How To Do Cold Calling The Right Way And Outsource The Entire Process
This topic sends many people running for the hills.
The idea of calling a total stranger, who is not even expecting you, scares most people. And yet, it is one of the most effective tools that any business can implement to gain more clients.
The problem is that so many people approach cold calling in completely the wrong way.
Just like any other business process, it takes careful planning, trial and error, as well as lots of practice to perfect.
Are you trying to get started with cold calling?
Or do you want to find ways to do it more efficiently and effectively?
Maybe you don’t have the time needed to make enough calls?
If this is the case, then this article will be the bridge over many gaps and common mistakes.
You will find out exactly how to approach this vital part of the sales process.
More importantly, you will learn how you can outsource the entire process to a Virtual Assistant.
If you don’t have the time to invest in making many cold calls every week, then you can contact our advisers at Outsource Workers today for more information on hiring a dedicated person to take this task off your hands in a matter of days.
What Is Cold Calling?
The simplest way to describe cold calling is that it involves making a phone call to a sales prospect, without any prior contact with them.
If someone has left a message or used your contact form, then that is not a cold lead. People like that have already shown interest in what you have to offer.
Essentially, you find the name and phone number of a prospective client, and pick up the phone. And this is precisely why so many people dislike the process and even have fears of doing it.
You end up talking to someone who doesn’t know you and you have to convince them that talking to you is a good investment of their time.
Doing this right can vastly increase your sales funnel, but first let’s look at what leads you need to focus on.
Cold Leads Vs. Warm Leads
As already mentioned, a warm lead is someone you can contact who has reached out to your by phone, web contact or even social media. Or they can be a referral from an existing client as well.
Essentially, they are potential clients who already know that you offer a product or service that they need.
Cold leads on the other hand have not asked you to contact them. You have found their details online or in directories and you’re contacting them to make them aware you exist with the intention to get a sales funnel process going.
The important thing is to never use cold calling techniques on warm clients, as the prospects are already one step further ahead in the sales process.
It’s A Numbers Game
When it comes to cold calling, rejection rates are a lot higher than when dealing with warm leads.
That’s mainly why people dislike it so much. Rejection is not a pleasant experience. But when it comes to cold calling you have to play the numbers game.
The more people you call on a daily and weekly basis the higher the likelihood is of reaching that prospect who needs your service.
Making lots of calls also helps you train the skill. A skill that most people don’t realise can be trained.
The Skill That Can Be Learned
When it comes to talented cold callers, most people believe they just have a natural skill.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cold calling is a technique that can be learned and trained.
With the right planning and plenty of practice, anyone can become great at it.
But before we dive into planning your calls and creating a script, let’s take a look at what the actual goal of a cold call is.
What Is The Goal Of Cold Calling
Knowing what you’re trying to achieve from a call is absolutely vital.
Just heading blind into a call or with ideas of landing a huge sale after 5 minutes is going to set you up for failure.
It will become a waste of time and very frustrating.
This is also one of the main reasons that people believe that cold calling doesn’t work. They’ve tried it and never got results, so it must not work.
If this sounds familiar to you, then it’s likely that you’ve had the wrong goals in mind.
It Shouldn’t Be The Sale
This is a very common mistake people make.
They cold call someone and start to go into a sales pitch of a service trying to get the hard sell.
This will more often than not have the result of someone pulling down the shutters.
The reason is that they were not psychologically at the stage where they knew they needed your service in the first place.
There is a lack of trust and rapport and without that, hard sales pitches will just be immediately blocked off.
So, don’t head into a cold call trying to sell your product or service.
Remove The Initial Distrust
When people receive uninvited sales calls, they have a general tendency to distrust the person calling.
This is very common and one of the most difficult things to overcome for a successful cold call.
One of the main things to keep in mind is that you want to approach the call in a way that adds value to the prospect.
This can be done through free information and advice, and aiming to start a friendly conversation. And as already mentioned, it’s not achieved by immediately getting into sales pitch.
Screen The Target For Suitability
Before you can offer your service, you have to make sure that they would be a good fit. And the only way you can achieve this is by having a conversation with the prospect about their situation or business.
