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Best Cold Calling Tips in Sales

If you’re doing cold calling like it’s 2000, I’ve got news for you—

It’s dead.

But cold calling in sales that drives revenue has adapted to evolving circumstances. If you’re unsure how to start or struggling with reaching the right people, you’re in a good place.

Cognism’s sales team are experts in the art of cold calling. We’ve put together top tips for refining and improving your cold calling strategy in 2022. And added live cold calling videos and resources for sales reps.

In this article, we’re sharing:

What is cold calling in B2B sales?

Cold calling is a sales strategy in which your company reps contact potential customers who haven’t directly expressed the intention to buy from you nor contacted your company previously.

Traditionally, cold calling definition is associated with B2C telemarketing in which a cold caller would phone a broad audience trying to sell something. It was interruptive, pushy, and had little success rates.

Nowadays, B2B cold calling is more targeted and therefore more effective. It focuses more on customer needs, delivers a valuable message, and is quantifiable.

So, how do you ensure your cold calling is targeted without prior engagement with the prospect?

It’s easy with the tips for cold calling from Cognism’s outbound experts. Read on to find out!

Tried and tested cold calling tips

Most of the organizations that wonder if cold calling is dead aren’t doing it correctly. Cold calling works when you contact highly targeted accounts and prepare for the call.

Here are 10 top tips on making better sales calls from Cognism’s sales professionals. 

1. Define the call’s objectives

Before you pick up the phone, you must work out what you’re looking to achieve from your cold call. Are you looking to schedule an appointment? Close a sale? Qualify them? Or maybe invite them to an event? Keep your objective in mind and don’t stray from it.

Remember, cold calling is just one part of a multi-stage sales process. Focus on what you need to do on your cold call, no more and no less. For example, don’t bring up pricing, if your mission is to book a demo. It’s irrelevant at this stage.

Download cold calling playbook and become cold calling champion.

2. Learn about your product

Your cold calling strategy cannot be simply picking up the phone and getting on with it. If you’re calling to pitch a product or service, you must take the time to educate yourself about it.

It increases the cold calling success rate because it changes the way you speak. If you know everything about the product you’re selling, you will speak with confidence and authority. This builds trust with your prospects.

No time to read? Don't worry! Check out the 5 things to do on every sales call as advised by our SDRs.

3. Research your prospects before you call

Knowing who and when to dial is key to warming up your call. Hence, creating an ideal customer profile (ICP) and using sales triggers are now standard practices in the industry. 

But, as helpful as they are, they can only take you so far. You have to dig deeper into your prospects and find out as much as you can about them.

Here are some of the best pre-call cold calling tips:

  • Look up your prospects on LinkedIn.

It’s a straightforward way to gather valuable information to warm up your cold call. LinkedIn profiles can also help you to verify if the prospect is in a decision-making position.

  • Has the prospect published a blog or written any articles online?

If so, read them! They’ll help you to work out the kind of person you’ll be talking to. If the articles are data-heavy and full of facts and stats, then you know to adjust your pitch accordingly.

  • Are there any career events in the prospect’s life that you can mention? 

For example, have they recently won any industry awards or had a big promotion? Use these events in your cold call to help build a stronger relationship with them. Remember that everyone likes to be flattered from time to time!

Best cold calling tips and techniques to level up your strategy.

4. Dial at the best time 

There are times of day when people are happy to take cold calls. There are also times when it’s just not convenient. Research when the best times to cold call are in your industry.

Contrary to popular opinion, lunchtime can be a very good time of day for cold callers. It’s the time when PAs and secretaries (the gatekeepers) take their lunches, while the CEO or Director (the decision-maker) often works through lunch. You could cut out the gatekeeper altogether and sell to C-suite decision-makers by calling at this time!

💡 Here's how to nail the first 30 seconds of a cold call with Ryan Reisert going through a cold calling exercise that really works and you can do with your sales development representatives to understand what works, and what doesn't work in cold call openers. It also helps build confidence in your opening lines when cold calling.

5. Get past the gatekeeper

If you do find yourself talking to a gatekeeper, you need to have a plan to get past them and get through to the prospect. Here are some useful cold calling strategies:

  • Keep calm and try to sound senior.

Speak confidently, slowly, and concisely. If you can do this, you will sound experienced and important. The gatekeeper may be less inclined to hold you up.

  • Don’t sell to the gatekeeper.

Remember the gatekeeper is not a decision-maker, so don’t pitch to them. In fact, say as little as you can get away with. But always be friendly and professional.

  • Give the impression that you know your prospect well

You can start with using first names when you ask to speak to your prospect.

