Lessons From 1,000+ Hours of Cold Calling
To get straight to the point, I have cold called a lot (seriously a lot) of people in my sales career.
And, if you’re a salesperson, you know there are good days and bad days. I’ve made mistakes along the way, but over the past few years of cold calling I have been able to come to three solid conclusions that have shaped me into the confident salesperson I am today.
1. Calling at specific times gives better results.
I found the best days to call are Wednesdays and Thursdays. For me in B2B sales, the optimal time frame to cold call is from 4pm – 5pm. From hours and hours of dialing out to my prospect lists, I find the highest connection rates as people are wrapping up their day. And, most people are in their offices and available for phone calls during the later half of the workday. In addition, morning times between 8am – 9am have proven to give higher connection rates. Most people are at their desks organizing their day, replying to emails and not caught up in the bustle of the day.
Just as there are good times to call there are seriously bad times to cold call your prospects. Think about it from your own perspective. How would you feel getting a sales call on a Monday morning? Or Friday evening? 12pm – 2pm any day of the week also boasts some of the worst connection rates.
Don’t forget to segment your calling lists according to time zones! Calling at 8am on the East Coast may give you good connection rates, but reaching a West Coaster at 5am might not be the best way to start a relationship.
You could be the absolute best closer at your company, but if there’s no one on the line, what’s the point? It won’t matter what what kind or how many sales tools you have in your arsenal if you’re not strategic about what times and days you set aside to call your prospects.
2. You can no longer deny the power of combining cold calling with emails.
I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read about how cold calling is dead, that social selling doesn’t work, that content marketing is the new frontier and the list goes on.
Then, there are the comments to these articles– “I sold a $500,000 deal cold calling, I only buy from cold callers, I never open my email, again!”
But, here’s what many people fail to realize: All of these steps in the selling cycle are important. People aren’t realizing it takes a multifaceted approach to successfully sell today. Look at the numbers. If it takes on average 5-12 touch points to get a prospect to respond, are you setting yourself up for success by only calling them three times or only emailing them twice? The answer is clearly no.
These steps need to be approached with a strategic process. There are many examples of touch points, but this is the one I use the most often and have received the most positive response from. Day 1: I send a personalized email. Day 2: I call and if there is no answer, I leave a voicemail where I refer to the email I sent the day before. Day 4: I send another email and try by phone again. Day 5 – 15: I repeat the process until I either get the sale or set up an appointment for a deeper conversation.
But, imagine if you take those 5-12 touches and added a process to them. You should A/B test to figure out what works best for your customer base. You will be so much more powerful if you approached your prospects with a game plan.
In today’s selling world you cannot just throw things at the wall and see what sticks. Using systems that automate your outbound interactions is crucial to keep up with the new pace of selling.
To summarize, you’re not going to get anywhere cold calling all day. And, you’re not going to get anywhere just sending emails to prospects. You need to do both.
3. Perfecting your pitch is worth the time.
When you call a prospect, you first need to put yourself in their shoes. To them, your phone call is out of the blue. They receive hundreds of sales calls a month, but they so happened to pick up yours. The question you have to ask yourself: Are you prepared?
You have about eight seconds to grab their attention or they’re going to hang up. Do not ask if this is a “good time” to talk. You’re instantly (and easily) giving them a way out of your call.
Instead, let them know you’re following up on an email (see step 2) and will only take up a few minutes of their time. Know exactly what you’re going to say beforehand and say it succinctly and with conviction. To do this, it’s crucial for you to know your product backwards and forwards.
Questions are simple ways to engage your prospect. But, it’s even more important to make sure you’re truly listening to their response.
Personally, I find it difficult to judge when a prospect is done with a sentence or thought. So, I started using a technique where I mute my phone while my prospect is talking. If there is a slight pause, it’s much more difficult for me to jump the gun and speak before the prospect is has finished. This technique also allows me to really listen and comprehend instead of focusing on my response. I usually try to repeat back some of what they said to further reinforce my active listening.
Practice, practice and more practice. You must speak with complete confidence on the phone and eliminate filler words and long pauses. But, how?
A good friend of mine gave me a great idea a few years back. He told me to record my pitch on the drive into work and then play it back to myself. This allows you to warm up your pitch before you even get into the office. Let’s be real with ourselves: We are going to screw up the first few pitches of the day. And, it’s beneficial for you to mess up before you’re on the line with a prospect.
I also like this technique because it allows you to hear yourself outside of your normal perspective. There’s no better way to know what you sound like than to listen to yourself pitch. You’ll know if you’re speaking too fast, too slow, too soft, emphasizing the wrong moments, and the list goes on.
At the end of the day, your success lays in your own hands. You have the tools and time. But, taking the time to strategize, plan and be deliberate with how you sell will make all the difference. So, to recap: