Cold calling: Nearly everything you need to know

Yup, despite what many say, cold calling still works. This is why we created this guide so you can ace your cold calling strategy, from getting the call right to perfecting your script.
Faye Chong
Faye Chong

Content Marketing Lead

Reading time: 13 minutes

There’s no doubt that cold calling is tough. SDRs have to face lots of rejection, a tedious process of dialing leads, and speaking to rude prospects.

Because of the high effort and low pay-offs (compared to other lead generation strategies), and not forgetting that it’s one of the more traditional ways to generate leads, many people think that cold calling sucks and that it’s ineffective. 

Well, we’re here to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong — it still works! In fact, businesses that don’t cold call experience 42% less growth than those that do. 

Now, let’s dive deeper into the cold calling sphere to help you create a solid cold call strategy. 

Contents
01

Why cold calling is still effective?

I think this is a question that many people wonder — is it still effective?

Largely yes, but also no. 

We say this because both B2C and B2B companies use them as an integral part of their sales strategies to generate a lot of high-quality leads. But, this also depends on your products and services, your industry, and your target audience

If you’re selling SaaS or insurance, cold calling is still very much effective (more on that below). 60% of IT decision-makers want cold calls, and 75% of executives are willing to make an appointment based on a cold call alone. 

On the other hand, let’s say you’re an F&B restaurant, you wouldn’t be cold calling your customers to ask them to dine at your establishment. Likewise, if a majority of your target audience consists of teenagers, cold calling will definitely not work.

That’s why cold calling depends on several factors — it might work for some industries and businesses, and it might not work for others. 

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the industries using cold calls.

Industries that cold call

Banking and financial services

Selling bank products and services typically requires you to be proactive when it comes to generating sales leads.

This is why cold calling comes in so handy here. Cold calls allow reps to create, maintain, and build a relationship with potential clients. 

Insurance

Insurance companies greatly benefit from utilizing cold calling to generate leads and assist with driving more sales. 

Insurance companies and call centers leverage their highly experienced and licensed agents to sell policies such as life insurance, health insurance, automotive insurance, and many more!

Travel and Hospitality

Travel and hospitality companies usually make cold calls to connect with customers, hotels, tourism companies, and travel agencies all around the world. 

They often target travelers during peak travel periods and offer them discounts and promotions.

Moreover, through cold calls, they try to connect with companies complimenting their services and build a better relationship with them. Additionally, using an outbound call software can help these companies stay connected with reduced international calling costs.

Real estate

Yes, real estate agents cold call to generate appointments from potential buyers, hear their pain points, and sell them homes. 

Even though it might seem odd to be selling a home through the phone, it’s more of building a relationship first. For such high ticket items, the main point is not to sell over the phone, but to reach out to potential buyers and build rapport with them before scheduling an in-person meeting for house viewings. 

After all, you wouldn’t know if there’s a potential buyer if you don’t reach out to them first!

SaaS

Apart from inbound lead generation methods such as social media and email marketing, many SaaS companies adopt cold calling as part of their overarching sales strategy to bolster lead generation efforts. 

Similarly, many SaaS businesses make use of cold calling tools to automate the dialing process and reduce international calling fees.

02

Why do businesses still cold call?

Learn more about a prospect

There is only so much you can find out through preliminary research — your prospect’s company, job role, and potential pain points they may face in their industry. 

However, once you’re on the phone, you can gather much more information about what’s important to the prospect. Some things you can find out through the call include: 

  • What problem are they trying to solve?
  • How have they been dealing with this problem or challenge so far?
  • What goal have they set out to achieve? 
  • Do they have a particular budget to stick to? How strict are they with this budget?

You can then use this information to tailor a sales pitch at a later point that acknowledges the particular pain points and addresses their issues. 

Showing your prospect genuine interest from the start and using a consultative approach allows the conversation to flow naturally without pressuring them to commit.

Whether your prospect ends up buying in the end, the conversation is priceless because you learn so much about them and similar prospects in their industry!

Highly personalized outreach

Instead of sending emails that will most likely get ignored, reaching out to each individual prospect makes cold calling a highly targeted and interpersonal form of outreach.

After all, some research has to be done before contacting the prospect, so reps have an idea of who they are chatting with over the phone and can immediately address their pain points.

Furthermore, speaking over the phone allows you to speak with enthusiasm and a more casual tone, which is challenging to detect over email.

