August 21, 2019
It’s Monday morning. You’re a sales rep and you’ve just got into the office. You’ve settled down at your desk and your team leader has given you the big sales pep talk. He wants you to hit the phone as hard as you can. You’ve got 100 calls to make by the end of the day. It’s time to smile and dial.
But...what do you say? It’s a problem that a lot of sales reps struggle with, especially at scaling companies where the B2B lead generation process might not be working effectively and the market isn’t aware of your product.
Luckily, help is at hand! We asked Charlie Beale, Cognism’s newest Business Development Manager and co-writer of our SDR Playbook, for his advice. He’s given us the cold calling script that every new sales rep at Cognism uses when they’re being ramped up.
This script is at the heart of our sales strategy - without it, we wouldn’t have gone from $0 to $4 million in ARR and 0 to 300+ customers in under 2 years.
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The script is broken down into the following 5 segments:
It’s important to stress though that this is used as a general guide, not an absolute rule. At Cognism, we encourage all our SDRs to find their individuality in selling. We all convey our messages in different ways, using different tones and vocabulary. The structure is there to help our reps with the flow of the conversation, not to pin down their every word.
After all, the last thing any prospect wants to hear is someone reading robotically down the phone - that’s the surest route to cold call failure. When it comes to cold calling, one size definitely doesn’t fit all.
This is the very start of your cold call. More often than not, if you’re calling a senior-level prospect, it’s the gatekeeper (typically a PA or secretary) that will pick up the phone.
“Hi, it’s Charlie from Cognism. Is (first name) available?”
The gatekeeper will likely respond with:
“What’s it regarding?”
This is your chance to get creative. If it’s a first-time call, here are some of the replies we use:
Think about how you can make this work with your offering.
If it’s a follow-up, try:
When speaking to the gatekeeper, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. It could make the difference between being put through to the prospect, or never having your message passed on.
One great tip which we teach our SDRs is to always sound senior. If the gatekeeper thinks you’re a management-level peer, rather than a salesperson, they’re much more likely to transfer your call.
Assuming your call is transferred and the prospect picks up…
“Hi, it’s Charlie from Cognism. How are you?”
“Great! Look, (first name), I’ll keep it brief as I appreciate you’re busy. I came across (company name) online and I can see you do (B2B sales/marketing/other). Have you got 30 seconds for me to explain the nature of my call?”
It’s vital to establish rapport early on in your cold call. Acknowledging that the prospect’s time is limited, and asking for their permission to continue, is a good way to start.
Once you’ve got the all-clear from the prospect, it’s time to pitch. Again, the pitch isn’t something that’s set in stone. It can change depending on the SDR and who they’re talking to. But there are 3 things it must be:
An example would be…
“We help companies like yours prospect and gain new clients by giving you access to our lead generation tool that contains over 400 million B2B profiles.”
“We provide companies like yours with direct and accurate contact details for key decision-makers in your target industries and locations. Ultimately saving you an abundance of time prospecting.”
When you’ve delivered your pitch, it’s time to progress to the next crucial stage…
Asking open-ended questions (questions that don’t require a simple “yes” or “no” answer) is one of the most essential things any cold caller can do. In any cold call, the prospect must do 70% of the talking, while the salesperson should do only 30%.
Why is this? Because the more the prospect talks and feels they’re being listened to, the more likely they are to buy. In a recent study by HubSpot, 69% of buyers said that the one thing they wanted from sales reps was to “listen to my needs.”
Open-ended questions are a great method of showing the prospect you’re a good listener. They open up the conversation, allowing you to gain vital insights that’ll help you in the last stages of the call.
Here are some examples we give to our new SDRs:
These types of questions usually work very well with senior-level prospects, as they are focused around common pain points for a business - finding new customers, lead generation and data quality.
Having delivered your pitch and asked some searching questions, by now your cold call will be in full swing. There are a number of routes your call could go down. The prospect could hang up, or they could be very much open to a conversation.
There are a number of tactics you can use to keep your prospect engaged. Here are some good methods for getting the most out of your conversation:
Tonality - the way you speak - is very important. You must always sound excited and enthusiastic, especially if the prospect is being blunt and unresponsive. A lot of times, the prospect will be doing this on purpose to see how you react. Remember that often you’ll be calling people who are sales professionals in their own right, and know all the tricks of the trade.
We also teach our SDRs to use pauses and hyperbole to emphasise certain points. For example:
“Our lead generation tool gives you access to 400 million B2B profiles...globally.”
Just using a simple pause will ensure that important points are quickly highlighted, and are more likely to stick in the prospect’s mind.
Doing this can lead to great results on your cold call. All you have to do is keep your ear out and listen to how the prospect speaks and the words they use. Then, imitate the way they talk. It’s as easy as that!
What’s the purpose behind this? It’s proven to be an effective way of building rapport and increasing the odds of being “accepted” by the person you’re talking to. It relaxes the prospect and makes them feel more comfortable talking to you.
Don’t be afraid to repeat what the prospect says in a questioning tone. You’ll be surprised how much someone will reveal when they’re questioned like this.
For example, if the prospect says something like…
“All my sales team manually find their leads.”
You should then respond with…
“Your sales team find ALL their leads MANUALLY?”
Repeating their words back to them acts as a guide, leading them towards revealing more about their business - what the process looks like, how long it takes, the amount of resources they put into it. These are further pain points which you can then address one by one, steering them ever closer to the final stage in your cold call.
Following a conversation, you might be ready to go in for the close. If you feel like you can close early, if you’ve addressed all the key pain points and the prospect has shown interest in seeing your product in more depth - go for it!
“Look, (first name), I appreciate this is a lot to take in over the phone. It would be great to show you the tool and run some live searches for you. Have you got 15 minutes free later this week?”
At this point, you’re likely to encounter some objections. The prospect will come back with some obstacles that you’ll have to overcome. One of the most common ones that’ll crop up at this stage is:
“Please could you send me some more info first?”
Some good responses to this are:
An element of judgement is needed, however. If you feel the prospect is on the move or very busy at the time, and perhaps pushing harder for a demo will irritate them, you need to judge whether sending them a further email would be easier.
In which case, a good option is to find out exactly what information they want in the email. Like this:
“What would you like me to include in the email?”
This will get the prospect to reveal their concerns, which you can then address on the phone - eventually leading them back to the close.
Try out the above strategies for handling objections and persuading a hesitant prospect to agree to a demo. Before you do so though, you must first gauge the receptiveness of the prospect. Some people do not respond well to being pushed for a meeting.
When you get to the close, always make sure you qualify the prospect further before you let them go. Like so:
“Great! In order to tailor the demonstration as best as possible, so you get the most out of it, I just need a few details. Please can you tell me about your target (industries/job titles/locations).”
This will help the BDM or account executive to personalise the product demo to exactly the prospect’s needs, increasing the chances of a sale. Then, when that’s over, it’s time to end the call.
“That’s great, thanks a lot for your time just now (first name). I really appreciate it. Do you need anything else from me or would you like me to include anyone else on the call?”
You can also repeat the agreed time of the demo back to the prospect. It’s another way of making sure the demo stays in their mind and means that (hopefully!) they’ll show up.
“That’s great, thanks a lot for your time today (first name). I look forward to seeing you on (day) at (time).”
And that’s it! You’re done. Apart from the other 99 calls you have to make today…
Cognism is the number one toolkit for a scaling B2B sales team. With our sales acceleration platform and unique data asset, you can:
Interested? We’d be happy to show you how it works. Register for your free 15-minute demo at the button below!
If you’d like to see more resources to improve your cold calling skills, check out our Sales Academy page for more insightful content: