“Wait, businesses still cold call? Isn’t that, like, super old school?”
While cold calling may sound outdated in the realm of a continuously advancing digital age, it’s still a completely reliable and sustainable way to generate new leads for your business. In fact, cold calling best practices are constantly evolving only to enhance the cold calling process.
In this blog, we’ll focus on the following topics:
Gatekeepers are one of the biggest barriers between a cold caller and a key decision maker (KDM). While many business and sales development reps fear the gatekeeper, they’re simply just trying to do their job. With these cold calling tips, you have a better chance of being directed to a KDM:
When calling on a prospective business, it’s important to respect a gatekeeper’s time and build their trust. The first step to building trust with the gatekeeper is to be knowledgeable about the company and the person you’d like to speak with. The more information you have, the more likely you are to get in contact with a KDM.
Before calling a prospect, research the company, gatekeeper, and KDM online through their website and professional social media platforms like LinkedIn. This could help you find common ground with the gatekeeper and break the ice. However, don’t make it obvious that you’ve researched them ahead of time. This could come off negatively toward you and the company you’re representing.
For example, if a gatekeeper or KDM’s LinkedIn profile shows that they volunteer with a local nonprofit, break the ice by mentioning the nonprofit if it’s something you or the company could relate with.
Gatekeepers are trained to know the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to blocking sales calls. If you lie to them (or if they catch you lying to them), it will make your job much harder. When speaking with gatekeepers, be honest about who you want to talk to and the purpose of the call. If you lead the conversation with honesty and confidence, you are more likely to be transferred to the key decision maker.
Gatekeepers are more than likely not the key decision makers when it comes to making financial decisions. Therefore, you don’t need to pitch them on your company’s product or service. Since gatekeepers are not your target persona, they have little to no interest in learning about what you have to offer their company and will instantly shut you down.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to cut the conversation short with gatekeepers. Gatekeepers can be valuable when you’re trying to learn more about a prospective business. When calling a small business, gatekeepers often wear many different hats; therefore, they can be a great resource for you to gather new information.
When talking with gatekeepers, gather as much information as you can from them, such as who the KDM is, their email address, and a direct line that’s easier to reach them. If you’ve spoken with the KDM prior to the call, mention that the KDM should be expecting a call from you.
Since many offices have gone fully remote, gatekeepers have more reason to get you off the phone. A common reason they can’t transfer a call is that the person you’re looking for is working at home, and they don’t have a way to redirect your call. If this is the case, ask for a more direct line or email address to reach them.
However, if they refuse to give you additional information, consider asking if another prominent decision maker is currently in the office. Although they may not be the most prominent KDM, they could influence purchasing decisions.
As shocking as it may be, the best way of getting past gatekeepers is to not go through a gatekeeper at all. Hard to believe, right? Direct lines to KDMs are a surefire way of connecting with them without explaining yourself to gatekeepers. Even if you don’t get in contact with them immediately, at least you can leave a voicemail that encourages them to call you back.
This is it, the moment you’ve been working toward—pitching a key decision maker. From being blocked by gatekeepers to being sent directly to voicemail, it’s finally time to show them what you’ve got. While getting a KDM on the phone is a big moment for every sales rep, it’s important to stay cool, calm, and collected so you can effectively pitch your company’s product or service.
Each conversation with a KDM should be meaningful and packed with customer-focused value. Here are some cold calling best practices that sales reps should follow when speaking with a key decision maker:
If you get anything from this blog, it should be this: actively listen to the wants and needs of the prospect. Active listening is a cold calling best practice that every salesperson should master. As I’m sure we’re all aware, salespeople are great at talking and interacting with others; however, they risk ineffective conversations that could have resulted in high-earning business deals without active listening.
If you’re not as good at listening as you’d like to be, here are some cold calling tips on how to become a better active listener:
- Ask open-ended questions: Without asking questions, you have nothing to actively listen to. When asking closed-ended questions, you risk “yes” or “no” responses, which limits the conversation. By asking open-ended questions, you allow the prospect to open up and speak more about their current B2B solution.
- Gather information and stay organized: When gathering information from prospects, make sure you take good notes. If you use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, make sure the notes are updated following the call. Once it’s time to follow up with the prospect and set an appointment, you can refer to these notes to refresh their memory about the conversation.
- Speak slowly and don’t interrupt while they’re talking: Most salespeople are pretty bubbly and chatty, which can be a blessing and a curse. When pitching a KDM, it’s essential not to get ahead of yourself and speak a million miles per hour or interrupt them while they’re talking. Many sales reps make the mistake of answering questions for them; remember to take your foot off the gas pedal and listen to what they have to say.
- Practice overcoming objections: Objection is more common than not in the sales industry. While it’s important to accept objections, it’s equally important to know how to overcome them. A successful salesperson understands that objections are a part of the process, so they come prepared with key points to overcome those objections. In addition, remember to take note of the objection. For example, if the prospect says they recently signed a new contract, put that in the notes and follow up with them when they reevaluate that contract.
When you actively listen to prospects, you can pitch them products or services relevant to their wants and needs.
For example, let’s suggest that you’re a sales rep pitching for a managed service provider. If a prospect says that their current provider doesn’t deliver reliable network security, you’ll want to discuss the trustworthiness of your network security services. In addition, you could give them a case study about how your company has been able to help similar businesses strengthen their network security.
However, if a prospect says they want a reliable network security solution, you wouldn’t want to emphasize cloud migration. This shows the prospect that you’re not actively listening to their pain points. Pitching products or services that aren’t a priority for them right now could do more harm for your cold calling sales efforts than good. When pitching to prospects, listen to their pain points and discuss products or services that could provide relief.
One of the most significant cold calling best practices is discovering pain points. As a sales rep, you can uncover pain points by asking open-ended questions about a prospect’s current B2B solution.
For example, let’s suggest that you’re a sales rep calling on behalf of a commercial cleaning company. To learn more about their current relationship with their commercial cleaning partner, you could ask them the following questions:
- What are you enjoying about your cleaning provider?
- Where do you feel like they could improve in their services?
- What cleaning services do you wish they offer?
- How do you communicate with them when there’s an issue?
- How long does it take for them to respond to your needs?
Asking these questions will help you learn how their current cleaning solution may be lacking. From here, you can provide value about how your cleaning company approaches issues, how quickly they get resolved, and more.
More often than not, several people come into play when it comes to making a business purchasing decision. While the CFO may be the final decision-maker, they may not always be the best point of contact. In addition, company executives are often difficult to reach.
For instance, if you’re calling on behalf of an HVAC company, the facility manager may be the best point because they understand the ins and outs of the building’s units. However, the CFO may be the one who signs on the dotted line.
When you understand a prospect’s buying process, you have a better opportunity to set up sales appointments that are valuable to your company. If a facility manager agrees to meet with your HVAC company, extend an invite to the CFO as well. This ensures that everyone who needs to be at the sales meeting will be there, and they can ask any questions they may have.
While many businesses have a B2B cold calling program, sales reps continue to struggle to have an effective conversation with KDMs. Check out our blog to learn how sales teams can be successful at cold calling.
Cold calling may be the preferred method of outbound lead generation, but sometimes it’s difficult to get high-quality leads on the phone. Key decision makers are busy people who typically wear a lot of hats, so they’re not always sitting at their desks anticipating phone calls from salespeople.
While dialing is necessary for a cold calling strategy, here are some other ways to get in touch with KDMs:
When paired with cold calling, cold emailing is an effective way to introduce your company to prospects. As mentioned previously, KDMs are busy people with a lot of responsibilities. Since they’re not always at their desk to answer phone calls, you can send them an email with a general overview of the products or services your company provides.
Sending emails is also significant to your B2B sales strategy because you can design and craft messages that align with their industry’s needs. In addition to typing copy in an email, you can also attach relevant marketing collateral like videos, brochures, and infographics that provide a more visual appeal for the prospects. By sending sales enablement materials, you increase the likelihood of them reaching out to you or checking out your company’s website.
Many industries also have non-traditional work hours, so it can be difficult to reach KDMs when you’re in office. For example, organizations like restaurants and religious institutions have varying hours outside of the typical 8 to 5 work schedule. With a cold email, they can review your message when it’s most convenient for them.
