Like any activity in sales, cold calling has changed over the years.
The rapid rise of technology, and particularly social media, in the past 10 years has afforded us a great opportunity to hone and target our messages appropriately. We have more information and data to hand than ever before, which gives us an even better chance of success – but only if we use it correctly.
Regardless of how much information we have or the fancy new tools we use, the principles of successful cold calling remain the same. Don’t get us wrong, we love the plethora of new technology that aids our working lives, but we’re often asked by clients at our cold calling training sessions to help them and their teams understand and break down the basic structure of a cold call.
At its core, there is an underlying process to every cold call that, if executed correctly, will maximise your chance of a positive outcome. However, we know from our experience that hundreds of sales teams all over the world are squandering millions in lost opportunities and failing to properly engage with prospects as a result of not correctly following each stage of this vital process.
This structural approach to cold calling is far from complex, it just takes practice. With that in mind, let’s take a look at perhaps the most important step of the process in this post: getting the opening right.
It’s a simple truth; with any cold call, the first 20 seconds are by far the most important and set the tone for the rest of the conversation. We cannot stress this enough. Think of it this way, in rocket science, a spaceship must reach ‘escape velocity’ in order to break free of Earth’s gravity. In essence, a rocket must be travelling above a certain speed in order to make it into space. If it doesn’t reach that speed then gravity takes over and the rocket falls back to Earth.
The first 20 seconds of a cold call are similar. If you don’t provide enough value in those opening exchanges, then the decision-makers natural inclination to shut down the conversation will take over, and you’ll never make it to the next stage.
There’s plenty to getting the opening right, but the key is mainly in the preparation; by researching and knowing what is going to pique a decision-makers interest straight away, you’re going in armed with the information you need to spur the conversation past the initial stages.
And this is where our new technology can really help us. As we said earlier, we have access to so much information now, that in minutes we can understand so much about a prospect’s company, their competitors, their role and responsibilities, and the issues or opportunities for their industry in general. There are other things you can consider for the first 20 seconds too – we’ve recommended trying to use humour in the past (only if you’re comfortable with it!) and thinking closely about your body language and voice intonation on a call (yes, evidence suggests body language can be interpreted through a telephone!).
To succeed, try to avoid over-complicating the cold calling process. The first and most important step is also the simplest: get the opening right. Taking the time to perfect the opening 20 seconds will make the biggest difference on your success rates, as each step afterwards should fall into place more easily from there.