13 Practical Cold Calling Tips That Don’t Suck
Cold calling is one of the most effective ways to get new business, but it’s not easy.
In fact, many salespeople hate cold calling because they’re nervous about making a pitch and getting rejected.
You need to find a way to turn selling over the phone into an activity you can enjoy.
Because let’s face it: It’s easier to do something well if you actually like doing it!
The following tips will help you make cold calls that are more effective and less stressful.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Don’t Be a Fu***** Robot
People respond well when they’re talking to a real person, not a computer. The best salespeople find a way to add a little fun and energy into each conversation.
For example, one insurance company I worked with used to have a cold calling script that was three pages long!
The reps would read it verbatim, and they didn’t feel comfortable deviating from the script, since they were afraid of saying something wrong.
Prospects felt like those reps were a bunch of robots.
Nowadays, when reps call on new leads, they only have a 30-second script that quickly introduces the company and gets prospects interested in setting up a time to talk about their needs.
The rest of the conversation is completely different every time, and reps have more fun because they get to be creative.
The bottom line?
Next time you’re making a cold call, don’t recite a laundry list of features and benefits.
Instead, try to figure out what you have in common with the prospect — a sports team you both like, or a recent vacation — and build rapport by using that shared interest.
Or just speak from the heart!
If you like the person you’re calling, it’s easy to put yourself in a positive frame of mind.
2. Avoid Sales Lingo
You should be yourself and speak in plain language.
A lot of salespeople like to use industry jargon to impress prospects, but that approach is more likely to make them feel like you’re talking down to them.
Also, avoid words like “partner” and “strategic” — they’re just filler words that don’t mean much to most people.
The best way to impress prospects is with your knowledge of their business.
For example, if you’re selling risk management services to a bank, ask the CIO what problems he’s having. Then, describe how your solution can solve those problems.
Or, if you’re selling digital marketing, ask the CMO if she’s struggling to meet sales targets. Then, describe the benefits of your services and how they can help her grow faster.
Also, remember to focus on your prospect’s problems, not your product features.
Prospects buy benefits, not products.
3. Don’t Force the Close
Most beginners feel like they have to “close” every call, even if it’s just for an appointment.
However, the best salespeople are patient and let the close happen naturally.
For instance, say you’re following up on an inbound lead, and the prospect says that she’s not ready to buy. You can spend five minutes asking follow-up questions — like, “Are there specific features that are preventing you from moving forward?”
If the prospect still isn’t ready to make a purchase, you can say something like, “It sounds like you need to do some more research. Would it be helpful if I sent you information about other clients in your industry?”
If the prospect says yes, send them some case studies.
If they say no, ask what information would be most helpful and send that.
Now you can end the call without forcing a close — and maybe set up another call to check in later.
The point is that salespeople should always be working towards a close, but they shouldn’t push the prospect to buy.
4. Get All the Information Before You Make the Call
Before you pick up the phone to make a cold call, do your research.
If you’re calling an inbound lead, check out the company’s website, search for the prospect on LinkedIn, and review recent articles where they’ve been mentioned.
If you’re calling an outbound lead, find out as much as possible about the company.
Then, review your past sales performance and prepare some questions that can help you understand their business.
The point is that you should always be knowledgeable and confident about the prospect. If you do your research ahead of time, you won’t have to worry about fumbling over your words.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of Silence
You need to know when to speak and when to listen.
For example, say you’re on the phone with someone who seems to be disengaged. If you keep talking, they’ll zone out even more and you’ll lose them completely.
Instead, let them do most of the talking.
If they sound excited, keep asking questions to get them going even more.
If they seem bored, let them rant for five minutes, then ask a few questions that will get the conversation going again.
The goal is to keep them engaged until they reach their pain point.
And if you sense that they’re about to end the call, ask for an appointment.
Besides, silence doesn’t have to be awkward.
If you let prospects do most of the talking, they’ll feel more comfortable with you — which makes them more likely to say yes.
6. Sell the Problem, Not the Solution
When you’re cold calling, never give away your product or service.
You should always talk about how your prospect’s life will be better if they work with you — not how your product or service will make that happen.
For instance, say you provide software for salespeople.
When you tell a prospect about your software, don’t say that it’s going to “increase their revenue by 30%.”
Instead, talk about how their daily lives will be better — say that using your software will help them close deals as quickly as possible.
In other words, sell the problem rather than the solution.
You see, whenever you talk about the benefits of your product or service, it should always relate back to the customer’s life. When you do that, they’ll trust you more — which makes them much more likely to buy.
Humans are emotional, not rational.
The more you talk about the emotions your product or service is going to create, the more likely it will be that people will say yes.
8. Don’t Be a Telemarketer
One of the biggest reasons cold calls don’t work is because people try to sell too fast.
They try to force a close by rushing their prospects into deciding.