Sending LinkedIn connections is a much more personal approach to B2B marketing and sales. LinkedIn is designed to be a social media platform that connects similar industry professionals. By taking advantage of its unique capabilities, you have the opportunity to further your relationship with leads in the sales pipeline.
When sending a LinkedIn connection to a prospect, it’s important to introduce yourself with a message so they know why you’re requesting to connect with them. For example, the message could read:
“Hi, Tim! I’m always looking to connect with reputable IT Managers in St. Louis. I’m hoping we can connect and learn from each other’s successes. Let me know if there’s anything I could ever do to help you and your business!”
From here, the prospect can view your profile to better understand the company and your professional credentials. If they’re interested in learning more about what you have to offer, the door is open for them to ask questions. If they don’t reach out, you still have the opportunity to share relevant content like website pages and blog posts with them.
Many B2B companies love the idea of having an internal sales team; however, it’s not always the best option to reach business goals. By outsourcing cold calling, you increase the opportunity to land more business deals.
Here are some of the benefits of outsourcing outbound lead generation services:
Outsourcing your cold calling is much more cost effective than building an internal team of adequate sales professionals. For the price of an internal sales rep, you are hiring a variety of experienced sales team members, including:
- Sales Managers
- Account Executives (AEs)
- Business Development Representatives (BDRs)
- Sales Development Representatives (SDRs)
Each role is crucial for a successful cold calling program because they all have their specialized tasks. Without one of these key players, you risk an unsuccessful cold calling campaign, which wastes valuable company time and financial resources.
When you hire an outsourced sales team, you’re also taking advantage of the latest and most successful cold calling techniques. Outsourced sales teams are consistently trained on cold calling best practices to ensure your sales efforts are as effective as possible.
Cold calling best practices include using the highest-performing sales tools and technologies that are on the market. During the early years of B2B cold calling, sales reps had to make a note on the calendar for when to reach back out to qualified leads. However, with the advanced sales tools and technologies we have today, sales reps no longer have to mark their calendars to know when to call back high-priority leads.
With a sales-centered CRM platform like Salesforce Sales Cloud, outsourced inside sales teams have the opportunity to set a specific date to call back a hot lead. This ensures that when the time comes for them to agree to an appointment, your outsourced sales team will be able to call them without anything falling through the cracks. On the flip side, this also ensures that they don’t call leads back more frequently necessary.
While B2B companies can purchase all the sales tools and technologies they need to have a successful cold calling strategy, they can really add up and negatively impact your company’s bottom line. In addition, it can take a significant amount of time to train internal sales team members on how to use the sales platforms productively. By outsourcing your cold calling efforts, you have a set price that includes the sales stack and expertise that comes with it.
Internal sales reps are typically responsible for finding leads, nurturing relationships with them, converting them into customers, and ensuring that they remain satisfied throughout the partnership. Sounds stressful, doesn’t it?
By outsourcing lead generation, your internal sales team members have more time to effectively sell to prospects. Outsourced cold callers are responsible for prospecting, qualifying, and setting appointments with leads interested in learning more about your company’s product or service. Since your team no longer has to worry about finding qualified leads, they can spend more time researching and crafting the perfect sales presentation for the appointment set by your outsourced SDRs. This is a more customizable approach to connecting with a sales lead and increases the likelihood of closing business deals.
While some people may believe that cold calling is outdated, we’re here to tell you it’s still alive and booming. By following cold calling best practices, you have the opportunity to get past gatekeepers and effectively pitch key decision makers. When you’re ready to optimize your cold calling strategy, consider integrating cold emails and LinkedIn connections into your outbound sales process.
If you’re struggling to keep up with cold calls, want to scale your calling process, or just don’t have the time to implement these changes in your cold calling process, outsourcing is a perfectly viable solution to help achieve your business goals. At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our B2B appointment setters are consistently being trained on cold calling best practices. In addition, they have all the skills and experience to use CRMs and other sales tools and technologies to pitch and follow up with the right prospects at the right time. When you’re ready to boost your company’s revenue, contact the sales reps at Abstrakt Marketing Group!