Cold Calling: 10 Tips and Tricks to Increase Your Success Rate

cold callingLoved by some and hated by others, cold calling is one of the best ways to find new customers and clients for your business. Equal parts terrifying and exciting, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of closing a lucrative sale after cold calling someone.

With online marketing becoming the default choice for most businesses looking to rapidly grow their customer base, cold calling has taken a backseat over the last 10 years. However, it remains a hugely profitable form of marketing when done right.

In this blog post, you’ll learn 10 tips and tricks to increase your cold calling success rate and drive new business over the phone. From research tips to tricks for getting the right people on then phone, read on to become a cold calling master.

Have you never cold called someone before? Get over your fear of calling prospects over the phone and learn how to get past gatekeepers with our Mastering Sales Cold Calling course.

Know who you’re calling

cold callingWithout the right data, even the most talented cold caller will fail to get the results they want. Knowing who you’re calling is the key to crafting a sales pitch that gets the right reaction from your prospect.

Instead of just researching someone’s name and position, study the company – and their role within the company – to learn more about what their job involves and the key issues they face within their company.

One of the best ways to gather information about a prospect is through scraping the Google search results. With a basic scraper, you can find social media profiles, forum posts and other information from your prospects with ease.

Learn how to scrape Google and other search engines for information on prospects in our Web Scraping for Sales and Growth Hackers course. You’ll be surprised at the volume of information you can find with a basic scraper and good research skills.

Have a plan, not a script

cold callingThe old rules of cold calling claimed that success or failure was often dictated by the quality of your script. While scripts can make amateur cold callers competent, they’ll often make you sound robotic and uninteresting for some prospects.

Instead of depending on a script, create a framework for your calls that gives you a combination of structure and freedom. Some calls require spontaneous thinking in order to overcome objections – something a script often doesn’t provide.

Don’t have a script – have a plan. Map out your cold calls and allow yourself to move off topic, as long as you eventually move back. A script that’s too strict will often fail because it gives you too little wiggle room to respond to a prospect’s questions.

Don’t be afraid of rejection

coldcallingYou’ll be rejected a lot as a cold caller, even if your offer is fantastic. Not everyone is going to want to do business with you, and being rejected is something you’ll simply get used to dealing with.

Don’t let rejection convince you that your idea isn’t worthwhile – even the best deal is turned down by some people. Instead, let rejection teach you that in order to sell your product, you might need to refine your technique over time.

Did you know it’s possible to use rejection to your advantage? When you’re rejected by a prospect, don’t just hang up the phone – ask them why they said no. By polling your failed sales calls, you’ll learn a lot about what makes people turn you down.

Need help surveying your prospects and customers? Learn how to get answers from your customers and sales leads that you can use to optimize your sales funnel in our course, How to Interview Your Customers and Get Useful Feedback.

Stand up while you call

cold callingDon’t let the fact that no one can see you over the phone let your presentation and posture slip. People can hear confidence, and when you’re slouched over a chair in your office, it has a massive detrimental effect on your voice and enthusiasm.

If you have an important call to make, get up from your chair and stand up straight at your desk. In addition to giving you additional energy, a straight back and strict posture makes your voice clearer and more persuasive for prospects.

This might sound like a silly psychological gimmick, but it has a serious effect on the way you sound over the phone. Think about the type of people you’re influenced by and emulate their body language, tone of voice and phrasing when you make calls.

Do you want more simple but effective cold calling tips? Learn how to sound more professional, persuasive and influential over the phone using the practical tips and tricks in our Cold Calling: A New Approach course.

Know their objections

cold callingVery few customers will say “yes” to your offer right away. On almost every call you make, you’ll encounter several objections from customers. Often, these are attempts to learn more about your business rather than attempts to rebuff your approach.

The key to overcoming objections is knowing what they’ll be and having an answer ready in advance. Just like you’d plan for a debate by learning the arguments your opponent will make, you can prepare for a cold call by learning their objections.

Every objection can be turned around into an opportunity. “It’s too expensive” can be turned into a statement about your quality. “We already have someone for that” can be turned around by explaining what you could do to improve their results.

With the right amount of preparation, every objection is an opportunity to show the prospect that you’re not like another cold caller. It’s an opportunity to continue your conversation and reinforce the value that you have to offer their business.

