently, smoothly, with a CTA.
For example, you can close your call with:
“So, Jessica, what does your calendar look like for a quick 15-minute call?”
Some prospects want to be absolutely sure about your product as you proceed to the next step, so you can ask them if they want a demo.
What not to do in the closing:
- Don’t sell past the close. You have already nailed your call, and if you keep selling even after you have closed and booked a meeting, you won’t be solidifying it; you would rather be putting the deal at risk.
- Don’t just hang up if the call didn’t go well. Always end respectfully, on a good note. You can say, “If you are ever looking for XYZ solution for your ABC problem, my team and I are just an email/call away. Feel free to reach out to us whenever you need.”
Now, what lies at the heart of each part of your cold call? Extensive research. Researching your prospects on social media platforms and through your sources is definitely very important and pays off quite well. But how can you take your background research to another level? By analyzing your pre-recorded sales calls.
With sales intelligence software like Wingman, you can listen to the pre-recorded calls of your sales teams and analyze them. Through this, you can get even more granular insights into what your similar prospects and customers think, what problems they face, and what makes them hesitant to buy from you. As you can imagine, this information is invaluable in sales training. Other benefits include:
- To identify case studies and use cases that you can use to tackle the objections raised by prospects with similar problems and issues
- As you listen to the call recordings of the best sales reps, you can find out what tonality worked the best in cold calls, what ways helped them build a connection with their customers, and what made them hang up.
- You can learn how to best establish your value proposition and what it is about your product that impresses your customers the most.
We hope you have a not-so-cold cold call with your prospects!