As soon as you read the headline, I’m sure, the first thing that comes rushing to your mind is, “Is cold calling even relevant in 2024?”
Well, I believe there’s no one-word answer to this. It all depends on how you deal with it.
On the one hand, patience, persistence, and practice make a winning formula for your sales team; on the other, the same can be nightmarishly daunting. Even the statistical findings are against it.
With that being said, the next question that hovers over is, “Do B2B businesses should have cold calling as part of their sales strategy?”
In this blog, we’ll take a bird’s eye view of various aspects of cold calling and its relevance in the B2B context in 2024.
From calling to closing, we’ll go step-by-step to decode the most controversial topic in the sales world.
What is cold calling?
It’s a sales technique to make unsolicited calls to promising prospects, those who haven’t expressed any intention to consider your products or services.
This is called cold calling because none of your prospects know you or might not have even heard of your brand.
However, there’s a high probability that these prospects will eventually become your customers. That depends on how diligently you make your cold-calling strategy and take your prospects throughout the sales journey.
Is cold calling relevant in 2024?
The reason why most salespeople don’t vouch for cold calls is because it’s tough.
Calling strangers during their work hours and getting them to listen to your sales pitch and get business out of it needs skills that don’t go down well with most sales guys.
Hence, a biased perception is prevalent in the sales world that cold calling is dead.
Rain Group, in its “Top Performing in Sales Prospecting Benchmark Report”, says that 57% of C-Level and VP-level buyers prefer to connect with sellers on the phone.
Considering the vicious circle of commercial and marketing campaigns we’re exposed to, cold calling makes more sense now than it used to. The warmth of personalization over a call by a skilled sales rep can do things even AI can’t match.
According to Rain Group, 27% of sellers say making phone calls to strangers is still fruitful. In 2021, nearly 69% of buyers received calls from new salespeople.
It is estimated as many as 82% of buyers accept meetings when a salesperson personally reaches up to them.
Companies without cold calls in their sales arsenal witness 42% lower growth than the ones with cold calls as part of their sales strategy, reports Zippa.
I think it’s enough to neutralize those who say cold calling is dead in 2023.
Relevance of cold calling in B2B
In the B2C context, the salesperson has little to no knowledge about the person they’re cold calling, making it nothing less than a Herculean Task.
So, the problem-solving technique doesn’t work well here. Instead, they try to capitalize on the impulse buying behavior that has more to do with buyers’ emotions.
This makes the result 50-50.
On the contrary, B2B sales are based on a more logical frame of mind with proper sales rationale.
Salespeople in the B2B segment can have proper B-A-N-T analysis before dialing up their prospects.
Your sales team can personalize each call beforehand.
And this gives your reps a fair chance to get through the first level. All your reps have to do is to make the prospect ready for the next step, convincing him/her that you have a solution for their problem.
Cold calling process
Cold calling works with a methodical approach. The below-mentioned visualization can help you make one for your team.
It’s essential to organize all the call information you extracted from various sources at one place to avoid any potential prospects falling through the cracks.
So, all your scribbles, notes, Google Docs, and Excels are to be fed into one central database i.e., a CRM tool. Collaborations, Tasks, Interaction history, Projections, Customer profiles, Analytics, Reminders, Contacts, and Notes should be at your fingertips to export easily whenever needed.
Basic features you should look for are Mobile Usability, Analytics, Click-to-call, Call recording, Scheduling appointments, Setting up tasks for prospects based on engagement, Calling prospects in bulk, and Some kind of integration.
Some of the most widely used tools that can help you make your cold calling easier are Gong–a reps training tool, Wingman–a conversation intelligence software; and a cloud-based phone system like Aircall.
Smart usage of time is crucial for cold calling success.
After all, your reps can’t go on researching and gathering info about prospects endlessly. It’s a common belief that you learn more from your outbound efforts than doing cognitive research alone.
I’m sure this prospecting template may greatly help you and your team before they even make the first attempt.
