Telephone Prospecting: The Complete Guide

cold calling has a bad press. For many, it is a technique of the past that is no longer of much interest in the age of inbound marketing. However, in reality, cold calling still works, sometimes even very well. For many companies - start-ups, SMEs or even large groups - cold calling continues to be the main lead generation tool.

Cold calling can be very effective if the right methods are used. You can't do cold calling like in the 1990s. The world has changed, you have to adapt your methods.

Discover 20 simple and effective tips for becoming a cold calling ace.

#1 Should I use a sales script?

The answer is undoubtedly yes. There are several benefits to this. Firstly, it forces you to take the time to work on your sales pitch, to structure it and make it clear. It also makes it easier for your salespeople to improve their skills and to polish your sales pitch gradually thanks to their feedback. A script also makes it possible to homogenise your company's discourse, regardless of the salesperson who represents it. In short, there are only advantages to establishing a sales script.

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#2 How to create the sales script?

To create your sales script, we advise you to take inspiration from several models and to start from a template by adapting it to your needs. You will find several templates on the internet. We have compiled a list of 7 examples of cold calling scripts. Feel free to have a look!

#3 Modeling the call flow

To be effective in your cold calling, we advise you to structure the call in advance. You must know, even before you have the prospect on the phone, how the call will go. Not in great detail of course, that is impossible and not desirable, but at least in its main stages. This work of structuring beforehand will make it easier for you to control the course of the telephone exchange and to take the prospect where you are going.

Here are the classic steps in a cold call:

  • Presentation and introduction
  • Questions to get to know the prospect and their needs.
  • The presentation of your commercial offer (your pitch).
  • Managing objections.
  • The conclusion with call-to-action.

You need to prepare for each of these steps.

#4 You must anticipate your prospects' objections

Identify the 4 or 5 main objections that your target customers are likely to have to your offer during telephone conversations. Once you have identified these objections, think about how to respond to them so that you are not caught off guard when you are on the phone with your prospects. The ability to handle objections is probably the most difficult part of prospecting. You need to take the time to prepare for it.

#5 "Can you send me more information? How to respond to this request?

"Could you send me some more information? I'll look at it and let you know / get back to you". This question is the most innocuous technique a prospect uses to end a sales conversation. A salesperson who is not sufficiently experienced will tend to answer "Sure! I'll send you this", then send an email with the documents and...nothing. After two or three unsuccessful reminders, the salesperson finally gives up. A lost lead.

When a prospect asks this question, it usually means that they are not interested in your offer. If you are faced with this situation, take the opportunity to bounce back and ask your prospect for more information. Ask them new questions and explain that this is so that you can send them the most relevant information/materials. This technique can sometimes get your prospect back on track and prolong the conversation.

#6 The sales pitch should not be deployed too early

This is a very common mistake. Many salespeople tend to deploy their sales pitch too early in the conversation, i.e. before they have even asked the prospect about their needs. To be effective, the sales pitch must be adapted to the prospect's needs. You must therefore first question them. Before talking about yourself, you must listen to your prospect, his needs, his challenges, his objectives... More generally, avoid overly commercial approaches, such as canvassing, and be subtle in the way you sell. Before being a commercial conversation, a prospecting call must be a human exchange, between two humans.

#7 How do you capture your prospect's attention?

Once you have the prospect on the phone, how do you get their interest and keep their attention? It's not enough to talk to them, they have to listen. Some people, by their charisma, succeed every time and naturally in hypnotizing their audience. If you are not that kind of person, you need to take the time to learn the mechanisms that keep your audience's attention. Here are three tips:

  • Emphasise the important points, to make your speech stand out.
  • Tell the other person when you are about to say something important.
  • Ask the prospect questions, to get them to be "in it" and have an attentive mind.

Dicaprio Cold Calling Advice

#8 Never multitask while on the phone

cold calling can easily become a mechanical routine. It's normal, many calls are similar and you often have to repeat the same things, face the same objections, etc. So some people tend to do several things at once during their calls: tidy up their desk, prepare a coffee, even look at their email box or play games! This is a profound mistake. The quality of your prospecting depends on your ability to stay focused throughout the call. This is the only way to really listen to your prospects and to deploy a personalised sales pitch. When you're not "in it", it's noticeable...and it doesn't produce the best effect.

#9 How to recover from a failed sales call?

It is inevitable that you will miss sales calls, sometimes badly. It's impossible to make every call, no matter how well prepared you are. No one is immune to being confronted by a rude, dismissive prospect who is using the call to vent. This kind of unpleasant situation should not make you lose confidence. Following a failed call :

  • Leave your desk for a moment and take a 5 - 10 minute break.
  • Have a coffee.
  • Get some fresh air outside.
  • Take a step back from what has happened.
  • Back at your desk, take 5 minutes: play a game, listen to your favourite music of the moment. Do something to clear your mind.
  • Talk to your colleagues about this mishap to free yourself from negative emotions.
  • Use this bad experience to identify areas where you can improve, where you have not been at your best.

#10 You need to improve your answering machine messages

A telephone sales representative leaves an average of 70 messages on the answering machine per day, with an average time of one minute per message. That's about 25 hours per month. This is far from negligible.

Most of the time, the messages left on the answering machine are of a poor standard, full of hesitation, poorly articulated. Prospects often have to listen to the message several times to understand what it is about or to note the salesperson's telephone number. This discourages many prospects, who end up deleting the message without ever calling back.

