37 B2B cold calling tips for sales success in 2021
People keep saying cold calling is dead, but many successful businesses rely on cold calling to drive revenue. Whether they're Fortune 500 companies or high-growth startups, they all have sales reps eagerly dialing numbers day in and day out.
2020 has been a turbulent year, and with the rise of work from home, sales teams that were able to adapt to the new circumstances are seeing enormous success calling up prospects.
So, does cold calling still work in 2021? Many people like to say no and point out examples of cold calls they've received that were a pure waste of everyone's time.
And the truth is, if you're still doing cold calling like it's 1995, you might as well not do it at all. Too much has changed in the past 20+ years, which is why we've put together 37 of our best cold calling tips for startup founders and B2B sales pros who want to make more sales and close more deals using methods and cold calling strategies that work now, in early 2021.
37 best cold calling tips for B2B sales success
Now, let's dive into our compilation of everything you'll need to know in order to nail your cold calling game this year.
Spoiler alert: The answer is yes, you should. In this guide, you'll discover the benefits of working with a cold calling script, what a sales script actually is (because there are plenty of misconceptions around that), and how to use it in the most effective way to grow evolve as a sales team.
A basic fill-in-the-blank sales script you can use to get started with your first cold calling campaign today. If you think selling is difficult, don't know what to say, or feel overwhelmed by complexity, take refuge in simplicity.
No excuses, just start with this script today and tweak it over time as you learn more about what does (and doesn't) resonate with the prospects you get on the phone over the course of your first few days of cold calling.
One of the most important foundations of cold calling, is to have the conversation mapped out before picking up the phone. Beyond just the line-by-line script you're using, this blueprint will set you on the right path for achieving the higher level goal of your cold call—whether that's simply qualifying your lead, booking an appointment, or closing a deal.
This blueprint template is a clear way of structuring your cold calling conversations when someone picks up.
It's not just the words you say when it comes to selling, but the tone of your voice. In fact, 93% of the potential success of your cold call comes down to the tone of your voice. From the beginning, you have to turn a skeptical lead into a trusting customer. How do you do that?
Follow my 3 hacks to boost your confidence and make you sound smarter. Keep reading for more details behind these 3 important hacks: volume, pacing, and body language.
Like it or not, a natural aspect of cold calling is hearing no and learning how to deal with the objections that come up in your conversations. Our objection management guide covers the three most common objections you'll encounter when doing cold calls. Prepare and practice your answers to these in advance.
Most sales reps fear these objections because they derail their sales conversations—especially when cold calling and starting a brand new dialogue with a prospect that doesn't yet trust you. But YOU will look forward to hearing them because they help you move the sale ahead.
This is a seemingly most innocuous tactic that prospects often use to interrupt a sales conversation. Pretty early on in the cold call, many people will ask you, "Can you send me some more information? I'll review it and get back to you."
New and insecure sales reps eagerly oblige: "Of course! I'll send it your way." They send out the email, and that's it. Maybe one or two timid follow-ups, and they file the lead away as a lost cause.
Well, here's what you should do to instead get more deals from your cold calling campaigns.
This is a very common mistake sales reps make when cold calling their prospects. They launch into a pitch way too early, without first understanding what the prospect wants and if your offering will genuinely be able to help them at all.
Here's how you can figure out a) the exact right moment when you should deliver your pitch and b) how to customize your pitch when cold calling so that it makes your prospect want to buy from you.
Once you've got a decision maker on the phone, how do you captivate and keep their attention? It's not enough that they hear you speak—you have to make them really listen, otherwise your cold calling campaigns won't net any results for your bottom line.
Some people possess the charisma and showmanship that naturally mesmerizes their listeners. If you don't, you'll need to master the mechanics of getting attention. Here's a simple 3-step process to get your message across when cold calling.
