Those who oversee sales teams will be all too familiar with the challenges surrounding cold calling.
Although a hugely valuable step in the lead generation process – as well as being a quick and effective way of understanding the potential value of a prospect – many salespeople struggle to connect during these early conversations. And it is often sales leaders who feel the pain later, in the shape of unmet sales targets and questionable pipelines.
Making cold calls feel warm, open and mutually beneficial is no easy feat. It calls for specialist knowledge and plenty of experience – something that we at Bollin Green happen to know a lot about.
If you’re a sales leader, check out these five cold call techniques to work on with your teams. We guarantee that you’ll see improvements in conversation outcomes!
- Prepare with a persona focus
- Understand time sensitivity
- Think discovery over sales
- Keep questions cohesive and courteous
- Respect the conditions of the business
Prepare with a persona focus
Specialist B2B telemarketing is about having focused conversations with people who wield genuine buying power.
And the only way to set this stage is to prepare, prepare, prepare! Understanding your personas will heavily dictate the shape of a prospecting conversation and your cold call techniques.
It makes sense to channel a significant proportion of your preparation efforts into persona building. Considering the issues and challenges your prospects face will help you to anticipate the direction of the conversation, from which you are positioned to provide useful, relevant information at just the right time.
Adapting your tone and the tempo of the call can also be a big help. Are your prospects relaxed and open to a bit of pre-amble, or are they under pressure and simply want to know what you have to say. Be prepared for all scenarios and be ready to adapt to their pace.
The bottom line? Learning about what keeps your personas up at night will make for a solid cold call. But how you adapt your calling behaviour to mirror their personalities can take your cold calling to the next level.
Understand time sensitivity
Our second point is an interesting one – where many B2B salespeople can go wrong when cold calling. Let us explain.
The timing of your call can make all the difference. After all, when a decision maker is busy, they’re occupied with making money for their business – just like you. So it’s unrealistic to expect a senior contact to carve out time for a cold call and if they do, the conversation is more likely to be superficial and unproductive.
Instead, think about your own work diary. When are you free and when do you have meetings? More often than not, the beginning and end of the working day tends to be less clogged, so try to make your calls then.
But it’s not just time of day. Time of year can be a factor too. If you have a large, segmented database or are targeting a very specific industry, seasonal fluctuations can dictate if prospects are more open to a call.
Trying to get in touch with decision-makers when they’re reflecting on a busy period and analysing what may have gone wrong or caused them pain can be a great way to open a conversation. Then, you won’t be “another cold call”. Instead, you’ll be a fantastic idea at the perfect moment!
- The food logistics sector ramps up around Christmas. Strategise a cold calling plan for January or February instead.
- The financial services sector always has a busy first quarter. So devise a calling campaign for quarter 2, post-audit.
- The travel and tourism sector sees activity spike during the summer. Cold calls will be more productive in the autumn lull.
Think discovery over sales
A good B2B telemarketer rarely expects to make a sale from a cold call.
This is because, for telemarketing specialists, a cold call is all about discovery and understanding the prospect’s requirements. You are prospecting, not selling. Confirming if your business may – or may not – slot into the sales cycle.
So, when honing a cold call approach, temporarily put the sale to the back of your mind. Doing so allows you to focus on the real opportunity. I.e., building on your knowledge of specific personas, sectors and sales processes and determining if you’ve revenue potential on your hands.
Remember, your contact will notice if you go into a cold call expecting to sell. And we can guarantee they won’t be too enthused about it, either.
Keep questions cohesive and courteous
When done right, cold calls are discovery calls.
Although far lighter than the hard sell, B2B discovery calls must still strike a delicate balance between results and genuine rapport. After all, telemarketing specialists have a commercial interest and will set conversation goals.
This means that certain lines of open questioning are inevitable. However, the challenge is untangling the answers without leaving the contact feeling poked and prodded. Specialist B2B telemarketers achieve this by keeping calls tight, cohesive and polite, centred around getting clarity on three critical questions:
- Is the current solution meeting the demands and needs of the business?
- What is the true size of the company?
- Where is the contact in the decision-making line of command?
Taking this approach ensures that your conversation stays on a commercially-valuable path but doesn’t put a contact under pressure to reveal all (or commit a tonne of time!)
Respect the conditions of the business
The reality is that you can’t – and won’t – sell to everyone you speak to.
It’s perfectly plausible that you’ll educate yourself about a contact’s business, persona and pain points and, upon speaking to them, find that the conditions of the business aren’t ripe for a sale. Not now (in which case, add the contact to your warming queue), perhaps not ever.
It’s important to listen well to what a contact tells you and respond accordingly. Know when to pull back if an organisation is clearly out of scope. And know how to ask qualification questions without seeming pushy (see point four).
For a B2B telemarketer, a genuine conversation is valuable in many ways. Sure, the ideal outcome of any B2B cold call is to hit it off with a contact and move them into that perfect prospect category. But the calls that don’t progress still have value too. Consider them a learning moment and permission to focus your time on
The techniques we’ve shared boil down to having an enormous understanding of a niche and the decision-makers who operate within it. As a result, these cold call techniques will only be as effective as your team’s knowledge is deep.
Bollin Green’s specialist B2B telemarketers have an exceptional and continuously growing understanding of the sectors we represent. Our research, qualification and Inside Sales telemarketing services help sales leaders enrich knowledge, grow pipelines and close more deals.
To learn more about our process and why it works so well, click here to book a no-obligation discovery session with us.