It’s been years since those of us in the outbound sales development world first heard the assertion that the “cold call is dead.” And many involved in lead generation agreed.
After all, sending emails (and, more specifically using prospecting software) made it easy to execute routine follow ups and deliver nuanced, well-written messaging.
Why should an SDR spend his or her time calling and leaving messages, or fighting with gatekeepers when they can get their targeted messages right into the inbox of the person they want to sell to? Right? Not quite.
According to veteran sales leader and lead generation consultant Rex Biberston, that now widely accepted adage is the actually the result of SDRs not being prepared for the first few, albeit critical, seconds of a cold call.
“The beginning of a cold call is all about getting permission. That’s where everyone screws up,” says Biberston, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.
“After getting permission, then asking qualifying questions. But, it’s usually the first things you say. Most people screw up right there. I see most people fail right at the beginning.
That’s why they hate it, and that’s why people say cold calling is dead. Well, let’s make it work.”
To do so, Biberston says SDRs have to be prepared to make dozens of calls per day, consistently.
The beginning of effective cold calling is, in fact, getting used to making cold calls. Practice makes perfect, as they say.
“If you are not making 65-85 dials per day, and your primary communication is the phone, you are not having enough conversations,” says Biberston.
“Definitely over 50, please. If you are not doing that. Then you are doing a process that I’m not generally doing.
I would love to just send beautifully crafted emails and set meetings over the phone. But, then, how do I know how to help them? How do I know what they need? That comes with a phone call.”
And each call – specifically the first call to each new prospect – requires some pre-call research. But, stresses Bibertson, pre-call research should be capped at 3-5 minutes.
You have to understand what the company you’re trying to connect with does and be able to mention any interesting news/anecdotes you can find in a quick Google search.
But spending too much time researching will negatively affect an SDRs routine, and result in too few calls being made.
“So, pre-call research for me is pulling up the company’s website, Google news, the person’s Linkedin profile. In B2B sales, you are selling to a person and a company, so you have to connect on that level,” says Biberston.
“If you spend more than 3-5 minutes, you’re wasting your time. You can get lost in the weeds on this. Pre-call research won’t save you if you’re bad at phone calls.”
Best Cold Call Opening Lines
So…you’ve got your pre-call research ready to go, and you’re dutifully making your dozens of dials per day. How does an SDR turn that consistency into meaningful conversations? Biberston says an effective cold call, especially for a novice SDR, is the result of a structured call flow. First, say hello.
Then, introduce yourself and your product, with a concise, easy to understand value prop. It’s at this point, Biberston stresses, that you should ask for permission to continue. If you get it, you have between 2 and 5 minutes to explain your product in more detail.
“If the 30,000-foot view is your value prop, you are now at 15,000 feet,” says Biberston.
“And, make sure you are having a conversation. If the person isn’t asking questions, they’re waiting to hang up. You should be able to know in that two minutes whether or not this is going to go any further. If they ask questions, they are giving you permission to go over the 2 minutes.”
To ensure you get your prospect to ask questions, Biberston says it’s the responsibility of the SDR to probe into how they currently handle the process their product purports to solve.
Once they begin to describe the potential pain point, and SDR can further focus the conversation by including a leading statement such as “a lot of the VPs of sales I’m talking to are struggling with this, this and this…”
“That will help you keep the conversation focused. It is easy to ask big questions, and have the conversation go haywire,” says Biberston. “You don’t want to ask too much.” It’s at this point this point that you’ve reached the qualify or disqualify point of the conversation.
By asking questions, and getting the prospect to discuss their pain (or lack thereof), it’s time to book that demo or thank them for their time. It goes without saying that booking the demo is the preferred outcome of a cold call. But, it doesn’t always end that way.
If the prospect needs to be disqualified, so be it. Forcing demos is, more often than not, a waste of time. “As a young BDR, you think if you can just get to a meeting, and AE can make it work,” says Biberston.
“But that’s not effective.” If you’ve found a qualified candidate, then ask them to open their calendars, and book it in. Move the call for a calendar invite.
You asked for 2 mins, they gave it to you and you found through your the course of your short conversation that you can help.
There should be no problem, at this point, in asking for more time. You’ve earned it.
“Send the calendar invite,” adds Biberston. “And, the day before the meeting, send a quick note, saying ‘hey john, loved chatting with you earlier in the week.
Looking forward to speaking tomorrow. Are we still good?’ People will respond.”
For more on Rex Bibertson’s cold calling techniques, check out his edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.
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