One of the biggest challenges in the sales world is properly executing a cold call. Cold calls can be awkward, nerve-wracking, and even detrimental if not initiated correctly. However, cold calling isn’t a complex obstacle to tackle. In fact, the skills are quite simple, and it’s a necessary skill that every top seller must master. Below is a four-step guide to follow when cold calling to increase your efficiency and effectiveness.
1. Create a game plan.
Before you pick up the phone, you should know what your game plan is and how you want to execute it. This involves figuring out the number of dials you want to make, the goals you want to achieve, your pre-call plan for each call, and even how to qualify or disqualify the opportunities you uncover.
The best method of planning all of this out is to talk to someone who’s been there before. Find a veteran in your office that excels at cold calling or a Sandler trainer and ask them to walk you through the process. There is a structure to an effective cold call, and it includes your opening, 30-second commercial, qualification, and closing for an appointment. Not every call will sound exactly the same, but each will have those elements.
Once you have a good understanding of what you want to accomplish and how you aim to do so, document your strategy and tactics. One of the benefits of cold calling is that the prospect can’t see you. You can have all your notes in front of you during the call. This way, if you ever stumble or get caught up, you can refer to your playbook and make sure you are hitting where you need to.
2. Stick with it.
Cold calling can be a drag when you are not seeing immediate results, and there will certainly be some days that you just want to hang up the phone and move on to something that feels more productive. However, in your prospecting plan, you should have outlined the number of dials you want to make each day to hit your sales goals. Never quit before you reach your target number of calls. If you were instead to track success based on how many appointments you set or sales you made, you would be at the mercy of the customer’s qualification, not your sales behavior.
Remember, you are on a scavenger hunt for qualified prospects and not every call will produce results. Your goal is to make enough calls that you make your numbers by the end of the month, not the end of the hour.
However, it’s imperative that you select a target number that’s in accordance with your ratios. If you know that every 20 dials you make, you’ll set an average of five appointments, have three meetings from those appointments, and make one sale from those meetings, then you can determine if 20, 40, or 60 calls are the appropriate number for you to make. That decision should be left up to you and your manager – what level of success is deemed acceptable.
Once you have that number, stick to it. Cold calling is a viable strategy and more effective than other modern prospect techniques because it doesn’t depend on any other variables for you to be successful. You control how many dials you make and who you call. Remember, you can’t turn bad prospects to good opportunities with a cold call, but you can uncover more good prospects with consistent behavior.
3. Follow through.
Cold calling starts with your first dial but doesn’t end until a sale is made or a prospect is disqualified. As you progress through the process of turning a prospect into a client, record your interactions and conversations.
Like a lot in the world of selling, cold calling success is determined by follow up and follow through. Sometimes it will take 6 to 8 dials to even have a conversation with a prospect. Depending on your sales cycle, it might take several conversations to close the sales. If you’re consistently cold calling, before long you’ll have a slew of files somewhere in-between opened and closed. Your ability and diligence when it comes to tracking where these cases remain and how you need to follow through will ultimately decide how much you will sell.
CRM (customer relationship management) systems are an effective and modern way of tracking these processes, but if that option isn’t available to you, utilizing spreadsheets or even a notepad will do the trick. Remaining organized and in control of your efforts is essential to be an effective cold caller. You can also talk to your Sandler trainer about auto-dialer technology and other tracking tools to monitor your pipeline.
4. Track and improve.
Once you’ve completed the three pieces of advice listed above, all that’s left to do is track your progress, record your results, and draw conclusions from the data. The best salespeople are those that can adapt to the rapidly changing landscapes of their industries. Periodically – whether that’s quarterly, monthly, or even weekly – look back through your numbers, either alone or with your manager or Sandler coach. Determine what habits are bringing you success and what flaws in your process are slowing you down and creating bottlenecks in your pipeline.
Once you have identified the positives and negatives in your practice and utilized quantifiable data to support them, change your game plan accordingly to retain your best practices while incorporating new efforts. Using a sales accountability tool to track your progress may help. Cold calling is a skill, learned over time, not something you are born with. By creating a game plan, sticking to it, following through, and analyzing your execution can certainly help you be successful in the long run. If you follow the guidelines above, you’re sure to make the most of your time on the phone.