6 Questions to Never Ask During a Cold Call
With modern sales tactics, the age-old tactic of calling people at random to generate sales or cold calling might seem dead.
But the following statistics prove otherwise –
- Equipped with the right data, cold calling can generate up to 70% more revenue
- In a study by Rain Group, 57% of buyers preferred to takes calls by salesmen
- 75% of IT leaders have scheduled an appointment through a cold call
The above statistics demonstrate that cold calling when equipped with information is still a powerful tool in the marketing world.
The only difference is what salespeople say during the cold call that either transforms into a sale or kills all sales prospects.
THE 3 RULES OF COLD CALLING THE RIGHT WAY
If you’re among the salespeople who’re wondering about why your cold calling techniques aren’t influencing your clients’ buying decisions, you’ve come to the right place.
The modern customer is well informed in the marketing world. He or she understands their need and won’t just fall for any age-old sales bait.
Similarly, the modern salesperson must follow cold calling principles that sets him apart from archaic sales practices and use an exceptional sales pitch.
Let’s look at some of the rules required to capture your client’s attention and transform a lead into a sale.
1. Voice Techniques
A cold call is all about how the person on the other end perceives your voice.
So, it’s extremely important to maintain a firm tone without losing confidence.
An average cold call takes about 30 seconds to a minute.
This time frame is extremely valuable to sound good and confident throughout without changing the tone of your voice.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to maintain a voice technique.
- Ensure your phone’s volume levels are adequate. Your receiver should hear every word that you say with clarity.
- Record your sales calls and hear them back later to spot any static interference or network disturbance that you missed during your live call.
- The pace of your voice is incredibly important. You don’t want to sound too quick or too slow. Balance is key to keep the momentum of your confidence going.
2. A Sales Script
Using the same sales line for the 1000th time doesn’t work. Your customers can tell when you’re rehearsing a line or when you are genuinely you.
That’s where a sales script comes in and you’ll find it much convenient to read the lines from a page than to improvise along the way.
A good sales script must have the following points.
- A great introduction lines
- Ability to establish a rapport with the caller
- A motive for the caller to be interested
Let’s use the following sample sales template to demonstrate all the above points.
**After the client picks the call**
Sales Rep (You): Hi Andrew, my name is Shawn Myers. (pause for a second)
I’m calling from ‘Synapse Digital’ to introduce you to our marketing program as I understand you’ve just begun a new startup. (pause for half a second) Our head office is located near the Sacramento metropolitan area in California.
Andrew: That’s great, Shawn, but I’d like to call you back at another time as I am currently busy.
Sales Rep: I understand. How about we schedule a call at a time of your convenience so I can give you the breakdown of our marketing program that is guaranteed to bring you 1000 customers in a month or a 100% refund.
Andrew: Thanks, that’s quite an offer. How about 6:00 pm in the evening today?
Sales Rep: That sounds great! Thanks for your time and have a nice day.
The call began with you introducing yourself after you’ve identified your caller. When you identify your caller, it shows that you’ve performed a background check and have an actual reason for calling them.
Immediately, you proceed to introduce the company name and the reason you’re calling.
You’ve also revealed the details of where the head office is located demonstrating that your company is already established.
In a single introduction line, you’ve managed to provide the following information –
- Your Name
- What your company is about
- Where your company is located
- What you are offering
By providing all this information in just a simple introduction line, you’re off to a good start as your caller has enough information to process whether he’d like your services or not.
Always expect your customers to be busy and postpone your sales call.
Then guarantee a call back by asking them for a preferred time by throwing a sales bait like the above – a 100% refund if you can’t guarantee 1000 customers.
This is sure to get their attention and interest to talk to you.
And that’s it. You’ve managed to strike a great introduction with motive and established rapport with the caller without sounding anonymous. The entire call would ideally be around 45 seconds to a minute.
Remember cold calling is all about the quality of communication from the salesperson and not the number of calls made in a time frame.
