How much does a polar bear weigh?
…Enough to break the ice.
While I wouldn’t recommend using this line on your next cold call, you should always be working to find creative ways to connect with prospects on cold calls. The first thing you say on a call has to catch a prospect’s attention, get them to smile or laugh, and intrigue them enough to want to learn more about your product. That’s asking quite a lot from what is often a 30-second interaction!
However, it’s your job as a Business Development Rep to find the most effective ways to grab a prospect’s attention quickly. Whether you try to make people laugh, catch them off guard by saying something strange, or earnestly tell them why they should talk to you, you should always be searching for new and creative ways to break the ice.
Don’t Sound Like a Cold Call
A successful cold call is one where the prospect doesn’t immediately hang up on you. So how do you ensure that? One way is to stop sounding so much like a sales rep. Everyone who’s gotten a cold call before can probably recognize the usual call format:
“Hi, this is Sales Rep Bob from Company Z. Can I have a few minutes of your time to talk about this product I’m trying to sell you?”
Click. This pitch often gets an instant hang up, before prospects even hear your pitch. Instead of a boring introduction, try acting more natural on your next call. Call up and say, “Hi Joe, how are you today?” Speak the way you would to someone you know well, even though you’re calling a stranger. They’ll be more likely to respond positively, and stay on the phone with you for longer. However, you don’t want to lie to them. After you say hello or make some small talk, be clear and honest about why you’re calling, explain the benefits to them, and introduce yourself towards the end of the call.
Use Triggers Strategically
Before you pick up the phone to call a cold prospect, do in-depth research on LinkedIn and Google. Look for a cold call trigger – any kind of information that signals a buying opportunity. This could be a prospect changing a job title on LinkedIn, a prospect’s company receiving a new round of funding, or a news article featuring the company prominently. Use that information to make a stronger pitch and break the ice with the prospect. Instead of calling and just saying hello, now you have a better angle:
“Hi Joe, I saw that you were recently promoted to Sales VP. Congratulations! I thought you would be interested in learning how our sales analytics product helps Sales VPs understand their pipeline.”
Instead of an unwelcome interruption, Joe now considers you someone who knows he was promoted, understands the challenges of his new job, and could help him succeed. You’re no longer jumping in cold – the prospect is flattered, surprised and more willing to talk to you.
The first thing you say on this cold call should sound a little different than the last call, and the one before. You don’t want to say the same thing every time, or you’ll get into a routine and start to sound boring and uninspired. Some reps joke around with prospects, saying “Are you in the mood to learn about software today?” Others are more serious and start calls off with a tough question, like, “Do you know exactly what deals your sales team is going to close this month?” Both of these approaches can work, in different situations and depending on the prospect. You have to be willing to fail, keep trying, and continuously work to find a connection with prospects on each call.
A great cold call is all about getting permission to interrupt someone during their busy day. You have to prove to them that it’s worth talking to you by finding inventive ways to break the ice. If you speak naturally, use triggers, and don’t shy away from creativity, you’ll see your connect rates rise.