In email prospecting, one of the first things I recommend is that you send yourself a draft before hitting send. That way, you experience what it's like for the prospect you’re emailing – from the perceived length to the content and call to action. You can quickly see where you need to make adjustments to grab your prospect’s attention and get a reply.
But in cold calling, how do you assess if what you’re or your salesperson is doing is right? How do you know it will garner the highest percentage of conversations and appointments with decision makers?
Assess Your Cold Calling
You need a checklist that works well for cold calls, just like you have for emails. Whether you’re the business owner, sales manager or the salesperson, you need a cold calling assessment to determine what’s working and what can be improved.
Many of your best and worst prospecting habits are ones you probably aren’t even aware of until you hear them. They’re the same habits that may be keeping you from getting past gatekeepers or closing more first appointments.
So, how do you assess your cold call effectiveness? That’s simple! Record cold calls!
If you’re cold calling by phone, record your calls over a period of days. If you’re dropping in on prospects and cold calling in person, even those encounters can be recorded. Just start your phone recording app before you walk in the door.
Now you have a library of real cold calls to assess. No simulated role plays required. This is the real stuff.
Listen to the recordings to assess your effectiveness. You’ll cringe at some of the things you’ve said but note the good stuff to use again. It’s probably not all bad. Let’s build on what’s working and increase your results.
What to Assess in Your Cold Calls
Here’s a checklist of 10 things to listen for as you assess your cold calls. Use these questions to make your cold calls more effective.
- Are you opening the call with a compelling value proposition? The better you get at grabbing a prospect's attention during the first few moments of a cold call, the easier time you'll have of closing an appointment.
- Are you talking about business issues? Prospects care most about solutions to their problems, so be sure to frame your call in those terms. Don’t focus on what you do as much as what the issues are that you help solve.
- Do you portray yourself as the expert you are? It's important to be authoritative if you want prospects to trust you with their time, much less their investment.
- Are the suggestions you make, or situations you talk about, accurate? For your discussion to generate interest, it has to focus on a topic that’s important to the prospect and high on the prospect’s value curve.
- Are you listening? No cold call should be a one-way conversation. If you’re doing all the talking, that’s a mistake. Figure out how you can turn your statements into questions and get the prospect engaged.
- Does your voice in still confidence? Is your voice clear and relaxed, or full of “um's” and “ah's?” Are you stuttering and stumbling over your words? Or are you friendly and inviting? Do you sound too pushy or arrogant? Cultivating a confident, interesting voice is important for putting prospects at ease and creating interest in speaking with you.
- Are you handling the objections? Cold calling is full of objections. You have to be able to address prospecting objections from gatekeepers through decision makers. Create a list of the top 5 objections you hear most frequently and how you’ll respond to them. You’ll be prepared when they pop up and your appointment setting ratio will improve drastically.
- Are you building enough interest? Asking for an appointment too quickly is a common cold call mistake. Share enough interesting information that prospects want to set an appointment to have a longer conversation with you.
- Do you ask for referrals to the right contact? Sometimes our research lets us down and the person we think is the right contact is not. But that doesn't have to stop you. Ask for a referral to the right contact, then call and reference your initial call as an introduction.
- Would you return your voicemail? If you're cold calling, you're leaving voicemails. (Or at least you should leave a voicemail!)Practice leaving a voicemail with a compelling message, your email address and clearly spoken return phone number. At the very least, your prospect knows you tried to reach him. At best, your prospect calls back and you set an appointment.
To be effective in cold calling, your answer to every question must be “yes.” Sorry, this isn’t an assessment where 8 out of 10 gives you a passing grade. If you didn’t get 100% correct, then you know where you need to focus your attention.
Assess Your Cold Calling Metrics
I recommend that you record and assess your cold calls quarterly. If you’re in a slump and not setting appointments, do it more frequently.
As you start assessing cold calls, take a look at your metrics. Here’s a rule of thumb for you based on our own clients’ results.
- The average connection rate when you are cold calling by phone is 12%.
- 25% of those connections will convert to qualified opportunities when you are calling your target market with a compelling value proposition based on issues you know the market is experiencing.
That means 1 out of 4 conversations with the right contact will result in an appointment. If you can refine your cold calling, you’ll get past gatekeepers and receptionists more effectively, leave more compelling messages, have more relevant conversations, and close more first appointments.
And who doesn’t want to do all those things?
Improve Your Cold Calling Skills
If after the assessment and listening to some recordings, you believe you or your sales staff would benefit from prospecting training to improve their appointment setting results, let us know. We train reps virtually, one-on-one and in small groups over 10 weeks so they’rebuilding their confidence while establishing new cold calling strategies and habits. Contact us if you’d like to discuss your sales reps’ prospecting situation.
Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the award-winning books “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.