6. Use direct dials

The nature of cold calling has changed post-pandemic with many stakeholders working from home. But this doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great results! At Cognism we've noticed the change and adjusted our cold calling strategy.

With fewer people in the office, work numbers are becoming less valuable. Many companies are opting to work remotely full-time. For cold callers, it’s more important than ever to find direct dials!

Start by searching on LinkedIn, and whenever you contact a lead through another channel, ask them for a contact number.

Though it’s harder to get hold of people, there’s an upside to working from home. If you’re able to get through to someone, they’re usually more willing to talk to you. Many people will be looking forward to a chat after a long day of working in isolation!

Call me on the office switchboard-said no one ever

7. Qualify your prospects on the call

You can save a lot of time if during the call you identify the prospect’s pain and judge if your solution is a good fix to it. 

Jonathon Ilett, the Sales Director at Cognism who has years of outbound sales experience under his belt, gives us a run-down of why it’s important:

All salespeople are fighting against the clock. We’ve all got targets to hit and a finite amount of time in which to hit them. You don’t want to be wasting your time on a prospect that isn’t a serious contender for making a purchase.

You can qualify cold call prospects by asking open-ended questions about their budget, authority, needs, and time (BANT criteria)

Here’s one of the best cold calling tips Jonathon shares:

If you find you can’t qualify the prospect, walk away. Never close a client that you know you won’t be able to deliver to.

8. Use a script

Scripts are one of the most overlooked cold calling techniques that really work. Cold calling scripts and voicemail scripts are the heart of our sales strategy at Cognism. Without them, we wouldn’t have gone from $0 to $4 million in ARR and 0 to 300+ customers in under 2 years.

In our experience, the script’s structure is key to a successful call. It can be broken down into five segments:

  • Opening
  • Pitch
  • Questions
  • Conversation
  • Closing

It’s important to stress though that this is used as a general guide, not an absolute rule.

The best cold calling process is built on finding individuality in selling. Sales reps can convey the messages in different ways, using different tones, and vocabulary. The structure is there to help with the flow of the conversation, not to pin down reps 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 doesn’t fit all.

💡 Here are cold calling tips and tricks on how to make a script work during the call from Ryan Reiset.

9. Learn how to handle objections

Prospects are likely to have concerns about the product or service you’re selling. To move the deal forward, you can try to alleviate them. 

The good news is, that they aren’t a sign that the prospect isn’t interested. Quite the opposite—

Objections during a cold call are an indicator that the prospect is interested, but doesn’t yet have a full understanding of your product or service. It’s your job as a salesperson to give them that understanding.

Most cold calling objections are entirely valid. You can’t just brush them off. You have to provide insight and give the prospect a compelling reason to buy from you. Don’t improvise and make it hard for yourself. Instead, ensure you have a process in place.

10. Use tools that help you sell remotely

It can be hard to find a connection with remote prospects. Loads of companies are getting creative with their outreach to stay ahead of the curve. Here's a list of a few cold calling tools that help us keep the edge.

  • Vidyard is a video platform we use at Cognism to record short pieces of video and embed them into emails. It’s a way to warm up a cold calling approach, helping prospects put a face to a name.
  • Reachdesk used to be the people who would send cupcakes to your prospects’ desks. Now, they send UberEats vouchers! Why not use Reachdesk to buy your prospect dinner?
  • Cognism can propel your cold calling into the 21st century. It's a sales intelligence platform with accurate person and company-level data and international coverage. Our tool helps us build a red-hot cold calling list so we always have enough prospects to go after. 

11. Analyze and adapt

To understand how well your cold calling strategy is working, collect as much data as you can. Take notes on every call. Everything you hear is information that may come in useful later. Even if you’re logging calls in your CRM later, don’t rely on your memory.

What times of day are best to call? How many calls does it take to get through to a prospect? How long are you spending on each call? How can you improve these numbers? Record your calls and go through them with your mentor, to look for ways to enhance your skills.

One useful piece of advice is to A/B test your cold calls. Try out different versions and approaches. Do certain lines or ways of speaking work better than others?

💡 Watch an example of a cold-calling role play and hear Morgan J Ingram, Director of Sales Execution and Evolution at Jb Sales Training give actionable feedback on how it went.

 

12. Ask the right questions

Jonathon Ilett advises asking open-ended questions to get the prospect talking and keep the conversation going. 

These are questions that don’t elicit a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. They help to get a conversation going. The more information you get from the prospect, the easier it is to qualify them.

 

In any cold call, the prospect must do 70% of the talking, while the salesperson should do only 30%. Here are examples of cold-calling questions that can help you do so.

