When setting a B2B appointment through cold calling in all likelihood, the prospect at the other end of the line has never heard of your organization and most probably has never even considered the need for a solution the likes of which you are providing. It wouldn’t be called “cold calling” if they did! We have compiled this Ultimate Guide to cold calling best practices, so you have a killer game plan every time you pick up the phone.
However, just like your belieber friend might not care too much about your favorite heavy metal album, it’s naïve to expect a good appointment setting pitch will be music for everyone’s ear. If you’re sticking to your script like a terrified toddler on a fairground ride, do not be surprised if you cannot cross the one-minute conversation mark. A flexible pitch that can be tailored to an individual prospect will always be a better idea.
If all these sound a bit too complicated, don’t worry, we have put together a step-by-step guide to get the best result every time you’re cold calling.
There are 4 parts to a cold calling conversation, and they are:
Starting a sales conversation by cold calling
Opening a sales conversation is the most important aspect of the whole process and for obvious reasons. Perfecting the opening will set the tone for the rest of the conversation while a mediocre pitch will result in prospects losing interest and hanging up.
The way you say “Hi, am I talking to Mr. X” goes a long way than meets the eye or should we say the ear. Believe it or not, in the few seconds it takes to utter these words, the prospect will subconsciously decide how interested they are in carrying on the conversation without even knowing what the call is about. This is called rapport building. When you’re cold calling, you have mere seconds to establish that you a person who knows what they are doing, and what you are doing is of immense interest for the person on the other end of the line. Just like in any other trade, confidence will be your best friend. Speaking loud and clear while articulating every word, smiling every now and then, and sounding energetic and relaxed is half the work done.
When cold calling, more often than not, the difference between success and failure will depend on how well you can keep the conversation in your control. It is vital to steer the conversation in a direction that will get you what you are looking for, be it an appointment with the prospect or some information. It is ideal to be upfront about the reason for the call and mention it towards the very beginning. Studies show being straight up about the reason for the call can increase the likelihood of success by at least twice. It is vital to keep the conversation relevant to your topic otherwise before you know it, you can easily be talking about zodiac signs or in other words, unrelated topics that will waste both your time and that of your prospect.
One way to keep the conversation in check is by throwing in a discovery question at the end of your line. For instance, rather than saying “The reason I’m calling is to schedule a time to discuss how C4A can help your salespeople get more business.”, it’s a good idea to add “May I ask, what methods are your salespeople using for their prospecting?” This way you can control the outcome of the conversation.
While asking discovery questions, keep in mind to avoid questions that have a ‘yes or no’ answer. It’s a better idea to ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered by a simple yes or no. For instance, if you’re asking “Are you doing your own prospecting?”, the prospect can simply reply with a ‘yes’ and hang up. Rather, consider asking “What’s your most effective method for prospecting?”, this way you can strike a meaningful conversation with the prospect and navigate their needs.
It’s not always a walk in the park to get the prospect to listen to what you have to say. One way to achieve this is through a technique called “pattern-interrupt”. Some of the ways you can do it are as follows:
“A minute is all I’ll take, do you, have it?”
“I understand you weren’t expecting this call, so I’ll make it short”
‘I understand you’re busy, but can I steal 27 seconds?’
“I just wanted 2 minutes of your time, and if I go above, I’ll send you an invoice for it. Sounds good?”
A pattern interrupt can be described as anything that forces the prospect to change their default line of thinking. It is a technique that sales development and business development professionals use for a variety of situations in sales calls and sales processes, but for the purpose of this post, we will focus on the introduction of a cold call. When used properly, it can be very effective in helping you stand out from every other sales call.
Nonetheless, it is necessary to use caution while using it, understand its implications, and where it might lead the conversation to. Also, the timing of a pattern interrupt cannot be stressed as perfectly timed
When dealing with warm leads, it’s always a good idea to revisit the last point of contact you had with the prospect. Show that you remember their needs from the last time you had a conversation and you’re following up with a solution to their problem. Alternatively, you can mention a piece of content the prospect viewed and discuss their needs relating to that topic.
Appointment setting elevator pitch
The elevator pitch concerns the part of the call where you provide a brief yet effective value proposition. The reason it’s called an elevator pitch is that it should be short but elegant enough to present during a brief elevator ride. It’s not nearly enough to just outline what your product or service offers, rather you should pinpoint specific ways your solution can solve their pain points regarding their business.
You should take into account their industry and job title while presenting your pitch and delve deep into the value proposition tailoring your services to their specific needs.