Find prospects on LinkedIn
Step 1: Connect prospect
Check their LinkedIn profile. Look for their LinkedIn activities. See if they have published any articles, their comments, posts, and shares. Watch out for their past experiences, career milestones, or any awards.
These small pieces of info will help your reps build rapport with the prospects.
Step 2: Visit the company website
Find out the latest news about the company. Look for press releases and recent events. Scroll through their blog page. Find out their tech stack.
Step 3: Follow the industry trend
Subscribe to industry news, join LinkedIn groups, and look for events. Keep yourself updated with the industry trends, especially with emerging challenges, products, and technology.
Use this knowledge to sound more professional during your call. This will help your prospects have confidence in you.
Connect prospects with a short personalized note on LinkedIn
If your team sends connection requests to potential prospects, sending them out with a short note is best. That will give the stranger a hint about your intent.
You should also look for a persona fit for your offerings. Know prospects’ seniority, authority, and role in the company. Find out their aspirations and personal pain points and understand how your solution can address those.
Dig deep into the prospect’s pain areas and think about what in your product or services can solve their problem in which way. Once you have that clarity, most of your prospecting will be successful.
We have a separate section on qualifying your prospects in this blog further down.
Getting past the gatekeepers
Escaping gatekeepers will decide your cold-calling success in 2023.
Getting in touch with the gatekeepers means a waste of time. That means you need to have a hyper-targeted calling list. However, at some stage of the process, you will have to deal with the gatekeepers.
Here are a few awesome tactics to deal with them.
The truth is you can’t brush off a gatekeeper. You cut them off, and they cut you, too. So, smart reps use their rapport-building skills with the gatekeepers.
If they ask if it’s a cold call. Tell them the truth politely and make your point. Chances are, they will let you through. You can also give your pre-call references on LinkedIn or email communications.
Sound more confident while dealing with these species. A hesitant and timid voice will raise the alarm as gatekeepers can sense cold callers as they encounter them every day.
Use mobile phones
Connection success is higher when you use your mobile device with caller identification. Moreover, this way, you can bypass the gatekeepers.
Opening a cold call
The best way to open up your call is to seek permission to continue.
It’s observed that most people won’t mind sharing a bit of their time upon asking. The worst-case scenario in this situation may be a call-later request.
You can listen to what Josh has to say: Josh Braun
In simple terms, build interest in your openings to continue further. Then, explain why it works and what benefits they get out it. Get to your prospects’ perspective, and boom. Rest would just be a simple process.
The best way to build rapport with your prospects is to know the art of mirroring. All you have to do is understand your prospects’ voices and how they talk. And you’ve to match the way they talk.
It’s important because cold calls that match the tone of prospects have been found to get more success than the calls that go opposite to the tone, annoying your prospects.
The next question that can bother you is how to identify and prepare for that voice and tone.
Well, there’s no fixed answer to that. Remember, you’re cold calling. And by the definition, every call is different than the previous one. It’s unpredictable.
While a Director may sound more pragmatic, an HR manager may be more chatty. If your prospect responds in short sentences, avoid unnecessary talk and keep your points short and to the point.
If the opposite, and your prospect sounds more conversational and friendly, keep the conversation on and try to extract as much info as possible. Make the conversation real. Don’t jump straight to the point. Sound more genuine.
Below are some situation-based openers that can help you get through the conversation.
Situation 1: When the prospect is rude
Situation 2: To catch prospects’ attention
For better understanding, click on the video to see what Josh Braun has to say:
Nailing The First 30 Seconds by Josh Braun
Another pragmatic approach may be to repeat your prospects’ names in the conversation. When done so, people feel respected, and they get more emotionally involved in the process.
Make your conversation more engaging by repeating the set of problems your prospects already shared with you. Say how your solution can help them solve their problems.
If your prospects’ problem is something your company has already solved for some other clients, present it like a case study and tell them the results they got.
