- What is cold calling?
- Does cold calling work?
- Should you use cold calling in your business?
- What is an excellent approach to cold calling?
- First, listen to Steve Harrison on How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul
- Understand WHY prospects buy this product or service
- WHO are the people that have this problem?
- WHO owns the budget to solve this problem?
- WHAT other problems might this pain tie into?
- Build an outreach cadence
- Follow your cadence
- Track it all
- Tips for making great cold calls
- Funny cold calling examples
- Cold Call Tools
- Final thoughts on the cold call
Cold calling is one of the least favorite activities for most sales reps. While it can be an effective tool, it’s filled with rejection and negativity, requiring a thick skin.
What is cold calling?
Cold calling is reaching out to prospects who have not self-identified as interested in your products or solutions.
The prospect may not even know what your company sells, have a challenge your business can overcome, or have a budget to spend.
You have had no prior contact, but you believe they fit the profile of someone who would buy your product or service.
In many cases, less experienced sellers make the cold calls and have the goal of setting a meeting with more experienced sales reps.
Does cold calling work?
Cold calls are not very effective when done using the same old tired techniques and approaches.
According to Charlie Cook’s Marketing for Success:
“conversion rates for cold calls are typically about 2%, compared to 20% for solid leads and 50% for referrals.“
However, when done with good cold calling techniques, cold calling can be an essential tool for reaching a potential customer (aka, your prospect).
Should you use cold calling in your business?
From a strategic perspective, before deciding to begin cold calling for a specific campaign, solution, or your business overall, ask yourself:
- Who are the buyers of my solution?
- What is the best way to reach these buyers?
Don’t wing this. Take the time to understand what approaches work best for this buying group and build an ROI model for each approach.
You may want a mix of social media (most often via LinkedIn) and cold calling for some prospects. For others, inbound marketing may be sufficient, and for others still, email and event marketing may be the key to success.
Be smart, don’t assume you should use all tactics for all scenarios.
Along these lines, understand that prospects will respond best to personalized cold calling activities and messaging.
And, while cold calling is a numbers game, most teams don’t put enough thought up front to increase their success.
What is an excellent approach to cold calling?
At this point, you understand a bit about cold calling and have done your research to determine if you should be using the approach for a set of potential customers.
Before diving into our tips…
First, listen to Steve Harrison on How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul
To increase your odds of doing better than the 2% conversation rate we noted earlier:
Understand WHY prospects buy this product or service
For any cold-calling program, do your research. Why does this audience need your solution?
What problems do they have that you can overcome?
WHO are the people that have this problem?
First, you want to talk with the people feeling the most pain related to this challenge.
What is the ideal prospect’s specific job title?
What else do you know about this person?
WHO owns the budget to solve this problem?
This person may not be the budget holder, so we want to uncover who that person is while speaking with our potential customers.
Does the owner of the problem own the budget to solve the problem?
While not an absolute necessity to lock in a meeting, knowing this is invaluable and could impact your messaging.
WHAT other problems might this pain tie into?
Tie your product to the biggest possible challenge to charge the most money.
Is this problem part of a more considerable, more strategic challenge for the customers you work with?
Do you provide a complete solution for this broader problem?
You will need to balance deal length vs. time to revenue, but at least consider if this is an approach you should be using.
Build an outreach cadence
First, what is a sales cadence?
A sales cadence is the sequence of activities sales teams take to engage with a lead or prospect.
How do you build a sales cadence?
Successful cold calling is accomplished over a series of phone calls, emails, LinkedIn messages, a conversation at an event, driving inbound requests on your website, or other means where your sales team can deliver an appropriate sales pitch to the potential customer.
While there are dozens, hundreds, of example cadences and cold calling scripts scattered across the web, I urge you only to review them to build an understanding of why each worked in a specific situation.
Don’t simply replicate the approaches, but make sure they fit how your buyers expect and want to work with you.
A copy-and-paste style approach to your calling activities is a waste for your prospect and your company.
Consider these statistics as you consider your cadences:
- Per Pipeline – The average voicemail response rate for cold calls comes in just under 5%
- Per SalesHacker – the statistics look better, sitting at 11%, 22%, and 33% for your first, second, and third attempts respectively.
- Per The Brevet Group, it takes 8 cold calls to reach a prospect.
And there is plenty of research demonstrating that many salespeople only follow up once or twice with leads and that the majority of the time it takes 5-10 attempts to set a meeting.
All of this leads us to recognize that cold calling takes patience and must be done consistently as part of an overall strategy, not simply as a one-and-done activity.
And the outreach cadence messaging
Much of the messaging today suffers from one of the following problems:
- It’s confusing and unclear to the person you want to sell.
- It looks and sounds like everyone else. Your website, messaging, and all else lack differentiation.
- You rush to the next step, from excellent to meet you to “do you want to buy my product.”
There are a few well-done example cadence frameworks on the web for you to learn from, but we recommend looking at the Agoge Sequence from Sam Nelson – it is well done.
Follow your cadence
Your goal is to call, email, use social media, or other outbound means specified in your cadence. Once you reach the prospect, convince them to set up a meeting to go deeper and learn more about how you may be able to help them overcome their challenges.
Track it all
You do have a CRM or outreach tracking platform.
Track it and learn from it to improve.
- What is the best time for a phone call to connect with your buyer?
- What is the ideal call time for your salesperson to spend with a prospect to set up a meeting?
- Can you identify a technique or specific message that leads to a higher conversion rate from phone calls to the next step?
- Does one SDR use a slightly different sales pitch or cold call script and have better results?
Tips for making great cold calls
Using the general process above will help tremendously.
What else can you do to increase your odds of success?
Use the solutions that work for your company and your approach to outbound selling techniques.
Depending on the approaches you are using, you will need to consider:
- Your sales outreach tools (tools like Outreach, Salesloft, Autoklose, Reply.io)
- The use of dialers (predictive dialer vs auto dialer as one example of choices to make) – these are critical cold calling tools
- Research tools like Crayon or Klue for competitive intelligence, Sales Navigator, ZoomInfo, Lusha, Wiza, and other tools to understand the people you are calling)
Make the messaging yours
Practice, practice, practice.
Effective salespeople anticipate and handle unexpected situations such as questions they don’t know the answers to, technology failures, traffic between them and the meeting location, and so forth.
Do your salespeople make use of roleplays?
Are your leaders coaching each sales rep to improve their performance of each in the areas they require most?
Are you using The Surrounded Learner Technique for your sales training?
Your goal should never be to use the sales messaging unchanged, robotically.
You must internalize the reasons for the messaging, hit the key points, but do so in a manner that is true to who you are as a salesperson.
As you practice, work through a variety of scenarios:
- The prospect is already using services that compete with yours; why should they consider switching?
- Rejection of all forms, ranging from “this isn’t the best time” to being hung up on.
- Handling requests for data and insights you don’t have available.
And anything else that requires you to answer a question you didn’t prepare for or help the prospect regain focus after becoming distracted.
Effective salespeople anticipate and handle what others don’t, and the majority of the time it’s because they took the time to practice and prepare.
Anything can happen on a cold call.
Stay positive and professional
Cold calling is a challenging way to sell.
You will receive many rejections between calls that lead to meetings.
Some people will hang up on you.
Some will be rude, and you may be called names or have other insults hurled at you.
Or a prospect may seem interested and then change their mind 10 minutes into the call.
And your cold call script may let you down in ways that surprise you.
Based on research in 2018, Gong noted that salespeople who began the call with the phrase “Did I catch you at a bad time?” had a 40% reduction in call success.
Being successful will require politeness, patience, and thoughtfulness.
Get to the value
A cold call is not a personal call with a friend.
Get to the point.
Be professional, polite, and friendly, but then get to why you call them.
For the prospect and the buyer, don’t waste time.
Learn how to deal with common objections
With support from Enablement and others in the company, the sales team should be documenting all the common objections you hear, along with appropriate responses.
Get good at speaking to the objections expressed by your prospects.
In addition, this article from Rain Sales Training shares the three most common objections, along with responses — give it a read.
And we all hear many other common objections regularly, objections like:
- “I need to think about it…”
- “Now is not a good time, can you call me back later/never…”
Funny cold calling examples
Let’s end our conversation on cold calling with a great example from the Office.
Cold Call Tools
We have nearly 100 tools on our certified tech stack — we know this world.
From a cold calling tools perspective, let’s focus on two major categories of tools: Dialers and Outreach.
Dialers help sales teams place calls, saving them time in the process. The three major categories of dialers are:
- Predictive Dialer.
We’ll briefly explain each and then compare.
What is an Auto-Dialer
An auto-dialer automates the outreach (like dialing numbers and leaving voicemails) so reps can focus on their conversations.
What is a Power Dialer?
Power dialers are similar to auto-dialers but add a few additional capabilities like:
- Local presence (so reps look like they are calling from your area code)
- Click-to-call (clicking in your web browser or CRM dials the phone)
- Recorded calls
What is a Predictive Dialer?
Predictive dialers use intelligent algorithms to predict when a sales rep will be ready for the next call, placing the call just in time.
