If you’re a sales professional sweating at the thought of having to do cold calls, this piece is intended to help you out by listing some great tips and advice experience cold callers have sent us on this topic. Here’s the query we put out:
How can one overcome the fear of cold calling, and use it to successfully sell? Looking to hear from sales professionals on how they are able to use cold calling effectively, and any tips/advice for new sales people nervous about cold calling.
There was a great response to that, and I’m confident you’ll find some good stuff here. My favorite response is this one by Justin Stephens, which I strongly recommend reading in full. But beyond that, here are the main pieces of advice people have sent us, along with links to the full comments:
- Be prepared – do some minimal research on the company you’re calling first. It’s a good idea to have a glance at their latest news and press releases (link)
- In addition, look up the person you’re calling. Then, focus on asking open-ended questions, treat them as an expert, and let them talk about themselves. You should also consider when to call people – you may get better results later in the day (3-5PM) (link)
- Listen to recordings of your voice and adjust your tone accordingly (link)
- Act as if you’re talking to a friend on the other side of the line (link)
- Turning cold calling into a competition can improve your motivation and make it less of a grind (link)
- Have a laminated script in front of you (not to follow word for word, but to help you if you get stuck) (link)
- Know the product you’re selling as well as possible (link)
- Be a good listener (link)
- Keep your message simple, and deliver it quickly (link)
- Cold calling is much easier if you believe what you’re selling is valuable (link)
- Avoid following a sales script like a robot (link)
Below are the comments in their entirety. And if you’ve had some success with cold calling and have some advice to share, you’re very welcome to make a submission here.
When I first started going to the gym, it was painful!
I hated it.
When I first started eating healthy, it was painful!
I also hated that!
When I first started cold calling, it was PAINFUL!
I HATED IT!
Fear of cold calling is felt by new reps as well as experienced sales professionals.. And it is not something that you are facing alone.
One thing about cold calls, you will never have to stand in line to make them!
Just like with going to the gym, eating healthy, and frankly anything else that you don’t want to do but need to, it can be learned and an incredible tool to help you find success. To become good at cold calling, you have to practice! You have to do the work to build up that muscle.
A couple things that I find help me when it comes to effectively cold calling:
1. BRING THE ENERGY!! If you sound like you have been cold calling for 3 hours, no-one is going to want to talk with you. Frankly, that is how most people sound during the very first CALL. I always have a dance party before starting my calling. Crank some music up, jump around, and play for 5 minutes. You will be shocked at how much that helps!
2. MAKE YOUR FIRST CALL TO SOMEONE WHO YOU KNOW! - This is counter intuitive but makes a world of difference. We the more momentum you have will determine how you feel during the whole experience. Call a client, friend, or prospect that you are already talking with FIRST. That will help create momentum early!
3. TALK ABOUT THEM! - Have you ever gotten a call, or made a call, that sounds like this “Hi, I am Justin Stephens with Prospecting Done For You. I want to tell you all about what it is that we are doing to generate leads for other people.’ Yeah, I would tune out as well! Instead focus on the important things - the problems that you solve!
4. INTERRUPT THE PATTERN - As soon as you get to the person you are trying to reach, you have to interrupt the expected pattern. My favorite tactic is to say before anything else ‘Did I catch you at a bad time?’ Most people will say did I catch you at a good time, and the problem with that is it is expected, AND IT IS NEVER A GOOD TIME FOR AN INTERRUPTION! Some other options would be to say something like ’This is a cold call, do you want to hang up or would you give me 30 seconds to share while I reached out in the first place?!’ Anything that they aren’t expecting is crucial.
5. SHORT TERM MEMORY LOSS - You are a 30 seconds to 5 minutes of this prospects life. The chances of them remembering you are very slim. You want to give yourself grace when it comes to the calls and the outcomes. You will be bad, but the only way to be good is to be bad long enough to gain the skills and reps to be good!
--Justin Stephens, Prospecting Done For You
I think the best way to overcome the fear of cold calling is to simply be prepared. Reduce the fear of the unknown by doing your research before picking up the phone . Usually, the News or Press Release section of your target company’s website can provide insights into their status and likelihood to buy from you. If they are announcing expansions, acquisitions, new projects etc then there will likely be opportunity. If you cross check key details from the press release against the information in your own database or LinkedIn.com, it should be relatively easy to find out who the key decision makers are. Mentioning press releases or company news during your pitch may also show you are a serious prospect.
--Joe Wilson, MintResume
As a person having years of cold-calling experience, I can tell you it can be one of the most frightening tasks. It can also be one of the most eye-opening, inspiring and fun and activities you can do. I don't think it's necessarily true that people hate cold calls. They just don't like standardized and cookie-cutter conversations, where they're treated like talking wallets. People don't like to be sold, but they do love buying.
So, the first important tip is preparation.
Finding out about their company, job title and role is just the basics. Research the specific person you're calling.
