No pipeline, no quota attainment. Prospecting is a vital aspect of sales success.
Interestingly, there’s a bold shift away from a fundamental aspect of B2B pipeline generation: Cold calling.
It’s turned into a full-on, anti-cold calling trend, which is not the right move in our books.
Inbound enterprise buyers are a rarity, and you end up pursuing them with outbound sales prospecting.
So I’m telling you straight: ditching cold calls is BAD for business.
That said, you need to do more than recite a script brilliantly or make hundreds of calls every day.
That’s because cold calling is NOT a simple numbers game.
The top sales teams have a healthy balance of inbound responses and outbound outreach using multiple channels and sales techniques (calls, emails, social media, etc.).
Those inbound and outbound approaches are equally important, so don’t value one over the other.
In fact, they’re at their most powerful when teams use both of them.
Here at Gong.io, we pride ourselves our experience and outstanding data.
Our tips and tricks are a combination of everything we’ve learned.
Let’s get you started with our top sales prospecting and cold calling tips.
1) Buy time (in spades)
Buyers decide in the first five seconds whether to stay on a call with you for the next five minutes.
Pair that with the fact that unsuccessful cold calls are half as long as successful ones, and you want to BUY TIME. Longer calls mean you have a better shot at getting a meeting:
You need to get your buyer’s attention and hold onto it.
The good news is you’re in a conversation you’ve had hundreds of times.
That’s your great advantage in this situation. You practically have predictive powers when it comes to ways the conversation could go, and you know how to deal with each one.
Use this to your advantage. Know which sentences are key, and which are fluff. Ditch the waste and focus on the words that keep your buyer on the line.
Be prudent. Be compelling.
How do you do that? Gut your script.
Drop every unnecessary word like it’s costing you money.
For more on being compelling, keep reading.
2) Use your full name and your company’s name
The first thing you want to do is say your full name and your company’s name.
Here’s my own line:
“Hi Janet, this is Chris Orlob calling from Gong.io …”
There are two reasons it’s important to say your full name and your company’s name.
Have you ever noticed that important people state their full name?
You will next time, I promise.
They know that it unconsciously triggers an elevated sense of respect from anyone they meet.
Using your full name when you introduce yourself is a way to command respect.
And in a more surprising twist, stating your name and your company’s name upfront helps you control the conversation.
The person asking questions controls the conversation.
So if you neglect who you are and the company you’re from, you turn your power over to the buyer by practically forcing them to ask “Who is this?” and “Where are you from?”.
Get out in front of this. YOU ask the questions at the very beginning of the conversation, not your buyer.
(Just don’t ask this next question …)
3) “Did I catch you at a bad time?”
It’s such a common phrase, especially on cold calls.
“Hi Janet this is Chris Orlob with Gong.io. Did I catch you at a bad time?”
Ignore every book that told you to use this line.
They probably told you that people enjoy saying no because it gives them a sense of control.
That’s why saying, “Did I catch you at a bad time,” often elicits a “No.”
You’d think that would set you up for a great cold call.
But it doesn’t.
The truth is, you’re 40% less likely to book your meeting if you open a cold call with “Did I catch you at a bad time?”:
Sellers who used that line had a 0.9% success rate, which should be a serious disincentive to use it.
Instead, ask this …
4) “How’ve you been?”
When you have a buyer on the line and have introduced yourself, use this line:
“How’ve you been?”
Here’s the script for your first five seconds on a call:
“Hi Janet, this is Chris Orlob with Gong.io. How’ve you been?”
Our data shows that this is the most successful cold call opening line:
Why on earth wouldn’t you use it?
The data clearly tells us it helps you perform 6.6X better than if you don’t.
What’s stopping you? Is it that little voice in your head saying …
“Hold on! If I’m asking how someone has been, then clearly I already know them. Is that why this tactic is so successful?”
Nuh-uh, my logic-bound friend.
We tested and looked at calls that involved first interactions. That’s right, the buyers and sellers didn’t know each other.
But the buyers reacted well to this question because it interrupted patterns they expected to hear from unknown sellers.
