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6 things every B2B cold caller must do

November 2, 2021

Ring ring! Ring ring!

Your phone is buzzing. On the end of the line are 3 top B2B cold callers:

  • David Bentham, Inside Sales Director @ Cognism - oversees our sales development team.
  • Morgan J Ingram, Director of Sales Execution and Evolution @ Jbarrows Sales Training - with 4 years experience in teaching clients how to prospect and cold call.
  • Jonty Jewels, Enterprise SDR @ Cognism - joined us in September 2020 and has been cold calling for over a year.

You won’t want to hang up, because these 3 cold calling champions are going to run through the 6 key things that every B2B SDR must do on their calls.

Scroll 👇 or use the menu to skip to the tip that stands out the most.

Disarm the prospect | Mirror the prospect | Build trust | Ask open-ended questions | Focus on the value | Obey the 3 No’s rule | Live cold calling roleplay

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1 - Disarm the prospect

This is something that David sees time and time again from Cognism’s top performers - their ability to disarm people on the cold call as quickly as possible.

“You can do it in a number of different ways, but one of the easiest ways is having a really good icebreaker that can make people laugh.”

Jonty uses this as his icebreaker:

“Hey, I know this is a cold call. You can hang up on me right now if you'd like.”

David had a caveat about icebreakers:

“Now, other people at Cognism have tried that exact same line, and it didn't work for them. So it's really important that you do something that’s natural to you.”

2 - Mirror the prospect

For David, mirroring is one of the most important things to do on a B2B sales call.

What is mirroring? David explains:

“Mirroring is replicating the tonality and the style in which your prospect is speaking and acting in order that you can engage with them in the best possible way.”

David shares a practical example of mirroring:

“If I jump on a call and someone says they’re really busy, I'm not going to slow down my voice, I'm going to speed it up! It’s about the SDR recognising that the prospect’s said they’re busy and making sure they really focus on that.”

3 - Build trust

There’s one word that Morgan uses on his cold calls that helps to build trust with prospects.

That word is typically.

Like this:

“The reason for my call is typically when I talk to Sales Directors, they’ve been having problems increasing their pipeline.”

After that, then you can go into the product’s value (see point 5).

Morgan explained why “typically” is so valuable to B2B cold callers:

“You'll start noticing that you’ll have more engaging conversations because the prospect will be thinking, you've done this before. It makes you come across as a trusted advisor and a subject matter expert.”

For Jonty, outbound sales is all about transparency. He said:

“Never lie. If you really don’t know the answer to a question, you should say something like…”

“I'm going to be completely honest with you. I don't actually know the answer to that question. However, I know someone who knows the answer - my account executive. Let's schedule a 30-minute meeting with them.”

This can be a game-changer in terms of booking meetings. If the prospect really is curious to know the answer to a question, then they’ll want to talk to the AE.

4 - Ask open-ended questions

Morgan’s top cold calling tip is to ask open-ended questions. He said:

“Typically, those questions start with how, what, when. Those are ways you can start having better conversations with the prospects you're talking to.”

“For the majority of the cold calls you have, you need to be thinking about how can I open up the conversation, because most prospects aren’t looking to talk to you at all. You’re calling them out of the blue. They’re not prepared for it.”

“So you ask open-ended questions to get them to open up, and that will lead to better conversations.”

What are the best questions to ask? Morgan had a list:

  • To what extent is this important to you?
  • Could you elaborate on what you just said?
  • Can you expand on that point?

“The questions you ask are all going to be predicated on what people care about and their trials and priorities. And that requires research before you even get on the phone.”

5 - Focus on the value

Morgan is particularly passionate about this.

“It doesn’t matter about the work you’ve done. Nobody cares. What I care about is, how are you going to help me?”

“One of the best things you can do to make sure that you add value on your calls is to always put the prospect first. Always think about what's in it for them. On every cold call, think about what you can say that’s going to be relevant to that individual.”

