Cold calling is not a thing of the past. It is still used by many businesses worldwide to connect with their prospects, leads, and clients at a more direct and personal level.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the number of call centers and virtual office providers that allow businesses to outsource their outbound marketing efforts. If these companies are still in business, it’s because cold calling works, and businesses are still using it to reach their target market.
On the other hand, it’s no secret that the key to a successful outbound call is keeping the prospect on the line.
Considering that in 78% of cases, it takes between 6 and 12 touches to get the right prospect on the phone, getting them to stay on becomes even more critical to the success of any outreach campaign.
You’ve probably been given all sorts of advice about how to do this, but what are the most effective techniques? Here are five tips that will help you keep your prospects glued to the phone and interested in what you have to say. 👇
The first step to keeping your prospect on the call is getting them on the line in the first place. And that starts with thorough research.
You can’t just start calling random numbers you’ve gotten from a list and hope that someone will pick up eventually and patch you through. That’s a surefire way to get frustrated and give up before you even start.
Then it’ll just be a vicious cycle: you encounter bad cold calls, get rejected countless times, you think that cold calling sucks, and start developing a fear or disdain towards it.
And the chances of this happening will reduce if you’re laying the groundwork properly.
The research will also tell you if the person you’re trying to reach is the one you really need to talk to. If you’re selling your solution to other companies, you need to make sure you’re calling either the person whose work will be directly impacted by your product or the person who makes the decision to purchase.
In some businesses, that may be the same person, while in others, it may be someone else entirely. But, in any case, this is something you should know before you pick up the phone and dial the first number.
However, identifying the right person isn’t what’s going to get them to stay on the line once you reach them. You also need to find out as much information as possible about them to build rapport, so they feel comfortable talking with you.
Any information you can find about a prospect can potentially help you keep them on the phone for longer.
For example, you can find out what connections they have to see if there are any overlaps between your networks, where they worked before, and more.
You can usually find most, if not all, of this information in a person’s LinkedIn profile, while you can find more personal information about them on Facebook. If you want to understand how they think and what their views are on certain topics, Twitter can be a rich source of information.
You’ll find that cleverly bringing up these familiar topics during a conversation will instantly make a prospect feel more comfortable.
Of course, you’ll not mention any of this immediately, or you’ll give yourself away and ruin the whole effect. You’ll want to save it for the right time in the conversation when you can use it to build rapport more effectively.
For example, if you find out that someone is from the same city, you can mention it on the fly as a passing remark to see if they take the bait. If they don’t, just move on with the conversation. You will have planted the seed either way, and it may prove valuable later during the call or on future calls.
You should use as many resources as possible to get the most out of your research. Look for the company website, social media accounts, and any other online presence they might have.
Check out their blog and read the company’s ‘About Us’ page. All of this will give you valuable information you can use to connect with the prospect on a personal and a professional level.
How you talk to someone greatly impacts how they perceive you and, in turn, how long they’re willing to stay on the phone with you. If you want to keep them engaged, try to match their energy level and how they speak.
If they’re speaking quickly, mirror that by speaking quickly as well. If they use a lot of industry jargon, don’t be afraid to throw some around yourself. Of course, don’t go overboard, or you’ll just sound like a parrot. But matching their communication style will make them feel more comfortable and help keep them on the line for longer.
This is also true for the words you use. If they use informal language, don’t be afraid to do the same. But, again, don’t overdo it. You still want to come across as professional.
The key is to be flexible and adjust how you speak based on who you’re talking to. The better you get at this, the more natural it will feel and the more likely you will keep prospects engaged on a call.
Silence can be a very effective tool for keeping people on the phone. And, yet, so many salespeople are afraid of it. They feel like they need to fill every single second of dead air with chatter to keep the conversation going and to keep a prospect from hanging up.
But, in reality, sometimes the best thing you can do is just shut up.
If you’re always talking, the prospect won’t get a word in edgewise, and they’re likely to feel annoyed. But, if you give them a chance to speak, they’ll feel like they’re being heard, and they’ll be more likely to stay on the call.
Of course, you don’t want to just sit there in silence and wait for the prospect to talk. That’s not going to work either. You need to find a balance between speaking and listening. The best way to do this is to ask questions and give the prospect time to answer. Don’t jump in as soon as they start talking. Let them finish their thought and then respond.
It’s not enough to just let the prospect talk. You also need to be an active listener if you want to keep them engaged on the call. Being an active listener means more than just hearing what the person is saying. It means really listening to what they’re saying and trying to understand things from their perspective.
It means being present in the conversation and being interested in what they say. This is one of the reasons why using rigid scripts to guide a conversation is sometimes dangerous.
Scripts are meant to act as a safety net and catch you when you fall. If you’re always thinking about sticking to your script and guiding the conversation in the direction you want, you’ll likely end up disregarding what your prospect is saying and coming off as outright rude.
But listening and processing every word a prospect says is worthless if they can’t see it. You also have to show them that you’re listening and taking the time to understand what they’re trying to say. Here are two things you can do to achieve exactly that:
The better you get at being an active listener, the easier it will be to keep prospects engaged on a call. And, as a bonus, you’ll likely find that you close more sales as well.
One of the most common mistakes salespeople make is talking bad about their competition in an attempt to make themselves look better. And while it might seem like a good idea in theory, in reality, it’s one of the quickest ways to turn off a prospect.
For one, it makes you look unprofessional. But more importantly, it shows that you’re not confident in your product or service. If you have to rely on putting down your competition to make a sale, that’s not really a sale, is it?
Instead of talking badly about your competition, focus on talking about your product or service and how it can benefit the prospect. If you need to mention your competition (maybe your prospect brings them up first), don’t say anything bad about them. Just compare and contrast your product or service with theirs in a way that’s favorable to you.
Remember, the goal is to engage the prospect in a conversation about your product or service, not to talk trash about your competition.
For example, if you’re offering a virtual business address to a remote company that wants to establish itself in your city without having to rent office space and hire more people, and they mention a close competitor that also offers an address in the same city, make sure to point out how your service is better than theirs, not on how theirs is worse than yours.
You could talk about how your address is in a better neighborhood, how it’s closer to your prospect’s target market, or how you offer more flexible payment options.
Changing the focus of the conversation when competitors come up is a great way to transmit confidence and professionalism, making prospects want to stay on longer.
Keeping a prospect engaged on a call is essential if you want to make a sale.
But it’s not always easy, especially if you’re dealing with someone who’s already skeptical or doesn’t feel they really need what you’re selling.
By following the tips above, you should keep most prospects engaged long enough to at least hear you out and hopefully agree to a follow-up call or, with any luck, to close the deal.
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