The top skills you need to get better at cold calling.
Cold calling has always been a top outbound sales technique used in call centers around the world. But like any other sales technique, it’s easy for teams to get stuck in a rut. This can have a direct impact on productivity and efficiency, ultimately harming sales figures.
Do you want to give your telesales agents all the support they need to excel? It’s possible to learn new skills for cold calls and get your cold calling back on track!
In this article, we’ll teach you the top skills needed to get better at cold calling. We’ll delve into what cold calling is, how it works, and the skills that will change the game. We’ve also included top tips on how to follow up on cold calls.
What exactly is cold calling? It’s a sales technique that’s been around since call centers first appeared. It involves making phone calls that recipients are not expecting, to market a product or service or try to make a sale.
These individuals may not have expressed direct interest in purchasing the said product or signing up for the service on promotion. They may, however, have shown interest in similar products online. Regardless of their previous interest or lack of it, an attempt will be made to close a deal with them over the phone.
Cold calling is nothing new; it’s been around since 1873! But does it still work? Yes, it does, but it’s not always easy. Many people have a tendency to avoid cold calls or cut them short when they find themselves involved in one.
This means you have to be sure that every member of your team has the best skills for cold calls. They must be well-prepared and well-equipped to deal with rejection, because that’s part and parcel of the cold-calling game.
That said, you can minimize failed cold calls and boost your success with the right strategies. We’ll cover the most effective cold-calling strategies shortly. First, we must look at why cold calling provokes a negative response and how to handle it. So, why is this sales technique stressful for agents and customers?
If your outbound call center performance metrics are suffering, it might not be due to a lack of interest in the product you’re promoting. It might be the stress of the cold call itself that's causing your sales figures to drop!
The reasons why cold calling is so stressful are different for call agents and call recipients. There are also differences between individuals in each group. Yet there are some common themes between them, and this gives us some direction as to how to overcome these issues.
When call agents fear making cold calls, this is usually due to a lack of experience. This fear is more common among new members of the team, and it’s often tied to fears of rejection or failure. Their lack of expertise may also make them nervous about finding the right words or making a convincing pitch.
Agents usually overcome these problems with time, experience, and adequate training. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the problem. Acknowledge their cold-calling anxiety and offer support and mentoring.
Allow the anxious agent to ‘shadow’ one of their more senior coworkers. Never allow unprepared call agents to handle cold calls unsupervised. The latest automated dialers allow you to monitor live calls and even prompt agents in-call. This feature will help you stand by and support them when needed.
Call recordings are an excellent source of training materials. New employees will learn more quickly what is expected of them if they hear what a successful cold call sounds like. Recordings will also give you clues as to where your training may be going awry.
Cold calls are unsolicited calls. It’s easy to lose sight of that. From the call recipient’s point of view, they are being contacted by a stranger, unexpectedly, and possibly at an inconvenient time. That’s why it’s important to get the timing right and establish a sense of trust from the start of the call.
Call recipients may also find the cold-calling experience bothersome and intrusive. Their personalities and past experiences with cold calls will determine how they handle future cold calls. However, it’s still possible to win them over, even if they’ve had bad cold-calling experiences in the past.
When met with aggression and resistance from the call recipient, the best course of action may be to reroute the call. A more experienced call agent is more likely to know how to handle animosity without a stress reaction.
Alternatively, ask the prospective customer if they would prefer a call back at a more convenient time. Getting the timing of cold calls right is half the battle. People are more receptive to sales pitches when they’re not swamped with work or trying to cook dinner at the time of an unexpected phone call.
Cold calling is not just about the call itself. The preparation for a cold call starts long before that, and this is where many teams fail. Don't let your team be one of them! Follow these tips to make the most of your cold-calling campaigns.
A successful cold call is all about preparation. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you’re well prepared:
Do the necessary research while planning the cold-calling campaign and collecting leads. Are these leads representative of your target market? Have any of them, to your knowledge, interacted with any of your competitors? What angles are your competitors relying on to engage prospective customers?
Ensure your agents know everything about the product or service they are pitching before they launch into the calls. When you do your groundwork, you formulate a more solid plan of action for every cold-calling campaign.
Even a small, start-up call center will be competitive with the right foundation. So, invest in small business call center software with the latest innovative features. The right dialer will give you the edge over even your most successful competitors. Remember to always back up your choice with diligent research.
Make sure you have all the necessary information about the leads on your list. The more information your agents have about the people they’re talking to, the better. Whether these are sales or marketing calls, the objective is the same. Know the lead or customer like the back of your hand!
Check that all information is accurate and up-to-date. Give your call agents all the information they need, and you’ll give them the confidence they need, too.
The best way to tackle this issue is to have a dedicated CRM available during calls. Predictive and parallel dialer software for call center use can meet this need. They often have integrated CRM capabilities on-screen for every cold call.
Your agents will become more persuasive because they’ll know who they’re talking to and what they’re talking about. With lead information right in front of them, agents can speak with authority and establish a bond of trust.
The right attitude is crucial when making cold calls. Even the most confident, self-assured, and experienced call agents can fail. Cold calling isn’t easy, and some days are harder than others. But with the right attitude, every call can lead to something great.