This is one of the most effective principles of persuasion: turning objections into key opportunities. Learn more about overcoming objections and using persuasion tricks to get the results you want in our Sales and Persuasion Skills for Startups course.

Get used to hearing “no”

cold callingIn the world of sales, “no” doesn’t always mean that you think it does. Many of your prospects will answer with “no” as soon as they identify you as a salesperson, often with a speed that’s more reminiscent of a reflex than a reasoned answer.

Don’t worry – just because a prospect says “no” initially, it doesn’t mean they won’t say “yes” at the end of your call. Treat “no” as an invitation to ask questions in order to get more information, not as a prompt to apologize and end your phone call.

Some prospects might be interested in the product or service you have to offer but reject it out of hand. Instead of giving up, use the opportunity to press them for the reason they said no, and then use your cold calling plan to overcome the objection.

Words like “no” can be intimidating and scary for novice cold callers, but pros see them for what they are: opportunities. Learn how to use “no” as an opportunity to learn more about prospects in our Break Down Barriers to Make the Sale course.

Learn how to talk to gatekeepers

coldcallingIf you’re in business-to-business (B2B) sales, most of your calls will end up being answered by receptionists and administrative assistants. These people are called “gatekeepers” in the sales world – people that stand at the gate to your prospects.

Gatekeepers can seem intimidating – their default response is almost always “we aren’t interested – and impossible to bypass. Despite their immediate rejections, they’re humans like anyone else and respond to the same psychological tactics.

One of the best ways to get around gatekeepers is to pose as someone in search of information. When your call is answered, act as if you aren’t sure who you should ask for, and request them to put you through to the department you’re seeking.

This trick works because it reverses the power dynamic of the sales call: they are used to being pushed for a specific person, and someone asking them for help is a break from the stereotypical pushy salesperson.

Do you want more tactics for getting past gatekeepers? Learn the most effective strategies for getting round personal assistants, receptionists and more with our Mastering Sales Cold Calling course.

Know your product well

coldcallingSome of your prospects will become customers because of your pricing. Others will become customers because of your persuasive sales pitch. Others will want to know more about your product’s technical specifications before they say “yes” and buy it.

Knowing your product isn’t necessary for all sales calls, but the most valuable sales are often made by prospects who need to know your product’s key technical details before committing.

This is particularly true if you sell a technical product or service – business process consulting or IT infrastructure, for example – that might not fit in with a company’s existing needs. In this case, knowing technical data can help you close the deal.

Instead of focusing purely on mastering sales techniques and overcoming objections from prospects, spend some of your time learning the main technical characteristics of your product and how these are of value for your customers.

Have a special offer ready

coldcallingEveryone loves getting a deal. There’s nothing better than receiving a discount on a product or service that’s valuable to your business, especially if it feels like a special exclusive offer that most customers don’t have access to.

One of the best ways to close deals with prospects that are on the fence about using your product is by offering a special bonus or discount. Often, it’s the exclusivity of the discount that swings the deal in your favor instead of the discount itself.

Prepare two or three different special offers – from free samples to discounts – that you can use to overcome indecisive prospects. A five percent discount is often all it takes to bring an otherwise uninterested prospects into your roster of customers.

Track your sales results

cold callingBy analyzing your sales results and learning which techniques work and which don’t work, you’ll be able to improve your success rate over time. Track all of your calls as you complete them to build an archive of data that you can study later.

Factors like the time of day you made a call, the size of the company, the person you spoke to and the script you used all make a difference, and being able to see which combination of variables works most effectively will help you optimize your pitch.

Keeping a record of your sales is easiest with a CRM application like Salesforce.com or Zoho CRM. You can also track calls and success rates using Microsoft Excel and a basic pivot table that contains your key sales variables.

Learn how to track and manage data in Salesforce with our Salesforce List View for Beginners course. If you prefer to track your calls in Excel, learn how to view your results in a pivot table with our Microsoft Excel Pivot Tables for Business course.

Are you ready to start cold calling?

Cold calling can seem scary at first, but once you overcome your fear of rejection and start viewing objections and questions as opportunities instead of barriers, it will quickly become your favorite way to acquire new customers and clients.

Do you want to learn more about growing your business with cold calling? Our blog post on cold calling tips includes practical tips for tracking prospects and collecting data, while our cold calling scripts blog post has real scripts that you can use to get the results you want from your calls.