You can even come right out and say that you cannot actually offer your service yet, because you first have to figure out what it is they need.
This is a great way to build some trust and at the same time help you avoid spending time with a prospect that might actually not be suitable for you at all.
To summarise: the goal of cold calling is to overcome the initial lack of trust and gain a better understanding of whether the prospect is a suitable match for your service.
You want to gain enough trust to introduce them to your sales process.
How To Plan Who You Call
Cold calling success hinges on planning whom you call more than anything else.
Yes, you need to practice your script and learn how to adapt to different reactions and objections. But if you haven’t carefully done your research on the people you’re going to call then you are very likely to fail.
For an in-depth look at how to do prospecting, check out our designated page here. From a high-level point of view, this is what’s involved:
- Finding The Right Prospects
- Researching Them And Their Business
- Finding Common Ground
Find The Right Prospects
Before you start blindly calling people, you first have to make sure that they will actually be a good fit. You can find out a lot about other businesses by looking at their online profiles including websites and social media.
Before you start this process, you want to try to come up with the ideal client characteristics, which can include:
- Number of staff
- Year in operation
For individuals you can adapt this similarly to:
- Age band
- Family status
- Income bracket
- Employment situation
The idea is essentially the same. You want to find as many candidates that fit your ideal client profile.
Research Them And Their Business
Once you have found some prospects, you want to do a bit more research into them.
Find out what kind of business transactions they have been involved in, or some past high-profile projects.
Check out social profiles for other interests they have to help you break the ice with a friendly conversation.
These things help to bring up topics to talk about and get into an open dialog.
Find Common Ground
Because you’re dealing with a stranger it’s important to try and find some common ground.
This can be through talking about past projects or business transactions, or at a personal level about family and hobbies.
You should have found some of these topics in your research phase.
During such calls it’s always more important to be friendly than to come across as professional.
The more you can get into an easy flowing conversation the more likely you are to gain trust and start finding out what you need in order to get to a stage of making a proposal.
How To Create A Script
When you’re first starting out with cold calling you might be looking for some props and crutches to make you more comfortable.
Having a script can work very well in such situations. But be careful how you use them.
When you get to a stage where your entire call is reliant on reading from a piece of paper, then you won’t come across natural, and it will make it very difficult to get a conversation going.
Make Use Of Your Research
You’re script should include information about the person or business you are calling.
This means that you want a modified version of the script for every call.
This can be a simple statement like “I see from your website that your business team has been growing in the last 3 years.”
This shows that you have made the effort to look into the prospect, rather than having just dialled a random number.
Statement like this also invite a very open response that can help you identify pain points to focus on.
Make It Personal
If your research or conversation reveals a common ground, then try to steer the conversation in that direction.
This can be a hobby, business project, family life or anything else that you notice.
You want to aim to find common ground to create a more personal relationship, rather than remaining in a state of total strangers.
Allow For A Conversation To Develop
This is where you need to understand that your script should only be a guideline.
The more naturally you can let a conversation build up and flow the better the outcome will be. You also have to be very careful not to sound completely rehearsed.
When you end up just reading from paper, it sounds very unnatural and the majority of people will notice this very quickly.
One tip would be to not write out your script, but rather list out some bullet points that you can use as pointers.
Spend A Lot Of Time Practicing
We already mentioned that cold calling is not something that comes naturally.
It is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. And the more you practice the better you will be at getting to your goals.
Here are some tips for you to follow.
Practice On Your Own
Not everyone enjoys role playing a sales call.
Certainly when you’re just starting out you might want to practice this on your own.
However, that should still involve speaking out loudly.
When you just internalise the conversation you don’t get the same feedback loop.
And speaking of feedback…
Turn On Your Webcam
Either sit in front of your computer, tablet or smartphone and turn on the camera to video record.
You don’t have to share these recordings with anyone, but it’s far easier to identify areas of improvement when you can look back over what you have said.
You will quickly pick up on filler and pause words like “um”, “you know” or “so”.
