Cold calling continues to earn a seat at the strategy table, because it works. But, like good advice, cold calling is only effective if applied correctly. Let’s show you how.
What is cold calling?
When cold calling, a salesperson calls a prospective customer to introduce them to and sell a product or service that the prospect may or may not have heard about before. It can be used to target businesses (B2B0 or consumers (B2C). Cold calling is an intrinsic part of the B2B sales process in that decision makers can be identified, buyer needs uncovered and a foot in the door secured for an account manager or closer sales agent to see the deal through to fruition. Cold calling has traditionally been a cornerstone of new customer acquisition for many insurance, telecoms, utility companies, banks, and financial services providers for decades. A skilled agent can introduce an offering, qualify the prospect, and obtain a buying decision, as well collect payment details from the new customer – all in one call! Managing to connect with the prospective customer on an empathetic level during the call is imperative to build trust and lays the foundation for an engaging interaction and future business relationship.
Does Cold Calling Still Work?
Whether cold calling works or not is a contentious issue, with opinions (and results achieved) varying greatly. There are many who argue that cold calling is intrusive, interruption marketing, that it is overused and doesn’t work. Then there are others, who continue to achieve profitable and high growth sales results. Kenan-Flager Business School records a 2.5% success rate for cold calling and self-development author Brian Tracy (a respected expert on the topic of sales) strongly endorses it. We believe there is enough evidence to show that, done right, cold calling can deliver great bottom line results, but only a few are getting it right. There is a formula for achieving cold calling sales success: A sale occurs when a quality sales presentation is made to the right person and the right product is offered at the right price at the right time. So, cold calling is still very relevant, but it comes with various provisos for success.
How To Make A Good Cold Call – 5 Top Cold Calling Tips
Preparation, preparation, preparation
Particularly in B2B cold calling, various executives and decision makers have complained that their caller was ill-equipped to answer vital questions pertaining to the product / service at hand. Preparation for a call supersedes merely knowing about the history, milestones, and accolades of the individual or company. The caller needs to have an intrinsic knowledge of the prospective customer’s needs and how they can best be met. The sales process, for B2B, complex sales transactions or for sales with high compliance requirements (i.e. insurance sales) may include a fronter-closer method. Fronter-closer method is where a lead warmer (fronter) will warm up, qualify the lead and transfer to a sales specialist (closer) who will close the sale. Shift the focus – it’s all about the customer.
It’s not just business, it’s actually very personal.
How we make people feel is truly what will be remembered – whether making a critical cold call, or simply going about our lives. The prospective customer can instantly sense if the contact centre agent is interested in getting to know what they need, rather than just closing a sale. There’s an inspiring example in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, where Judi Dench plays the role of an older traveller who lands up in a mentoring role for millennials in a contact centre in India. She cites how she had been spoken to “without a trace of humanity”, when she’d revealed to a contact centre agent that her husband had recently died. In her role, Dench humorously guides a young agent to adapt to the nuances of a conversation, rather than “sounding like a robot”. In the movie, the contact centre agent quickly applied these tips and, sensing that Dench’s character wanted to chat, proceeded to ask her about the TV programme that she mentioned she was watching. So, instinctively, the agent shifted her focus from pushing the sale to the real-time need.
Step into the customer’s shoes
The contact centre industry needs to make empathy sexy. Detachment or indifference can be sniffed out at a distance.
Empathy and authenticity are mutually inclusive, and vital when engaging in a cold call. The contact centre representative must approach the call from a genuine place of humanity, to create a personal resonance with the prospective customer from the start. This is a crucial test that many contact centre representatives fail or are not even aware of. In this regard, it is best to avoid overly prescriptive sales scripts where possible. The telemarketer should certainly not be reading word for word to the prospective customer. When using sales scripting the telemarketing agent should pay careful attention to use the script to structure the call only, to ensure any compliance or communication person-to-person with the prospective client. And, regardless of how the call ends, if the recipient of the call experiences empathy on the other end of the line and an engaging sales experience then the company will gain from brand awareness created and may win this customer at a future date. Be a great listener.
Great cold callers use open-ended questions to uncover the needs and interests of the prospective customer. An open-ended question is any question that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Such questions get the prospect talking and deepen the quality of information provided.