Fewer delays between calls.
What is the best dialer on the market today?
|G2 Rating||4.7/5.0 |
$124/user/month – Billed Annually
Unlimited dialing minutes
Instant voicemail drop
Email sending and tracking
Call tracking and analytics
30-day call recording storage
Everything in Standard, plus:
$149/user/month – Billed Annually
Connect via softphone
Live call listen in
2x contact imports (20,000/mo)
90- day call recording storage
Everything in Professional, plus:
$166/user/month – Billed Annually
Dedicated inbound number
SMS text messaging
Priority phone support
5x contact imports (50,000/mo)
Unlimited call recording storage
Business phone service
Bi-directional CRM integration
Live call board
Missed call alerts
New lead creation
Call disposition logging
Mobile app (iOS/Android)
All Integrated capabilities, plus:
Automated lead caller
Inbound call queues
Live call coaching
Phone & email support
All Professional features, plus:
Automatic answer detection
Campaign & session management
In addition to all other features, Enterprise includes:
Pricing not provided
An extended trial period
Custom automated text messages
API developer support
Dedicated sales engineer
Free & unlimited solutions engineering
$30/user/month ($24 if billed annually)
Unlimited Inbound Minutes (toll-free excluded)
Call Tracking & Recording
Call Notes & Ratings
SMS & MMS Inbox
Call & SMS Analytics
Intelligent Routing (Add On)
IVR (Call Menu)
Email & Chat Support
Everything in Standard, plus:
$60/user/month ($48 if billed annually)
Live Call Monitoring
Sales & Predictive Dialers
Call & Voicemail Transcriptions (Add On)
Queue Call Back
SMS Automation & Triggers
Bulk SMS Campaigns
Group Texting (Add On)
Post Call Surveys
AI-Powered Agent Coaching (Add On)
API & Webhook Access
Dedicated Account Manager
Everything in Premium, plus:
Pricing not provided
Unlimited Outbound Calling
Agent Coaching & Call Scoring
Call Sentiment Analysis
Single Sign-On (SSO)
SLA (Upto 99.99% Uptime Guarantee)
Custom Analytics & Reports
Personalized Onboarding Support
Dedicated Account Manager
Dedicated Technical Support
|Try Now||Try Now|
We have included our summary of outreach tools right here for your convenience.
These tools help you automate cadences/sequences, lending to consistent outreach from your teams making the calls.
|G2 Reviews||4.6/5.0 (256 Reviews)||4.6/5.0 (161 Reviews)||4.3/5.0 (2843 Reviews)||4.6/5.0 (816 Reviews)||4.5/5.0 (2929 Reviews)|
|Cadence Support||Email focused. Does a great job automating your email cadences and integrating them into the popular email and CRM systems.||A more complete sales cadence solution supporting defining and running cadences that are email, phone, and miscellaneous (e.g., social). Also integrates with popular CRM and email solutions.|
Note: Startup pricing only provides email cadences.
|Unknown||A more complete sales cadence solution supporting defining and running cadences that are email, phone, and miscellaneous (e.g., social).||Unknown|
|Email Integrations||Gmail and Microsoft Outlook||Gmail and Microsoft Outlook||Gmail and Microsoft Outlook||None Listed||Gmail and Microsoft Outlook|
|CRM Integrations||Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive, and Freshsales||Salesforce, Hubspot, and Pipedrive||Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Sugar CRM||Salesforce, Pipedrive, Zendesk Sell, Hubspot, Copper CRM, Freshsales, Salesflare, Zoho, Insightly, Nutshell, Bullhorn||Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Hubspot, Sugar CRM|
– 1 email automation account
– Unlimited contacts upload
– Unlimited campaigns
– Unlimited tracking and followups
– $249 for 5 Users/month
– A minimum of 5 email accounts
– 1-hour onboarding call
– Monthly customer success call
– 24/7 chat and email support
Pricing not given
– Email Cadences
– Cadence Playbooks
– Multichannel Outreach
– CRM Integrations
|Not published||Reply.io is very transparent with its pricing and there are a ton of choices.|
Summary for Businesses
$50/user/month for 10+ users
$60/user/month for 5-10 users
$70/user/month for fewer than 5 users.
|Buy Now to Support Lead Generation||Buy Now to Support Lead Generation||Buy Now to Support Lead Generation||Buy Now to Support Lead Generation||Buy Now to Support Lead Generation|
Final thoughts on the cold call
We know that cold calling is challenging, and most sellers hate making them.
But, cold calling is not dead and shows no signs of disappearing from sales, so invest in yourself and get good at making cold calls.