When you use such words repeatedly then you come across as uncomfortable. And when that happens then you will struggle to build trust and rapport.
Practice With A Friend
Once you have done the first two steps then it’s best to practice with a friend or colleague.
This helps to really get into a two-way conversation with some feedback.
You should also give the other person a few objections to use so that you practice dealing with them.
These steps will hugely improve your confidence levels.
The next step is to practice directly with your prospects by making as many calls as you can.
If you don’t have the time to invest in this process, then it doesn’t mean you cannot build this into your business operations.
Cold calling is an ideal task to outsource to a virtual assistant and Outsource Workers can help you get set up in less than 2 week. Just pick up the phone to find out more.
Identify The Decision Maker
Too many people who start out with cold calling miss out on this step. And when you do that then you spend a frustrating amount of time wasted on convincing people who don’t have the power to make any decisions.
Why Is This Important
Imagine getting through to a business and assuming that you have the right person.
You spend a few minutes introducing yourself and manage to spark an interest.
You get a conversation flowing and build rapport.
Your confidence hits a high and after a 20-minute friendly dialog you suggest a follow up meeting to go through a proposal.
Suddenly the person says that they are the wrong person, as they don’t make any business decisions.
You’ve just wasted 20 minutes of your time. Time that is lost and will never help add to your revenue.
So, how do you avoid this?
Research The Business Structure
Before you cold call any business make sure you research their internal structure.
Most business websites will have information about the organisation and the team of employees.
You need to find the names of the owners or managers of relevant operations in order to make sure you don’t waste time and effort.
If you’re dealing with an individual, then you may need to come out and ask the question whether they are the sole decision maker or if there is a partner or spouse that should join the conversation.
Get Past The Gate Keeper
More often than not you will call a business and not get directly through to an owner or manager.
The most likely person you will meet is a secretary and if they are good at their job then they will screen you.
Gatekeepers are there to help keep spammers and time wasters away and will not want to get into trouble for letting through every sales guy.
One of the simplest things to do is to ask to speak to the owner or manager using their name and saying it’s about a certain project or service they offer.
This gives the impression of familiarity and certainly doesn’t push a sales agenda.
Appeal To Their Business Pain Points
The important thing to get out of a cold call is to find out what the individual or business is struggling with.
If you can find out things they are currently struggling with, or problems they had in the past, then you’re in a great position to provide value.
Pay Close Attention To Problem Statements
People will often indirectly refer to problems they had on a project or transaction.
They might even come out and say they tried a similar service to yours before and it didn’t work.
These might sound like tough objections to deal with, but you can take full advantage of them.
And you do this by…
Ask Probing Questions
When you pick up on problem statements you can come right out and ask them how that affected them.
You’ll be surprised how much information people will share about negative experiences.
The deeper you can dive into these pain points the more understanding you will gain of how you can help.
These conversations are also a great way to identify people that might not actually be such a good fit for you.
They could end up being an extremely demanding client who is never happy with results.
Acknowledge The Problems
As you gain more insight into these pain points you have to make sure you acknowledge them.
You can easily do this with occasional summary statements: “It sounds like you’ve struggled with advertising your construction project to the right buyers.”
These are open ended statements that reflect to the prospect that you have listened to and understand their problems.
When you then offer some valuable advice and ultimately your service, then you will receive a much better reception because you have actually paid attention to their pain points and have a way to address them.
And that brings you to the next vital step.
Provide Valuable Information Not Just Sales Pitch
This is another critical step that can make or break a cold call.
You can get over the trust issue and start a friendly conversation.
You can even start to probe more into the pain points. But jumping into a hard sales pitch at that stage can quickly backfire and undo all the good work to that point.
What you need to do before you start talking about your services is to provide valuable advice and insights with no strings attached.
Information Vs Sales Pitch
The way you provide information is to give actionable advice.
Talk to the prospect about a similar situation you have encountered and how you solved it. But do this without offering your service.
You can even demonstrate how it is a common problem that many others in the industry struggle with.
Sales pitch on the other hand would be to tell the prospect what you do as a service.