Many believe that great telemarketing and telesales persons are great speakers, but to be an excellent cold caller you need to be a great listener first. Active listening is the art to be mastered here, one that is challenging when having to deal with sales targets and deal with constant rejection. And this applies to both B2B and B2C cold calls. But with concentration and intentional engagement, it is certainly achievable. Active listening shifts the focus from sales to value – a refreshing change for a prospective customer. Prospects often provide clues or buying signals to the telemarketer during the call and sales agents are well advised to listen attentively to expressions of interests from the prospect – including sounds of acknowledgement during the call. For instance, a question from the customer is indicative of interest and savvy agents will leverage on this interest to focus on benefits of the product or service that will be of most interest to the prospect. Sell on benefits, not features.
To the untrained ear a feature sounds much like a benefit, but knowing the difference has a huge influence on sales success. Top salespeople will always sell on benefits of the product, not the product features. So, what exactly is the difference between a feature and a benefit? Remember the “sell me this pen” interview question? It is a question often posed in interviews and is designed to gauge whether the sales agent has mastered the skill of selling on benefits as opposed to product features. A feature is “what it is”. In this case, a writing implement. A benefit is what the feature does for the customer. A pen reframed as a benefit then, is that it is a tool for social connection as the buyer writes a well-worded letter to a loved one. Another example of a feature is, “the battery on this device will last 18 hours with regular use”. Phrased as a benefit this may sound something like “the battery on this device will last 18 hours between charges which means that you can enjoy using your device throughout the day without interruptions or recharging required”. Customers seldom buy a product for its features. They will buy because the product solves a need. Therefore, it’s vital for the caller to frame the product features in a way that it solves a relevant need for the customer.
How To Build A Cold Calling Prospect List
Before you even start, you need to be clear about your product offering and value proposition, the landscape you’re operating in, who your competitors are, and what your buyer profile looks like. Then you’re able to compile your prospective customer criteria, considering important aspects like their pain points, compatibility with your established buyer persona, and their affordability.
Here are some tactics to use to nail that cold calling prospect list:
• For B2B targeting, consider aspects like location, industry, size, and purchase information
• For B2C targeting, considerations should include geographic and demographic information
• Study online reviews on competitors
• Identify your competitor’s prospects through online mentions
• Use LinkedIn to identify and review prospects
• Use your network to match prospects to your buyer profile
• Don’t underestimate the power of producing quality, relevant content
• Review past customers, and establish their updated information
From tracking unique website visitors to creating more pipeline or tracking interaction, there are myriad online tools to use for prospecting. These include Pardot, Leadlander, and Hubspot. Be mindful of data privacy and direct marketing regulations in the territories you operate in. Ensure you comply with the legal requirements to operate outbound cold calling campaigns. Be aware that data privacy legislation is in force in countries globally. For example, the EU has General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), The United Kingdom has the Data Protection Act and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), and California introduced the California Consumer Privacy Act. In South Africa, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) will be in full force from July 2021.
Measure The Right Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)
It is important to watch the right numbers not only to ensure your campaign performs optimally, but also to make any improvements that enhance this performance, or remedy obstacles hampering performance.
If your campaign isn’t achieving the desired results, then review your KPI’s.
Key Cold Calling Indicators Include:
• Average call time – what is the duration of the average call? If calls are short, then this may point to a poorly target prospect list or to the caller not engaging the prospect enough to open up a conversation.
• RPC ratio – the Right Party Connect ratio is an important indicator of the quality of the prospect list. Are you getting hold of enough of the right prospects? Poor RPC is a clear indicator that the prospect list is not working.
• Lead to Sale Ratio – what ratio of sales leads are converting to sales? This figure is an indicator of the quality of the prospect list, as well as the effectiveness of the caller. On an individual level, when comparing person-to-person results, this ratio differentiates effective from not effective persons.
• Average sales values
• Refusals – it is also important to record and review the reasons why a prospect refused an offer as much can be learned from unsuccessful sales calls.
When monitoring KPI’s regularly, it makes it easier for the operator to hone in on the focus areas that will achieve the desired result, and how to apply remedies in the form of training, product enrichments, product pricing reviews, selection improvements, and more. For more information on telesales, KPI’s, their meaning and how to manage using KPI’s – request the free info pack from us.