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Cold Calling is Back, Baby!

Apr 1, 2021
Author: collin stewart

Kevin Gilman, a recent guest on the Predictable Revenue Podcast, has always disagreed with the sentiment that cold calling was dead in the first place. We chatted to him about what makes the phone one of his strongest challenges now, what made it strong back when we said it wasn’t, and why it will always be one of the most effective ways to book a meeting. 

ORGANIZATION

Long before you start doing research on your prospects or preparing to make that first dial, you need to nail organization. How you do it doesn’t matter – there is endless content and thought leadership available detailing the myriad ways you could go about it – just find what’s best for you.

For Kevin, that’s breaking his accounts up into tiers. His top hundred accounts occupy the top tier and the less and less valuable accounts occupy the remaining tiers in descending order, the fourth tier filled with the not-so-important accounts. 

Those top accounts are the whales. The year-changers. So it follows that the prospects from these accounts are the ones you should spend the most time and energy on. Kevin digs anywhere he can to find a direct line or mobile number, get referrals, and find any and every nugget of information on them that he may be able to use to grab their attention.

RESEARCH & PERSONALIZATION

Another ever-polarizing topic in the sales thought leadership community is personalization. Should we personalize? Should we automate? Is it possible to personalize at scale? What’s personalization without relevance?

Kevin believes that you need to know when to personalize and when not to personalize. With his top prospects, he personalizes, and he uses anything he can. Anything vacations they took to the sports their kids play, to what they did last weekend is fair game.

Kevin looks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok – and you can bet he’ll be on whatever platform emerges next. And he disagrees with the idea that the content you use in your personalization has to relate to your value proposition. When it’s easy or possible to do that, that’s great. But mostly, Kevin is using personalization as a tactic to grab a prospect’s attention and stand out in their inbox.

As for the best time to do all this research on your prospects: Kevin maintains that the most efficient way to do it is right at the beginning, on import. You’ve organized your accounts and you have your top tier identified? Research all the prospects in that account and add the notes to your CRM or enablement tool as you import them. That way you can refer back to your research at every stage of the funnel.

STRUCTURE

The most important thing to keep in mind is, Kevin says, that the person on the other end of the line is human. So, logically, Kevin’s conversations are very friendly, casual, and to the point. 

Opener: “Hey {{first name}}, how are you?”

Value prop: “{{first name}}, this is why I called. I head up sales for {{company}}, and we do a great job at {{solving x problem}}. As a {{title}}, I imagine that’s what you’re trying to do. 

Ask for permission: “Do you have 25 seconds so I can break down for you what other companies like yours have done with us in the past?”

If the answer is yes, Kevin recommends you pretend you are on a covert military operation and you get in and get out. Once you get that go-ahead to make your case, look everywhere for a nugget of information you can use to hook your prospect then book the meeting and get out. Even if you don’t book the meeting on the phone, circle back via email with some of the information you just learned to make your case again.

If the answer is no, call back tomorrow.

NAVIGATING GATEKEEPERS

Much like with prospects, your manner with a gatekeeper should be a friendly one. And you have more of a chance with a gatekeeper before they’ll block your number (most of the time) because they’re used to getting bombarded with phone calls all day. So call every day, and chip away at them bit by bit. Research them before you call back so you can stand out and gain their trust.

They may not send you through to the decision-maker, but more often than not Kevin finds that they will give you valuable information if you ask. Then, you can email your decision-maker and mention what you’ve learned to see if it piques their interest.

OBJECTION HANDLING

Objection handling comes down to the objection. The first hurdle is deciphering whether an objection is genuine, or simply a brush-off. If it’s genuine, ask if it’s okay to check back with the prospect quarterly to see if things have changed. But if it’s not – meet it head-on. Here are some of Kevin’s top performers.

Objection: “I have your information, I’ll read your email and call you back if I’m interested.”

Response: “To be frank with you, {{first name}}, I’ve been in this game for a while and nobody ever calls back when they say that. I understand now isn’t the right time – can I call you put you in a nurture campaign and check back with you every so often?”

Objection: “I’m in the middle of a meeting.” Or “I’m about to get on a plane.” (Or something to that effect.)

Response: “You picked up the phone in the middle of a meeting?” After their response, let them go and follow up with an email right away referencing the conversation and what they were doing when you called. 

Objection: The early, before the prospect even understands what you’re calling about “not interested.”

Response: “How can you not be interested, you don’t even know what I do!” If they keep meeting you with follow-up objections then say “That’s okay, I caught you at a bad time. Is it okay if I call you again next week?”

VOICEMAILS

Kevin leaves a voicemail after every call. In his opinion, it’s another touchpoint. It’s another opportunity for the prospect to hear your voice, your name, your company name, and remember you. 

Another strategy that has increased Kevin’s response rates dramatically is the email immediately after the phone call. If you leave a voicemail, you can send an automated follow-up here. If they answer, you can tailor it.

CONCLUSION

A lot of people thought cold calling was dead. Hell, the Predictable Revenue book even said it! But, in a sales landscape quickly becoming saturated with more and more tech, many reps are realizing that the phone is, in spite of it all, the fastest and most effective tool for booking meetings.

But, as Kevin Gilman says, all sales is just a numbers game and no strategy will work 100% of the time. So if you haven’t been taking advantage of the phone: give it a go, stick with it, try new things, and diversify your tactics to get in front of your prospects.

EDITOR’S NOTES:

More on cold call strategy:

The Cold Call and Cold Email: Part 1 of Predictable Revenue’s Outbound Sales Learnings from 2018

Cold Calling Archives

How to Nail The First 30 Seconds of The Cold Call: In Conversation With Rex Biberston

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