Ah, cold call “fear.”
Every sales rep who has ever been presented with a list of contacts and tasked with cold calling them will have felt its icy grip at some point.
Cold calling can be extremely intimidating – especially when you’re just starting out in sales.
It’s understandable. People will slam the phone down from time to time, others will be quite abrupt in their efforts to get you off the line, and others will make up transparent excuses as to why they’re not available to speak right now.
But every now and then, the person on the other end of the line will listen to you, be interested in the product or service you’re selling, and spend a lot of money with your company.
It’s like panning for gold.
That’s why cold calling remains a vital sales tactic – and why you need to do everything you can to overcome “the fear.”
Here are our five top cold calling tips for mastering cold call fear.
1. Research Your Prospects
Cold calling is often described as a numbers game. But what if you could call fewer prospects, and see your results rocket?
Sounds great, right?
The simple fact is that you’re more likely to strike gold during a cold calling session if you’re contacting the right people.
So who are “the right people”?
Simply put, you need to be calling the people who are most likely to benefit from your product and service, and those who have the internal power to purchase.
Dedicate some of the time you would usually spend on the phone to researching people, companies, and industries. Let this information lead you to the door of decision-makers within companies you know could benefit from your product or service.
LinkedIn is an incredible prospecting tool, and it’s right at your fingertips.
Find out about your chosen prospects on the networking platform, research their career history, as well as their hobbies and interests before dialing. Having already absorbed this information, the call itself should be much more productive.
You’ll have a better idea of how to approach your prospect, you’ll have a bunch of ice breakers ready to go, and they’ll likely be impressed you already know so much about them.
Essentially, to them, it will feel like less of a cold call.
Another great tip is to look at an image of their face – their LinkedIn profile picture, for example – when talking to them. This will humanize the prospect and help you to remember – even in the depths of hours of cold calling – that you’re talking to a real person.
A super underrated cold calling tip that not many salespeople think about, is calling your prospect from a phone number with the same area code as them.
You can easily do this with a virtual phone system that enables you to spin up local phone numbers. You’re probably wondering, what’s the key benefit of having the same area code as your prospects?
Because your prospects are more likely to answer a phone call from an unrecognized number that at least has the same area code. Psychologically, it works because your prospects will not suspect it to be spam or a robocall, which is one of the main reasons they don’t answer calls from unrecognized numbers.
2. Understand your Product or Service
This might sound obvious, but it’s astounding how many sales reps don’t know their product or service inside and out.
These days, selling is typically less transactional and more consultative. This means that not only do sales reps need to be an expert on the products and/or services they’re selling, but they need to present themselves as an industry thought leader.
This gets a little more complex where your company sells hundreds of products or services, or where the product or service is extremely technical.
But don’t underestimate yourself.
Spend time with the product team, or shadow a technical member of staff. Create acronyms to remember the stuff you always forget, and write cheat sheets for when answering prospects’ questions requires a deep dive into details. Pull out the USPs of each product or service so you know exactly when to recommend them, and how to hype them up.
Most of all, make sure you understand the problems your product or service solves before you start calling your prospects.
- Does this prospect likely struggle with this problem?
- How will they use your product or service to solve it?
Now start practicing how you’ll communicate this specific information to them.
3. Create a Script
Some cold calls go brilliantly – the prospect asks all the right questions, you hit it off– while others never get off the ground.
You’ve mustered the nerve to dial the number of an important CEO, and they actually pick up and ask you why you’re calling.
Then you choke.
The above situation is the last thing you want to have happened, which is why creating a script ahead of time can be such a useful tactic.
There are so many reasons that cold calls don’t go well – perhaps the prospect is simply not ready to engage, or maybe you’re just not feeling your best.
While you can’t control how the prospect is feeling, you can weave yourself a safety net to ensure that an off-day won’t botch an amazing sales opportunity or harm your figures.
Creating cold calling scripts gives your pitches direction. By reading from the script, not only are you giving yourself an easier job, but you’ll stick with your objectives and make it clear why you’re calling.
It also means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you call a prospect. Simply tweak your script to include some personalization and you’re good to go.
This is the hardest of the cold calling techniques on our list to stick to – but also the most important.
Nothing will make you a smooth and successful cold caller as quickly as lots and lots of old fashioned practice.
Role-playing with your sales leader or another sales rep is a super useful technique. It puts you under some pressure, whilst also giving you feedback from someone who understands the fear.
Why not buddy up with a colleague for a dedicated hour of practice each week? Share new cold calling ideas, take notes, and track how your cold calling performance improves off the back of these sessions. And get a little competitive about it too.
Where another sales expert isn’t available, consider recording yourself practicing your opening, your closer, and your elevator pitch.
Listen back and write down areas in which you could improve. Remember you only have between 10 and 15 seconds to get the attention of the person on the other end of the line, so it pays to be brutally honest with yourself.
In our experience, most cold calling failures come from a lack of practice, so – whether you’re practicing alone or with colleagues – block some time out in your calendar each week to master this tricky skill.
5. Learn How to Handle Common Questions and Objections
When you’re a new b2b sales rep, being met with questions and objections on a cold call can catch you out.
This can be a real problem when you’re used to sticking to your script word-for-word.
But try to think of questions and objections as a positive. If the prospect is interjecting, it means they are genuinely interested in the product or service you’re offering.
The more cold calling you do, the more you’ll find that prospects ask the same sales discovery questions and raise the same common sales objections.
So why not make a list of common questions and objections and work the answers into your script?
This means you’ll be prepared for most eventualities. And if they ask you something you genuinely don’t know the answer to, it’s a great opportunity to ask for their email address so you can send some more information over after the call. Just like that, a new business relationship is born!
When you think about your next cold calling session, wouldn’t it be fantastic to feel both undaunted and confident that you’re going to make it a success? Excited about it even?
By following our tips – and committing to some serious practice – you can eliminate the fear and that feeling of doom that surrounds cold calling.
Not only will this make your job much more enjoyable, but it will make you a better-rounded sales rep.
Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures & co-founder of Mailshake. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit, and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.