Let’s say Salesperson A makes 20 calls with a quality sales script in an hour and Salesperson B makes a quick 40 calls without any sales script. Although A is making lesser calls, the quality of every call convinces the customer due to the information at hand while B gets rejected for interrupting the client.
A generates 5 leads from 20 calls compared to B, who only generates 2 out of 40 leads. This demonstrates that A achieves a success rate of 25% while B performs exceedingly under the bar with a 5% success rate.
Put it this way, if you were the head of a company, which of the following salesperson would you hire for generating leads for your company?
A or B?
The answer is quite clear on why a quality sales script always delivers.
3. Utilizing an Accent When Cold Calling
Unless you’re well versed with multiple accents to speak fluently, it’s ill-advised to switch to exotic accents to charm your clients.
It’s better to sound natural as your customer will be comfortable communicating with your level of confidence.
When you concentrate excessively on the way you speak rather than on your voice techniques, you sound strange and suspicious to the customer.
When a speck of doubt arises in your customer’s mind, the success rate of the cold call begins to drop.
That’s why the way you speak is directly responsible for your overall confidence levels.
The less you stress on your accent, the more you focus on the bigger picture – selling your product to the client.
Unfortunate as it sounds, English isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Not being a native speaker isn’t a disadvantage, there are ways to improve yourself without the need to fake an accent.
And this doesn’t apply to only the English language but every other language in the world in which you’re hired to communicate.
Here are a few tips for improving your vocal proficiency and getting your confidence levels soaring.
- Learning the language and teaching yourself the basics is the quickest way to mastering the way you speak.
- Don’t use sophisticated and long words to sound intelligent. When you’re still learning the language, it’s best to use shorter words with the same meaning. Use a synonym dictionary to find alternative words that you’re comfortable speaking.
- Record every call and listen to it after to identify critical speech patterns that you might be missing.
- The easiest way to lose a thick non-native accent is to begin cold calling immediately and become comfortable with your voice.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. You don’t just begin as a linguistic genius by simply thinking about calling your clients and going over the scenario repeatedly.
Being obsessed with emulating a preferred accent will convert your sales call into a bizarre call for your client.
THE 6 QUESTIONS TO AVOID WHEN SPEAKING TO A CUSTOMER DURING A COLD CALL
Remember an average cold call lasts between 30 seconds to a minute?
That’s why it’s so important to get your act up.
You simply can’t afford to ask the wrong questions and confuse your client. Misperception is the bane of successful cold calling.
An unclear client is bound to ask for more time to understand the product and will hang up on you.
The more time your customer receives, the less chance you have in converting your cold call into an active lead.
Here are some questions that novice salesmen usually ask their customers and end up with a rejection.
1. “Have you heard of our brand?”
Just no. This question achieves no other desired result other than a puzzled look on the face of your customer.
If you open with this question, your customer has only two choices to answer with. Yes or No.
If your customer responds with a ‘Yes’, the whole point of asking this question becomes invalid as there is no follow-up question that will make your customer react positively. Your customer has a fair idea of your brand already and nothing you say is going to make him change their mind.
If your customer responds with a ‘No’, which is almost always the case, you’ve just lost your chance to strike a good rapport by introducing your customer to your brand. The worst case is – your customer hangs up angrily with a ‘Not interested’ response.
Sounding authentic is the way to a successful call. Take the following sales script for example.
“Hello, my name is [your name], and I am calling on behalf of [your company name]. We’ve successfully completed multiple projects for [clients list]. I was wondering if you were interested in availing our 100% money-back guarantee services that we are sure you will enjoy.”
In this way, you put out your company’s information without knowing if your client has any knowledge of your brand. If the client has had a recent experience with your company, they will let you know of their experience – whether positive or negative.
However, if they have no idea of your brand, you’ve just given them a reason on why your company is anonymous with such poor sales calling.
2. “How are you doing this fine day?”