When something unanticipated happens, it “scrambles” our brains for a second in just the right way. It opens a door.
Once you try it, you’ll get on board.
5) Say why you’re calling (ASAP)
As soon as your buyer responds to that last technique, tell them why you’re calling.
People like to know why things are happening, and even an unexpected call can trigger that need.
The good news is you’ll be 2.1X more successful if you tell buyers why you’re calling:
Let’s pull the whole thing together in my script:
“Hi Janet, this is Chris Orlob with Gong.io. How’ve you been? [Good… ] John, the reason I’m calling is …”
That’s it. Give them a clear reason and you’re off to the races.
6) Make account research a priority
Tell the truth: If I had started with this tip, would you have kept reading or closed the article?
I’m guessing the latter.
Sure, you’re justifiably tired of “experts” telling you to do your research and personalize messages.
But stick with this one for a minute. I’m going to expand on it.
There’s no way you can be successful in B2B sales without knowing who you’re chasing. That’s a simple fact.
There’s no reason to go into a call without intel, when there are so many prospecting tools at your disposal.
LinkedIn is one of the best.
Here at Gong.io, our sales team makes it their business to know certain info beforehand. That includes the number of sales reps working at the account they’re chasing.
They go to LinkedIn for everything they need:
The information they get is invaluable as they prep for their first call (e.g., growth rates, employee count, even the number of employees in sales):
Wham! Just like that, they have insight into the company’s pain points and challenges.
If they’re a high-growth company, our reps know to lean toward sales onboarding so they can point to our amazing solutions in that area.
It lets our team members target their messaging in every outreach interaction.
7) Don’t forget personal research
I won’t belabor the point, but I need to say it:
For goodness’ sake, look into the people you’re reaching out to, not just their companies.
Profiles almost always contain a juicy nugget you can use when you reach out:
Let’s say you had to connect with ^ that dapper gent. You could tailor your email subject line to mirror his wording:
“Win the unfair share of your market”
It’s going to hit home and grab his attention.
Why? The words are perfectly attuned to his inner worldview. That’s what makes them resonate.
8) Do the talking (Just this once)
Cold calling is the only time when talking more than the seller works to your advantage.
You have one goal, and it’s not discovery. It’s booking a meeting. That’s it.
Unlike other calls in your sales process, you’re more likely to succeed here with a HIGHER talk-to-listen ratio:
Don’t worry about your buyer’s priorities, pain points, and aspirations. There’s room for them later in the sales process.
For now, stick to selling the meeting.
A cold call is entirely the wrong time to get into a buyer’s issues. That’s what longer meetings are for.
Instead, tell the buyer why they need this meeting, and be darn convincing about it.
The next tip tells you how.
9) Pitch your value prop
Here’s how you sell that meeting.
Practice a pitch in advance, because you’re almost guaranteed to need it during every cold call. You need to fully engage your prospects using a sales pitch that helps you create a human connection.
It certainly increases your chances of securing a meeting:
Scripted pitches aren’t everyone’s jam, but they’re critical about halfway through your cold call. We all have to get over it.
Our best tip is this: Stay away from talking in depth about your product. Instead, sell the buyer on the value they’ll get from the meeting.
Here’s what that sounds like:
One of the easiest ways to get their attention is by mentioning their competitors.
Then, offer them an insight that connects to their pain point.
They’ll be sold on the meeting and will want to hear more from you because you know things about them. You understand them. That’s incredibly compelling for buyers.
The clincher is using the phrase:
…You can judge that for yourself.
It eliminates any remaining hesitancy. For the buyer, it’s a safe invitation and one that’s easy to accept.
Focus your pitch on their pain points and the value they get from the meeting. It’s NOT ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT.
10) Book the meeting using this question
Research is a go.
Solid call openers are a go.
Your pitch is perfect.
And now they’re interested. They’re leaning in.
Here’s your go-to closing phrase after you’ve suggested a meeting:
Do you have your calendar handy?
It’s a standout phrase that should always be in your roster.
This is a guest contribution by Chris Orlob of Gong.io. Interested in contributing to the CloserIQ blog? Check out our guidelines here.