The Elements of Making an Effective Cold Call

making an effective cold call

Let’s face it, most folks don’t enjoy making cold calls, but as any salesperson or business owner knows, they are one of the most effective ways of reaching your decision makers. Whether you’re the founder of a company picking up the phone or you’re training a new sales team member — planning a cold call can be a dreaded task. Making an effective cold call takes time and effort but if done right, the payoff can be well worth the work.

Making An Effective Cold Call Requires Planning

Call the Correct Companies

First thing you need to do is decide which types of companies you want to target.  Many folks that I speak to tell me that “any company” can use our services.  While that may “technically” true, that “any company” may use your services, you really want to hone in on what types of companies really need your services, versus can use your services.  For example, we’re a marketing company, one might think that “any company” would need our services, but this isn’t true.  When we build our lists, we think of the types of companies that are marketing intensive like a B2B software provider who is more likely to have nice marketing budget, then let’s say a distributor.  Really give thought as to your best candidates, and put your resources there.

Call the Right People

Just because someone is the “decision maker”, doesn’t mean that’s who your first outreach should be with.  Think in terms of process owner.  Who would most benefit from your solution? If it’s a small business, the owner is ultimately the decision maker, but reaching them is tough, and furthermore, they will probably send you to the person in charge of that process area.  If you are pitching SEO, you need to get the person in charge of marketing involved.  Eventually the owner will need to be brought in, but they have a million other responsibilities.  Instead, again focus on the person responsible for the functional area you want to target.

Write Your Script

Now this is make or break part.  Most folks do this incorrectly.  Always remember that a cold call is an interruption, so be respectful of the prospects time.  Also, don’t be salesy.  I know this sounds counterintuitive, but your “first” call with the prospect should really be learning about their needs. Unlike writing sales collateral, you only have a few seconds to easily explain what you do so you have to be to the point.  If you can’t do that in 2 sentences, you need to refocus.

Keep the call brief, while ultimately focusing on the prospects needs.  When we develop our scripts, we keep them very short, and to the point.  They are not heavy on selling, rather on probing for pain.  We ask the decision makers questions such as “Is your team developing enough leads?” or “Is the quality of the leads where they need to be?”, and this is a big one. “Is your company looking to expand their lead generation efforts?” If we get a “yes” to that, we know we are in good shape, and this is a good candidate to nurture.

You can apply these examples to any script that your company develops.  Don’t waste your time selling something that someone doesn’t need, instead make that first call a discovery call, and only if there is a legitimate business need for your service, should you pursue further.  This will help prevent you from wasting time and effort on deals that won’t close, and allow you to focus on the solid prospects.

If you invest the time upfront to ensure you are calling the correct companies and draft a to-the-point script you can have a great success rate in securing new customers from a cold call. Remember to stick to the point and don’t get discouraged if you get some ‘no’s’ or even no responses. Everything can take time, and making an effective cold calls is no exception.

Phone Call Photo via Shutterstock

Al Davidson Al Davidson founded Strategic Sales & Marketing, Inc. in 1989, where he helps deliver B2B lead generation and appointment setting solutions for clients around the world. Under his leadership, the company has generated over 7 million sales leads, resulting in millions of dollars to his clients.

3 Reactions
  1. Keep preachin’ about short, to-the-point scripts. Most cold calls I’ve ever received haven’t gotten that message yet.

    • Right. It has to be short so that it doesn’t take that much time for the receiver. It will also make them more receptive to your message that way.

  2. Some sales experts may have thought that cold-calling is a waste of time and prefer other forms of generating leads, while others see it as a mainspring of any effective sales process. “The more calls a salesperson makes, the more sales will be made.”

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