The age-old question every salesperson asks their client right from the moment the call goes live.
Even if they were doing phenomenally well before your call came, your interruption isn’t going to make them feel any better and certainly not with a question that stalls their precious time.
In fact, leading with this question immediately creates a defensive barrier around your customer and your tone sounds extremely fishy from that point on.
‘How are you?’ is a filler question. Something you say but you don’t mean. How many sales calls do you think the client has been taking for this question to build rapport with?
Wouldn’t it be convenient to greet them with a simple ‘Hello’ and introduce your motive for calling without taking up their precious time?
Let’s take the following example.
Salesperson: “Hello Andrew, how are you doing this fine day?”
Customer: “Fine, how can I help you and please be quick as I am in a hurry.”
Salesperson: “Right, sir, well I called to know if you were interested in a product….”
Customer: “Sorry, not interested.”
And that’s why a “How are you?” never works. The attention span of the modern customer is extremely fragile, and if you take up their time with filler questions, you’ll lose out on precious leads.
3. “Is now a good time to talk?”
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. When is a good time to take unscheduled calls from a salesman?
It never is.
By asking this question, you automatically end all prospects of a positive sales call. You are simply wasting your own time and more importantly, your client’s time.
You’ll never hear a customer say, “Sure, I’d love to spend my valuable office hours talking to an anonymous stranger about their product which probably does nothing for me anyway.”
Also, refrain from using phrases such as “I am extremely sorry for bothering….”
If you think you’re bothering your customer with your cold call, then don’t call. It’s rude to sound obnoxious. But if you think you’re making a cold call, then don’t apologize.
A sales call isn’t bothering someone, it’s your job.
You are selling a product that can benefit the company and if you sound low on confidence, chances are you’ll never generate many successful leads.
Change your calling approach and begin the call by sounding confident. Remember that a cold call is doing your customer a world of good.
You aren’t interrupting their time to generate sales. Once you believe in this approach, you’ll understand the difference between selling a product and apologizing for taking your client’s time.
4. “Can you excuse me for a minute?”
One of the worst things to do on a live sales call is to ask your client to wait while you get your papers and other important documents in order.
Get your act together before you make that sales call.
A productive salesperson is someone who already has all the important details and knowledge of the product with him or her during the call.
Asking your customer to hold the call while you gain information is dangerous salesmanship. It makes you an amateur to your customer and ruins your chances at gaining a successful lead.
Ever heard of an amateur salesperson being recruited?
Of course, not, you are being paid to sell the product not to learn information while putting your customer on hold. That’s just primitive and unprofessional.
Chances are you’ll be fired from your job if your senior managers investigate your phone records as a routine verification process if they found out you were stalling your customer.
A waiting customer is a lost lead. If your customer had the patience to wait through a sales call and didn’t buy your product, it usually means they were interested in the product, but the wait made them feel nervous about their purchase.
Imagine if a sales call were like fishing in a lake.
If your fishing rod were to suddenly vibrate after hours of waiting, wouldn’t your reel in your big catch?
By waiting to reel in, you’re giving away precious time for the fish to wriggle loose and free itself.
The analogy of fishing applies in sales as well.
An active lead is no different than a ‘Catch of the day’.
When you’ve got your customer interested in your product, it’s crucial to close on a positive note.
5. “Are you the one that takes the decisions?”
First things first. If you’re figuring out who the big wigs of the company are before introducing your product, then there is bad news at the end of the line.
This question is a huge turn off to the person answering your call.
It’s like telling them that they aren’t worth your time and you want to connect directly with the guys that have the authority.
It’s like your sales manager telling you to pass on the message to your junior colleague about them getting promoted.
A straight arrow to the heart.
An important skillset to consider in your B2B sales is – Identification.
When you identify the position your receiver is in, it gives you room to sway your way up the ranks without sounding crude.
Remember, every person in the company has value and will contribute to your sales intel.
