How to Make The Perfect Sales Cold Call?
September 24th 2020
Outbound Sales
How to Make The Perfect Sales Cold Call?
Cold-calling is an activity that refers to solicitation of a prospect through different channels - telephone or in-person - without having any prior contact with the salesperson. Cold calling technique is used by reps to reach out to potential customers who haven’t expressed any interest in the offered products or services.

Cold calling is an integral part of the sales organization and a tough challenge for reps to deliver a sales pitch to someone who has never heard about you or your offerings. The success rate of cold calling is merely 2% even for the most skilled professionals. Therefore, successful cold-call salespersons should be persistent and willing to endure repeated rejection.

Here, we will outline the key points to help you make a perfect cold call.

Table of contents:

  • Stage 1: Introduction and Hook
  • Stage 2: Qualification
  • Stage 3: Discovery
  • Stage 4: Close
  • Final tips for perfecting a cold call.

A call path is a road map to set up the flow of your cold calling or sales presentation. A perfectly structured call path can be your guiding light to navigate a conversation. Here we have outlined the outbound calling structure.

Stage 1Introduction and Hook
Stage 2Qualification
Stage 3Discovery
Stage 4Close

Stage 1: Introduction and Hook

Your introduction sets the base for the rest of the cold call. A strong introduction has a singular goal: not having the prospect drop the call. Tell the prospect who you are and what the purpose of the call is. The hook (e.g., using close-ended questioning) gets the prospect to lean in and listen.

One of the common mistakes the reps make in the introduction is focusing too much on the reps' company and the reason for the call. No one cares who you are and talking too much about your product and yourself takes away 10 to 20 seconds and you already lost the prospect. Instead have an intro that focuses on why they should offer you time. Also avoid words like we are the world's largest, number 1, best in the industry, no one cares about this. They care how you can solve their problem, so focus on how your product solved a problem for a client similar to them and ask for permission to speak.

Points to Focus onCall Script
1. Identify who you are and what you are calling about - state your name and the company you work for. Tell them what your company does.

2. Pause and say nothing for 5-8 seconds.
1. Establish trust and build a relationship with the prospect by sharing information they can quickly identify with.

2. The prospect is much more likely to identify with the target you are seeking and to volunteer a “yes,” which is your invitation to continue the conversation and move to the value-based portion of the call.
Good Script:

Bad Script:
Do you have a minute?/ Is this a good time? I’m calling because I think you should switch services to [YOUR COMPANY NAME]. Can I block off some time on Monday to further discuss?
1. Your hook is to ask close-ended questions (i.e., questions that begin with a verb) immediately following your introduction.

2. These questions are designed to throw your prospect off balance and avoid them from hanging up: the questions should necessitate "yes" answers since any rational business owner wouldn't dare say that retaining customers isn't an important part of their business.
Are you a growing business? Is retaining customers an important part of your business?

Stage 2: Qualification

Qualification is about determining whether or not it is worth your time to uncover a prospect's business needs. You already know their industry and location. Your primary goal at this stage is to figure out:

  • If they need your solution.
  • If they have the authority and budget to buy it.
  • When will they be making a purchase?

The more information you can get from them, the better.

Looking at qualification as just a list of questions risks missing the mark: turning the call into an interrogation will result in a hang-up. Good qualification is an opportunity for you to establish yourself as conversant in the prospect’s technical language. You should already know their industry; use the cold call to learn about their status within that industry.

Stages 2 to 4 are elucidated using two cold call examples:

Cold Call A: A SaaS sale to an automotive repair shop. This software plugs into the company’s management system, and require at least 300 emails for good ROI, and requires the business to see at least 10 customers per day to make financial sense.

Cold Call B: A financial services company offering business lines of credit to B2B businesses. To qualify, businesses must be profitable and generate $300k or more in annual revenue.

Good qualification vs bad qualification

Cold Call A:

Best PracticesGood Qualification ScriptBad Qualification Script
Sound like an industry insider to encourage the prospect to offer information about their needs and challenges.he best shops I work with have moved on from pen and paper and are putting their customer information in R.O. Writer. What do you guys use?What do you use to enter and track your repair orders?
Tell the prospect why you are asking each qualification question before you ask. I know it’s a tough thing to do, but the fastest service writers I talk to typically get emails from their customers to speed up billing...Do you guys capture that? How often?

By the way, how many repair bays do you all have?

… 3 is a good number, sounds like you’re keeping busy! How many Repair Orders do you take in daily?
How many cars do you see?

