Best practices for B2B and enterprise sales reps
Whether your sales reps are doing cold outreach or play a role in the decision-making phases of the sales funnel, insights from B2B sales conversation...
The Team at CallMiner
March 03, 2022
Cold calling prospects can be difficult for even the best contact center agents, but the need to do so is critical for outbound call centers and other settings. Learning how to help agents improve can make all the difference in contact center efficiency, operations and overall business success
Getting the most out of your cold calling plan comes down to planning ahead, avoiding common calling pitfalls, monitoring key metrics, and taking an interest in how your organization’s products or services can benefit your customers.
The tips covered here can help you do all of the above and more with far better results.
It is easy to approach cold calling in the wrong way. In fact, the industry’s bad reputation stems largely from inexperienced or otherwise unqualified agents spamming prospects at scale. Brands can suffer loss of sales and reputation by engaging in bad cold calling practices – all the more reason to get yours right from the start.
A few mistakes that many contact center agents and organizations make include:
1. Leverage call recording and conversation analytics to make data-driven decisions to shape your cold calling practices. “In addition to creating scripts to guide agents in communicating with customers, the use of conversation analytics can aid QA and compliance teams in making sure that agents are acting in compliance with call center regulations, following required scripts, and that the scripts are achieving desired results (such as de-escalating customer frustrations or converting prospects to buyers). Additionally, call center leaders can use call recordings to analyze the techniques employed by their top-performing agents, integrating those techniques in scripts to improve performance across the board.” - Best Practices for Call Center Scripts: Expert Tips & Best Practices for Developing & Using Effective Call Center Scripts, CallMiner; Twitter: @CallMiner
2. Come prepared and be attentive to your prospect’s needs for better cold calling results. “First and foremost, you have to make sure you’re prepared for your call by researching your prospect, their company, their potential needs, and gathering any intelligence you may have about their interest in your offering. Secondly, you need to truly believe in what you’re selling and be accountable for it. And, this needs to come through in your call, in your tone of voice and in what you say.
“Third, you have to be an active listener. While cold calling, we tend to think about how and what we say, active listening helps more than we think. So basically, you need to come prepared, be attentive and helpful. Always focus on gaining long term trust over short term gains." - , Avoma; Twitter: @avomainc
3. Cold calling has a bad reputation that you should consider before crafting your own strategy. "Cold calls have gotten a bad reputation — and that’s because only few people know how to cold call right. Cheaper calling and data costs have made it easier for everyone to pick up the phone, which has lowered the barriers for scrappy sales teams." - Anil Salvi, How To Cold Call And Close More Deals, SalesHandy; Twitter: @saleshandy
4. Cold calling can help expose more people to your brand and net you new contacts if you’re up to the challenge. "Sales might be your game, but even the most outgoing insurance agent can find cold calling a challenge. [...] However, cold calling gives you that crucial first contact with people who might not otherwise hear of your agency." - 4 Surefire Ways to Boost Insurance Cold Calling Results, Insureon; Twitter: @insureon
5. Getting past gatekeepers could come down to choosing more favorable timing or simply being more transparent. "Gibran Quezada, Sales Enablement Team Lead at Predictable Revenue advises, 'Be honest with the gatekeeper and tell them this is a cold call about your value prop (and you’re not trying to sell them a magazine subscription) and ask if your prospect sets aside time for relevant cold calls. [...] Chances might be small on the ICP actually having time set aside for cold calls, but your honesty might make the gatekeeper more inclined to help you out with the next best thing.' [...] To circumvent the GK completely, try to call before or after the usual working hours." - Gibran Quezada, as quoted by Amy Ingrahamon, How to Get Past The Gatekeeper (8 Pro Tips), Bloobirds; Twitter: @Bloobirds_