Entrepreneurs often struggle when they start cold calling. They hate calling people, feeling like they're interrupting their day in order to drum up business, and they're not very good at it either. Their approach is too timid and they give up too soon when they encounter resistance. They don't manage objections well, and fail to produce results.
Being successful in sales with an accent can be challenging—I know firsthand. Having grown up in Germany as the child of Greek immigrants, I moved to the US in my 20s, and I had a terrible accent. Yet, not only have I learned how to close many millions of dollars in deals, I've also taught others how to do the same. In this post I share my best advice on selling with an accent.
Don't let your accent get to you and in the way of closing more deals. Just use my practical, simple advice to sell like a champ, no matter how bad your accent might seem.
Sitting at your desk, cold calling for hours, can turn into a rut. Dialing leads, trying to get to decision makers, hearing the same objections again and again... it's tempting to entertain your brain with more interesting distractions while you're facing objection after objection.
Here's why you should never give in to distractions, and how to regain your focus when other tasks begin to drift into focus while you're in the middle of a cold calling campaign.
The best way to get better at cold calling is to make a lot of calls, and learn from every call. But most sales people are never taught how to effectively evaluate a call. Instead, they focus on the level of rapport they've achieved with the prospect. You have to look beyond that and understand what does and doesn't define a successful sales call.
There's an easy, unambiguous process for this: understand the two key stages of the sales call and then determine if your call was a 10/10. Use this process to quickly evaluate the quality of every sales call within less than one minute—you'll never be left guessing or wondering how well a call went again.
Want to be more effective at cold calling? Get exclusive access to our free B2B cold calling course to learn how to cold call like a pro.
When cold calling goes wrong, a particularly painful rejection can totally deflate your sales soul. But don't forget, failure is a guaranteed part of your sales process—not every prospect in every unique situation will be a good fit for your solution.
Here's how to stay buoyant when confronted with failure (or ill-tempered prospect who reacts abusively to you) when cold calling.
Want to get better results from your cold calling efforts? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to strategically improve your outbound cold calling process. Want to know how you're doing in different stages of your sales process? These benchmarks will tell you!
Should you dial more numbers?
Do you need to improve the quality of your leads?
Should you focus on crafting a better sales pitch? Or rather work on a more effective opening?
There are many opportunities to optimize your cold calling process, and this post provides a framework to identify where you can get the biggest wins with your B2B cold calling efforts. (Hint: Many times, the answer is to start at the top of the funnel and make more calls. The right technology, for example a predictive dialer, can often help to make the necessary changes.)
When you’re in sales, you’re always wondering what’s good enough. Right? A great salesperson is never satisfied and always on the hunt for more. To outperform your competition, you need to understand these important industry benchmarks: the 30/30/50 rule for cold emailing and the 30/50/50 rule for cold calling.
These two benchmarks should be your starting point, and even if you’re hitting (or above) them, you’re still not done. Here are the exact numbers you should be aiming to hit at each step of your sales email and sales calling funnels.
The average sales rep leaves 70 voicemails per day, requiring 60 seconds each, which adds up to approximately 25 hours per month. To make a time-consuming task even worse, the typical voicemail sucks!
Too many sales reps speak too fast and ramble, filling the message with lots of “um’s” and “ah’s”. Then, potential clients have to listen to the voicemail three to four times, just to write down the callback number. That’s why messages are deleted, and prospects never return cold calls.
A good voicemail sparks interest. It’s well-planned and compels the recipient to phone the caller back immediately. Revamp your cold calling voicemail messages right now!
When you're cold calling dozens (even hundreds) of people throughout the day, you'll end up in many people's voicemail. And nothing gets more annoying than saying the same words to a thousand different answering machines.
To save yourself the pain, make sure you’re using a CRM (like Close) with voicemail drop functionality. If you’re using Close, just record your one perfect voicemail message, and whenever you hear that BEEP, click a button to leave your pre-recorded voicemail. With the time saved, you can move onto your next cold call.
→ Every Close trial includes calling credits so you can start cold calling for free. Try it for 14 days.