How many customers are you seeing per day?
Frame questions with a mention about their competitor’s pain point to get them to reveal their own. I’ve found that finding qualified service writers outside of Boston is tricky. How many cars are you able to service daily?

Even though they are valuable, it’s tough for shops to get customers to want to share their emails. Do you collect emails?
Do you collect emails? How many emails are you able to collect daily?

Cold Call B:

Best PracticesGood Qualification ScriptBad Qualification Script
Never frame a question with your company’s needs - the cold call is not about you, it’s about the customer.We work with relatively established, healthy businesses. Sounds like that’s you guys, right? What revenue did that translate to last year? This year?We need to see $300k in revenue or more. How much do you make per year?
Use humor and strategic flattery to open the prospect up to more direct questioning. Awesome. And while I’m sure you love telling the IRS you’re losing money to limit your tax liability, it sounds like the business is going strong. Were you profitable last year? This year? We require businesses to be profitable. Did you turn a profit this year?

Stage 3: Discovery

By this stage, you already know that the prospect is -

(a) aware that your company can help them solve their problem.

(b) is an active participant in the decision to acquire your product/service to solve their problem.

You still do not know why it is valuable for them to do so - you need to learn during this stage if they are prepared to spend money on a solution to their problem.

Good discovery uses open-ended questioning, follows a simple 5-step formula (Why, Where, What, How, Recap), and repeats these steps as many times as needed to uncover all relevant pain. Until you uncover the gap between the prospect’s current and desired states, you will not be able to advance to the next stage.

Discovery Step 1: Why?

“Why” serves to dive into the pain your solution solves. Start with an open-ended question that is specific enough to lead the prospect to an obvious answer that will inform the rest of your question.

Cold Call A: A SaaS sale to an automotive repair shop. Assume the software helps auto repair shops generate customer reviews to grow their business.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Helps you make sure that continuous growth is a business outcome your prospect values.

2. Gets the prospect to open up by being involved in a topic they are well versed in and want to explain. This will make them want to keep the conversation going.
1. Why do you value customer reviews?

2. Why is customer retention important to you?

Discovery step 2: Where?

“Where” questions help you understand the business owner’s goals. The prospect goes into a forward-thinking, positive state of mind as they think about their dreams for the future. It will help highlight how big the opportunity is for this prospect and how far from their goals they are currently.

Cold Call A: A SaaS sale to an automotive repair shop.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Helps you to understand the business owner’s goals and quantify them. Get the customer to admit that where they are currently is not where they want to be in near future by asking open-ended questions:

1. Where is your active customer count today?

2. Where would you like to get your customer count by the end of the year?

Cold Call B: A financial services company offering business lines of credit to B2B businesses.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Helps you determine how far from their goals they are currently.

2. Allows your prospect to share a pain point about their current situation.
Continue asking open-ended questions:

1. So when was the last time you had to use your reserves to pay for expenses? How often does that happen?

2. When was the last time you missed payroll? How did you cover it?

3. How much do you keep on hand in case of an emergency? If you could have it your way, how much would you like to stash away?

Discovery step 3: What?

“What” questions is to understand the current methodology and practices used by customers to achieve their targeted goals. It allows your prospect to share a pain point about their current situation.

Cold Call A: A SaaS sale to an automotive repair shop.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Understanding the practices applied by the prospect to meet their business objectives.

2. Determining how serious they are about investing in solutions and how big the problem is.
Continue asking open-ended questions:

What methods are you using right now to get to that number?

Repeat this step as many times as necessary to uncover every tool used.

What else?

Cold Call B: A financial services company offering business lines of credit to B2B businesses.

BenefitsCall Script
1. By answering how they are currently solving something, the prospect is admitting they value fixing the problem.

2. If they answer “nothing,” it will be even easier to highlight the gap in step 4.
Understand how the prospect funds growth:

How else are you currently paying for unexpected expenses during downtimes?

Discovery step 4: How?

“How” line of questioning is where you press on the gap between the current method. Then you illustrate how your solution provides more value and can help you achieve targeted goals faster.

Cold Call A: A SaaS sale to an automotive repair shop.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Quantifying the value of the investment made helps you quantify the value of your solution.

2. It’s then easy to highlight a gap between where the customer is, and how much more they need to invest to get their desired state.
Understand how these investments have worked for the business owner:

How many customers have you generated through these referrals?

Are you getting the desired ROI?