6. Overly detailed scripts can distract your agents from their goal of building a relationship that leads to sales. "Avoiding the word-for-word script allows our team to focus more on building rapport with the prospect and dig a little deeper instead of treating a cold calling script as a checklist and not listening to the prospect’s needs. [...] For outbound sales teams, cold calling is often the first—and arguably the most important—step towards creating sales opportunities." - Cold Calling: The Ultimate Guide | Cold Calling Scripts & Strategies, Nutshell; Twitter: @nutshell
7. Closing a deal is important, and it should be a part of your cold calling action plan. “But, just as all roads lead back to Rome, cold calling goals come down to one ultimate objective – setting up a meeting between a qualified prospect and a sales manager who can then close the deal." - Anastasiia Holovnenko, The Coolest Cold Calling Guide - Tips & Tricks That Work, Cience; Twitter: @ciencecom
8. Use genuine interest and empathy to align your objective with that of your prospect. "Once your warm attitude gets you through the first few seconds of the call, you should focus on establishing relevance. Prospects at this stage are wondering ‘so what?’ and you want them to think ‘me too!’ Spend this time explaining why you have specifically called the prospect and what you are offering that will genuinely help him/her. This is a great opportunity to share success stories from other customers in the industry who have been able to solve similar pain points to those of your prospect." - Chelsey Feldman, Prepare for the “no” and 4 other cold call strategies to fire up your cold calls, Outreach.io; Twitter: @outreach_io
9. Cold callers should focus on earning their prospects’ time for future engagements. "Too often, when sales reps achieve their objective of getting a prospect engaged on a cold call, they think this gives them the right to turn an unscheduled outreach into a discovery call. [...] The objective of the cold call is simply to win more time with your prospect at a more appropriate time. [...] One of the key reasons cold calls fail, is that no sooner have you opened your mouth and delivered your ‘opening’, a huge alarm goes off in your prospect’s head that screams ‘WARNING: COLD CALL’." - Cold Calling Tips - A Six Stage Model For Improvement, Refract.ai; Twitter: @refract_ai
10. Cold calling still has a place in your outbound toolkit if it is used for the right reasons. "In many cases, prospects need to be compelled to act, and digital channels may not be enough to close the sale. Plus, you may not always have an abundance of inbound leads. Even as an outbound tactic, with enough research and qualification, a cold call can be executed in a way that's no longer ‘cold.'” - Dan Tyre, The Best Cold Call Script Ever [Template], HubSpot; Twitter: @dantyre
11. You should know why you are calling your prospect before you dial. "Before making a B2B sales call ask yourself why are you calling this specific person, what are you trying to achieve and how will you do it?" - Coreen Menezes, 12 Best Cold Calling Tips for Sales Call (with examples), Salesmate.io; Twitter: @SalesmateIO
12. Avoiding a hard sell and looking at rejection as a lesson worth learning from helps cold callers improve over time. "One of the 5-star cold calling tips and tricks you need to apply is that cold calling is not about sell from the first call but establish valuable relationships with the prospects. [...] Experts encourage to consider rejection as a valuable lesson, and this is one of the most valuable sales tips for cold calling." - The Best Sales Tactics of Cold Calling in 2020-2021 [UPDATED], Voiptime; Twitter: @Voiptimecloud
13. The right technology can take the tedium out of tackling long call lists. "Another benefit of using technology in sales outreach is that it can help you automate a ton of related, routine tasks, such as call logging, call reports, automatic dialing, or callbacks, and help you scale your sales process dramatically." - 8 Cold Calling Tips for B2B Sales Success, Reply.io; Twitter: @ReplyAppTeam
14. Providing a tech-backed framework for approaching each call can help agents achieve more with less effort. "Most cold callers are given a sales script (sometimes called a cold call script or a cold calling script) that is crafted by their employer to optimize the sales process. [...] today’s typical cold calling sales team won't have a physical call list at all; a computer program will make all dialing decisions for them." - How to Make a Cold Call: 6 Cold Calling Tips - 2021, MasterClass; Twitter: @MasterClass
15. Planning and preparation can make or break a call. "The reason cold calling is so unwelcome is that it is confused with 'bad calling' where you pick up the phone, dial random numbers, and deliver an ineffective sales pitch." - Nivedita Bharathi, 25 Tips for Successful Cold Calling, Freshworks; Twitter: @FreshworksInc
