6 Cold Calling Tips to Make a Great First Impression
Cold calling. Nerve wracking, isn’t it?
It takes a while for sales reps to get used to being hung up on, or their best efforts being met with rude responses.
But every so often, cold calling strikes gold. And that’s why so many industry leaders continue to persevere with this traditional form of sales.
Not every sales call is equal, and when you do have a willing recipient on the other end of the phone line, it’s vital to make a great first impression.
Coming in strong on a cold call could also mean that you’re subject to fewer hang-ups and impolite responses – and ultimately end your session with the top of your funnel overflowing with prospects.
So what can you do to master the art of a great first impression during cold calls?
Here are seven of the most effective cold calling tips.
1. Prepare a Script
Not every sales rep likes the idea of cold calling scripts.
Some worry it could make them sound robotic or less human, or rob them of their natural charm.
Yet cold calling scripts can be a huge boost when it comes to making that great first impression. Ultimately, every sales rep has a script, whether they realize it or not – they generally don’t change their greeting or sales pitch for every single prospect.
If you’re concerned about any of the worries outlined above, remember you’re the one writing the script, so you can bake in as much personality and room for flexibility as you’re comfortable with.
Not only do cold calling scripts ensure that you stay on track and can smoothly handle any common questions or sales objections, but they also ensure that your pitch has direction.
This makes it easier to stick with your objectives – no matter how much your prospect may try to derail you – and make it clear why you’re calling.
And there you have it: a great first impression.
2. Research Your Prospects
It’s no secret that putting in the research before pressing the call button will reap better results than going in blind.
Yet so many sales reps still don’t get it done, prioritizing other tasks on their packed to-do lists.
This doesn’t have to be a long and arduous task, however – simply block out some time ahead of your cold calling session to gather the most important information about each and every prospect.
You should be looking up information about:
Another aspect of the research should also be to find the right decision maker – or get as close to them as possible – before calling.
This research – typically conducted through LinkedIn, Google searches, and company websites – should give you an idea of what the recipient of your call looks like, who they are, and what they do.
Jack Wilson, Head of Sales at Right Inbox, recommends discovering a common interest to use as an icebreaker on the call. If you’ve truly done your research before a call, your prospect will be able to tell and will automatically know you truly care about working with them and their company.
Gaetano DiNardi, former VP of Marketing at Sales Hacker, says that cold calling your prospect from a virtual number with the same area code as them is a simple, yet underrated way to increase first-touch connect rates.
If you think about it, how do most people typically respond to calls from unrecognized phone numbers? They often won’t pick up, because they suspect it could be a robo call or spam. But if they see an incoming call from the same area code, they are more likely to answer due to the familiarity effect. You can try using a virtual phone system to spin up local phone numbers pretty easily.
3. Know What Questions to Ask
No matter what product or service you’re selling, you’ll have a series of questions you want to ask every single prospect.
When it comes to writing the script, do what skilled explainer video companies do when working on their piece’s scripts: keep the focus on the most vital questions – and the ones that will most likely entice your prospect to continue the conversation further – are at the top of the bill.
This means that even if your prospect doesn’t complete the entire call, you’ll have gotten the most important information to take away and work with.
It’s not just about the questions themselves, however. Sales reps need to know how to link the questions together to confidently advance the conversation, and ideally use them as stepping stones to get to their call to action.
With this in mind, prepare three to four sales discovery questions to ask on your next call. These should be overarching questions surrounding any challenges the prospect is facing and how they intend to solve their problem.
4. Learn the Common Sales Objections
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, which means that prospects will raise objections from time to time.
Luckily, the same sales objections tend to come up again and again, which means that it’s easy for sales reps to prepare for them and to hone their answers over time.
You can’t avoid sales objections, but you can prepare to overcome them effectively, with the aim of turning a “no” or a “maybe” into a “yes.”
After each cold calling session, take time to write down each sales objection you encountered. You can ask the rest of your team which objections constantly come up for them too.
Then simply write down the answers – alongside relevant statistics – to each query, and keep the document open when on calls.
For bonus points, ask your marketing team to create assets that overcome each sales objection, and send them to any contacts who raise them during or after the call.
5. Get Familiar With Leaving Voicemails
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the long beep of a prospect’s voicemail…
But I know I’m not alone. In fact, 80% of calls end up going to voicemail. Although for sales reps who regularly employ cold calling, it can feel like a lot more, right?
The best thing we can do is be prepared.
Despite a large percentage of our calls going to voicemail, this turn of events still seems to take many of us by surprise.
Often, sales reps will ramble on and on, stumbling over “ums” and “ahs,” and in doing so leave no compelling reason for prospects to call them back.
Like in all B2B sales situations, you just have to be prepared. Prepare a voicemail script and master it in order to sound professional and confident.
With no questions or objections to face, making a great first impression on a voicemail should actually be a lot easier than doing so during a call.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
You’ll have heard this one before, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
Simply put, one of the most important cold calling techniques is to practice. Time and time again, sales leaders observe that failures tend to happen most where there is a lack of practice.
Indeed, the tips above will only take you so far if you don’t practice your script, practice leaving voicemails, and practice asking questions and overcoming common objections.
Roleplay with your colleagues and record yourself speaking. Analyze these sessions to work out what sounded a bit off and how you can improve your script or your tone of voice.
This will ensure that you sound more confident in future real-life situations, helping you make that great first impression.
So now we’ve given you the building blocks for making a great first impression, it’s up to you to take it from here.
Do your preparation and get plenty of practice in, and you’ll be sure to start nailing those first impressions.
Remember: a good first impression isn’t enough on its own. You need to keep up the level of service going forward to ensure you make a great second impression, a fantastic third one – and so on and so forth.
After all, this is how great sales relationships are built.