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10 Things to Avoid in B2B Cold Calling

You might want to hold off on that obituary - cold calling isn't dead!

With 82% of buyers accepting a meeting with salespeople who reached out to them, it’s clear that cold calling is still very much alive and well in B2B sales. But what makes for good cold calling?

Well, here’s something you probably haven’t popped into Google to find out how to improve your cold calling - “what NOT to do”.

That’s right, it’s not just the “do’s” you’ve got to focus on, the “don’ts” are equally, if not more, important!

Here’s what to avoid like the plague (can we say that in 2020?) when cold calling 👇

The top 10 don'ts of B2B cold calling 

1 - Don't fail to be prepared 

What do you do before you call a lead? No, you don’t just dial the number, you’ve got to research your leads!

78% of salespeople who used social networks, like LinkedIn, to research prospects say this helped them perform better on the job.

But, your research needs to extend past your prospect - you must have strong product knowledge too! Knowing your product, industry, and competitors are key to selling over the phone - preparation makes perfect!

2 - Don't sell to the gatekeeper 

“Don’t ask the prospect if that’s them when you call them, just assume it is. If they’re not the right person, they’ll quickly let you know that they aren’t, and if it is them then you’ll sound a lot more friendly and natural, and a lot less salesy.” - Will Gay, BDM

You’ve got to get to the decision-maker! Selling to the first person who answers the phone, which is usually a receptionist or PA, will not close deals.

That said, knowing when you’ve got the wrong/right person can be tricky.

Focus on sussing out whether you’ve got the right person on the other end of the line in the first minute of your call, rather than immediately pushing your product.

Another trick to remember when you’re dealing with gatekeepers is to talk as if you’re management level, not like a salesperson.

The gatekeeper is much more likely to put you through to the decision-maker if they believe you’re speaking from a position of authority.

3 - Don't stick to a script 

“As soon as the conversation deviates from a script, you’re going to feel lost and you’re not going to know what to say.” - Sam Gibbons, BDE

When cold calling, stick to key topics you want to cover and the key points you want to get out of the conversation.

Choose about three or four topics related to the prospect’s business and how your product can help them. These points must be value statements, like “What good can your product do?”, “What problems can it solve?”, etc.

A cold calling script can make you sound robotic - remember that you’re talking to a person! Three soundbites or key facts about your product are all you need to kickstart a natural conversation.

4 - Don't be negative 

“Ensure that you keep really positive tonality throughout the conversation, even if you get a really hefty sales objection.” - Sam Gibbons

Tonality is key in B2B SaaS sales and lead generation, and especially when cold calling! If you don’t sound interested, the prospect won’t either.

Speak with energy and pace, and make sure your voice isn’t bland or indifferent.

Be as chatty and excited as you’d be when meeting up with a good friend - building up rapport with a prospect is critical to cold calling success.

5 - Don't talk more than the prospect 

“Something I used to do when I first started cold calling was to get through to someone and just go off on the most salesy pitch ever.” - Rachel Goldstone, BDE

Be an active listener! As a rule of communication, the prospect should do 70% of the talking during a sales conversation, while the salesperson should only do 30%.

If you waffle on, chances are the prospect will glaze over and ignore what you have to say. Take notes as the prospect talks and really work on improving your active listening skills.

After more cold calling do's and don'ts? Watch our sales training video below!


6 - Don't ask close-ended questions 

“Do you mind if I run through some features?”, “Do you need more clarification on that issue?”. Close-ended questions can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”, and only cause you to limit yourself!

Questions like this are no good for gathering useful data from the prospect. They also hand over control of the conversation to them. YOU must always stay in control.

How do you do this?

Use open-ended questions! “What are your top business priorities right now?”, “Is your current solution working as well as you’d like?”.

These types of questions get the prospect to open up and share more information with you, and their answers make it much easier to qualify the call later on.

7 - Don't oversell 

“Don’t go off and list every single value add you could ever provide with your products.” - Rachel Goldstone

If you ramble on and oversell, you’ll push the prospect away. Instead, focus on delivering value and then stop talking.

It’s also very important to avoid sounding too salesy. Listen to the prospect, focus on their needs and pain points, and then explain how your product will solve those problems. Be an educator, not just a salesperson!

8 - Don't lose sight of your goal 

What’s the ultimate goal of B2B cold calling? To book a meeting, of course! Stay focused on this throughout your call.

Get to the point as quickly as possible, while still building rapport. Choose your words carefully and make each one count. If the prospect asks for more information, say something like:

“Sure, I could send you that. But it would be a lot quicker for you to see the tool for yourself. Would you be totally against seeing a 15-minute demo?”

At Cognism, we tell our sales reps to learn their ABC - Always Be Closing!

9 - Don't be disheartened by rejection 

In outbound sales and cold calling, rejection is bound to happen. In fact, most calls end in rejection. Studies have shown it can take up to six calls to win a sale.

Had a bad call? Take a quick breather, centre yourself, and get straight onto the next one! Keep smiling and keep calling - your next win is just one dial away!

10 - Don't forget to listen to your calls 

“Always listen to your calls! You’ll often miss a golden piece of information from the prospect by being too preoccupied with what you want to say. When you listen back to a call you improve your active listening skills, but more importantly, you can work on your skills going forward.” - Ole Pugh, BDE

Good call, bad call - it doesn’t matter! Record your calls and listen back to them. It’s a great way to continually improve your style, and to get rid of what’s not working, and to carry on with what is!

If you had a bad call, analyse it and identify what went wrong - you can learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

Take it further and listen to your team’s cold calls. Trade calls with other SDRs, share ideas and learn more about what’s working for other people. Make listening to and learning from your cold calls a regular part of your B2B prospecting playbook.

💡 Tip! If you're looking for more cold calling insights, you might enjoy these articles on the difference between warm calling vs cold calling?20 examples of common sales objections with responses and cold email templates: 14 of the best for sales.

In need of some cold calling help? 

Cognism can help your team with cold calling! Let’s get you closing more deals faster, with our accurate and compliant B2B data.

Book your demo here 👇


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