This is a lot easier to achieve when agents feel less pressured. Give them the support they need to make their call quotas, but also the safety net they need to avoid burnout. Invest in predictive dialers for cold calls.
A predictive dialer is the best call center software for avoiding agent burnout. That’s because it relies on statistical algorithms to adapt its dialing rate to available agents.
This will reduce the stress that overburdened staff feel, making a positive attitude easier to maintain. There will be times when you’re short-staffed, but that’s easy to handle. Even though a predictive dialer can dial multiple numbers at once, you’re always in control and able to set a dialing rate.
Do your agents have the right skills for cold calls? It’s often just a matter of the right outbound call strategy. But any cold call is immediately more effective when you use the right techniques.
Once that call is connected, it’s time to make a connection and build rapport. It’s up to your agents to start with a friendly, warm, and engaging tone. Avoid pushy and overly salesy talk right at the start. Begin with a warm greeting, and you’ll have the prospect at ‘hello’.
Don’t leave room for error with false starts and dropped calls. It’s not realistic to think you’ll close a deal on every call. But it is possible to make every call a live call. This head start will give your agent the boost they need.
How can you achieve this? Get the latest automated dialer software that will skip over busy signals and voicemail and automatically route live calls to available agents. So no call agent is left frustrated, and no prospective customer is kept waiting. That’s how you build rapport right from the start!
Encourage your staff to ask questions about your organization and your customers. If they’re new and unsure of how the dialing software works, put their minds at ease. Take the time to explain it to them. Answer their questions patiently. They'll do a better job on each cold call if they understand the technology.
Prospective customers will also have questions. There may be questions your competitors were unable to answer. With every cold call, seize the opportunity to address their concerns and establish trust.
Some prospects are hesitant to ask questions. In these cases, it’s up to your call agent to find their pain points and address them.
Let’s look at an example. The product being pitched is a tech product. Ask questions like, “What did you find frustrating about similar products in the past?” Once the customer answers, the agent can explain that new technologies and innovations have resolved these issues.
One of the hardest lessons to learn is how to take the word ‘no’. This is a scenario that new call agents fear most. Your agent will have to learn to take this rejection like a champ. They’ll also have to learn to differentiate between the different types of ‘no’.
Experience will introduce them to various types of cold call rejection. Sometimes prospects say ‘no, but maybe later’ or ‘no, but perhaps if I had more information’. These ‘no’s’ are more like ‘maybe's' which warrant a follow-up call.
Sometimes, that lead goes nowhere, and that ‘no’ really means ‘no’. When it does, agents must handle it professionally. Being pushy will create an unfavorable impression of the service or product you represent.
They should simply ask if they may forward additional information or call back at a later date. Often, this is how to rescue the situation and still make a sale.
Even with the right skills for cold calls, success is never guaranteed. While the aim is always to close the deal with the first call, this is not always possible. That’s why your team must handle the follow-up call correctly. This is when they have to give it all they’ve got to turn that prospect into a customer.
How much time should pass between that first cold call and a follow-up call? Many in the industry suggest waiting at least 48 hours. The truth is, it depends on the prospect. Tell them that they may receive a follow-up call. Ask them if they need a day or two to ‘think about it’.
Often, this is all that is needed, and the follow-up call is a successful deal closer. If they ask for more time, say 3-4 days, give it to them. No one likes to feel ambushed or bombarded. That’s not the way to build customer engagement.
If they don’t give a clear-cut answer, use your discretion. But a follow-up call too soon puts undue pressure on the prospect and the agents.
In the follow-up call, don’t be overly aggressive about making a sale. Give the customer breathing room, and they will respond more favorably.
Perhaps that initial cold call ended with a request for more information. Don’t drop the ball here. Get that information together, and either call them back or email it to them. It’s usually best to email the information requested and then do a follow-up call a few hours later. This gives them time to go through the email.
Be sure to supply all that they asked for. The worst thing you can do at this stage of the cold calling process is fall short on feedback. That request for more details means they’re considering making a purchase. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s a good indicator that they’re willing to buy the product.
Any failure at this stage could spell doom for making a sale. This is why telesales agents must always have everything ready to go if they’re asked to provide more details. This could include product specifications, information about the manufacturer, or similar promotions on offer at a lower price point.
The lead seemed hot, but the initial cold call didn’t close the deal. A follow-up call was scheduled, but although they seemed like a likely prospect, there’s still no commitment to a sale! What do you do? Well, if you can’t make a sale, make a friend.
Keep them under your radar, and invite them to join a newsletter or engage in some other way with the company you represent. Ask if they will consent to receiving marketing materials that may appeal to them.
That same prospect may buy the product or service if called again at a later date. So keep the lines of communication open.
Cold calling. Love it or hate it, it’s an integral part of the outbound sales experience. Cold calling is very effective, but it can be challenging. These challenges include customer resistance and agent anxiety over the cold call experience.
Fortunately, you can eliminate these issues with the right skills for cold calls and the right dialer, giving your team the edge. You’ll find this at AutoReach, with features that help agents feel prepared and confident for every cold call. This leads to better sales calls and more deals being closed.
Want to know more about how the right dialer software improves cold calling? Start your free trial today!
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