Hahaha yeah, no way.
Stop calling me!
Take me off your list!
Your coworker called me last week. I said no then and I’m saying no now.
Not interested, thanks.
As a salesperson required to conduct cold calls regularly, many of your days will consist of hearing responses like this.
The power of cold calling shouldn’t be understated. It bridges the gap between a company and potential clients, generates exposure and builds relationships. But, it can be a tough job. You have to overcome the fear of rejection and solicitation.
Before coming to Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), I spent some time doing door-to-door sales and then face-to-face sales. As a national sales representative now, part of my job consists of cold calling. If you’re new to cold calling or you’re considering if it’s right for you, I’m here to help ease you into the transition. It can be difficult, but with these cold-calling tips, you’ll be a pro in no time.
What is Cold Calling?
Cold calling is a sales technique in which a salesperson or a business representative contacts potential customers who haven’t expressed prior interest in their product or service. The term "cold" refers to the fact that the person being called has had no prior interaction with the salesperson or company, making the call unsolicited.
The primary goal of cold calling is to introduce the product or service to the prospect, generate interest and ultimately persuade them to make a purchase or take some desired action, such as scheduling a meeting or requesting more information.
In the transportation industry specifically, there are three common types of cold calling:
- Calling someone who doesn’t know about your business
- Calling someone who’s heard of your business but hasn’t worked with it
- Calling someone who has worked with your business in the past
You’ll have to adjust your strategy depending on how “cold” (or unfamiliar) the customer is to your business. The following strategies will help you become more efficient with cold calling and improve your ability to overcome objections.
Tip #1: Don’t Expect an Immediate Sale… Build the Relationship
When you make a call to someone who’s never heard of your business, you can’t expect an immediate sale. Cold calling is all about slowly building the relationship. You can do this by listening to the customer’s needs and showing how you can help.
In your first call with a prospect, you should expect nothing more than to get in touch with someone, learn about their needs and try to set up another meeting. It might set you up for failure if you expect to make a sale immediately. First call closes do exist, but a relationship built on value and trust will benefit both parties.
Let’s use an example of face-to-face sales to demonstrate how to build a relationship slowly.
Picture this: You walk into a trendy clothing store and immediately a sales associate is at your side asking how they can help you.
Them: Hey! You look like a size 10 or so, can I set aside some things for you?
You: Ummmm…how do you know my size…?
Them: Been doing this a while! So anyway, what are you looking for? Shackets? Denim? Sweaters? Fall is here!
You: Just browsing…
Them: Okay, well I’m going to put aside some of our trendiest styles! Are you an autumn? You totally look like an autumn. I think you’d be cute in jewel tones! Check this out! *throws sweater at you*
You: *Walks out of the store*
In this scenario, you leave the store without ever really looking at anything. The sales associate was more like a fruit fly than a helpful sales associate, and instead of getting you to buy something — which was their goal — they got you to run away empty-handed. And they potentially ruined your chances of ever visiting the store again.
Let’s consider another scenario, where the sales associate takes a much softer approach.
Them: Welcome in! Just wanted to let you know we have a sales rack at the back. 80 percent off right now! Let me know if you need help finding anything or if you need a room to try some things on.
You: Really? Great sale — thanks! *you proceed to make your way to the back of the store*
*15 minutes pass before the sales associate approaches you again at the sales racks*
Them: I see you’ve found a few sale items. This would look great on you too! Can I get a changing room started for you with these?
That experience is far different than the first scenario, and only one resulted in a good customer experience. Cold calling is similar.
In the second example, you let the customer see what you have to offer and they show you their needs by going to the sales rack and picking out things that interest them. You set out the bait and gave them enough information to take a bite. During a cold call, this translates to you listening to their needs and preferences.
You have to play the long game in cold calling. Think of it like dating and marriage. You wouldn’t marry someone after the first date, would you?
Tip #2: Know Three Things About the Prospect Before You Call
If you want to succeed at cold calling, you need to be prepared. It’s a good idea to have scripts, templates, talking points and strategies for overcoming objections.
Should you read from the script or template? Absolutely not. But you should be able to use them to guide you in your calls. If you don’t know what you’re going to talk about, you’re wasting your time (and the prospect’s).
People love to buy but they hate to be sold to. Give the prospect value during the call. You can do that by knowing a few things about them before you call. There’s nothing worse than talking to a salesperson who has no clue what you do — especially because they’re hearing from dozens of salespeople each week. Stand out by being prepared and make the call worth their while.
If you’re not prepared with a goal, talking points and a few details about the prospect, you can kiss the budding relationship and potential sale goodbye.
Tip #3: Set Goals
What do you want to get out of the call? Of course you want a sale, but we’ve already established that you have to play the long game with cold calling.
