Cold calling is an effective – but sometimes intimidating – sales tactic.  However, it’s something that anyone can do, but you have to know how to approach it in order to do it well.  It’s a piece of the selling process that is sometimes necessary in order to increase sales.  So, how do you turn cold calling into an art form?  By debunking some of the common myths about cold calling.

If you buy into these beliefs, then they will become a reality in your approach to cold calling.  By taking another look at these myths we will see cold calling as an important skill rather than a nerve-wracking nuisance.  As a sales rep, it’s easy to buy into these myths as the truth and allow them to hinder your performance, especially if management doesn’t discourage this type of mindset.

Let’s take a look at some common cold calling myths and take a different approach to how we see them.

5 Cold Calling Myths:

Cold Calling is Intrusive – The truth is that cold calling can be intrusive; however, if done properly it doesn’t have to be.  If you make your call about gaining knowledge about your prospect’s needs to determine if your product can fill these needs then your call doesn’t have to be intrusive.

cold calling tips

According to Benjamin Dennehy, the rules of cold calling undermines the way we were taught to behave growing up. We feel we’re being intrusive and interrupting when we make cold calls because growing up we were taught not to interrupt busy people. So, we look at cold calling it as an intrusion but it’s not if done properly.

First, tell them it’s a cold call and ask them if it’s OK to proceed. Then, ask if they have symptoms A, B, or C. If they have one or more of these symptoms that you or your product can solve, then you have grounds to continue the conversation. Benjamin recommends at this point asking them, “Look, let me have 30 seconds. By the end of those 30 seconds, we can either keep speaking or we can hang up. Does that sound fair?”  This makes them feel in control of the conversation. They can choose to keep talking or end the conversation. You’re no longer being intrusive.

Keep the conversation natural. Ask questions and offer suggestions rather than “telling” the prospect what you do.  Qualify your leads to ensure the lead is a good fit for your product/service. If it is not a fit, you may end the call by making the prospect feel good about what they have or about your conversation that may spur ideas of how the prospect could reach their goals. Cold calling is intrusive when your sales reps just stick relentlessly to a script and focus on themselves or the product rather than the customer and don’t create a mutual conversation.  Present yourself as an information source rather than a source of irritation.

The More Calls You Make, the More You’ll Sell – Yes, this is obviously true, BUT there must be quality and persistency too. An analysis of call productivity (i.e. the number of calls per hour or per day of a salesperson) by the Telfer School of Management showed no direct impact on win outcomes. Call productivity is highly correlated with persistency, which significantly increases the chance of a win outcome. So, when your number of calls increases associated with an increase in contact attempts, your success rate also increases.

If your organization is too focused on the quantity of new leads contacted rather than quality and persistency of following up with leads, then you may be hurting your sales.  Sales reps that don’t take the time to get to know their leads and persistently follow up will miss out on opportunities to close deals.

If your sales management and sales reps are focused on numbers, then they’re not focused on the actual lead – they’re just trying to meet their quotas.  Make sure your sales reps are trained properly to know how to communicate and properly follow up with their leads, which is a better way to increase sales.  To make the most of every sales call, consider switching your team to a queue-based lead management platform – one that does the decision making for your sales team.

You Must be a Great Salesperson to Get Results – Generally, a great salesperson has been defined as someone who is extremely outgoing, a go-getter, and can carry on a conversation with anyone; however, this doesn’t always hold true.  In fact, there are studies to back this up!  An analysis of 35 studies, encompassing nearly 4,000 salespeople, determined that there is virtually no correlation between extroversion and sales success (source: Forbes).

Understanding the buyer and being able to connect with him or her by being courteous, professional, and taking an interest in them can go a long way.  So, don’t sell yourself short if you don’t consider yourself to be a stereotypically “great” salesperson because you may have other qualities that will help you to be successful.

sales tips for cold calling

Give up on a Prospect After 4 Attempts – Reports indicate that 10% of sales are closed after 4 follow-up contacts and 80% of sales are closed between 5 and 12 follow-up contacts. According to the Sales Engagement Study by the Telfer School of Management, the average number of contact attempts needed for a positive outcome with a lead is 5.7 for B2B companies and 5.9 for B2C companies. So, if you stop following up with your prospects after four attempts, you’re missing opportunities to close deals that may have only required one more follow up call.

Let’s face it, buyers have so much information at their fingertips in today’s world and do a lot of research on what they’re looking for before you even have a chance to contact them.  So, when you contact them, they may still be doing their own research and aren’t ready to buy.  However, they may be ready to buy at a later time.

Also, in B2B sales, it depends on the size of the business you’re trying to sell to, as well as the size of the expense.  A small business may only take a couple of attempts because they’re more likely to make decisions faster than larger companies where committees have to approve the purchase.  The rule of thumb to give up after four calls doesn’t always apply.  Know your leads and understand that it may take more than four attempts to close the sale.

Stick to Your Script – It’s not necessary to always stick to your script.  Nothing is more annoying than answering a phone and being read a script.  Your sales reps should be able to have a conversation about your product/service without having to stick to a script verbatim.  Now, it is extremely important to provide your sales reps with specific scripting

However, use it as a training tool and guide, but allow the scripting to spark ideas so the rep can make the scripting their own.  I would also recommend listening in on the conversations to see what nuances to the script are working…and not working.  This gives you the opportunity to incorporate the successful messaging to everyone.  Also, if your sales reps are trained properly, then they will know how to handle questions that take them off their script.  Train your sales reps to know your product/service so that they can better communicate with leads and have a better chance of making a sale.

If your organization uses cold calling as a method to increase sales, then it’s important to debunk these myths from the top down.  Cold calling is still an effective method in the sales process – it’s an art!  It’s important to make sure your sales team is properly trained and has the right tools to make them successful.

What other cold calling myths do you think need to be debunked? Share them with us in the comments.
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