If the prospective client is not psychologically ready to start thinking about spending money, then they won’t react favourably to a sales pitch.
Recommend Other Services And Tools
One way to build up even more trust is to try and recommend tools, systems and services that you have no affiliation to.
This could be as simple as recommending a great graphic design agency for some better brochures, or a software tool that makes tracking project data a lot easier.
The important thing is that you’re providing valuable information that isn’t asking them to give you money in return for it.
You can even point them to online resources and related news articles that might help in making business decisions.
Provide Sound Advice Based On Your Experience
The more advice you can provide based on actual experience the better.
If you use a tool or service on a regular basis then tell them how it has helped you.
Be specific about this with different situations and show that you fully understand the problem and solution.
When you have achieved that goal, then you’re in a much better position to talk about your specific services and if they are interested in a more detailed proposal.
Again, you’re not diving straight into asking for a hard sell, but rather saying: I understand your problem and have experienced it.
I also know how to solve it and have given you some tips. Now I’d like to show you how I can do this through the service I offer.
Your aim is to be able to follow up with a detailed proposal.
Pitch Your Proposal Not The Sale
Another very common problem people encounter is having a cold call go really well only to fail at the last hurdle, because they jumped ahead too far.
There are many situations where you may have convinced a prospect that they need your help. And sometimes getting right into the sale will work.
But more often than not, you are better off to present them with a formal proposal.
Why Is This Important?
During a proposal presentation, you have the chance to summarise everything you learned from the initial cold call.
You can use that information to create a nice presentation, which includes the various pain points and the effects of them.
Then you can present what your service will do to solve those problems, ideally in a measurable way.
This can be in either time or money saved, or more revenue.
The important thing is that you need to be able to demonstrate that there is value in your service and the potential client will receive a return on investment.
Preview The Proposal
During the cold call you can preview what your proposal will be about.
Even if you have a standard template that you use, focus on the fact that you will schedule a follow up meeting in a couple of days to give you time to come up with a tailored solution specifically for this prospect.
This adds a lot of value rather than just jumping into a standard proposal that was obviously prepared before the call took place.
Personal touches like that will really help you stand out, and they allow you to create a great sense of value right from the start.
Structuring cold calls in this way does mean that they will last longer than 2 minutes if all goes well.
If you can get into a conversation for 10 to 20 minutes where the prospect does most of the talking then you’re in a great position.
However, this can start taking up a lot of your time. And because it is a numbers game you need to plan to make tens if not hundreds of such calls.
If you’re already struggling with your daily workload, then this is a great task to start outsourcing to a VA.
Talk to one of our advisers today and find out how much work we can take off your hands.
Aim To Leave With An Appointment For A Follow Up
The one thing you don’t want to end up with is a great call but no follow up action.
If you have successfully presented the idea of preparing a proposal then you don’t want to end up chasing the prospective client again.
You could then end up facing a gatekeeper again as mentioned above. Or you end up calling at an inconvenient time.
Instead, you want to leave with a follow up appointment in a few days’ time.
Don’t let this be too far out in the future and ideally aim for 1 to 2 business days later.
This way the rapport you have built will still be fresh in their mind. Here are a few tips for this last part of the cold call.
Set A Date And Time
Ask for a commitment to a certain date and time and aim for something close by.
You can even say something like: “How would 2 days from now at 10am suit you for a proposal review?”
They are quite likely to not be able to make that time, but you’re putting them into the frame of mind of trying to find a time, rather than saying they’ll get back to you.
If they are very stubborn then suggest a preliminary time and tell them you will double check with them closer to date.
This is something you would be doing anyway, as we’ll discuss a bit further down.
Make Sure All Decision Makers Are Invited
This is also very important.
As part of the cold calling process we have outlined, you should be making sure you have the decision maker.
For the proposal presentation, you want to make sure that those with the power to make a decision are there.
Maybe a business owner would like a senior manager to chime in. Or if it’s an individual you’re dealing with, then maybe they have a partner or spouse who influences the decision.
What you want to avoid is making the presentation, and for the prospect to then take bits of it away to discuss with someone else, only to miss some vital parts.