Instead, set a realistic goal for every cold call you go into. Do you want to find out what the company does? Do you want to improve the relationship? Oftentimes, going off script can be what knocks your prospect off their rocker.
Remember, it’s important to nurture the lead. It can take months — even years before you make a sale. Make small, attainable goals that will eventually lead to big results.
Tip #4: Reflect for Improvement
If you want to keep improving, take the time to reflect on your calls. Make one of your goals to learn from each call and continuously improve your skills.
When you’re trying to meet your daily quota of calls, think of them as practice. Each call trains you to get better at selling. In one call, you might learn new lingo. In the next, you’ll learn the power of listening and answering to your prospect's fears, worries and concerns. In the next, you may learn a new strategy to overcome an objection.
If you can, listen back to your calls. Who did most of the talking? Was your tone kind and inviting? Did the customer have concerns you failed to address? Could you have addressed their objections differently?
Hindsight is 20/20, and sometimes listening to a call gives you a different perspective than when you were in the middle of it trying to think on your feet.
Make it a point to listen to your calls regularly and take notes. You may even decide to ask your manager to listen to some of your calls to provide feedback if this isn’t something they’re already doing. It’s a great tool.
Tip #5: Be Persistent and Build a Thick Skin
There’s a phrase we often use in sales: “Smile and dial.” In sales, especially when you’re cold calling, there’s a high likelihood of rejection. Some days — or weeks — you won’t get any yeses, but the next week you’ll get a dozen. It tends to balance itself out as long as you can stick it out and roll with the punches.To do that, you need to be persistent and build a thick skin. When a prospect says no, you can’t take it personally. And you certainly can’t let it ruin your day and put a damper on your mood. After all, you have more calls to make, and if you let one bad call impact you, it can come through in your attitude on the next call.
Try this: Record yourself saying “Hi, how are you today? My name is [insert your name here].” The first time, actively frown while you say it. The second time, put a big smile on your face. Now, listen back to both versions. Which one of those versions of you would you be most interested in speaking with?
Again, people don’t love to be sold to but they love to buy. If you’re friendly and can meet eye to eye, they’re more likely to be receptive.
To succeed at cold calling, you must embrace the ups and downs of sales. That means when one call ends in a no, you let it go and move on to the next like it’s a brand-new day. In the grand scheme of things, that no was just one in a million. If the job were easy, everyone would do it.
Tip #6: Keep it Calm and Cool
In sales, you’re on the front lines as the voice of the company. It’s an important, stressful job. It would be remiss of me not to mention how tough it can be some days. Just like any other job, sometimes you simply want to quit.
You have to make sure you get (and keep) your mind right. That means different things for different people. For some, it means exercising every day after work to relieve stress. Others go for a walk between tough calls. People like me, on the other hand, use mindfulness practices to ground themselves before another call.
Find a way to make yourself comfortable and get into a positive headspace before each call. Restart, relax and refocus. Breathe. Do whatever works for you so you don’t linger on the tough calls.
Tip #7: Rely on Your Coworkers for Support
Did you know that people are significantly happier at work when they have a work best friend? It’s true!
Work on building those relationships at work to keep you going. Lean on your team for support and advice — not just when you’re frustrated and need a pick-me-up, but also when you need some advice about how to approach a certain customer or how to land a deal.
Your coworkers are with you all day, so they can hear you on the phone. That means they’re some of the best people to tell you how you sound during your calls and what you can do to improve.
Some sales teams even make achieving their goals a sort of game: Who heard no the most today? Who had the most interesting conversation today unrelated to our service? It keeps you going on days you’re struggling to get through. Foster that sense of camaraderie on the sales floor.
Become a Cold Calling Pro
In the challenging world of cold calling, where responses range from frustration to rejection, it's important to remember the power and potential it holds for bridging connections and building relationships. Cold calling may be tough, but with the right approach and these cold-calling tips, you can navigate the journey and become a proficient salesperson.
Cold calling involves reaching out to potential customers who may be unfamiliar with your business. Depending on their level of knowledge about your company, your strategy may vary. Here are some strategies to enhance your cold-calling effectiveness:
- Don't expect an immediate sale
- Know three things about the prospect before you call
- Set a goal
- Reflect for improvement
- Be persistent and build a thick skin
- Keep it calm and cool
- Rely on your coworkers for support
Cold calling is a challenging but valuable sales technique. It requires patience, preparation, resilience and a commitment to building relationships over time. By following these tips and approaching cold calling with the right mindset, you can improve your success rate and become a more effective salesperson in the long run. Remember, the journey may be tough, but the rewards can be significant.
If you’re still determining if cold calling is right for you, take this quiz to help you decide.
ATS is currently hiring sales representatives — check out everything we have to offer. Here at ATS, we have an arsenal of tools to help you succeed through your first year of sales and beyond.