To avoid wasting time, try to improve. You can always improve. A message left on the answering machine should be able to arouse the interest of the caller. That is its only purpose. If the prospect is not interested, they will not call back.

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#11 A tip: pre-recording voice messages

Many, many times when you dial a number, you get an answering machine. That's the game. And there's nothing more tedious than having to repeat the same words to a machine every time. To make your life easier, save time and increase efficiency, why not pre-record a perfect message and trigger it every time you get an answering machine by pressing a simple button? There are a number of tools that make this very easy. Why not do it yourself?

#12 Calling prospects who have opened your email

It is always possible and wise to combine email and telephone in a cold calling approach. If you send out prospecting emails and track the opens with youremailing software, one technique is to call back by phone all prospects who have opened the email. This technique allows you to concentrate your efforts on prospects who have shown some form of interest in your offer.

#13 Talk value before you talk price

When you are on the phone with a prospect and they ask you for your prices, don't give the answer right away unless you have already clearly stated the value of your product or service.

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#14 3 questions to ask yourself before picking up the phone

Many salespeople think that the deal is done once the prospect picks up the phone. This is not true. The deal is done or lost before you even dial the phone. The most important factor in the success of a cold call is the mindset you have when you dial the number. Before you even pick up the phone, ask yourself three simple questions:

  • What is the reason for my call? What is my motivation for contacting this prospect? What is the motivation?
  • What is my goal? What do I want to achieve?
  • How will I achieve my goal?

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#15 "I don't have time": how to react to this reaction?

Unless the building in which the prospect you have on the phone is on fire, usually an "I don't have time" is synonymous with "I'm not interested in your offer" or "goodbye". After all, if the prospect really didn't have time, they simply wouldn't have bothered to pick up the phone.

No one is prepared to respond to this kind of reaction from the other person. "I don't have time" is an objection that is not easy to counter. What can you say? However, an experienced salesperson can use this objection to move the conversation forward. When a prospect tells you that he or she doesn't have time, it's the ideal moment to bring out the heavy artillery and present the main benefit of your product in a few words. This often gets the discussion going again.

#16 The two main techniques for becoming a professional cold caller

If you want to become an ace at cold calling, there are two foolproof techniques, both based on experience:

  • Make as many calls as possible. Spend a day, two days or a whole week making hundreds of calls to practice. Intensive practice is the best way to learn quickly.
  • Record the calls, listen to them again, analyse them and also play them back to your colleagues for feedback. This will allow you to identify areas of improvement for the future and allow you to take a step back from your practice.

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#17 How to deal with hostile or aggressive prospects?

Your prospect has lost his mind. He is shouting at you, making ridiculous demands. Your ears are ringing, your head hurts. After a while, you can't take it anymore, you hang up. Anyone would have done the same. Except that this is not the right approach. The best way to deal with aggressive or malicious prospects is to stay calm, to remain friendly while keeping control of the conversation by making it clear to the prospect that you are the expert, that they should trust you. This is what the Anglo-Saxons call "friendly-strength". Act in the same way as a doctor being attacked by a patient in pain or fear. Show empathy while asserting yourself as the person in charge.

#18 How do you get reluctant prospects to talk?

The success of your call depends on your knowledge of the prospect's situation, on your ability to adapt your speech to their needs and expectations. But how can you have this knowledge when you are faced with a prospect who is not very talkative? You must first reassure them, showing them that you are not like other salespeople, that you really want to help them, that you are not just a carpet salesman. Explain that you want to help them, to build a long-term relationship, but that to do so you need to know more about them. Adopt a friendly, sincere tone and at the same time demonstrate your expertise.

#19 The 3 key KPIs for measuring and improving your cold calling performance

Data analysis is like dieting. We know we should do it. We know it would be beneficial. We even know how to do it, but we don't do it. Yet data analysis, tracking your cold calling operations, is the best way to progress and improve your performance.

You don't need to try to make it complicated. There are basically three things you need to track and analyse:

  • Your activity. How many calls did you make? How many emails did you send? How many appointments or trips did you make? Analysing this data will allow you to know how you invest your time and to prepare the other two sets of metrics.
  • Your efficiency. How many decision-makers did you contact? How many of them turned out to be qualified prospects interested in your product? This analysis will allow you to know if you are targeting the right people and to measure the quality of your lead list.
  • Your performance. How many of these decision makers took the next step, testing or buying your product? The ratio analysis will allow you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your sales pitch.

#20 What to do when a prospect hangs up

No one likes to be hung up on, but you don't want a missed call to ruin your day. If this happens, take a deep breath, collect yourself and ask yourself, "Is the outcome different than if I hadn't called?". Put it into perspective. Then, with a clear head, ask yourself why the prospect hung up, what you could have done to avoid it, and what you need to do to prevent it from happening in the future.

To convince you that cold calling is not dead and that it can still be a very effective lever, you should know that it is partly thanks to cold calling that Uber has become what it is today - a behemoth valued at more than 70 billion dollars. Indeed, the founders of Uber used cold calling extensively to validate their initial idea and the concept behind the application. They refined their value proposition using the good old telephone! If cold calling can rhyme with a flourishing startup, it's because the telephone still has a bright future ahead of it!

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