5 ways to warm up a cold call

Some black sheep in the industry and the current hype around inbound marketing are giving cold sales approaches a bad reputation. Despite its negative connotations, strong proactive outbound sales calls still achieve great results: but only if they are conducted in a professional manner.

Businesses that completely dismiss the value that relevant sales calls can add are missing out on many opportunities to grow and drive efficiency. The question is not whether to do outbound sales or not, but how to develop a smart and targeted way of prospecting for business that will lead to a relevant conversation between buyer and seller.

IRD Prospector specialises in giving salespeople a relevant business reason to call and therefore increase the chance of outbound sales success. Here are 5 creative ways to help create instant rapport with a previously unknown contact.

1. Prepare your approach

Preparation is the single most important step in sales. Unfortunately, it is also the part of the sales process where some salespeople try to cut corners to close deals more quickly. The effect is often the opposite: they end up alienating the prospect so much that they’d be lucky to get through to the decision-maker again.

You can avoid this common pitfall by planning your approach. While we wouldn’t recommend reading from a script when making a sales call, it certainly pays off to map out what you’re going to say before you pick up the phone. 

Think in advance about how you add value to your prospect’s business and how to communicate this succinctly. Focus the conversation on how you can help your prospect, not the features of your product. If it is all about you and your business, the call is not going to be successful.

Also remember that first impressions are crucial. Use phrases like ‘the reason for my call is’, to show the prospect that you want to get to the point quickly and won’t waste their time. Questions such as ‘have I caught you at an OK time?’ are invaluable. If the timing isn’t right, arrange to call again when it is more convenient.

2. Find a valid business reason for your call

Did a business just announce the appointment of a new marketing director? Or maybe they recently acquired a new business? Use insights like this as a valid business reason to pick up the phone. Will the new appointment lead to a review of existing marketing service providers? Does the business acquisition mean that they will be targeting new markets? How can your solution help?

The triggers that can prompt your call are endless. For instance, if a brand announces an expansion of their product portfolio this could mean that they will soon be looking for a marketing agency to help promote the new product. So why not get in early and be one step ahead of the competition?

3. Befriend the gatekeeper

Sometimes salespeople are so focused on getting through to the decision-maker that they forget to foster the important relationships that will enable them to schedule a meeting with the buyer. 

Receptionists and PAs are your friend, not a roadblock on your way to reach your goal. Whenever you make a phone call, you should be nice to anyone you deal with at a company. You never know: this person may be the one who ultimately decides if and when you get any time in the diary.

4. Don’t try to close the deal

A first contact call will very rarely lead to a closed deal. At this early stage in the sales process you’re more likely to have ‘softer’ goals such as raising awareness for your brand, ascertaining if this prospect is actually the right fit for your product or service, gaining insights about their business or booking a meeting. 

Figure out your call objective before you pick up the phone. Knowing exactly what you’re trying to achieve will put you in the right frame of mind to lead a meaningful business conversation. 

In a next step, you can start thinking about how you can move the prospect further along the buying process. What the next step is will depend on the objective of your original call. If your goal was to introduce your brand to a potential new client, follow up with an email to book in a meeting. If the objective was to book a meeting and the prospect has already agreed, send a diary invite including the meeting agenda (learn more about preparing effectively for meetings).

5. Refine your delivery 

Research has shown that people who are able to speak with confidence are considered more trustworthy and persuasive than others. While we don’t buy into the commonly held belief that all good salespeople are extroverts, we agree that a self-assured and energetic delivery is vital for sales success. 

The good news is that convincing delivery can be learned and constantly refined. Your posture and breathing have a big impact on the tone and volume of your voice. So why not try standing up for your next sales call? In our experience, this practice will make you sound more confident and energetic. Still not 100% sure if your delivery is convincing? Practise on a friend and ask for honest feedback to find out which areas still need improvement. 

A final word 

A sales approach is only cold if you don’t put in the prospecting work to warm it up. Investing time in effort in your preparation will help you find the right words to start the conversation off on the right foot.

Disclosure: radioinfo Editor Peter Saxon is a director of IRD