16. Honesty and old-fashioned effort can go a long way in making your strategy work. "Cold calling is about being real with customers, while also leading them to reach the conclusion that they really, REALLY need your business to help them. [...] While cold calling takes the right mentality and lots of effort, it’s still a great way to acquire new leads and expand your sales." - The Essential Cold Calling Guide: Tips and Techniques, CloudTask; Twitter: @cloudtaskllc
17. Favoring warm calling techniques can help you make more and better connections. "A sales conversation needs to be just as valuable to a buyer as it is to a seller. All messaging should be providing the buyer with valuable and contextually relevant information. There are great ways to ‘warm up’ cold calls by looking at the prospect’s company website, social feeds, etc. All messaging should be tailored to maximize the value each conversation provides." - Cold Calling - 39 Tips That Will Change Your Prospecting Calls, Revenue.io; Twitter: @revenue_io
18. Keep in mind that most people are not very open to cold calls in the first place. "Cold calling is the unsolicited act of calling a sales prospect on the phone for the first time. [...] It’s no secret that the task of cold calling is not well-liked by those who receive cold calls, and occasionally by those making the calls in the first place." - Jován Medina, Cold Calling Techniques Every Organization Should Know, G2; Twitter: @g2dotcom
19. Cold call training sessions can vary in length, but generally benefit from a hands-on approach. "A typical cold call can last several minutes but may go longer based on the instructor's cold calling philosophy and the opening student's level of preparation." - Teaching by the Case Method: Cold Calling, Harvard Business School; Twitter: @HarvardHBS
20. Cold emailing can help warm up your prospects before calls. "It's your job as the sales manager to create a strong and effective cold calling strategy for your sales team. [...] With the help of email outreach software, you can send out a cold email before you make that first cold call, and then also have an email set to go after those calls." - Mary Hart, Best 15 Cold Calling Tips and Tricks of 2021, Koncert; Twitter: @koncert_com
21. Cold calling can open doors if the right script lines are laid out early on. "Use cold calling to make an initial contact with prospective clients, figure out if they have real potential to become a customer and lock down a pitch meeting to discuss your services and products in greater depth. [...] Since there is so much to remember with a lot of information to state early on, many companies like to cover their bases by having sales reps stick to a script during a cold call. [...] In your opening lines, you want to adequately explain who you are, what business you represent and why you’re calling them, all while highlighting areas of potential interest and need for their company." - The Complete Guide to Cold Calling, Pipeline CRM; Twitter: @pipelinedeals
22. Cold calls can be used to nurture new prospects. "Even as social media and web applications become mainstream B2B marketing platforms, cold calling remains one of the most effective ways to make contact with decision makers, but only if done right. [...] By leaving a positive image, cold calling encourages and nurtures the possibility of a future sale." - Maria Pergolino, B2B Cold Calling Best Practices That Work, Marketo; Twitter: @AdobeMarketo
23. Cold calls can be leveraged for more than a hard sell. "Research shows cold calling rarely leads to conversions, but cold calls provide immediate feedback, are cost-effective, and are harder to ignore than emails. [...] Whether cold calling is still effective or not is an ongoing debate, with research showing that for every 209 cold calls made, only one appointment or referral was set." - Is cold calling still effective?, Salesforce; Twitter: @salesforce
24. Get to know your prospect before you call. "If you do in fact need to cold call; try to build some familiarity with your ideal client first, prior to making that call. There are a number of ways you can do this; but we like to have you find them on LinkedIn first. LinkedIn allows you to find people in your country, city, by company and job description; so it can be a very powerful tool in finding the right person to speak to. If possible, start connecting with them there first, so they’re at least familiar with your profile; who you work for, and what you do." - Khabeer Rockley, B2B Cold Calling - Tips For Sales Effectiveness, 5 Percent Institute; Twitter: @KayRockley
25. Earn better cold call results with deeper, longer conversations. "The second your buyer answers the phone, the clock starts. You have 5 seconds to earn 5 minutes. You need to grab their attention out the gates, and hold on to it. The data proves that successful cold calls are nearly twice as long as unsuccessful cold calls." - Jonathan Costet, Cold Call Stats: 8 Data-Backed Techniques To Blow Up Quota, Gong.io; Twitter: @gong_io