This will build credibility for your solution, increasing the chances of considering your product.
To qualify prospects, ask them targeted questions about their specific needs, budget, and decision-making authority. Keep the questions focused on key criteria relevant to your product or service.
Listed are a few questions that you need to ask to understand if a prospect is a proper fit are listed below:
- What regions are you looking to prospect into?
- How does your sales team generate new leads?
- What did you like about them? What did you dislike?
- Are you in a position to take on new clients right now?
- Who would normally be involved in buying decisions for new tech?
- What tools are you currently using?
- Have you used data providers in the past?
- What are your current business growth goals?
- What does your current sales strategy look like?
The selection of questions may differ depending on the industry. It is important to consider the context that will guide the formulation of these questions.
This will ensure you address the right prospects qualifying for further interactions.
If your sales reps would be cold calling with pre-defined product pitch in 2024, chances are you won’t have a lot of conversions.
The one thing that you have to do is what they say to “poke the bear.”
This means you have to raise the curiosity bar higher among your prospects so that they want to get more info from you.
To do this, ask your prospects to think about their company and processes. Make them think if the existing ones deliver results and, if not, how to adopt better things.
If your prospects say, “All my sales team finds prospects manually.”
Express your astonishment by saying, “All your sales team FIND prospects MANUALLY?”
This will work like a trigger. It will make them think about the gaps in the processes, making space for you to squeeze in.
If you’re adopting the “poke the bear” method, chances are rare to handle any objections as the approach will entirely shift the thinking gear of your prospects in a different direction.
If not, there will be a stage when you need to handle objections and obstructions. Mind it, these are different as far as sales are concerned.
An objection is something that your prospects are not sure about. Like your product. It’s your sales reps job to change their mindset and show them why your product fits them.
It’s a situation when a prospect creates an excuse why (s)he can’t do something that is needed and tries to escape your call by saying they’re busy.
The Best Way To Start A cold Call by Brandon Mulrenin
At SmartReach, we have a 5-step objection handling process.
- Move on
We will try and understand how this works in real-time.
Let’s assume your prospect says: I heard your sales engagement platform lacks security measures.
In reply, you can ask: Can you please explain the security measures our platform lacks?
This will make your prospects open up more and reveal their objection in detail.
They may say: I heard your platform is not GDPR compliant, and since we operate in the EU, as per statutory requirements, all our systems need to adhere to GDPR.
Now it’s your turn to answer: Rest assured, our system is GDPR compliant, and we also have SOC-2 Type II certification. We have also completed the Google OAuth assessment.
Then you say; I hope I was able to address your concern.
Now, if your prospects say “yes,” move on to the next question, or if it’s a “no,” explain more.
Remember, you will be in a position to drive the conversation ahead only if your product understanding is like that of an expert.
Not only your products but also about what the industry offers currently. Act like a subject matter expert. Know the current features, solutions, and challenges in your niche.
Solving most common cold-calling objections
Upon asking our sales team about the most common questions they encounter while cold calling, four major categories of objections fall under the BANT.
Let’s see how we can overcome each of these objections with ease.
Budget – No money to buy
When your prospect says they don’t have money for this, find out why they are saying so.
Is your product exorbitantly priced, or are they not yet seeing the value in it.
Explain how this will change their life if it’s a matter of value. Tell them how other people have benefited from using your solution. Keep some of your stats ready from the case studies created.
If they say it’s highly-priced, don’t jump yet to give them a discount. Probe their intent more and offer a bespoke solution. Spread out the pricing in ways that suit them without cutting the overall cost.
Below are the aspects you should be focussing on while handling such a scenario:
Show prospects savings and highlight ROI: Say how the product will help them save cost eventually despite having its upfront cost. Show how this will make their team effective, and productive.,
How efficiently they will be able to manage their high-priority deals, and how faster they can close their pipeline.
An alternative payment option: Offer flexible payment plans, financing options, or even phased implementations to fit your financial situation.