Confirm The Follow Up In Advance
Once you have a date set, make sure you email them at least 24 hours before to confirm the time.
This just makes sure that you don’t end up calling to be told they are away or busy with someone else.
Most people don’t want to inconvenience others.
Especially not if you’ve convinced them that they have something to gain from reviewing your proposal. But schedules can be busy and things can come up that mean you need to reschedule.
With all this in mind, you can see that getting a cold calling process up and running takes time and effort. Which leads us a topic that will help you save time, money and become more productive.
Why You Should Outsource Cold Calling
At this stage you have all the information you need to get started with your own cold calling strategy.
However, chances are that you might struggle to be able to invest all the necessary time and effort to see it to success.
Here are the main reasons why you should consider outsourcing this task.
If you want to do cold calling the right way, then you have to invest some time.
You should never be aiming for just 2 minute calls. And no matter how long they take, you have to make many of these calls to get any kind of results.
This can easily take up an hour or two every day, depending on what kind of results you’re looking for.
If you haven’t done cold calling before then there will be a learning curve. Some people get into a great flow within a couple of days. But for most people it’s going to take several weeks and possibly hundreds of calls to become effective.
The alternative is to hire an experienced VA to take on this task and provide you the results you need right from the start.
This frees you up to focus on the more productive task of dealing with warm leads.
While cold calling is certainly part of the overall sales process, it is not something that directly leads to a sale.
As a non-Dollar productive task it is a prime candidate to be outsourced.
You can make a lot better use of your time by spending it on preparing and presenting proposals to those successful cold call prospects.
You can either use the following section to hire your own VA or contact our team at Outsource Workers.
We can help find the right person and make sure they have the skills and training to take on all your cold calling needs.
How To Hire A Cold Calling VA
The entire VA finding, hiring and training process is outlined on our homepage.
What we want to focus on here are the necessary skills you want to identify and an additional step in the hiring process.
It will be absolutely vital that they have exceptionally good verbal English skills. And the only real way you’ll be able to assess that is through an interview conversation.
Ideally you want to look for quite a neutral accent, but it’s more important that they are able to speak fluently without long pauses to find the right words.
What you do want to avoid is having to train someone in cold calling, especially if you’re not an expert in this field.
Your ideal candidate will have more than a year’s experience and have a track record of making hundreds of calls every week.
This proves to you that they are comfortable with the task.
Knowledge of your specific industry and local area is a plus. But if you find a great candidate with the skills and fluent English, then industry knowledge can be easily learned.
It’s a plus, but not vital to your decision.
In addition to the screening and interviewing steps outlined on the homepage, there is one extra task you want to complete.
Essentially, you want to set up a scenario for your favourite candidates to demonstrate their skills.
Ideally this will be a typical type of cold call situation you would expect or have experienced.
This will show you how skilled they actually are and you can try and test them for how they deal with some common objections.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How Soon Can A VA Start Making Calls?
When you go through the hiring process yourself, this can take 3 to 6 weeks. But Outsource Workers can complete the hiring and initial training within 2 weeks.
We have a large pool of assistants available and an effective hiring process that provides the best results.
Once your personal VA is allocated, you will just need to work with them to bring them up to speed with your business and services, so they have all the information needed for a cold call.
Will Their Language Skills Be Good Enough?
Our hiring process for any client facing work always focuses in on spoken language skills.
Not only do we look for fluency, but also for their understanding of common terminology and colloquialism.
What Training Is Required?
Basic training will be taken care of by us, and this will ensure that they understand the processes and communication channels.
However, because the service or product you offer can be very unique, there will be some on boarding and training required with your VA.
This is mainly to make sure that they fully understand what you offer to better use that information during the cold call.
What Information Do You Have To Provide?
For the cold calling tasks you will need to provide a list of prospects and contact information.
This should also include some background information and any research that has been done into the individual or business.
The prospecting that has to be done to get this information is also a very common admin task that can be outsourced.
It’s an ideal task to combine into one large process for one VA to work on. You can find out more about the prospecting piece here.