8 Cold Calling Tips for Sellers and Sales Leaders 

By Vivian Batman

woman on the phone in an office

Let’s not beat around the bush: nobody likes getting cold calls.

Buyers are already short on time, and the last thing they want is to listen to another sales pitch.

As sellers, you’re even more in the hot seat. Research from our 2023 State of Sales Productivity Report found that during a call, buyers asked an average of 18 questions, a significant increase from 13 questions in the 2022 report. This means customers are scrutinizing purchases more and are even more reluctant to take a cold call.

Number of questions buyers ask on calls

Because many selling orgs maintain call quotas for their sales reps to achieve on a monthly or quarterly basis, sellers need tips on how to make these calls less cringe-worthy and more effective at getting that meeting booked.

Here are our tips for both sellers and sales enablement leaders on how to make your sellers amazing cold callers.

First things first: Is cold calling legal?

Yes, cold calling is generally legal, although specific regulations may vary depending on the country and jurisdiction. In many places, cold calling is allowed as long as it complies with certain rules and guidelines. For example, businesses may need to adhere to laws governing telemarketing practices, such as obtaining prior consent from recipients or respecting “Do Not Call” registries.

It’s critical for organizations to familiarize themselves with the relevant laws and regulations in their region to ensure compliance and maintain ethical business practices. Seeking legal advice or consulting industry-specific guidelines can help businesses navigate the legal landscape surrounding cold calling.

8 tips to nail your next cold call

Use these tips to warm up your cold calls and have more engaging and impactful conversations.

Do your research

Do you actually know who you’re calling? No, we don’t mean their title, company, and industry — while this is important, to really engage the buyer, you must understand their pain points and business needs. The more information you have, the better you can gauge their level of interest and engage them with relevant messaging right off the bat. The following are some of the most effective methods for research:

  • Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner are keyword research tools that provide insight into what questions buyers are asking, what pain points they’re searching for, and what other brands are ranking for those keywords.
  • Posts on LinkedIn profiles and company pages can reveal what topics and challenges are most important to the buyer and their company/industry.
  • Search engines and social profiles provide insights into any events the company sponsored or attended, funding and other corporate milestones, and more.
  • Account intelligence tools like 6sense or UpLead dig even deeper to match online behaviors to certain IPs so you can identify a specific buyer’s activities and tailor your conversation based on them.

You may also find that the company isn’t a great fit for your product. In this case, you can cross them off your list and avoid wasting time for both parties.

Tip #1 for sellers

Use keyword research, LinkedIn posts, search engines, social profiles, and account intelligence tools to gather relevant information.

Tip #1 for sales leaders

Prioritize sales training that focuses on understanding buyer pain points and business needs for effective engagement.

Don’t start with a sales pitch

In addition to knowing details about the person you’re calling, stand out from other vendors with a more conversational approach. Buyers are expecting a generic, robotic sales pitch — surprise them by aligning the value proposition to the research you’ve done. If your organization has a cold call script or template, try not to read directly from it — you’ll sound over-rehearsed as a result. Instead, use the script as a guide for staying focused and keeping the discussion on track.

Tip #2 for sellers

If you sound like you’re reading from a script that pitches your product, your call will likely end sooner than you’d like. Simply use the script as a guide for the conversation to keep it on track.

Tip #2 for sales leaders

Use a conversation intelligence tool to listen to calls to understand if sellers are immediately bombarding buyers with a sales pitch. Assign training to help them improve.

Keep things brief

Make sure you’re not disengaging the person from the outset by delivering a monologue about yourself and your company. Research from the 2023 State of Sales Productivity Report found that the average longest monologue delivered by reps is 2 minutes 43 seconds. The longest monologues happen when the rep either talks through a ton of content or provides a nervous response to a customer question that they were ill-prepared to handle. Talking in short snippets during cold calls is important to maintain engagement, convey key points efficiently, and avoid overwhelming the buyer with information.

Tip #3 for sellers

Don’t overwhelm the buyer by rapid-firing a monologue at them from the outset. Speak 1-2 sentences and then listen.

Tip #3 for sales leaders

Coach sellers on the art of orchestrating conversations rather than making presentations.

Prove your value

You could talk all day about how effective your product is, but showing what your current customers have to say provides much more legitimate evidence of the value you can bring to the prospect. Share proof of the value of your company and products with the buyer, including first-hand customer testimonials and reviews on rating sites like G2. Awards and other professional recognition can also be testaments to how your organization serves its employees and customer base.

Tip #4 for sellers

Real-life examples from customers tell the story better than you can. Make sure you have a few customer stories in your back pocket for every use case.

Tip #4 for sales leaders

You can get valuable voice of the customer insights from a sales productivity tool. Infuse those learnings into your sales training so sellers can quickly and naturally mention those anecdotes during cold calls.

Practice active listening

Just because you did some research upfront doesn’t mean you know everything about the buyer. In your first conversation with them, your focus should be on learning as much as you can about the team, company, industry, competitive landscape, existing tech stack, and more. This is a win-win: you get deeper, first-hand insights into this potential customer, and the buyer will appreciate you taking the time to understand the issues they’re facing and answer questions meaningfully.

Tip #5 for sellers

You’re there to learn. Give buyers the opportunity to talk about their pain points and make listening your main focus during cold calls.

Tip #5 for sales leaders

Incorporate role-plays into your sales training program so sellers can practice cold-calling scenarios and get feedback about how well they’ve listened.

Find the best calling schedule

Don’t take advantage of a buyer’s time and be considerate about when you’re calling. They are likely tackling a long to-do list, and you will only irritate them if you call when they’re bogged down with meetings and other work. Calling closer to lunch or the end of the day, when people are preparing for a break, has a higher likelihood of success. Research shows that calls are most likely to be answered between 10 and 11am and 4 and 5pm. Remember, not everyone you call is in the same time zone, so be mindful of that before you dial.

Tip #6 for sellers

Respect a buyer’s time by calling strategically only during optimal hours.

Tip #6 for sellers

Ask reps for feedback as part of your sales training program. If some reps have more success during a certain time of day, share that learning with the rest of your team.

Leave an impactful voicemail

Voicemails are tough. We know that only 11% of voicemails lead to a return call. Rather than giving up hopes of engaging the person on the other hand, leave them a message that will grab their attention. Demonstrate what you know about the individual, their company, their pain points, and how your solution can help. Avoid cramming too much information into the voicemail — keep it at a tight 20 seconds at most. Convey some energy and urgency and follow up within a week if you don’t hear back.

Tip #7 for sellers

Leave attention-grabbing voicemails demonstrating knowledge, energy, and urgency. Follow up.

Tip #7 for sales leaders

Use sales coaching sessions as an opportunity to coach sellers on how to leave an effective voicemail.

Set proper next steps

You’re not closing any deals on the first call, so it’s important to establish clear steps agreed upon by both parties. These could include sending over additional resources, setting up a demo, or waiting a few months before touching base again. Rather than forcing them into your sales process, let the prospect bring you into their timeline and be respectful of how they would like to move forward. If they say they aren’t interested or ready, give them an appropriate amount of time before calling them again.

Tip #8 for sellers

Trust and listen to the buyer’s process.

Tip #8 for sales leaders

Coach sellers on how to create urgency with buyers so these cold calls lead to the next step.

Making the most of cold calls

Following the right process, cold calls can be effective in connecting with potential customers and moving them to the next phase of the buying cycle. The goal is not to do discovery with the buyer or sell products — it’s to engage the person meaningfully and get a meeting scheduled so they can learn how your product will help them operate a more efficient and lucrative business.

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