6 steps to breaking cold calling cut-offs
Nobody likes a cold caller. It’s a sad truth, even for those of us who have to spend hours of our working week on the phone doing just that. But there are ways and means of turning your cold calls around, warming them right up, and becoming the one who’s remembered for all the right reasons.
So, how can you stop that phone from being put down before you’ve even finished your pitch? We’ve spoken to a whole host of sales professionals who have shared some of their top tips with us.
This means breaking the normal pattern of cold calls. We’re taught to expect a certain pattern of speech when it comes to people making us a pitch – so by changing this pattern, you can gain the front foot while your prospect is still scrambling their thoughts.
Introduce yourself, then rather than the expected “can I have a minute of your time”, ask “how have you been?” The implied familiarity will have your prospect desperately racking their brains trying to place you – which buys you precious time to keep them talking.
Silence can be your friend
I’m sure we’ve all been on the end of an awkward silence, that pause in conversation where we feel duty–bound to fill the gap with some inane chatter. This can lead to giving the game away too soon or putting our foot in a tricky situation. But this pause can actually work in our favour too.
Having introduced yourself and asked how your prospect is doing, leave a pause. Just a few seconds of slightly awkward silence in which your prospect can begin to sweat. This not only helps with the pattern interrupt, but also can spark their curiosity: who is this Joe Bloggs, and why do I feel like I’m missing something? Have we spoken before? Have I worked with him before? By creating a moment of curiosity, you’ve already shifted the tone of the call, which opens opportunity for a creative introduction to your pitch.
Make it personal
So, maybe you don’t know the prospect all that well. Maybe you don’t know them at all. This could be the first time you’ve even stumbled across their name, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build familiarity from the get-go.
You can demonstrate your credibility with a prospect without having to tell them you’re good at what you do. Using market triggers, predictive intelligence, or social media insights can help you find common ground and develop a rapport. Check out their education and employment history, and don’t be afraid to go off script if it will help you find common ground and make a connection.
Read the situation
This may come as a shock, but some people will enjoy your call. I know, not what you’re used to, but if you catch your prospect at the right moment, a little light relief may be exactly what they need. A few minutes of distraction from their current task could be very welcomed but you still need to read the signs.
If your prospect is abrupt, seems very guarded, or is just giving one-word answers, you’ll want to cut the chit-chat and get to the point, fast. Just because they’re not giving you the warm-fuzzies doesn’t mean they’re not interested in what you’re selling, so don’t give up on them just yet. Know your pitch well and recognise when the right time is to inject humour. But remember it’ll all boil down to demonstrating value – and that should be no laughing matter.
To help build rapport, mirroring is essential. Being able to assess and match your prospect’s tone, energy, body language, and perspective can be the difference between a good call and a bad one. Mirroring uses both verbal and non-verbal communication cues to help build trust and spark a sense of commonality.
It’s also important to understand your audience. This can affect your pitch and you’ll need to understand what areas of your pitch are going to appeal to whom. A CEO’s interests are unlikely to be the same as a Head of Department, so being able to actively tweak your selling style and pitch will be key to getting past one gatekeeper to the next. Being able to adjust your tone and energy to match each contact you speak with will help you across the board.
A positioning statement shows your prospect that you’re exactly what they need. It is your opportunity to outline what your company does, how the product can help them, and how their competitors are already benefiting from your expertise.
The positioning statement shouldn’t be focused on you. This is all about the prospect. Show them you recognise their pinch points and have a solution to help streamline their workflows or resolve their problems.