  • What does your current business development process look like?
  • How does your sales team generate new leads?
  • Who would normally be involved in buying decisions for new tech?
  • What tools are you currently using?
  • What regions are you looking to prospect into?
  • Have you used data providers in the past?
  • What did you like about them? What did you dislike?
  • What are your current business growth goals?
  • Are you in a position to take on new clients right now?

💡 Here's how Morgan J Ingram, Director of Sales Execution and Evolution at Jb Sales Training explains how to lead the call with a great question and why it's important.

13. Keep calling!

The latest cold-calling statistics don't lie! It takes two to three touches to connect with a prospect for 42% of top performers and 24% of the rest salespeople. The more calls you make, the more opportunities you have of making a sale. So even if you’ve had a bad call or numerous rejections, always make one more dial.

The trick is to remain positive and persevere. Never give up. Rejection is a fact of cold-calling life. But there are tactics you can use to turn even the most difficult cold call to your advantage.

The final cold calling tip is to always ask prospects “Why?” when they say they are not interested. This makes the prospect come up with reasons for their rejection–reasons that may help you to improve your pitch or technique in the future.

💡 Feeling like that's not enough? Listen to David Bentham, Inside sales Director at Cognism, to learn what you should do (and not to do) when cold calling.

14. Know when to hang up

And the best cold calling tip? Remember that the purpose of asking questions during a cold call is to discover if the prospect needs your solution. If not, simply walk away. You don't have to sell to everyone. Here's what Jonathon Ilett said:

If you find you can’t qualify the prospect, walk away. Never close a client that you know you won’t be able to deliver to.

What makes a cold calling strategy effective?

Many B2B companies, like ours, use this sales method because of its many benefits. We don't want to rely on the buyer to do their research and decide if they are a good fit for our solution. And more importantly, cold calling ensures that we don't miss a perfect buyer!

Here are some more aspects that make cold calling a great sales strategy:

1. Quick and simple

It may take a couple of dials to get through to the prospect you actually want to speak to. But once you’ve reached them, you can quickly qualify them. Unlike cold email, a cold call is immediate and lets you move only potential customers down the funnel.

2. Personal communication

In remote-first workplaces, where face-to-face interactions are limited, cold calling lets sales SDRs build personal relationships with prospects. Remember that you’re not phoning a total stranger anymore. You can warm up calls and build better rapport thanks to sales intelligence tools.

3. Consistent messaging

Cold calling scripts help even inexperienced sales reps consistently promote your product or service. It also equips reps in methods of dealing with common sales objections and answering questions about your competitors.

4. Market insights

Prospect calling is an excellent opportunity to learn more about your targets' pain points, and gauge their opinions on your product and competition. It helps you better address prospects' needs the next time you pick up the phone.

💡 Learn more about the importance of cold calling for driving more sales.

Key takeaways

Cold calling is not dead! 

It’s still a fast, cost-effective, and powerful part of the B2B sales process. Its success comes down to the work you put in before you pick up the phone. The better you plan, the more likely you are to win.

Let’s sum up how to cold call in B2B sales:

  1. Work out your goal for each cold call before you pick up the phone. Stay 100% focused on it and don’t allow yourself to deviate.
  2. Become a product expert. A good cold caller must know everything there is to know about the product they’re selling.
  3. Conduct your primary research on your prospects. Use the insights you gain to make your cold calls even more successful.
  4. Research the best times to cold call and get dialing! Study your most successful cold calls and see if they happened at similar times of the day.
  5. Devising effective strategies to deal with gatekeepers. It is an important first step for any sales rep as more than half of cold calls are answered by some sort of gatekeeper. 
  6. Use direct dials.  They make it easy to reach people working in a hybrid environment.
  7. Use the BANT criteria to qualify prospects on your cold call. Ask open-ended questions to make the process easier.
  8. Write down a cold call script that works for you. But don’t stick to it rigidly. Follow a set structure but within that, give yourself room to be flexible.
  9. Investigate each objection. Ask searching questions, listen to the prospect, and uncover the reason behind each one. Then use the information you’ve learned to handle objections effectively.
  10. Use tools to sell remotely. Send video recordings and UberEats vouchers to build better relationships with prospects.
  11. Be scientific about your cold calls. Log your results, analyze the data and learn from any patterns that emerge.
  12. Don’t take rejection personally. Stay professional, ask the prospect for feedback and thank them, even if it’s negative. Then, take a deep breath and move on to your next call. Never let rejection affect your confidence!
  13. Ask the right question. Your aim is to discover if what you're selling can help prospect solve their problem.
  14. Know when to let go. You don't have to sell to everyone!
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