Some ways to convey your message more effectively include:
- Predict and address objections before they’re raised
- Define the USP or the Unique Selling Points of your product or service, what differentiates your offerings from that of your competitors
- Relating testimonials from previous customers and their success stories related to the prospect’s industry and/or business needs
Research research research! There’s nothing more important than doing your homework prior to reaching out to a new prospect, thus you can better acquaint yourself with their industry and how your solution can add value. According to research on LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report, 80% of prospects do not feel comfortable speaking to a sales agent who is familiar with their industry, consequently, 93% of the prospects surveyed reported that they are more inclined to communicate with a sales agent who can deliver a personalized pitch. A good rule of thumb is to not blindly follow the script, but use it as a guiding light only while using a natural pitch that you will think will likely resonate with the buyer. Speaking naturally and from the heart will usually do the trick. This shouldn’t be a problem if you are well versed in your product or service and how it serves their needs.
Closing on the sales meeting
Although it might sound counterintuitive, the goal of our sales call should not always be to sell your product or service. Rather, it should be to set an appointment or a sales meeting. By this time, you would have already conveyed how your offering can be of value to your prospect. This, when done correctly, will generate interest in the prospect and by keeping the momentum going, an appointment can be set with ease.
You can tell if someone is a good salesman or not just from the words they choose to speak. A good salesman needs to sound confident and therefore should not use words that might give off hesitancy. You should avoid words like “just”, “hopefully”, “might” or “maybe”.
“Is 10 am next Wednesday good for you?”
Another cue that our sales reps use to their advantage is asking the prospect “Are you in front of your calendar?” instead of asking if they’d like to set an appointment. Give the prospect a choice of time slots that you can squeeze them in, for instance, “Does 10 am good or 12 pm. sound better?”. This is a good way to convey a sense of urgency and exude confidence.
When applicable, try and use the collaborative suggestions, i.e. using language that implicates you and your customer to join forces to come up with a solution to their problem.
“Why don’t we do this…”
“Let’s put some time on the calendar for next Friday.”
A study analyzing over 500000 sales calls by Chorus concluded that expert sales reps were 10 times more likely to make use of collaborative language like “we,” “us,” and “our,” as opposed to words like “I,” “me,” and “your.”
It seems obvious enough, but objections can be discouraging for SDRs. The final phase of a prospecting conversation involves knowing how to respond to those objections.
No one likes objections, especially sales reps. But if you know how to handle them properly, they can be your best friend.
Sales rebuttals for objection handling
The key to objection handling is doing your homework. The more you know about your offering and the industry of your prospect, the better prepared you are to handle objections. A good sales rep will anticipate the objections that they might encounter and find their solutions accordingly.
Some discovery questions that will assist you here are as follows:
- What solution they are currently using, have used, or considering using?
- What are the particular pain points they’re experiencing at the moment?
- Are they considering switching their current solution provider?
- When is the expiration date of the current solution?
When prospects use objections such as “no” or “not interested,” it’s wise to have a rebuttal prepared based on an expected objection. When the prospect is saying “no”, what they really mean might be that they are already working with someone else. “Not interested” might mean they are using some other solution.
To know more about why the prospect is not interested, try asking an intriguing question that might make them re-evaluate their current situation. Feel free to use the magic word, “why”!
Before you throw in the towel on trying to get a sales meeting, make sure you have utilized the Feel, Felt, Found method. This classic method is a three-step guide to reassure your prospect:
- Make them feel heard and understood, tell them to know how they feel.
- Let them know how you’ve come across others who felt the same way at the beginning.
- Finally, inform them how they found the perfect solution after purchasing.
There is nothing like a good customer testimony to disarm a prospect while addressing their concern. Here’s what an example might sound like:
“I understand you feel that your internal sales team does a great job of generating enough appointments. One of our clients who previously employed an in-house sales team felt the same way at first. But after working with C4A’s appointment setting department, they found 6 times more productivity in generating appointments.”
The feel felt the found method aims to close the gap between the claimed merits of your offering and the prospects’ doubts on it. A found statement that drives home with the prospect you’re speaking to will do wonders when it comes to setting a sales meeting with them.
DO NOT BE AFRAID OF REJECTION. A master sales professional will persevere in the face of multiple rejections and not rest until they secure a follow-up meeting.
It’s easy to lose sight of the prize and get beat down if cannot get around those objections. But remember, to always end a conversation with a positive note, and to not burn bridges. Even you cannot close an appointment this time around, you will have created a warm prospect that you have a better chance of closing next time.
Know your product, anticipate objections and follow the guide. A good sales professional is not born, they are made, and if you’re still reading this guide, you’re already on your way to being one.
Best of luck!