You know the power of the phone in sales, but did you think about actually texting your prospects? According to a 2017 report called The State of SMS, by now 48.7 million people will have opted in to receive text messages from businesses. That's a HUGE number, so why not add this to your toolkit?
There are so many reasons why SMS can change your sales game. For one, no other medium has the reach rate of text messaging. Emails might get caught up in spam, phone calls might go unanswered—but text messages almost always get read.
You can easily increase your reach rates with prospects by using built-in SMS with Close. With just one click, you can send an SMS to your leads in Close right away or schedule them for a later date. It makes keeping in touch and engaging with leads easier than ever before. You can also review your SMS activity and gain a better understanding of how effective SMS can be for you or your sales team.
If you're ready to start texting your leads today, sign up for a free 14-day trial of Close.
At this point in time, you’ve (hopefully) implemented texting into your sales process. But, how can you effectively use it when sales emails are already so powerful? We highlight six ways you can use SMS to nurture leads (without being creepy) and close more deals.
Also, take note that texting prospects is all about making a deeper, personal connection that goes beyond email. People are comfortable with the idea of texting on a more personal level and having a genuine (not salesy) conversation because that’s what texting was designed to do.
Here's the recording of a 47 minute webinar I hosted about how to sell on the phone. If you've read most of our articles here about cold calling, this is a good way of tying it all together and consuming the information in a different fashion, to deepen your takeaways.
Many sales reps are tired of wasting time leaving voicemails or waiting for leads to give them a call back. Get this, an average sales rep makes 52 calls a day with 15% of their time spent leaving voicemails. That’s 36 hours of wasted time every month. 36 hours you could be spending making more calls and closing more sales.
But, how do you get that 36 hours back each month? Using a powerful tool called a sales dialer. Make life easier and invest in this tool to make you more efficient with sales. Learn more about sales dialers, what they are, how they work, and why they should be part of your sales strategy.
Are you sending out cold emails and tracking the email opens (using sales software like Close for example)? This creates a great opportunity to then follow up with adding your warm leads into a cold calling campaign (of those prospects who opened your email).
But don't make the mistake most sales reps make when doing these cold calling exercises.
When you're cold calling a prospect and they want to know the price of your offering, how do you respond? Most sales reps know that they shouldn't just give out a straight price, but just telling the prospect "no" can be too abrasive (and doesn't add value to the conversation).
Instead, the conversation needs to be steered toward better understanding the prospect's unique needs, and positioning the value you'll add to their business. Here's exactly how to handle this scenario effectively over cold calling.
If you’re cold calling the way most sales reps do it, you’re already losing out with the very first words coming out of your mouth. Be sure you're not prematurely dooming your cold call to failure by jumping in too fast, not speaking clearly enough, or by not giving your prospect enough time to process what's happening.
Most sales reps think deals are won or lost when you’ve got the prospect on the phone. They’re wrong.
You win or lose the deal before you even pick up the phone and dial; it’s your state of mind that determines the outcome of your cold calling efforts, more than anything else. I have three questions that I ask myself before every crucial sales call: Why? What? How?
The bait-and-switch is a device often used by scammers, but it can be applied by ethical companies that have their customers' best interest at heart too—and using it within your cold calling campaigns can work wonderfully (to your mutual benefit) when you do it right.
Unless you happen to cold call someone whose office has just caught on fire, it’s pretty likely that the excuse, “I don’t have time” is just a polite way of saying “Go away,” or “What you’re offering is not a priority for me.” After all, if they really didn’t have time, they would have just hung up on you—and they probably wouldn't have picked up your cold call in the first place.
And yet, your average salesperson still hears “I don’t have time,” stammers, gets nervous, and hangs up. It’s a difficult objection to deal with—we’re not used to responding proactively to “I don’t have time.” You can’t really argue with it, because who are you to question whether someone really has the time for your cold call right now?
