When a random number flashes across your phone’s screen what’s your first reaction?
If you’re like most people, you probably send that caller straight to voicemail.
Because of the way you naturally react to an unknown caller you probably dread making B2B cold calls yourself, but this kind of reasoning could be exactly why you haven’t met your sales goals.
You probably know all the statistics that “prove” cold calling is so 2002…
- There’s only a 2% conversion rate
- 80% of prospecting calls go to voicemail
- It takes 8 calls to finally get a response
But what about all the statistics that prove cold calling actually works…
- 42% less growth is experienced by businesses that don’t think cold calling is worth it
- 92% of interactions with customers are conducted over the phone
- 82% of decision-makers schedule appointments with sales reps that actively reach out
So why does the data disagree?
It comes down to one very basic thing … technique.
With that being said, let’s go over the top 5 B2B cold calling tips that will help you improve your performance and dial with confidence.
- Vet Your Lead List
If you sit at your desk with a bunch of random names and numbers determined to just hack your way through the list, you’re in for a rough day. That’s just not how cold calling works anymore.
Technology has changed the way we make cold calls. Because of machine learn and AI, highly targeted lead lists can be generated in a matter of minutes with the most up-to-date contact information. Better yet leads can be cultivated based on third-party intent data.
What is B2B lead generation through third-party intent data?
I’m glad you asked. Basically, a B2B lead generated through third-party intent data has shown an interest in a particular topic through various activities on third-party sites which could signal an upcoming buying decision.
Do you see how powerful that is? By targeting decision-makers using third-party intent data you can effectively pursue people that are in the awareness or consideration phase of their buying journey, and maximize your potential with each interaction.
So why doesn’t everyone use third-party intent data?
Well, valuable leads like this don’t come cheap.
Instead, of taking on an expense like this solo, many businesses opt to work with a B2B lead generation company that can not only make lead lists more affordable but also handle some of the early stages of prospecting that are labor-intensive and expensive, like appointment setting.
- Research your prospects
What’s more intriguing?
“Hey Joe, this is Kyle with ABC Tech. Are you still handling inventory management for XYZ Manufacturing?”
“Hey Joe, this is Kyle with ABC Tech. I see that you were recently promoted to Director of Inventory Management. Congratulations! Could you help me with something?”
I don’t know about you, but I would be a bit more interested in the Kyle that took the extra 2 minutes to stalk my LinkedIn profile.
However, we should note that you can spend too much time researching a prospect. Get enough information to have a compelling conversation, but not so much that you know their dog’s name or how many kids they have because that just creepy.
Take no more than 5 minutes to research each prospect. Focus on their LinkedIn profile and their company’s website and/or social media presence. Determine what pain points the prospect might be facing given their job title and industry then pick up the phone and dial.
- Defeat Call Reluctance
Nearly 50% of B2B sales reps are scared of making cold calls. Whether it’s the fear of rejection, failure, or a little bit of both, it’s hard to deny the correlation between call reluctance and low conversion rates.
You can only tell yourself, “don’t take it personally,” so many times before you give in to your doubt and start searching for other job opportunities instead of other prospects.
So how do you become a stone-cold calling machine without losing your humanity?
You have to live the Success Triangle. The Success Triangle is a Sandler Training rule that focuses on the importance of matching your behavior, attitude, and technique.
In other words, if you are struggling with cold calling reluctance then:
- Develop actionable behaviors by:
- Setting daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly goals.
- Ignoring distractions that would otherwise derail you.
- Hold yourself accountable for your progress.
- Adjust your attitude by:
- Assuming your desired outcome will be achieved.
- Disregarding negative internal thoughts that keep you down.
- Being aware that your attitude WILL have an effect on your behaviors.
- Tackle your technique by:
- Being prepared to try new tactics if yours aren’t working.
- Making a conscious effort to regularly learn about new strategies.
- Avoiding pride that stops you from asking for advice from top salespeople.
For the Success Triangle to work you have to diagnose what is out of wack and then modify that point of the triangle to balance out your performance.
- Don’t Focus on the Sale
As tempting as it might be to spew out features and benefits the second you finally make contact, a cold call is all about prospecting not selling.
Focus on telling a story about your solution while putting the lead right at the center of it. Or alternatively, tell a compelling story about a client that had a relatable problem your company’s solution was able to seamlessly solve.
Storytelling is an art that takes time to master, but there is a flow that you can implement as you build out a cold call script.
- Character – Put a person or a business at the heart of your story. Make the character relatable and then add in a bit of suspenseful conflict.
- Pain Point – Explain the character’s problem in a way that hits home. If you are targeting a specific industry and position, focus on the issues that the prospect deals with regularly and how that hinders them from their goals.
- Solution – Present the outcome with tangible results as a benchmark for what could happen if the prospect opens up to the possibility of partnering with your business.
We often think of storytelling as a long, drawn-out narrative, but you can tell a story in under 60 seconds if you incorporate these three elements. Your story may sound something like this:
“Bill, I noticed you are the director of finance for one of the largest healthcare systems in the midwest. We had a client similar to you that was struggling with accurately forecasting labor demand which put him and human resources in a terrible position. We were able to help them maintain 98% accuracy in forecasting last quarter after implementing our system.”
There you go. Character, pain point, and solution wrapped up in three sentences. Use your creativity to build your story, and test out different versions to see what works best.
- Track the Data
What data should you track? All of it, seriously.
It seems tedious but the more you know about what works and what doesn’t, the more you can improve your performance.
Things to consider when tracking your data:
- What times during the day do you have the most connections?
- What days of the week do you have the most success?
- What are the most common objections you encounter?
- How long does a successful call usually last?
- What is the typical length of an unsuccessful call?
- And, of course, What is your average conversion rate?
Share and compare your data with other sales reps to find similarities, then your whole team can reap the rewards of powerful analytics.
By tackling your lead list during the days and times that you have the highest connection rates and using the dead times to catch up on ancillary tasks, you will be more productive and have a less stressful workflow.
In addition, by determining how long successful and unsuccessful calls last along with the average number of calls that go to voicemail and your conversion rate, you can have a predictable sales forecast that makes goal setting exciting rather than intimidating.
Practice persistence and perseverance to make consistent improvements in your B2B cold calling techniques. Seek guidance from your peers and other veteran salespeople when you’re in a rut.
No one expects you to be an expert in B2B cold calling right out of the gate. There are some people out there who are “naturals” but they are the unicorns of the sales industry. In most cases, those experts are people just like you that had a crappy first few months or first year before getting into a groove.