Cold Call B: A financial services company offering business lines of credit to B2B businesses.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Play to the prospect’s ego: ego-based selling panders to a prospect’s natural tendency to think highly of themselves, and defend challenges against their worth and skills.

2. Validating their investment will make your prospect more likely to volunteer business performance metrics.
Validate their current approach before asking them to quantify. The goal is to get the prospect to identify with a group of other prospects who are likely to see value in your solution (i.e., “other good businesses” or “leading companies”):

It’s really good to hear you tap first into your reserves. Many good businesses we work with have used their reserves to cover the necessary expenses. When is the last time your reserves were used to cover things like rent and payroll?

Discovery step 5: Recap

Cold Call A: A SaaS sale to an automotive repair shop.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Confirms that there is a pain point worth solving.

2. Confirms that you have been closely listening to them.
Summarize information gathered from steps 1-4 of the discovery stage. End with a question to confirm if the summary is correct:

Just to make sure we are on the same page: you grow primarily through word of mouth. Those referrals have gotten you from about 30 to 35 cars per week, and you’ve got what it takes to take on about 5 more. Is that about right?

Cold Call B: A financial services company offering business lines of credit to B2B businesses.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Will hold your prospect accountable when challenging you during the close Get buy-in from your prospect on everything they have told you:

So you currently tap into reserves when you have unexpected costs. You’ve also decided to delay vendor payments and ask for a rent extension, but that’s a temporary solution. Is that fair to say?

Stage 4: Close

A good close is about asking for more of the prospect’s time (e.g., to show them how your solution can remediate the pain and close the gap between their current and future status).

At this stage, you are closing an appointment by positioning your solution relative to the gap you’ve identified in the discovery phase. You’ve gotten buy-in from the prospect that they are focused on bridging the gap, so all you are doing now is trading their time for your expertise in the service of that goal.

Closure does not mean the prospect agrees to buy. In an enterprise sale, there are various stages before moving to purchase. So after each stage of the call, set the context of the next call, set up a meeting, and send the email summary of the conversation. Mention the objective for the next call and ask the prospect to acknowledge.

Cold Call A: A SaaS sale to an automotive repair shop.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Close using a prospect’s words is the strongest way to make sure they agree to your demo.

2. Where discovery will lead a prospect to feel vulnerable, the close should make them feel hopeful about solving the pain point.
Use mirroring (e.g., reuse your prospects words during the discovery stage to make sure they agree with your demo):

You just mentioned that you’re not quite where you want to be with respect to your goals. I work with auto repair shops near you that are also thinking about creative ways to drive three new clients per week into their shop. Does it make sense to grab 30 minutes later this week to show you what your competitors are doing to get there?

Cold Call B: A financial services company offering business lines of credit to B2B businesses.

BenefitsCall Script
1. Explicitly calls out the pain point before positioning your solution.

2. Leans on how other customers have benefited rather than explicitly stating how you can help.
Mirroring and using the prospect’s words will make the prospect more likely to trust you when it comes to resolving their pain. Don’t assume (i.e., avoid saying, “I think it makes sense to…”).

You mentioned that you’re dipping into your reserves when things get tough, and it’s hard to keep them full. Does it make sense to see how other companies like yours have solved this issue by implementing a financial solution?

Final tips for perfecting a cold call:

  • Embrace rejections: Rejection is a necessary part of all sales activities. While cold calling, the rejection rate is higher because you have already shown no interest in your product. Be ready to face rejection and figure out how you can improve your script to minimize further rejections.
  • Experiment, fail, learn: Experimenting with your script is a good way of improving your pitch. You know cold calling can’t be mastered overnight, so set a goal to learn something in every conversation with a prospect, good or bad. Figure out where you consistently get stuck in the script, rewrite that section of your script until you stop getting rejected. Share your learnings with your manager and other reps who are struggling.
  • Use technology to improve: There are various tools available for a modern salesperson that provides valuable insights for cold calling. These platforms use data-driven AI technology to analyze your calls and provide insights on how you can improve your script.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Avoid asking 'yes or no' questions. Instead, open-ended questions will keep the conversation going, especially when asking the prospect about their pain points and goals.
  • Be an active listener: It can be easy to get lost in the conversation but make sure you're listening carefully to the prospect's responses. When appropriate, repeat back what they said about their company or goals. This helps you clarify what was said and shows the prospect that you truly care about what they're saying.

Upscale Team
Upscale Team
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