Focus more on asking open-ended questions, even their opinions. Treat them as an expert in the subject matter. People love to sound smart. It's even better to throw in a commonality if you have a similar interest, a common music style or a sports team.
People love talking about themselves. They just need an opportunity. Next tip is to try to get the timing right. Always ask if they have time to talk at the moment. If not, ask when you can call back. Usually people have more time to chat near the end of the work day, around 3-5 PM. Practice and see what works for your leads.
Lastly, even if you do get a bad lead, never take it personally. Their bad day doesn't have to become your bad day.
Keep a positive tone and smile - they can hear it.
--Erkki Muuga, WebinarSoftware
My best tip on cold-calling is to listen to recordings of your voice and adjust your tone accordingly.
Our voices always sound slightly deeper in our heads than to others. When you speak, vibrations travel through your skull and create a false sense of bass—which is you will always sound slightly higher when you hear yourself recorded.
My first lesson on cold calling from an old manager was to sound excited—prospects can't see your face, so you have to allow them to visualize your expressions through your tone and cadence. And sometimes, we get too excited—which can be off-putting.
Listening to your recordings help to adjust this. It's also good to listen to how the other person reacts to your pitch. Sales calls are a two-way street. Once you observe your recordings, you can also decide if you need to shorten or chop up chunks of information in the call, sneak in a question here and there, or just take a pause and let the other party speak!
--Hung Nguyen, Smallpdf
I started my career working in a recruitment agency cold calling people for call centers and there's one piece of advice that has helped me tide over my anxiety of talking to strangers as well as converting them into potential leads. And that is to assume that you're talking to a friend on the other side of the line. This may seem extremely trivial but it is extremely helpful. Once you imagine that you have a friend on the other side, it becomes far easier to let down any guards you may have developed due to the fear of cold calling. Your pitch also becomes more convincing because we want the best for our friends and loved ones. These emotions come across when you speak to the stranger and you will notice a dramatic difference in your conversions once you start employing this technique.
--Noman Nalkhande, WP Adventure
Cold calling can get boring and monotonous after a while especially if you are dealing with rejection most of the time. It can be easy to get demoralized and lose steam after a while. Why not inject a little fun into it by having a competition with a buddy to see who can garner more success with their cold calls on a given day. Having some form of competition would improve motivation and you might just come up with a creative way that converts amazingly well on your cold calls.
--Albert Lee, Home Living Lab
When we first started out, I was the sales team and now that we've gotten a little larger, I am in charge of training our sales professionals on how to effectively make cold calls. When I first started cold calling, I was extremely nervous and would get discouraged easily if a call didn't go well. I learned that the most important trick is to have a laminated script in front of me while making calls. The script is not meant to read off of word for word, that would sound unnatural. Having the script in front of me gave me more confidence and allowed me to quickly glance at my main talking points if I felt like I was getting stuck. Another great tip for sales professionals just starting out is to understand that cold calling is a numbers game. Yes, most people will hang up on you, they may even say nasty things on the phone. Don't get discouraged and just move on to the next one!
--Tyler Forte, Felix Homes
The best way to overcome the fear of cold calling is research! Cold calling can be very ineffective when you only ask general questions and do not provide value to the person on the other side of the call.
Our team prioritizes research and personalization. We create three sets of value propositions for the people we will be calling, so we can make sure we are not wasting anyone's time.
--Gabriel Pena, Imprint Genius
I had experience as a sales manager and yes, I was afraid to make cold calls too. But only after I've been through it myself I can say for sure what will help the newbies. A beginner in sales needs to know the product as well as possible to be able to answer a customer's most tricky question and fall in love with the product. Everything that a person perceives with warm feelings, he/she is no longer afraid of.
And of course, the golden rule of the seller is just to get experience. Yes, it will be unpleasant, you will have to feel uncomfortable, but every mistake and every embarrassment will grind a specialist, turning him into a highly skilled specialist.
Any questions that you do not answer at the beginning will seem simple to you by the second month of active work.
Unfortunately, you cannot avoid experience and mistakes. Only with them will you have a chance to become an expert. A fearless expert.
--Tatiana Gavrilina, DDI Development
My best cold calling tip is to be a good listener. While this is not always to do during a cold call, in the aggregate, you can learn a lot from your calls. You can learn what your clients are looking for and how to meet those needs in a short explanation. This allows you to find a way to actually engage and ultimately sell to those clients. If you are pushy and busy telling them what you have to offer, then it can be difficult to identify how you can provide a solution to their problem with your services.
--Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation
1. Expect No - Yes, this may seem like a defeatist attitude but the numbers of yes's vs. no's during sales/cold calls don't lie. Think of it as baseball, where the best players ever to play the game only succeeded three out of every ten times at the plate. They didn't think that they would fail in a way that would psyche themselves out or result in them trying less but in a way that they avoided being desperate during every at-bat to make something happen. I approach my cold calls in the same way in that there is a very good chance this person will say no to me and there is almost no chance they would offer me a resounding yes within the first 10 minutes of talking to me. Be prepared to at least set up another call or follow-up with the potential client/customer at a later date. This mindset has taken a lot of pressure off of me hoping to hear an immediate yes in my efforts and managed my expectations, which keeps me grounded.