Focus on long-term goals: Make your prospect feel their current cost commitment for your tool should not compromise their long-term business objective. Show how businesses using your tool achieve their goals faster and more effectively.
Offer a customized solution: Tell them how best possible you can fit their needs for a customized solution keeping their budget and specific needs in mind.
Authority – I need to ask my boss
During your conversation, if you find that the person you’re talking to is not the one to decide, just let them know if they have any other concerns to answer to the top people.
These prospects can be your brand ambassadors and endorse your product to the higher-ups. During the discussion, if you can sense that their boss doesn’t need to get involved, immediately line up your next call.
Below are the aspects you should be focussing on while handling such a scenario:
Acknowledge and empathize with the prospect: Say that you appreciate their honesty, but you still would like to learn more about their challenges and how your solution can help.
Gather information about the decision-making process: Find out more about the decision-making process and the key stakeholders involved.
Ask for permission to connect with the decision-maker: Ask if it’s possible for them to connect you with the decision-maker so that you can provide more information about your solution.
Schedule a follow-up call: Ask if you can schedule a follow-up call with the decision-maker to discuss this further.
Provide additional resources: Meanwhile, you can share with them some additional information about our solution so they can share it with the decision-makers. This will give them a better understanding of how we can help.
Need – Not required
If, after everything your prospect says, this is not the right time for us to buy.
Well! They may like some features, but others they don’t consider are needed.
The situation will depend on how your sales reps can turn it in your favor. In such cases, it’s best to explain what your product can achieve for them.
Let’s understand this by the following conversation:
Prospect: We are already working with (company name), and it’s going well.
“Great to know that. Yes, even we know how good their platform is. However, their solution works best with enterprise-level companies.
So, I’m sure that by using their solution for your company, you’re shelling out more, and most of their sales intelligence features are not what you currently require for your business. That means you are paying for stuff you aren’t even using.”
The rep should be a product expert, not only for their own product but should also know competitors’ products like he knows the back of his hand.
However, selling on price in B2B, especially cold calling is a difficult proposition. So another way of putting it across will be like this:
“I appreciate that you’re happy with your current provider. It’s always important to find a solution that works well for your business.
Even if you’re satisfied with your current provider, it’s always a good idea to benchmark their services against other options. You may be surprised to find that there are other solutions out there that can offer you even more value.”
Time – Not now
If your prospect is not ready to buy the product now, ask for the best time. Create a sense of urgency.
Let’s say the prospect says we can think about it only after hitting the Q1 target. The best way for your SDR to deal with it would be to state that (a competitor company name) has overachieved its target by 40% using this solution.
Despite doing everything, if your SDR can’t answer certain things, schedule a call with the immediate higher-up.
Tips to handle objections or obstructions
- Answer all your prospects’ questions before asking them yours.
- Don’t approach like a salesperson; act like a product evangelist. Educate, don’t sell.
- Always follow mirroring. Understand how the day is for your prospects and adapt to their tone for a better success rate.
- Consider objections as your opportunities to turn around things in your favor.
Closing a cold call
Once you break into your prospects’ doubts and handle objections, now is the time to close. Don’t rush yet. Be calm and assertive about what you want.
The below-mentioned 3-tier process will help you crack it.
- Show the product: Tell your prospects that they will understand it better, seeing it in action rather than sticking to a telephonic conversation.
- The waste of time: Say that it’s a waste of time for your prospects to understand everything over the call. It’s better if they can allow your reps to demonstrate how it helps them over a 15-minute call. It would be an exciting session for your prospects to discover the product.
- Freebie: Offer your prospects something free and useful so that they can experience it and put it into action. SmartReach offers a 14-day trial period where prospects can use it with all the features and find it why they need it.
Cold calling tips and techniques
There are no standard rules here for cold calling. Some of the most crucial aspects that we have found from our sales team helped us see better results.
