Cold calling isn’t dead: Hot tips for your cold calls

BY:  Michelle Burns
June 26, 2022
Updated on June 25, 2023

Table of Contents

Just talking about cold calls is enough to make some SDRs break out into a cold sweat, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Our Sales Development Leader Nick Sproul joined other sales cold calling experts at the Tenbound SDR Conference 2022 to discuss how to raise your confidence levels and rock that cold call in a valuable – and hilarious – panel session.

Confidence is your secret weapon

All the panelists agree that cold calls inevitably sap your confidence, especially when you’re new to them, because you have to wade through so many “no”s just to get to the few positive replies.

But confidence is absolutely vital if you’re going to master the cold call. Fortunately, the panelists have tricks for boosting it. “Competence comes with confidence, and confidence comes from competence,” says James Buckley from JB Sales. The more you know about your ideal customer profile (ICP), your sales personas, the solution you’re selling and why people want to buy it, the more confidence you’ll feel in every step of the sales conversation.

There’s simply no substitute for knowing your material. When you’re new to sales conversations, you’re nervous about what twists and turns they might take. That undermines your confidence, and it comes through in your tone and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But when you do your research about the prospect, and you know the top three reasons why people buy from you like the back of your hand, you’ll be much better placed to cope with the curveballs that are going to fly at you from time to time. The more familiar you are with sales conversations, the less scared you’ll feel about what “might” happen.

Let go of the outcome

One fascinating insight was that you as the seller should detach yourself from the outcome of the call. Instead of assuming that every call has to lead to a meeting, let the conversation play itself out naturally. “Be like water,” is how Tom Slocum from TrainYo put it.

But you should aim to leave the conversation better than you found it. That means building a rapport with the prospect and getting something out of the call, whether it’s verifying a phone number, asking a question about the organization, or arranging to send a follow-up email.

Don’t fear the gatekeepers

One thing that distinguishes cold call experts from those still learning the ropes is that they befriend the gatekeeper. Instead of treating the secretary or administrative assistant as an obstacle that’s stopping you from reaching the stakeholder you’re after, have a conversation with them.

If you don’t succeed in getting through to your target, work with the gatekeeper. Find out their name, ask them to deliver a message, and sell with them, not despite them. And once you get through, show some appreciation for their help. Far too many salespeople score that cellphone number from the gatekeeper, and then never speak to them again. Don’t be that person, warn our panelists.

As Nick points out, most people like to help. If you ask them to help you to reach your target, the chances are good that they will.

Bring yourself

It can’t be denied that cold calling is an awkward interaction, but you need to find ways to inject your own personality into the conversation. You may have a script, but that doesn’t mean you should sound scripted; instead, make the call your own.

If you can do the humor, then do the humor, but don’t force it if your jokes all fall flat. Sales work when the prospect buys from people they like, but the only way to be liked is to show up as yourself. If you feel uneasy about the call, or it doesn’t sound like you, then practice your sales conversation again and again until it feels real.

Keep the call moving

Opinion is divided about whether to ask if the prospect has time to talk. Some panelists feel that if they’ve answered the phone, they’ve given you permission to use their time, but others recommend asking if they have a minute before their next meeting (not least so you steal their ability to claim they have a meeting!).

Despite the advice about letting go of the outcome of the call, you want to keep moving forward. Make it clear that this is a cold call, and dive straight into the reason why you’re calling, instead of wasting time giving your name or company name. When the prospect says they don’t have time to talk, suggest scheduling a time for a conversation, or simply promise to call tomorrow and hang up before they do.

Once you’re having a conversation, talk about how they move forward with sales. Ask how they make purchase decisions, and/or educate them about how you make sales. If they’re sounding interested, but they’re not yet ready to commit, suggest that you send them some information and get back to them in a few days. Whatever you do, keep up the momentum of the interaction.

Cold calls can be wildly effective

As all the panelists agree, cold calls are far from ill, let alone dead. With plenty of practice, you can boost your confidence, prepare to skip over objections and brushoffs, and turn gatekeepers into supporters to ace your cold calls.

Watch the full session >>

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About the author

Michelle Burns

Director of Demand Generation

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