There is an ongoing debate among business leaders about whether or not cold calling is worth the effort. While some seem to think that the days of cold calling are over (or should be), others believe that cold calling is still a useful tool when used alongside other marketing techniques, and when done right.

In order to do it right, you have to think about more than what you are going to say when you finally reach a prospect. Preparation before the call, and planning for how and when to make the call are also important. Use the following strategies to increase your success with cold calls:

Before Calling

  • Do your research – Finding out what you can about your prospect and his or her company is important, because it will let your prospect know that you are interested. It will also tell you whether or not the prospect is the right target for your product or service. A few minutes of homework can make all the difference when you connect.
  • Have a great opening – Developing a great opening is essential. When you have your prospects on the phone, you want to be able to get right to the point, giving them a solution for an aspect of their business that is challenging. This is one part of your calling that should be practiced and perfected.
  • Have a clear objective – Decide what your ultimate goal is for your call, and keep that goal in mind when you speak to your prospect. Having a clearly defined objective keeps you on track and leads to success.
  • Be prepared for objections – Make a list of the possible objections you might hear from prospects and come up with ways to overcome them. Be as thorough as possible, so that you are able to address prospects’ concerns and offer solutions.

Making the Call

  • Develop a cadence – Working out the rhythm of your calls will likely take you some time, but it is worth the effort. Track your attempts for all cold calls, your successes, and do some analyzing (or use software that does this for you). You will likely be able to determine what your most effective cadence is. It may be calling every day for four consecutive days, or it may be calling once a week for a couple of weeks. Whatever it turns out to be, use it to boost your connections.
  • Engage the gatekeepers – The prospects you are looking to connect with will probably have at least one, maybe more, staff members that you have to get through to reach them. Engaging with those gatekeepers can make it easier to get through the gate. While you don’t want to waste time by giving your spiel to someone who is not a decision maker, you also don’t want to alienate the person who is your way in.
  • Be persistent – Cold calling requires persistence and patience. Don’t let unanswered calls or unreturned messages frustrate you, realize that they are a part of the nature of sales, and continue to work your way toward success.

When You Connect

  • Don’t use scripts – This strategy is debated, because some sales leaders think that using scripts is a necessity. Scripts may be useful for training purposes, but cold call conversations are more successful when they feel natural to the prospect, instead of like they are being read. Practice and preparation are the key to working without a script.
  • Don’t overwhelm – Prospects do not want to be inundated with information the first time they talk to you. Use the first call to introduce yourself and your product, and ask a few open-ended questions, but don’t be overly pushy. That will likely turn them off right away, decreasing your chances of doing business with them in the future.
  • Watch your tone of voice – You’ve likely heard the saying that customers can hear a smile through the telephone. It’s true. So make sure that your tone of voice is friendly, cheerful and helpful.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask – The key to sales is to ask, so don’t be shy. But do be genuine, open, and honest. When you ask in that manner, your prospect will be more inclined to respond in the same way.

Cold calling doesn’t have to be as intimidating and frustrating as many think it is. Do not forget to use your favorite Sales CRM to track your progress. Using the above strategies will help you and your team make more connections, which will undoubtedly increase your sales and your bottom line.

Jami Deloe