Make realistic expectations
Don’t try to convert every call into a sale. It’s a numbers game, the more calls you make, the more likely it will be in your favor. Set realistic cold calling goals for yourself.
Use a strong call to action
Make your prospects’ next set of actions clear. Tell them what you want them to do. Schedule a demo? Visit your website? Send you an email?
Whatever it is, make it absolutely clear. Then follow up promptly to push through.
Use technology to your advantage
Take help of tools to make more effective cold calls. Use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to track your calls and contacts.
Use a cold calling dialer to make your calls more efficient. Use a call recording tool to review your calls and identify areas for improvement.
According to a study by PhoneBurner, the best times to make B2B cold calls are:
Mornings: 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Late afternoons: 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Here are some of the reasons why these times are effective:
Mornings: Most people check their emails in the morning before starting their work. Catching them at a time when they’re available can incraese your chances of getting through is higher.
Late afternoons: People are often winding down from their day and are more likely to be open to a call, especially if you can offer them a solution to a problem they’re facing.
Of course, these are just general guidelines, and the best time to call will vary depending on your specific situation.
Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing the best time to cold call:
The industry you’re selling to: For example, if you’re selling to businesses in the insurance industry utilizing an insurance CRM, you’ll want to avoid calling them during their busy trading hours.
Your target audience: If you’re selling to busy executives, you’ll want to avoid calling them early in the morning or late at night.
The time zone you’re calling into: If you’re calling into a different time zone, make sure to adjust your schedule accordingly.
Once you figure out the timing, set a schedule and make a self-target to make a certain number of calls.
Reach the right person
Reaching the right person can influence your cold calling outcome. As I mentioned above, how important it is to identify the right prospects. Even if they are not the decision-makers, you can always make them your ambassadors who can vouch for your product before their management.
Make yourself ready for the call. Research the prospect about the company, prepare your pitch, standby to answer any objections with the proper analogy, and make it through the call to schedule the next touch point.
Remember, don’t sell; just “poke the bear.”
You will not get through in your first attempt. Never mind, just go on. Follow up without being frustrated. Even if you are not able to get through the call properly at least, get some referral to line up your call list.
While wrapping up, I must reiterate that unlike it is perceived, cold calling is still in very much usage, and many businesses get remarkably good results out of it.
It’s tough, and it’s tricky. However, rewarding results await if managed well.
Sometimes, what matters is not the end result but the process you go through and the challenges you encounter. Trust me, handling these challenges will make the best out of you one day as a star salesperson.
It gives you an opportunity to be creative in your communication approach and will help you in the longer run to shape you up as a successful sales leader in the competitive landscape.
Too Long; Didn’t Read (TLDR)
Have to rush!
The key takeaway from the blog for your ready reference:
Credible research shows cold calling is not dead. There are many CXOs who prefer to be approached through calling.
B2B sales are based on a logical frame of mind with proper sales rationale. Salespeople in the B2B segment can have proper B-A-N-T analysis before dialing up their prospects.
8 step-by-step cold calling process for making cold calling strong in your sales arsenal.
Pre-call preparation: Get to know your prospects even before you start calling. Find prospects using LinkedIn, know their pain areas, and think about what in your product or services can solve their problem in which way.
Getting past the gatekeepers: Know how to handle gatekeepers. Learn the techniques to build rapport and make them your internal cheerleaders to reach the decision-makers.
Opening a cold call: Learn the art of opening a cold call for better success rates. A built-in video to uncover the secrets of the trade.
Building rapport: Discover how to build rapport with your prospects under various situations without getting distracted from your core objective.
Qualifying prospects: A set of curated questions for most businesses to understand the quality of the prospects and, if at all, they are a right fitment.
Product pitching: Learn the art of pitching and make ways for you to carry
on with the conversation. Be an active listener and trigger questions to raise curiosity.
Objection handling: Deal with objections. Find out ways to handle situations in your favor and crack more sales.
Closing: Finally, our internal sales teams collated a set of secret closing techniques to share with you to close more deals.