9 Steps to a Killer Cold Call

Cold calling sucks.

Sales reps are calling strangers, interrupting their day, and asking them to pay attention to a sales pitch about a product. Reactions to cold calls can range from friendly to uninterested to downright hostile, all depending on the prospect.

It’s incredibly hard to learn how to cold call effectively, and it is an even harder thing to teach others to do well. To help with both of these, let’s try and break down this Herculean task down into its various parts. Below, you’ll find the steps we teach our BDRs here at InsightSquared, to help them understand exactly what they are trying to accomplish when they pick up the phone and cold call a prospect.

1. Research

A good call doesn’t start when you pick up the phone. The first step in any call is the research beforehand. Make sure you understand who you are calling, what their business does, and try to find an interesting fact to use as your first line on the call. You should leverage social selling and trigger selling techniques to find out whether the prospect’s company recently was in the news, or if the prospect was promoted or has a new title. Make sure to check out Crunchbase and Linkedin before every call!

2. Goal Setting

Also before you even pick up the phone, try and wrap your head around what you are trying to accomplish on this call. You shouldn’t always be trying to book a demo or close a deal the first time you call someone. It can be enough to just go into a call with the goal of getting the person to read over some more information on your product offerings or to get them to agree to a longer call on another day. If you set reasonable goals for yourself, you’ll be more likely to accomplish them.

3. The Gatekeeper

OK, now it’s time to actually dial the number and call your prospect. On most calls, you’ll have to deal with a gatekeeper of some kind. Remember that this person’s job is to filter out the important callers, and refuse to pass along the unimportant callers. Essentially, the gatekeeper is qualifying you. Generally, they’ll ask you three questions: Who are you, where are you calling from, and why are you calling? Have good answers ready for each of those questions and you’ll be able to get through to your target prospect.

4. Introduction and Permission to Continue

The first 30 seconds of any call can make or break the rest of your sale. Remember that nobody likes to have an overly excited telemarketer vomit information at them – I hate that guy, and so do you. To avoid this, always be ready with why you are calling a prospect and why you are calling them now. Further, always make sure it’s a good time to be reaching out. An example of a talk track I use is:

“Hi John, Ross here from InsightSquared. I saw you guys had raised a new round of funding and I wanted to introduce myself. Do you have a minute?”

The reason this is so important is that it gives your prospect a way out of the call. As much as persistence will pay off, switching gears when someone says they are too busy to talk and finding out a time that will work for them will actually help you. This makes sure they can have a real conversation about your solution, instead of rushing off the phone.

5. Rapport

It helps tremendously if a prospect realizes that they are speaking to a real person, and not a dial-bot. This doesn’t have to be extensive – it can be as simple as cracking a couple jokes about not having enough coffee in the morning, or about the crappy pizza you had for lunch. Be yourself, and take a moment to figure out who your prospect is outside of work. Once they realize you’re a hardworking person just like they are, they’ll be more likely to stay on the phone and listen.

6. Set Expectations

Always be upfront about what you’re trying to accomplish on a call and keep driving towards it as you move through the call. This will help a prospect understand what you are actually trying to do, and they’ll be less surprised when you try to figure out next steps. The expectations you set should tie back to the goal you set for yourself before you picked up the phone. It’s OK to tell a prospect that all you want to do is give them an elevator pitch and have them tell you if it’s worth a longer conversation. They’ll appreciate the honesty and be more comfortable with you than with the last 30 people who cold called them.

7. Positioning Statement

A positioning statement, or elevator pitch, should always include three parts. First, a headline statement explaining what your company is. One of ours is that “InsightSquared is a reporting tool that helps high growth teams get visibility into their efforts. Basically we’re your board meeting in a box.” Second, comes your value proposition. This should let your prospect know what you will do for them. “Generally we help teams in 3 main areas – pipeline management, sales process analysis and rep coaching.” Finally, always end with an open ended question that starts a conversation about the prospects company and potential pains.

8. Needs Analysis

Time for you to actually have a conversation about how they could utilize your solution. We use Needs-Based Selling to try and find a “pain point” that will drive a prospect to buy our solution. This is the hardest part of the call and it takes the most practice to perfect.  However, it also takes a tremendous amount of skill to get this far. You need to ask the right questions in the right way to draw out the prospect, and get them to tell you about their business challenges. This information will help you move the prospect down the sales funnel.

9. Mutually Agreed-Upon Next Steps

Never, never, NEVER get off the phone without discussing next steps with a prospect. There is no worse feeling than a great call followed up by months of silence. Always make sure the actions are clear and accountable. After you hang up, send an email outlining the next steps and setting up your next call. This will reinforce the call, and make it more likely for the prospect to remain engaged.

If you use these 9 clear steps to perfect your cold calls, you will see better results. Prospects will be more interested, less likely to hang up, and you’ll book more meetings. Don’t be afraid of a cold sales call – learn to be better at them.

One way to get better? Download our FREE guide “When is the Best Time to Make Cold Calls” below! 


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