Conduct remote sales

With cold calling, you aren’t bound to a specific location or region. You can make calls from anywhere in the world, be it local or international calls.

Now, don’t be thrown off by the word ‘international’! With cold call software, you don’t have to worry about extra calling costs and hidden fees! Many business phone systems and outbound call software out there offer affordable rates to dial worldwide. 

This lets you expand your business across borders easily as well.

Receive instant feedback

Speaking directly to a prospect on the phone is a great way gather qualitative feedback since you’re more likely to engage in a conversation over other cold outreach methods

Building rapport and intent with your prospects allow you to ask them more about what they feel about your product or service. Such valuable feedback can then be used to tailor your product or service to better match your prospect group. 

03

The basics of a good cold call

Despite contrary belief, cold calling isn’t just for extroverts — introverted SDRs can also ace their cold calling strategy. 

What we’re trying to say here is that cold calling is for everyone, but a good cold call all comes down to the basics.

Set attainable SMART goals

The key here is to set SMART cold call goals — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-specific goals. Having realistic cold calling goals makes it seem easier and motivates you to achieve them. 

While the ultimate goal of cold calling is to ‘close’ the prospect, ‘closing’ doesn’t always mean it has to end in a sale, especially not on the initial cold call. 

That said, redefine your definition of what you want ‘closing’ to be — whether it’s a few extra minutes of your prospect’s time, scheduling a follow-up call, or inviting them for a webinar. 

Give yourself a time frame to complete them (if you don’t already have a deadline to follow) so you can pace yourself. 

10 purchases on the first call vs scheduling 10 follow-up calls within the next 3 weeks, we’ll safely say that the latter is more achievable. 

Do thorough research about the prospect

This is one of the most crucial steps before you even start cold calling — doing research about them! Since you’re the one initiating the call, you should do your due diligence to find out everything you can about the prospect.

What is their job role and responsibilities? Have the recently joined the company? What did they do previously?

All this information can eventually help you tailor your pitch to suit your prospects and strike conversations better. 

Be prepared for objections

This is a common cold calling best practice that many overlook. Going into a call prepared to face objections and countering them with a solid comeback is what’s going to set you apart from the rest.

Come up with a list of cold calling objections and how you can answer them. For example, one of the most common objections would be ‘is this a sales call?’ Most of the time, prospects aren’t asking this because they don’t know it’s a sales call — they already know; they’re testing you. 

Practice, practice, practice

If you feel ready for the call, you’ll be able to lead the conversation more naturally. If you’re the type to get anxious, practicing will help you calm the nerves and minimize the stammering.

Practice your pitch with a colleague, roleplay if possible, and record your conversation. This can help you identify loopholes in your pitch and prepare you better for real-life conversations with your prospects.

Reading up on cold calling books or podcasts is also useful in helping you practice as you gain more tips from industry experts and seasoned professionals. 

04

How to cold call successfully

Now that you’ve got the basics down, the actual cold calling process is the challenging part. Many SDRs are afraid of cold calling because it can go wrong in a blink of an eye, and it probably has for many.

Fret not, we share some cold call tips to help you call successfully.

Use a script

A script will save you a lot of time figuring out what and how to move forward in your conversation. Instead of thinking of what to say next, you’ll be all ready to go just by referring to your script. 

Include important things like common objections, your value proposition, and other must-have points that can lead your conversation to a close. 

Many SDRs refrain from using a cold call script because they’re afraid of sounding monotonous and robotic. 

The key here is to treat the script like a checklist, instead of a storybook you’re just reading off of. If you write it in point form, this eliminates the chances of you simply reading it word for word.

Here are 6 quick tips to write a killer cold call script:

1. Be sure to introduce yourself. Opening a cold call is crucial — you want the prospect to be aware of who they’re speaking to.

2. Tailor your script to different prospects. No two customers are the same. Depending on the circumstances of your call, cater to different groups of prospects and their needs.

3. Focus on the pain points. When you’re selling your product, you want to show your prospect how your product can value add to them.

4. Avoid using complex terms. A rule of thumb is to always check your script and make sure you idiotproof it. 

5. Ask open-ended, relevant questions. Open-ended questions create a conversation and make it harder for prospects to say ‘no’.

6. Prepare counters to objections. As we mentioned earlier, preparing for objections with solid comebacks can be a game-changer.

