A cold call strategy can help separate you from the rest of the sales pack, as well as better prepare you for a sales world with fewer face-to-face interactions. “Cold calling is (and will always be) a foundational skill in sales," writes Joe Latchaw for Sales Hacker. “But it can be daunting if you’re new to it…[and] you’ll continue to struggle if you don’t understand the underlying structure of a successful cold call.” He goes on to share six steps to creating an effective cold call strategy.
Six Steps of A Cold Call Strategy
The first stage of the cold call is the introduction.This is such an important part of your call because it’s your opportunity to make a great first impression. First and foremost, be polite and respectful to whoever answers the phone. You may reach a gatekeeper first, and how you treat them will impact how you’re viewed down the road.
The introduction part of your cold call strategy should be short, polite and to the point. “If you put too much information in the introduction, it will overwhelm the prospect,” he explains. “They will either brush you off and request to be contacted another time or just wave the not-interested flag right away. In this case, less is truly more!” Check out his examples to try for different scenarios and practice each to prepare.
Cold Call Step Two: Pitch
The next stage of the cold call strategy is to make your quick sales pitch. This second component should be short like the introduction: The clock will start ticking as soon as the prospect answers. You need to let the prospect know what you can do for them and how your product or service is relevant. They likely receive many calls; what you say will determine if you stand out or not. “There’s nothing worse than doing cold outreach where what you’re offering is not relevant to the prospect you are trying to engage,” Latchaw explains. “You should be able to easily identify why your product/service is relatable and useful to the prospect.” Use this time wisely to immediately capture their attention and their interest.
The third step is to ask qualifying questions. These questions are such an important part of your call because they help you engage with the prospect, learn more about them, and establish your own credibility. Plus, simply asking them things can make you stand out. “More times than not, the prospect is used to people TELLING them how to do things versus someone ASKING them about things,” Latchaw writes. Additionally, as you know, qualifying questions help you determine whether or not your product or service can provide value to the prospect. Neither of you want to waste time if there’s no need for what you’re selling, and this aspect of the cold call strategy can help.
When asking, make sure that your tone projects curiosity rather than boredom or disinterest. Make the prospect feel that you are truly interested in them and curious to learn more. This will likely encourage them to open up to you, and make sure that you let them talk. Give them the opportunity to speak without interruption, which further showcases your genuine interest in their business. While ultimately, qualifying questions will help you learn more about the prospect, as you can see, they also help you present yourself as a credible and trustworthy vendor.
The SalesFuel Voice of the Sales Rep study found that salespeople face many objections, ranging from too high of a price to fear of making a change. The following are a few of the top objections reps face:
- Currently happy with vendor and afraid to change
- Too high of price
- No budget
- Do not know/trust the rep’s company
- Don’t understand the product or service or have a need
Like the study pointed out, objections are an inevitable part of the sales process, and you will likely face at least one or two during your cold call. When crafting a cold call strategy, you should always plan for at least one.
One of the most important things to remember during this step is to keep your cool and think before you respond. Latchaw points out his own behavior as a sales rep, sharing, “Many times in my career I was quick to respond, and that caused the person on the other end to feel that I wasn’t hearing them…I took a short break to compose myself, and from that call on, I made it a point to be strategic in my responses and make it clear to my prospects that I heard their concerns.”
He gives some examples of what to say to specific objections, and these can help plan your cold call strategy. For example, when given an objection about a high price, he encourages reps to first acknowledge the prospect’s concern. This will show them that you not only hear them, but also that you understand what they are communicating. Second, use the opportunity to dive into value.
Another objection you might hear is that it currently isn’t a good time for the prospect to buy. Again, Latchaw recommends acknowledging their concern so they feel heard and not dismissed. Then, after showing that you understand, simply ask when it would be a good time to reach out again. “A lot of people are quick to write off prospects who push things out, but the truth is, I have had folks acknowledge my respectfulness and later give me their business for not being too pushy,” he points out.
These steps, along with the others in his article, give you a guide to creating an effective cold call strategy. Making cold calls has always been a vital part of sales, but now, due to fewer in-person interactions, they may be even more important.
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