Morgan gave us an example:

“The reason for my call is we've been working with people like yourself, and these are the things that we've been helping them with…”

Your cold calls will be much more successful if you lead with your product’s value, rather than reeling off a list of features.

6 - Obey the 3 no’s rule

What is the 3 no’s rule?

It’s the concept of pushing through 3 objections before the prospect either says “yes” or hangs up the phone.

For Morgan, this is an essential skill for SDRs to learn, especially if they’re stuck in a rut.

“What I tell people when it comes to objections is: you have to really embrace the ‘no’s’ and then figure out what to say.”

Our 3 B2B cold callers went through the top objections that most reps face.

“I don’t have the time.”

Morgan said:

“When someone says that, most likely, it's not true. There are instances where it could be true, but probably it's not true because why would you pick up the phone if you don’t have the time?”

In Morgan’s experience, this is what you have to say to counteract this objection:

“Yeah, I completely understand that you're busy right now. However, all I'm asking for is 30 seconds of your time. And in that 30 seconds, I'll explain to you what we do over here. And if that's relevant, we could put time on the calendar to call you when you're prepared for it. Or if not, you can hang up on me.”

“Does that sound fair?”

“No one wants to be unfair, so most people say, that's fair. That's fine. If you can get your value prop done within 30 seconds and the prospect agreed to it, guess what? You just booked the meeting and you won’t have to deal with any further objections.”

“I’m not interested.”

When a B2B prospect says this, Morgan uses this as a response:

“This sounds like it might not be a priority right now. But typically, when I talk to Sales Directors, they’re struggling with these 3 things, (X, Y and Z). Is that currently on your radar or am I just completely missing the mark here?”

Morgan told us:

“There are multiple different ways that a product can serve somebody. So what you need to do is figure out, okay, he's or she's not interested in that. But there are other things that they probably could be interested in that I offer.”

“All you have to do is find out what they’re interested in and then insert a new value prop based on that.”

“Is this a sales call?”

This is how Morgan typically handles this objection:

“Hey, you know, this actually is not a sales call. The reason for this call is to see if you're interested in getting on a sales call.”

“I know I'm calling out of the blue and you're probably not comfortable with taking cold calls at all. I completely understand that. All I'm asking for here is 30 seconds of your time.”

“Nothing too crazy, just to quickly explain what I think might be able to help you and your organisation based on my research. And if that's not interesting to you, it's okay to tell me ‘no’ and we’ll part ways.”

“Does that sound fair?”

Morgan revealed more about this approach:

“Ultimately, what you’re doing as an SDR is not getting people on sales calls. You’re calling to see if there's interest to actually get on the call. The real call is with your AE!”

“I’m using a similar product.”

David’s immediate response to anyone who says this is - perfect!

He had lots to say about solving this objection:

“The first thing to say is: don’t call anyone’s baby ugly!”

“If they've got another vendor and they’re enjoying it, the last thing I want to do is be really combative and get into an argument.”

There’s one crucial question you should ask prospects who say this:

“How would you rate your current vendor most of the time, on a scale of 1 to 10?”

And if the prospect replies with 8 or 9, you can say:

“Okay. What would make it a 10?”

David said:

“With these questions, you’re getting the prospect to reveal the pains they have with their current vendor, that you can hopefully address and fix.”

Morgan’s tactic for dealing with this objection is to say:

“Okay. Out of curiosity, are you married to that solution?”

“And if the prospect says no, we’re not married to it, then you can follow up with: why?”

“And if they say they’re really happy with it, then you can ask them…”

“What would you improve about it?”

“Asking questions like these can change a conversation. Now you’re digging deeper into the prospect’s current vendor, their likes and dislikes about it.”

“The ‘what would you improve’ question is a good one to ask because nothing is perfect. There’s always something we would like to change about the tools we use. And it’s better than asking ‘what sucks about it?’ because it’s positive. You’re not getting into an argument, you’re just a curious person.”

Live cold calling roleplay

Check out David, Morgan and Jonty as they embark on a live cold calling roleplay!

Press ▶️ to watch them in action.