Create a low-pressure sales environment

When you cold call, your prospect knows nothing about you or your business’ products or services. So, it’s extremely likely that they have no intention of buying what you’re selling. 

With that said, closing too early on the first call can make you come off as pushy and forceful. This is also known as hard selling.

You want to create a comfortable and low-pressure sales environment so that when you eventually pitch your product or service, the buying decision comes naturally.

Here are some tips to take note of to create a low-pressure sales environment: 

  • Be gentle and indirect in tonality and language
  • Do not urge or push the prospect to buy
  • Focus on building a relationship with the prospect 
  • Use an emotional appeal 

Call at the best time

Many sales reps experience bad cold calls because they have the wrong calling schedule. If you’re calling too early, your prospect could be in the middle of dropping off their kids at school. If you call too late, they could have already left the office for the day.

While the best time to cold call differs from industry to industry, some timings naturally perform better than others. 

In a comparative analysis of the best time to cold call, the best time to make cold calls are between 4 pm and 5 pm, followed by the late mornings from 10 am to 11 am

This makes sense because call connection rates dip after 11 am as people are leaving for lunch, and the second dip happens after 5 pm as people are preparing to wrap up their days. 

The best days to cold call are Tuesdays to Thursdays

This is also logical because people usually spend Mondays clearing accumulated unread emails, and well, Monday blues is a real thing that can affect their mood and receptiveness towards your calls. 

By the end of the week, people would usually be in the TGIF mood and wouldn’t want to take sales-related calls. Furthermore, they would’ve probably left their offices earlier than usual to head home for the weekend or go out for drinks.

Sound confident

Sounding confident instills trust and gives your prospects the impression that you’re highly knowledgeable. 

If you don’t sound confident, your prospects won’t have the confidence to buy your product or service either. After all, if you, the person selling the products, can’t be enthusiastic and sure of yourself, why should they?

And being unsure of yourself certainly isn’t an easy way to convince your prospects to buy your product. 

Make the conversation personalized

This is where your in-depth research on your prospect will really come in handy. Using any background information you have to personalize your approach makes you seem more genuine and serious about this conversation. 

When speaking with your prospect, address them by their first name. If you’re unsure about how to pronounce it, ask them. This makes you seem sincere and actually interested in helping your prospect.

Engage in active listening

By actively listening to your prospect, you’re understanding and internalizing the conversation, not just brushing it off. This allows your prospect to feel heard and be comfortable engaging with you during the call. 

You can then ask more relevant questions and get them to share more, giving you access to a wealth of important information. 

Effective active listening will help you build rapport, give you a stronger phone presence, and might give you the information you need to successfully pitch your product or service.

Ask relevant questions

Asking relevant questions ties in with actively listening and doing thorough research. Find out more about your prospect that you weren’t able to find out through their sharing or online. 

Try asking the following questions on your initial call with the prospect:

  • Could you inform me about the present state of your business?
  • Is there anything you’d like to enhance in your business?
  • Is there a solution you’re employing now?
  • You’ve identified your top four priorities in your yearly report. Is it posing any difficulties for you?

Follow up with your prospects

Studies have shown that by being more persistent, sales reps can increase the conversion rate by up to 70%

But, be persistent, not pushy. Even though there’s a very fine line between both, it’s important to follow up with your prospects. You wouldn’t want to put all the effort into your cold calling only for them to forget about you! 

Follow up with your prospects a few times — the key here is to initiate the call again because, at the end of the day, you’re the one trying to sell to them, so the onus is on you to call them back. 

If they aren’t receptive anymore or simply are not interested, just move on to the next prospect!

Here are some tips to help you schedule the perfect follow-up call:

  • Keep in mind the best times to call them
  • Email before and after your follow-up calls
  • Make your reason for following up with the prospect known to them 
  • Ask follow-up questions
  • Avoid dull and repetitive opening lines
05

Looking for the best cold calling software

We are definitely spoilt for choice. Given the plethora of cold call tools available, choosing one that suits your business needs is tough. 

With so many features, where do you even start?

Here are some of the must-have features to look for when choosing a cold call software.

Autodialer

An autodialer is the most important feature to look for when choosing a cold calling tool. 

Also known as a power dialer, an automated outbound dialer helps to automatically dial the next number in the queue. These dialers can also make multiple calls at any one time. 