Instead, you should go slow.
You should find out what your prospect’s desires, values, fears, and needs are — and only then should you talk about your product or service.
Again, people buy based on emotions, not facts.
So, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective. If you can give them everything they want, you’re halfway there.
9. Use Role-Playing to Develop Confidence
Got a fear of rejection? Then it’s time to play the role of the salesperson.
Roleplaying is a simple exercise that will help you practice handling rejection before it even happens — which means your confidence will go through the roof.
All you need to do is find a friend, tell them you’re practicing cold calling, and ask if they would mind listening to your pitch.
Of course, this friend should be someone who knows a thing or two about sales — they should be able to give you honest feedback and advice on what to do better.
If your friend isn’t into that, you can also record yourself making a cold call and then play it back.
You’ll hear all the things you’re doing wrong — so you can try not to make the same mistakes.
Roleplaying is one of the most powerful ways to develop confidence, so don’t underestimate it.
By practicing, you’ll be able to get rid of the psychological barrier that’s holding you back from succeeding.
10. Study Successful Cold Calls
One of the best ways to become a great cold caller is by learning from people who are already successful at it. This means studying phone sales scripts, listening to recorded calls, and reading books and articles.
There are plenty of books, courses, and seminars that teach you how to improve your cold calling skills — so don’t be afraid to take advantage of them.
It takes time and effort, but you’ll be able to absorb all the information you need to become a great salesperson — all from the comfort of your home.
Some of these resources can help you in your daily life: They’re not just for business.
For example, listen to recorded calls and study the things that successful salespeople do. This will help you become more confident in your ability to deal with rejection — which can be helpful in any area of your life, not just sales.
And if you can’t find a learning resource that’s geared towards your profession, there are still ways you can study cold calling.
Just look at the recording of a recorded call and see what they’re doing right — and wrong. You’ll be able to pick up loads of little tips that will dramatically improve your sales abilities.
Of course, you can also study how successful salespeople overcome rejections. Then, if you find yourself in a similar situation, you’ll be able to use their techniques to your benefit.
The point is: there’s no harm in learning from other people — so make the most of it.
12. Create a Ritual and Stick to It
Creating a ritual for cold calling is simple: just follow the same routine every time you make a call. This way, you’ll be able to get into the habit of doing things like preparing your pitch and visualizing prospects saying “yes”.
This might sound a bit hokey — but it really works. Michael Jordan used to visualize himself being successful before every game.
In fact, it’s a scientifically proven method for achieving better results: you’re more likely to do something if you visualize yourself doing it beforehand.
For example, you could set up your computer in the same place every time before you start making your cold calls. This way, you’ll be able to get into the right mindset before you do it—so your chances of success will go up.
You could also plan out your pitch and what you’ll say to prospects. Then, when you use it, it will feel more effortless — and you’ll know what to say without having to think about it.
You can even set up your pitch so that most people will answer in a positive way. For example, if you’re calling for a restaurant, you could say something like “Would you be interested in booking a party for your friends or family?”
This way, you’ll get lots of “yes” answers—and it will make it much easier to book a reservation, which is what you actually want.
By “ritualizing” your cold calling, you’ll have a much better chance of success — and you won’t have to think about what you’re going to say or do.
You’ll just be able to let your instincts take over and automatically do the right thing.
13. Focus on the Process, Detach From the Results
A lot of people get caught up in the results of their cold calling efforts — and that’s the wrong way to think about it.
Successful salespeople think about the process, not the outcome.
If you focus on the process, you’ll be able to take things one step at a time. It’ll be much less overwhelming than thinking about the results.
And that’s what you need to do: focus on the process. You’ve got to detach yourself from the results so that you can just take your cold calling one step at a time.
If you’re able to do that, then the results will come — but if you get fixated on the outcome, you’ll end up giving up.
Of course, it’s still important to visualize yourself succeeding — and that’s why it’s a good idea to create a ritual for cold calling.
But if you get caught up in the results, that will get in your way and stop you from making the calls you need to.
To achieve your goals, you should never aim for them directly. Instead, you should move in angles.
For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, instead of fixing your mind on how many pounds you want to lose, just focus on exercising and eating healthier. This way, you’ll get in the right mindset and, before you know it, you’ll be where you want to be.
The same applies to cold calling: focus on the process, not the result.
If you do that, then you’ll become better and better at it—and your prospects won’t be able to resist.
Cold calling can feel like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as people make it out to be — and you can do it too.
All you need to do is follow these 13 practical tips and you’ll be able to start making cold calls that work. Then, you’ll be able to get into the right mindset and make things much easier for yourself.
The good news?
You don’t have to apply all these tips at once. Just pick one or two that appeal to you, try them out for a few days, and then move on to the next ones.
The secret isn’t getting it perfect, but rather improving it gradually.