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How to make a cold call: A definitive guide

Published on April 1, 2021
Sayantan
Content Writer, Rafiki.ai

Did you know that 82% of the buyers become customers only after repeated sales calls? 

Even if the definition of cold calling has evolved a lot over time, it’s still one of the best ways to turn your prospects into paying customers.

Let’s understand what is cold calling and how cold calling has changed over time.

What is Cold Calling?

When a prospect receives a call from a salesperson for the very first time (without any prior connection), it’s defined as a cold call. Historically, a cold call was a process consisting of numbers laid out on a piece of paper and a teleoperator dialing the numbers one by one without prior research.

Cold calling as a sales practice was first introduced by John Patterson, the NCR Corporation founder, in 1873.  However, the cold calling meaning has evolved over the years due to more customer-centricity.

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Cold calls are now more personalized. The sales team does thorough research on their targeted personas before reaching out. The sales team also reaches out to their target audience via social media and email before dialing their numbers.

Here is a cold calling definition according to Investopedia

“Cold calling is the oldest form of marketing for salespeople. It means the ‘solicitation of a potential customer who has no prior interaction with a salesperson.’”

Mario Martinez Jr., Founder & CEO of Vengreso, says that you have to be crystal clear on who you intend to serve and what pain-points you solve. He says - 

“If you want to resonate with your buyers - and not fall on deaf ears - you must get super clear on who you help and how you help. If you don’t clearly communicate the business problem that you actually solve, you’re never going to be able to build value!”

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Difference between cold, warm, and hot calls

Cold calling has evolved over time, and organizations have been trying out an inbound approach while making cold calls. Here’s an equation that’s working well for the sales teams -

Outbound calls + Inbound Approach = Optimized Results

When you call a prospect who has never interacted with you before or never heard of you/your organization, you will need a series of calls, set appointments, and great sales skills to close. When you call prospects who have already shown interest in your product/service, you improve the conversion rate. The more you know the prospect, the hotter the call gets.

On that note, here’s a comparative analysis between cold calls, warm calls, and hot calls -

different between cold, warm and hot calls

Things to remember before making a cold call

Here are some prerequisites for a cold call -

  • Start with the research: The sales team calls this a ‘pre-call ritual.’ You need to collect key information about the prospect before you make a cold call. Here is a classic pre-call research checklist compiled by Yesware
  • Create a quick outline of your call’s flow: Creating this outline will save you a ton of effort. It doesn’t need to be super-detailed. Just find answers to questions like how you’ll introduce yourself, how you’ll create a connection, how you’ll pitch, how you would handle the common objections, etc.
  • Go through your list: Spend some time looking at your prospect list. Find out the basic information about them. But don’t go overboard. Limit this activity to 1-2 hours.
  • Overcome the cold calling reluctance: Shannon Goodson and George Dudley conducted a study on sales call reluctance. They found that 80% of newbie salespeople fail in the department of sales call reluctance. 40% of experienced salespeople stop prospecting because of the same. Reminding yourself of the purpose of making the call will help you get over this reluctance. It’s like a muscle, and it gets better with practice.
  • Work on the introductory sentence: It must be strong and should pique the interest of your prospect. You can try the below approach -
  • I saw that your organization had got a new round of funding (exciting news)
  • I noticed you’ve been hiring for more sales reps (recruitment news)
  • Congratulations on taking the new role (promotion)
  • I was reading your feature on XYZ magazine, and your insights on sales enablement were inspiring (something personal & noteworthy)
  • Send an email to the prospect before you make a call: This will break the ice and turn a cold call into a warm call. If your prospect checks the email, he/she would already know who you are and why you’re calling. Even if your prospect doesn’t check their email, you have a reference point to go back to.

Effective Cold Calling Tips and Techniques

  1. Run a few mock calls with your colleague before you start making actual calls. Have your colleagues critique you in the harshest manner possible during these practice calls. So every time you get told ‘no’ during your actual calls, you can remind yourself that at least it wasn’t as bad as that rejection. This also helps you get used to your script as well as prepare for any negative outcomes that may occur.
  2. Purchase a quality headset. According to data from Peak Sales Recruiting, it may be possible to improve your cold calling effectiveness by almost 60% just by using a headset.
  3. Practise using the right vocal tonality when engaging and speaking with your prospect. You will have to strike the right balance between sounding enthusiastic and confident. If you sound monotone and robotic then there is a high chance that you may not make the sale.
  4. Do not be afraid to use your prospect’s voicemail. You can also leave a message with the gatekeeper or your prospect’s colleague. Make sure to include this in your cold calling script as there is a high chance that most cold calls do not usually reach your target prospect in the first few tries.
  5. Always give your prospect time to talk. Every good salesperson knows that listening is the most important of all sales skills. Once you have mastered the art of active listening and identifying your prospect’s true motivations, it's only then that you can truly perfect your sales pitch.
  6. Finally, don't give up easily. Always remember that cold calling is difficult. Prioritize learning in every interaction and seek to improve by analyzing call recordings and transcripts.  Keep perfecting your sales outreach and you will soon be on your way to mastering cold calling.

How to make a cold call?

In the olden days, cold calling was all about luck. It was simply picking up the phone and calling as many prospects as you can - because it was a number’s game. Now, with the advancements in technology, one needs to approach cold calling differently. Here’s how you should approach cold calling now -

  • Cold email first: It’s quite easy to send a personalized email rather than pick up the phone and call a stranger. You get a chance to build a relationship before you even call.
  • Think about the timing of the call: Tim Ferriss found out that whenever he called between 7:00 -  8:30 a.m. and 6:00 - 7:30 p.m., he sold more. And instead of pitching, he asked questions. You also need to be creative when you make the cold call and how you approach your prospect.
  • Autodialers vs. Standard Phone: Autordialers have made cold calling relatively easy. You don’t need to pick up the phone and dial the phone number manually. Autodialer pulls the numbers from the list, makes the call on your behalf, and connects to a prerecorded message or a live agent.
  • Use of CRMs: You can also use CRM for cold calling. It saves you time, effort, and errors. There are conversational intelligence tools like Rafiki that can help you analyze your performance in the call.
  • Use of social media/apps: You can use apps like Whatsapp, FB Messenger, or chatbot to qualify the prospects and even call them for building more rapport and connection.

What Rafiki has to do with cold calls?

Now that you know what is cold calling, it is time for some action. To get better as a salesperson, you need to monitor your calls constantly.  Rafiki is a cost-effective tool that suggests areas where you can improve your pitch, narratives, and more. Plus, you can use Rafiki for opportunity intelligence, customer intelligence, and organizational intelligence to accelerate your sales growth. To know more about how Rafiki can help your organization, contact us today.

⋙ Checkout how Rafiki helps SDR's to convert more leads
⋙ Checkout how Rafiki helps SDR's to convert more leads

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