Autodialers are essential, especially if you’re managing a large contact list. This helps to facilitate the process because you spend less time phoning and making errors, and more time preparing for the call and communicating with prospects.

Call recording

The ability to record calls is critical because it allows you to capture phone calls with prospects. You can listen in on the recordings to pick out important information and key insights that you missed during the call. 

These recorded conversations can also be used to train new reps to maintain the quality and effectiveness of your calls. 

You may assess your pitch, identify areas for improvement, and keep track of customer interaction by recording your calls. Also, if you are ever questioned about your TCPA compliance, you can rely on your call logs to provide legal support.

Call monitoring

This feature is important because it helps you monitor calls during a conversation with a prospect. This allows you to give constructive and immediate feedback to your agents without disrupting the flow of the conversation.

Giving immediate feedback gives your reps the chance to correct their pitch during the call, which can affect the outcome.

CRM integrations

Because cold call tools are designed to assist you in becoming more effective, it’s critical that they work in tandem with your other sales tools, especially CRM

Integrating with CRM software allows you to keep track and manage all customer contact information. Log contact information about a prospect, important things mentioned during the call, and other key information that give you a holistic understanding of the prospect and the cold call.

This way, when you follow up with the same prospect again sometime in the future, you don’t start from ground zero.

Reporting and analytics

Having access to a wealth of information at your fingertips help you better manage your cold call strategy. 

With metrics such as call volume, call duration, and more, you’re able to keep track of agent performance, assess the extent of your cold calling efforts, and determine whether your prospects are ready to buy. 

Reporting can also help identify common pain points that customers are mentioning during the call and possible gaps in your value proposition.

Such time-saving insight features are crucial for every sales team to troubleshoot obstacles quickly and refine their tactics, which brings us to the next chapter. 

06

Key metrics to measure the success of your cold calls

It’s important to keep track of key cold calling metrics. If you don’t, how can you be sure that your cold calling efforts are paying off?

That said, there are tons of metrics out there that give you deeper insight into your cold calling strategy. But, not all of them will be useful. 

Let’s take a look at the most valuable cold calling metrics to pay attention to.

Conversion rate

This refers to the percentage of calls that resulted in a successful outcome. Depending on what your business goals are, a successful conversion rate may be defined as the number of sales or demos scheduled

This is probably one of the most important metrics to track because it determines if your cold calling strategy is worth the investment and effort for the revenue earned. 

Average call duration

This metric refers to the time reps spend on the call. Longer call durations could possibly indicate that the prospect is genuinely interested in your product or service, because why else would they spend their time talking to you?

Studies have shown that a successful cold call lasts an average of 5 minutes and 50 seconds, compared to 3 minutes and 14 seconds for unsuccessful calls. Of course, this differs from industry to industry. 

Hence, being able to monitor your average call duration can give you an indication regarding longer or shorter successful cold calls. 

Call volume per rep

Call volume per agent tracks the efficiency of each sales rep. This helps businesses keep track of reps who are unmotivated to make calls, which can adversely affect the business.

Businesses can then use this information to give incentives to reps who have achieved a high call volume to keep them motivated.

Of course, while call volume doesn’t equate to call quality, a sales rep should be making an average of 45 calls per day to get 5.1 quality calls. 

First-call close

A high percentage of first-call closes show that reps are able to cold call effectively, even during the initial call. Businesses can use this information to ensure that high-performing reps handle the majority of calls.

Percentage of answered calls

This metric indicates how many outgoing calls were answered. Knowing how many answered calls you have can tell you more about whether you’re calling at the right time, how your target audience feels towards cold calls, and if your list of numbers are legitimate. 

List closure rate

This refers to the percentage of prospects that were closed in comparison to the total number of prospects targeted.

Low list closure rates could indicate problems with the call list or the quality of prospects. Reps should tweak the list to ensure that targeted prospects are more receptive to the calls. 

Conclusion

Cold calling is indeed challenging, but it is one of the most misunderstood yet effective lead generation methods for businesses. However, with a solid understanding of cold calling techniques, tips, and key metrics, there should be nothing holding you back from acing your cold calling strategy. 

If you’d like our help taking your cold calling strategy to the next level, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

Faye Chong
Faye Chong

Faye is the content marketing lead at Novocall. When she’s not busy writing articles for Novocall’s blog, she spends her time baking and playing with her dogs.

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