Many inside sales reps at B2B companies are regularly faced with the daunting task of calling a list of leads that haven’t been touched in a while. Anyone who has worked their way down a calling list is no stranger to the click of a phone hanging up, followed by the “dialtone of death.” But even when leads sound angry or annoyed, it’s important to understand what’s driving that response: fear of the unknown.
From the time that we’re children, we’re all taught to fear strangers. As such, familiarity is one of the most powerful forces in B2B Sales. If you’re calling a new lead, you need to, in a matter of seconds, convey that you aren’t a diabolical stranger in a black trench coat driving around in a van with no windows (or worse: a stereotypical, smarmy salesperson). Instead, you need to quickly get your prospect to see you as a potential partner who wants to provide them with an opportunity. This requires mastering the art of establishing instant familiarity.
Sound challenging? It should. Let’s not mince words – the cold call is one of the most challenging tasks that a sales rep can be faced with. If you say the wrong thing, you’ll find yourself breaking more than the ice.
Here are five tips to help you heat up your cold calls and get to a “yes.”
In B2B Sales, knowledge really is power. Even spending a couple of minutes looking up a prospect in Google or LinkedIn can make a huge difference. If you don’t do your research it can not only waste your time, but make you—and your company—seem out of the loop. According to Robert Minskoff who runs a Minskoff Growth Strategies, B2B Lead Generation Company in Atlanta, “People move, companies get bought, and go out of business. There’s nothing worse than calling a company and asking for someone only to find out they are gone, fired or dead. You are automatically relegated to amateur status.” So if you find yourself wondering if you have time to quickly research your prospects, you should instead ask yourself this – can you really afford not to research them?
One way to help establish familiarity is to email your prospect in advance. The email should introduce yourself and your company. It should also provide a link to some helpful content like a blog post or a whitepaper that can bolster your credibility. In the email, you can let a prospect know that you are going to be calling them next week and ask if they have a preferred time. This tactic is powerful because it can help you qualify leads. The leads that really aren’t interested will write you back and tell you. You can then prioritize the leads that want to schedule a time. But even those that don’t respond at all should still be called. And when you do, you can establish quick familiarity by saying that your call is “regarding the email.” This tactic can be used to help get past gatekeepers.
If a prospect instantly thinks, “this person is calling to sell me something,” you’re likely to meet resistance. Instead, it can help to have a different “reason” for calling. Robert Minskoff suggests calling to establish yourself as a new point of contact. “Something I have used in the past is; ‘we recently had a long time CSR/Salesperson leave and I was going through some of their contacts and your name came up.'” Whether or not you have done business with your prospect’s company in the past, it establishes a sense of history and helps to immediately build rapport.
Establishing mutual connections is a great way to establish “social proof.” Just imagine that you’re at a work conference. Who will you be more inclined to trust, someone who just approaches you out of the blue or someone that a colleague personally introduces you to? LinkedIn can be a goldmine of B2B sales data that you can use to establish mutual connections.You can see if a sales prospect is in one of your groups or if you have mutual contacts. You can even use LinkedIn to get “introduced” to prospects by those mutual connections.
Too many B2B salespeople just try to spew out as much information as possible during cold calls, hoping that something will stick. But sometimes the best way to establish rapport with a lead is to demonstrate interest in them. By and large, people don’t like to leave questions unanswered. That being said, asking the right questions can be an excellent way to turn a sales call into a dialog.
Geoffrey James, author of Business Without Bullsh*t, recommends that after an initial introduction, skipping small talk to instead asking thought-provoking questions. One example: “I noticed from your LinkedIn bio that you used to work in the telecom industry. What was the biggest challenge that you faced, as an executive, moving into a new industry?” Researching prospects can help you identify which questions to ask.
Our inside sales solutions help inside sales reps gain an instant understanding of their leads. RingDNA can quickly deliver a reps’ social media data from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, sales history, company news and more, before an outbound or inbound call. The result is that reps can slash call prep time.
Jesse WestDirector of Lifecycle MarketingringDNA
Jesse Davis West is Director of Lifecycle Marketing at ringDNA, focusing on improving the experience and maximizing the lifetime value for customers across their entire journey. Drawing on 9 years of B2B marketing experience, Jesse is passionate about communication, branding and strategic marketing. He also plays a mean lead guitar and can throw down at karaoke.