2. Keep It Simple - Think about your frame of mind when/if you ever received a call from a salesperson or telemarketer. Your mind is probably elsewhere and you are trying desperately to get off the phone with this person, let alone listening intently on what they are trying to say. That is why getting to the point quickly and succinctly is your best chance of them processing anything that you say. My pitch for writing is usually as simple as I am a local writer and wondered if your business was ever in need of writing projects to be completed. I may be the person for you, where can I send my writing samples? I can get that out in 10-seconds and it pretty much gets across that you may have a problem that I may be able to fix. Simple but effective.
--Brendan Heffernan, Dunk or Three
There’s only one way to get over the fear of cold calling, and that’s to do lots of cold calling and learn to manage the fear and disappointment of being rejected. If a person is learning to ride a bicycle, there is only one way to get over the fear of falling and ultimately become a good bicycle rider, and that is by falling down and getting back up and onto the bike. Cold call sales are no different. Keep making calls.
--Darryl Smith, Florida Car Accident Lawyer Team
It’s much easier to sell a product we actually believe is of value. If we have lukewarm opinions of what we are selling, cold calling will be difficult because of our lack of commitment to the product. Trying to work in areas where you feel confident in what you are selling will help to alleviate that fear of the cold call and replace it with enthusiasm to share the value you know is inherent.
--Michael Nemeroff, RushOrderTees
The best cold calling tip that works for our business is to have customer support representatives follow their sales scripts like persuasive actors instead of robots. Customers are now more discerning than ever and if they sense that the other line is reading a script without sounding personal, they'd lose interest and feel that they're treated with less importance. Asking open-ended questions and repeating a few phrases from the customer's answer can improve your chances of landing a deal over the phone.
--Finn Cardiff, Beachgoer
My favorite cold calling tips are subtle, but extremely effective throughout our real estate businesses and sales teams.
1.) STAND UP! When making phone calls, utilize a standing desk or simply stand tall while talking to your prospects. Standing up straight allows phone salespeople to project their voices louder, sound more confident, and stay attentive on the call. It’s common for office workers to sit slouched behind their desks all day long, which can drain their energy and enthusiasm.
2.) PROJECT YOUR VOICE! Loud voices are generally perceived as more upbeat and assertive. Faint voices may come across as unenthusiastic and low-energy, let alone difficult to hear! Projecting your voice is an easy way to pick up the energy and communicate more effectively.
3.) SMILE AND DIAL! This simple action has profound effects. We tell our sales people to imagine the person on the other end of the phone can not only hear you, but they can SEE you! Your smile affects the tone of your voice and the recipient can “feel” your smile through your voice.
4.) COLD SHOWERS BEFORE COLD CALLING! Taking a cold shower before cold calls not only ensures you’re wide awake and ready to take on the day’s challenge, but also gives you the benefit of increased circulation to the brain. This natural supercharge heightens one’s mental agility and allows sales reps to perform at a superior level. A cold shower removes mental barriers that may otherwise hinder our ability to take action and do what we feel uncomfortable doing - like calling that COLD prospect!
--Ryan Zomorodi, Real Estate Skills
As a salesperson, never ever automate a cold calling email.
Automating a cold calling email defeats the primary purpose of cold calling which is to personalize the email for that particular person you are reaching out to.
As someone who gets these emails very frequently, I can tell you that it is easy to spot an automated email.
What do I do to them? I mark them as spam, block the sender, or blacklist them.
Personally, I don't like them. I feel that you count me as part of a statistics or a checklist that must be crossed out.
People are different. Companies are different. So, there is no way cold calling automation can help you connect to a person personally or close good deals.
--Adeyemi Adetilewa, IdeasPlusBusiness.com
Understand what you’re doing - Cold calling can come with a stigma that can lead to poor performance. Most of us have gotten a call from a number we don’t recognize, and we all tend to have a similar reaction. It’s possible to think your prospect will have the same response to your call. You’ll want to remember that the person who called you called with a purpose and for a reason. When you realize that what you’re doing matters but doesn’t define who you are, you can handle the rejections or the hang-ups and still give maximum effort with no drop in performance.
Speak as if you’re talking to yourself - I tend to think, “If I were receiving this phone call, what could someone say that would keep me on the line?” As long as it doesn’t stray too far away from the messaging, try to engage the prospect in a way that you believe would be successful if you were the prospect.
Switch up your cadence - After calling for an account for an extended period, I find myself saying the same things without thought. While I may not think I sound robotic, it’s always good to have a variation of your pitch if it works within the flow of the conversation. If you have the freedom within the script, try to switch your cadence and areas of inflection.
--Foquan Andrews, CIENCE