For example, if you run into a junior member of the company, here’s your chance to ask a few soft questions such as –
- Do you think my product/service is important for your company?
- Along with you, are there others who take on the decisive controls of the company?
- Are there other leads that are being considered in my product/service range?
Questions will provide useful information, and this will give your receiver a good opinion about themselves that they contributed to something useful.
While it’s critical to get to the decision-maker to eliminate any redundancy in time, it’s necessary to take a step back and consider the information in front of you.
Every piece of information is important and will assist you in optimizing your sales process.
Remember, if a low-level contact refuses your sales call.
That’s usually the end of it. It’s important to understand to get to the top of the food chain, it’s necessary to smooth talk your way through the lower ranks and that’s what salesmanship is about.
6. “Do you think your budget can handle it?”
Going straight for the jugular vein on your very first call to the company is like handling a hot plate without gloves. You’re getting burnt in both scenarios.
Asking for the budget is an extremely delicate question, one wrong move and your sales prospect shatters beneath you. Companies don’t usually like giving out their budget to random sales calls, it’s in their best interests to
keep this value to themselves and find worth in what you’re selling.
Think of heading over to a car showroom and asking for a test drive.
Imagine if the car dealer tells you – “Excuse me sir, but we’d first prefer to check your bank balance to see if you’re capable of purchasing this car, before issuing you with a test drive.”
Exactly the point being talked here.
Talking about the wallet or your customer’s ability to afford your product or service isn’t the best way to start a sales call.
There are ways to know if the company you’re calling can afford what you’re selling.
- Talk about the Return on Investment (ROI) they stand to make when they invest in a product like yours. This will give you information on whether they’re positive or negative about the pricing.
- Control your tone. Don’t be impatient. If the customer wishes to know something, take the time to explain. Any interest is a good sign.
- There is a fine line between being assertive and being arrogant. “How much are you looking to invest in our product?” is arrogant. “We guarantee a 3-times increase in your revenue with our services. Look at our past performances and make your decision.” Is assertive.
A CONDENSED CHECKLIST TO KEEP WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES TO ENSURE YOUR COLD CALLING IMPROVES EVERYDAY
Not everyone can re-read the article numerous times a day.
That’s why we’ve got a convenient checklist to list down the most important things in a printable fashion.
This portable checklist has all the ‘Do’s and ‘Don’ts’ we’ve discussed in the article in a simplistic manner.
- Do improve your voice techniques by maintaining tone pace and increasing phone volume levels.
- Don’t introduce yourself to your customer without a sales script to prevent unwanted blunders.
- Do have a stunning introduction line.
- Don’t call without a sales motive in mind.
- Do establish a connection in the first statement of your sales call.
- Don’t stall for time asking the state of mood your customer is in.
- Do follow through with a convenient time to call if your customer is occupied.
- Don’t focus on the number of calls per hour but instead on the quality of the sales script.
- Do speak in your natural accent and improve as you learn.
- Don’t use long words that are impossible to pronounce and decipher the meaning of.
- Do record all your calls and play them back to find out static interference and your vocal jitters.
- Don’t put your customer on hold.
- Do spend time talking to the low-level members of the company to gain information.
- Don’t be impatient to ask about your customer’s budget.
- Do spend time explaining the ROI to all your customers.
- Don’t apologize for calling during a sales call.
- Do provide your sales offers early to peek your customer’s attention.
- Don’t ask your customer if they’ve heard of your brand.
- Do keep all documents related to your product and service in an organized manner on your desk before you make the call.
- Don’t be arrogant. Be assertive.
CONCLUDING WORDS ON COLD CALLING
Cold calling is far from over. With the right bit of psychology and repetition, it’s astonishing how this aged sales technique still proves to be one of the best ways to boost your salesmanship skills.
As with all things, adding practice to your cold calling tricks with the aid of the above rules will rejuvenate your sales strategy and increase your overall sales success rate.
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