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Tips for improving the quality of your prospecting data & upping your cold calling game.

Cold calling is not dead. But some salespeople have more success with cold calling than others.

Why is that?

A successful cold call is no accident. It consists of the right dialogue, the right questions and takes the right amount of time.

A successful cold call also requires mastering the subtleties. What time of day you contact a prospect and how much you’ve practiced your pitch can make the difference between booking an appointment and hanging it up.

Let’s look at how you can improve your cold calling success rates this year.

Take care of your number 1 asset – your data

Cold calling relies on a number of factors including your pitch, how you present yourself and your service offering. Even if you nail all of these, if your underlying prospecting data isn’t up to scratch you are setting yourself up for an unnecessary challenge. 

Gathering data can be difficult, and there are a number of ways to generate leads such as using digital marketing channels e.g. paid search, social media ads and Linked In prospecting. Once you’ve assimilated your data, it’s critical to keep it compliantly dependent on your market, and distributing those leads amongst the correct sales people. 

Use lead management & name matching software

Name matching software is an effective way to keep your data relevant and improve the success of your sales agents. Some platforms can also distribute your leads to specific agents based on their location, performance and other factors. 

With an effective data management policy in place, it’s time for your salespeople to shine – here are some tips for the perfect close:

1. Make sure you call at the best time.

When it comes to closing a prospect, timing is everything.

Cold calling your prospects at the right time can mean the difference between success and bombing.

A study by Phone Burner found that cold calls were most successful when made in either the morning or afternoon.

Avoiding cold calling for once? All too soon.

Avoid calling your prospect before 8am. You don’t want to be on the phone as soon as you wake up trying to prepare for the day ahead. If you call at this time, there is a great chance that your call will be ignored (the response rate is less than 5% before 8:00 am).

If you need to reach a prospect outside normal business hours, call them in the evening rather than early morning.

Oh, and also try to avoid calls between 12pm and 2pm. Your prospect will probably be concentrating on their lunch and won’t want to be interrupted by your sales call.

However, every industry and geographical area is different. To be truly successful, you should go beyond such benchmarks. Track the times when calls tend to be successful (or unsuccessful) in your CRM and you will eventually gather enough data that is specific to your prospects.

2. start your call positively

Starting a cold call on an optimistic and exciting note can set the stage for how the call will go.

Before you cold call a prospect, do some homework. Using sales prospecting tools, you can easily find out if the prospect’s company has been in the media recently, released a new product, or recently reached a milestone. These are all great ways to open a cold call on a positive note.

If you can’t find any of these conversation starters, ask them for something that will get the conversation flowing casually. Ask about their weekend or if their local sports team won a big competition. Anything that gives off a positive vibe is the goal here.

Another way to start a sales conversation on a positive note is to casually check in with the prospect. A study by Gong found that asking a prospect, “How are you?” at the beginning of a sales call improved the chances of getting a meeting book by more than six times.

Interestingly, this greeting in “Did I catch you at a bad time?” can quickly reduce the possibility of booking a sales call – by 40%:

The lesson here: Using positive language at the beginning of your call can dramatically increase the chances of turning your cold call into a sales call.

3. Highlight the value of your product and start a monologue.

Okay, you should never cold call about your product, but you should highlight the value it can bring to your potential customer.

The best way to do this? Explain how your product could benefit the potential customer through emotional selling. You may be surprised to find that the purchase depends more on personal value than on the value the product can bring to the business:

Let’s look at an example.

You are selling a product that increases productivity. You need to show your potential customer how it could benefit them personally. If you can show the potential customer that your product can increase their team’s productivity by 30% (and make them look good in front of their boss at their monthly meeting), they will be more likely to listen to what you have to say 

Your cold call.

To help you drive this point home, have an ROI calculator or formula ready so you can tell the prospect the benefits to their bottom line. Giving your prospect numbers not only helps book a sales call, but can also show the value they get from the price.

To get your point across, don’t be afraid to speak up – and speak longer. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but a study by Gong found that salespeople who monologued for 37 seconds were 50% more successful on their calls than those who spoke for just 25 seconds:

By keeping the conversation going and speaking for longer, you have a better chance of steering the chat in the direction you want it to go – and that means booking a meeting. But don’t talk all the way. You still need to listen to their pain points and their concerns. Just make sure you talk enough to be able to steer the conversation in a certain direction.

To get them to agree to a meeting, you need to make them understand that it will be worth their while. Increasing the emotional benefits of your product and extending your monologue are two surprising ways to get a potential customer to see the value of your product.

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Crush your quota.

4. Overcome objections like a boss

Sales objections are the bane of every salesperson’s existence.

However, if you want to increase your cold calling success rate, you need to be able to overcome objections like a boss. Instead of taking a prospect’s objection as a sign of defeat in a cold call, try to understand the real reasons for the objection.

Step 1 of overcoming objections is to recognise that they will happen (no matter how good you are) and face the fear. Start with:

Analysing the reasons for objections.

At your regular meetings, talk to your team about objections. Did they have the same sales objections when cold calling? Talk about it and try to find solutions – together.

If you use cold calling scripts, make sure your pitch is tight and you are confident on the phone. If you don’t believe in your pitch, how can you expect your prospect to?

There will be objections. Being able to predict them is the game changer. Some of the most common objections (pricing, competition, scepticism) are actually relatively easy to overcome if you have tools to dispel them.

5. When cold calling, make sure the call is your sole focus

Seems like a no-brainer, but getting distracted by a cold call can destroy your chances of success.

A cold call needs your undivided attention. You’re contacting a prospect for the first time, so every impression and every second counts. If you’re distracted, it can disrupt the flow of the conversation, cause you to miss important information from your prospect or, in the worst case, disconnect you from the call altogether.

A prospect’s time is important – remember this when you are dialling and ignore distractions when pitching.

Here’s a distraction checklist to tick off when making a series of cold calls:

Put your phone out of reach (preferably on the other side of the room or cabin).

Mute or switch off your phone

Close all messaging and email tabs (Slack, Gmail, etc.) on your screen (including social media sites) during the call.

Use a Bluetooth headset so you can walk up and down the hallway or cubicle to relieve your nerves

If you’re struggling to focus on a cold call, try clearing your head before you jump into your calls. Meditate or do something to minimise distracting thoughts before a call – it’s better than having them interrupt you in the middle of a conversation.

6. keep asking questions during the call.

When making a cold call, don’t try to close a deal straight away. Instead, your main goal should be to ask questions, get to know your prospects a little better and give them insight into how your product can benefit them.

Building a relationship with your contact is key, so you need to ask as many questions as possible to understand their weak points.

Are they struggling with marketing? Are their repeat business below average? What issues in their industry are currently affecting them the most?

Some of the questions to ask on your first call are:

Are there any areas you would like to improve in the business right now?

I have seen X, X and X raise some concern in your industry. Is your business affected at all?

We have a lot of clients in your industry who are struggling with X right now. How are you dealing with it?

Can you give me an overview of your business?

Hmm, so you say that X is causing you some problems. Are you currently using a solution?

Before our call, I looked through your company’s annual report and it listed X priorities that you want to achieve. Are you achieving them or are you having problems?

Be attentive when you ask these questions and write everything down (if you use a CRM, this should be easy). Their answers will contain important insights into what they are struggling with as a business and what they might be willing to spend money on to solve.