Cold calling can be one of the most daunting elements of a sales person’s job, but it is an inescapable part of the sales function that can be enormously effective when utilised properly. While newer technologies and techniques have been employed by many organisations to generate leads, cold calling is still instrumental in prospecting and marketing, establishing a human connection that can be lost when using other means of reaching out. Though research suggests it takes an average of eight calls to reach a prospect, 92% of all customer interactions occur over the phone, according to Salesforce, meaning the cold call is something you can’t afford to ignore in your sales team.

Here’s how to help your team make more successful cold calls:

Define what ‘good’ looks like

In order to train others on your team to make more successful cold calls, you need to define what success looks like for your team and organisation. Is it the end result – a contact, appointment, prospect or sale? Or is it about the sales person’s confidence, warmth and personal connection? Take the time to write down the identifiers of a successful cold call and what steps sales people can take to achieve this. A clear, consistent process is crucial when it comes to teaching others how to make positive phone connections, so prepare tools such as call scripts, common objections and ways to overcome them, call structure steps and key questions to help you coach your team. Make sure all sales people are aligned on what a successful cold call entails and how they can conduct one.

Brainstorm your customer with your team

Brainstorming the types of people your business sells to is a great way to get your team into the mindset of their customer. With 51% of sales leaders now focusing on increasing customer retention through deeper relationships, it’s apparent that personalising cold calling is the way forward when it comes to making meaningful connections. Discuss with your team the role of the people they speak to, what their responsibilities are and what their pain points may be – and how your product or service can remedy that. As a team, you could draw up different personality profiles of typical customers and discuss the best ways to approach each one.

Give them the right tools to help with research

Researching prospective client companies can be arduous and time-consuming for sales people, but it’s a key part of the calling process. Indeed, one of the easiest ways to fail on a cold a call is to go into the process completely cold – that is, with no prior knowledge of the customer you are speaking to. Navigate this by giving your sales team as many tools as possible to help them identify their target market and personalise their interactions accordingly. Things like Google alerts, RSS readers and social searching tools can help to keep an eye on hot lists and prospects – and you should never underestimate the power of LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook when it comes to gleaning key pieces of information. Your marketing automation system may turn up prior interactions customers have had with you, while your CRM should also be mined to ensure sales people aren’t doubling up on messages and actions.

Role play with your team

Practice makes perfect when it comes to many sales processes, and cold calling is no different. Role playing is an effective coaching practice that can help your sales people feel confident and comfortable approaching customers on the phone – and as we all know, a confident sales person is often a successful one. Role play extreme and unexpected situations as well as the common straight forward ones, so sales people feel prepared to deal with whatever is thrown at them. For example, sales people need to know how to deal with stalled deals and unsure prospects, unusual questions, negative feedback and customers who won’t commit. Run through all these scenarios with your team to help them get used to approaching different situations.

Listen to your team and coach them regularly

Coaching is key when it comes to nurturing sales stars, yet less than half of all sales people receive consistent coaching. Make it your mission to ensure your team receive regular training and guidance on making successful cold calls. Once you’ve created a transferrable, proven process for training people on successful cold calls, don’t just leave them to it – check in, listen and provide structured feedback on how your team is doing on the phone and how they could improve their approach. In turn, don’t be afraid to ask your sales people for ideas on how the cold calling process could be enhanced.

Provide incentives and keep it positive

As a sales manager, it’s likely you’ve cut your teeth in the industry cold calling, therefore you know how tough it can be and the rejection your team will likely face. This empathy puts you in an ideal position to keep your team motivated and positive, with regular feedback (constructive and complimentary) to help boost spirits and keep them on track. Incentives can be hugely helpful in this, with 85% of workers feeling more motivated to do their best when an incentive is offered. Whether it’s a free lunch for the top cold caller of the week or an early finish for a great team effort, even small, non-cash incentives can go a long way to encourage extra cold calling effort.

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