Is Cold Calling Effective? How Cold Calling Still Works in 2023
The days of cold calling are coming to an end. Nowadays, salespeople can reach potential customers through social media and email. Right?!
Well, it depends on who you're selling to: the angry guy tweeting about some salesperson calling them while they were watching Netflix at 2pm, or someone who's actually making buying decisions. Research shows that 57% of B2B C-level and VP-level executives prefer to be contacted by phone. Cold calling isn’t going anywhere.
In fact, with all of the commercials and marketing campaigns we’re exposed to on a daily basis, cold calling is more effective now than ever before—if done well. The personal touch a skilled sales rep can provide over the phone is not something that can be automated—not even with AI. And every once in a while, a founder starts a company making cold calls and ends up with a billion-dollar company.
Cold calling has been around for a long time; the first documented cold call was made in 1873. (I didn't even know there were enough phones around in those days to make it worth the effort.). And it doesn't have a great reputation: we've all received sketchy cold calls who tried to pressure us into buying things we neither want nor need.
Even salespeople themselves have complained when tasked with cold calling because, well, it’s hard. It takes work and dedication to make successful cold calls. However, through the years, data consistently shows that cold calling does indeed work. And even though it’s difficult hearing “no” all day, being a commission-based, cold-calling sales rep can still be a very, very profitable career, as the thousands of people who've downloaded our free book on cold calling can attest.
Cold Calling Statistics Show That It Still Works
Many companies are succeeding with cold calls in 2022—cold calling is even in a resurgence, as more and more of your potential customers prefer that actual human interaction, rather than another fully automated campaign.
Business owners and decision-makers like to be contacted when they are exploring new products. In fact, the RAIN Group says that 27% of sellers say that making phone calls to new contacts is extremely effective, while only 5% of sellers say that bulk email marketing is effective.
Statistics show that in the last year, 69% of buyers accepted a call from new salespeople. As many as 82% of buyers accepted meetings when salespeople reached out to them.
While these numbers are impressive, the most telling of all statistics comes down to growth—or rather, negative growth. Zippia reports that those companies that are not believers in the effectiveness of cold calling experience 42% lower growth than companies that utilize cold calling.
Cold Calling Strategies That Boost Your Success Rates
Cold calling can be done very effectively, or very poorly. For some, talking to strangers to promote a product comes very naturally, while others need to be in the right headspace to start calling. Regardless of your experience level, there are a few cold calling tips that will consistently boost your success rates.
Use the Right Cold Calling Script
Regardless of the product or service you’re pitching or who you are pitching it to, there is a script that resonates with the customer. Take a general call flow template and customize it to fit your needs. Ensure that it leans heavily on questions that identify the business problem or pain point that needs a solution. Once the need has been identified, explain to your prospect how your solution addresses their need.
Try different script versions in your own A/B test if you can. Just testing small changes can make for massive gains. If you make 20 calls each on two nearly identical scripts, but the A version results in six follow-up calls while the B version only produces three, you’ve made progress! You now know that you should continue using (and optimizing) script A.
Keep refining your sales pitch script, noting why a call did or didn’t go well, and get feedback from others on the sales team along the way. Successful cold callers are usually happy to broadcast their successes and share how they win over qualified leads. Let them critique your sales technique, coach you, and be willing to try out any advice they provide. (Pro tip: Using a CRM with integrated call monitoring features that allow sales trainers to listen in, and even coach you directly on a live call or based on real call recordings will help you level up fast.)
What to Focus On for the First Call
On average, representatives have to make 6 calls to sell a service or product. Cold calling almost never ends in a sale after just one call. But with that said, the first call is easily the most important call you’ll make for each prospect. It sets the stage for everything that comes after it.
The priority on your first call is to determine whether you should schedule another call. Engage with your customer but don’t try to close the sale just yet. Instead, briefly qualify the prospect to see if it's worth both your and their time to have a more in-depth conversation. Do they have problems your solution can solve? What great things happen if these problems are solved and what will be the impact on the company? Take copious notes, so you show up prepared on your next call.
Leave an Engaging Voicemail
When cold calling, the average sales rep leaves 70 voicemail messages a day. It’s so easy to fall into a routine and go into autopilot when recording your messages ... and that’s exactly what you need to avoid.
Use a voicemail script to keep your message to the point, and speak with a smile. Good voicemails are upbeat, and they start with your name and the company you’re with. Include the reason you’re calling in one sentence or less, then wrap up with a specific action, your contact information, and a friendly close. For follow-up calls, include a friendly greeting referencing your last call—something like, “I hope you’ve been well!”
“Hey Prospect! It’s First & Last Name at Company. I came across your work on LinkedIn and wanted to connect—it looks like we do a lot of the same things, and we may be able to help each other. I’ll reach out again next Wednesday, but if you want to chat before then, my number is 555-243-1028. Hope you’re having a great day. Talk soon!”