A great salesperson, however, finesses this objection around into further conversation. A great salesperson hears “I don’t have time” and recognizes that it’s time to drive home the core value proposition that will get that customer to stay on the line.
Here's exactly how to do that.
Want to know what the fastest and most effective way is to become great at cold calling? It’s a simple two-fold approach that anyone can follow and doesn't require expensive sales workshops or coaches.
One of the myths of SaaS is that the products are so good, so easy to use, so quick to deploy... that the product sells itself. However, that myth won't protect you from the following 2 objections, especially during cold calling:
- “Your product is too expensive.”
- "Your product doesn’t have the right features.”
Let’s get into how you can move past these objections and keep the focus on value during your cold calling campaigns.
Your prospect has completely lost it. He's shouting at you over the phone, making ridiculous demands. Your ears are ringing and you have a massive headache. After a while, you can’t take it any more, and just hang up the phone. He was completely out of control—a saint would've done the same.
Except that's the wrong approach.
You can’t control why the bully is the way he is, but here's how you handle one when cold calling.
Successfully qualifying a prospect while cold calling depends on how much knowledge you can quick gather about their situation. However, how can you pitch your solution if they refuse to share any information about their situation?
Let's explore why prospects are tight-lipped on cold calls and how to make them talk.
When it comes to tracking sales data, some sales managers don’t know where to start. But the process doesn’t have to be difficult when it comes to keeping tracking of your key cold calling and related metrics.
If you already have a sales model that’s predictable and scalable, you only need three metrics to transform your team’s cold calling performance. Here’s how you can effectively track the sales metrics that matter.
It’s not always easy to get a cold call back on track, especially when you’ve let the prospect take the lead. But the truth is, most salespeople aren’t great at leading conversations. When prospects refuse to answer questions—or they have an endless number of objections—salespeople rarely know how to regain control.
Take the lead on your cold calling—and close more deals—with this three-step framework.
No one likes getting hung up on while cold calling, but you can’t let one bad sales call ruin your day. Just take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Is this result any different than if I’d never made the call?” Next, focus on why the prospect hung up on you, so you don’t make the same mistake twice.
Want to run a successful cold calling campaign? Focus on the one metric most sales managers ignore: reach rates.
Whether you’re new to cold calling—or you're dealing with disastrously low reach rates—explore these five ways to ensure your team’s sales success.
How do you accomplish this? Close’s built-in Power Dialer gives sales teams the opportunity to increase their call volume and close more deals. Within Close, you can use the Power Dialer to call through a list of leads automatically so, as you wait for the next lead to answer, you can work on other important sales tasks.
As calls are made, you will be taken to the lead’s activity page where you can add a note about the call. The Power Dialer pauses as you take notes before moving on to calling the next lead. The Power Dialer not only saves you time, but also improves your sales productivity. Experience the Power Dialer today—sign up for your free 14-day trial of Close.
Our built-in Predictive Dialer takes it even one step further by dialing multiple numbers at once, and only connecting a call to a sales rep when someone answers the phone.
37. Don't do discovery on a cold call
Don't try to fit too much into your cold call. The only thing you want to accomplish with that first cold call to a prospect is just to schedule the next call. That next call; that's going to be the one where qualification and discovery happens.
The team over at Gong churned through a huge dataset of sales calls and found out that in successful cold calls, the sales rep talks more than the prospect—whereas the opposite is true in a successful discovery call.
If you've worked your way through this guide and the resources we've references, and still crave more cold calling knowledge, check out this list of the 15 best books on cold calling.
If you lack motivation or start to lose faith in what cold calling can lead to, remind yourself of this success story: Uber is one of the most innovative and disruptive success stories in recent times. They've got a very strong technology culture and are recruiting top engineering talent like crazy.
That's why it's even more remarkable that they got started not by leveraging some advanced, groundbreaking tech-solution...but rather by old-school cold calling. Sign up for the free B2B cold calling course now.