Need to generate sales leads? Get on the phone and start cold calling. Contrary to what you might hear, cold calling works – if you do it right. This article lists the 4 main elements of effective cold calling, and offers some insights and examples about how to do it right.
Four elements to effective cold calling
Your objective when cold calling is getting the buyer to engage in a meaningful conversation about the benefits of your product/service. The four main elements to an effective cold call are…
- Introduce who you are – state your name and mention your firm
- Give the buyer a reason to listen – tell the buyer what’s in it for him
- Make a referral statement – gain credibility by referencing someone he knows
- Ask for more time to explain your product/service – ask for the next step
Dealing with voicemail when cold calling
Clearly the first challenge when cold calling is getting someone to answer the phone. Voicemail has made this difficult. Nevertheless, you can increase the likelihood you’ll get a return call, or your subsequent attempts to reach the buyer will be successful.
In our recent survey about selling into the B2B space, we asked buyers what they want to hear in a voicemail message that would motivate them to call back – see exhibit below.
message you leave has to state clearly the benefit the customer will receive if he talks to you – this is the WIFM…what’s in it for me. A close second is name-dropping – referring to the fact that someone the buyer knows and/or respects is doing business with you and/or suggested you call. Combine the two and you significantly increase the probability of a call back.
An example - “Hi Mr. Baker, my name is John Smith and my firm, XYZ Company, has a consistent track-record of reducing shipping costs for companies like yours. Bill Jones (a friend of Mr. Baker) has been using our services and he suggested I give you a call because he thought you’d also benefit from what we do. In just a few minutes I can tell you how we do it. Please give me a call back at 555-5555. If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll reach out again in a few days. Once again, this is John Smith and my number is 555-5555. Thanks and have a great day.”
This message, which can be delivered in less than 30 seconds, offers the “WIFM” in the first sentence and then backs it up with mentioning the referral source. It communicates a requested action, and states that the caller won’t give up if there’s no return call.
Delivering a succinct cold call
What happens when you get lucky and get someone to answer the phone? Your script becomes only slightly different. In our survey we asked buyers what they want to hear that will motivate them to set up an appointment with a salesperson who cold called them - see exhibit below.
Mentioning a referral name and getting to the benefit remain the two most important elements. Avoid the small talk about how your day is going or the weather. The person you are calling doesn’t know you and likely won’t be interested in having a casual conversation with you. So, get right to the point.
An example - “Hi Mr. Baker, my name is John Smith and my firm, XYZ Company, has a consistent track-record of reducing shipping costs for companies like yours. Bill Jones (a friend of Mr. Baker) has been using our services and he suggested I give you a call because he thought you’d also benefit from what we do. Do you have just a couple of minutes that I can quickly share with you how we do that?”
This statement can be delivered in about 15-20 seconds. It immediately states the benefit and quickly communicates a pretty compelling referral statement. Delivering this kind of opening statement in a cold call will likely result in a “yes” when you ask the customer for a couple of minutes to communicate how you deliver your benefits.
Once you get the buyers attention and agreement to listen, be ready to communicate succinctly the 2-3 things your company does to achieve the benefit you stated – the WIFM for the customer. When cold calling, don’t stop your preparation at the opening statement. Have your full script ready to deliver.
Once you’ve communicated the 2-3 things to achieve the end result for your buyer, pause and do a trial close.
Cold calling isn’t dead, and it can be very effective for lead generation. Preparing your scripts ahead of time is crucial. Be ready to state how the buyer will benefit and whenever possible drop some names. Saying you were referred by someone the buyer knows helps your credibility. Also, stating you are doing business with other respected firms helps your credibility. Preparing your scripts and following the 4 elements to effective cold calling will significantly increase your probability of getting into a meaningful discussion with a prospect.