It is important to take a minute here and mention that your voicemail is not a commercial or radio ad. No taglines are needed and you should sound like yourself, not the people narrating your drive to work.
Practice your script ensuring a focus on correct pacing and cadence—it’s important to speak slowly and confidently throughout. Record yourself and ask yourself if you could write down a name and number at that pace. You might even want to time your script.
And if the thought of leaving the same voicemail messages 70 times a day doesn't particularly excite you… Close enables you to leave your own pre-recorded voicemail message with just the click of a button. (Curious? Try Close free for 14 days!)
Expand Your Outreach
Social media offers some great tools to expand your circle as well as better familiarize yourself with your sales prospect. If your potential buyer posts something interesting on LinkedIn or Twitter, add a relevant comment.
But don't go overboard. LinkedIn is fair game—but for most people, Facebook is for friends and family only. Referencing private posts of their last beach vacation can come across as invasive and inauthentic.
Best Practices for Follow-Ups
If the first call creates the foundation, then it’s the follow-up calls that build the relationship. In fact, follow-up calls may even be more challenging than the first, because this is when things really start moving. (No pressure!)
Set the Stage
Whenever possible, set a date and time for your next follow-up call at the end of every call. A vague “sometime next week” or “get back to you soon” will result in missed calls, redundant voicemail messages, and possibly a missed sale.
Pro tip: Use a scheduling tool like SavvyCal to let prospects book a time smoothly. And with the Close + SavvyCal native integration, those newly booked meetings will show up in your favorite CRM automatically.
Email a Reminder
Every sales rep knows that no-shows are one of the most common reasons for lost deals. If a specific time was set for a follow-up call, email a reminder, even if it was confirmed in a Google calendar link. Keep the email simple stating, “Julie, Our call tomorrow should only take a few minutes. We will review the proposal and I’ll answer any of your questions. Looking forward to chatting!”
Review Notes from Previous Calls
Before every follow-up call, take a few moments to review the notes and information you have taken from prior interactions. Few things are more disastrous than confusing sales prospects and prior discussions. Have your notes in front of you and make sure you don’t ask about their dog when they actually have a cat. (Close makes it easy by automatically surfacing your past call notes when you engage with a prospect.)
Call On Time
Never, ever, ever be late to a follow-up call. Nothing erodes trust faster than someone waiting on you to call them in order to sell them something. You might have the best solution, but if you miss the call and another sales professional gets it right, they’ll get the deal.
Avoid Commonplace Opening Statements
Whether a scheduled call or an impromptu follow-up, never say what everyone else says. We’ve all heard “I am just calling to follow up” or, “I thought I’d call and see if you have any questions”. Set yourself apart.
A follow-up call that sets you apart starts with your name and employer and then goes on to refresh your client's memory of what their pain points were, and captivate their attention. For instance, “Julie, this is Jack Smith from XYZ LLC. When we spoke last week you had mentioned the two concerns of…”
Be Persistent (But Don’t Be a Pest)
It can take up to six calls on average to make a sale, so don’t give up. Keep following up, but arrange for some gaps between calls. Your goal is to close a deal, not be branded as a stalker. If a planned call is missed, leave a voicemail in the moment, and send an email a few minutes later asking if there’s a better way to connect. Send one more email on the same day asking to reschedule. If you don’t hear back immediately, give it a couple of days before trying again.
Use Software as Your Ally
We know that B2B cold calling works, but that it takes more than a few calls to land the sale. We know that great salespeople take notes to remember each prospect’s needs and address previously discussed concerns. And we know that while many sales calls are scheduled, some are not. Basically, there’s a lot going on in B2B sales.
Between your emails, phone calls, and 70 daily voicemail messages, there’s plenty of information to keep straight—and that’s before you add in social media and SMS outreach efforts, and the stress of dealing with changing contacts and gatekeepers. Geez, just reading it all is overwhelming enough.
When sales prospecting, be it through cold calling or any other method, a well-built CRM is a necessity for keeping track of changes, past contacts, and those invaluable conversations that eventually lead to a closed deal.
The right CRM matters, and Close is one of the best for sales teams—especially if you're constantly calling, emailing, and prospecting. Close works across all of your channels, and has integrations pre-built for your most common daily work tools, like Gmail, Zoom, DocuSign, and so many more.
Close goes even further with an innovative approach to tracking your pipeline health for better sales forecasting and goal alignment. You can create a pipeline health analysis to keep you focused on the deals with the highest likelihood of closing.
Cold calling is not easy, but it is incredibly effective and valuable. Having the right sales call platform behind you can make all the difference in closing more deals, faster. See the sales difference over the next two weeks with a free Close trial.