Cold calling is arguably the toughest part of most sales jobs. Depending on the type of role you have the amount of cold calling you’re asked to do varies, but it’s safe to say if you’re in a sales job you’re doing some version of this right now.
When I started my career as a young salesperson in sports at the Phoenix Suns my peers and I did a lot of cold calling. In fact, most of the revenue we generated was a result of those calls. Nowadays I know we have some new tools now to help us initiate sales conversations (LinkedIN, email, etc.) but I still believe cold calling is an important part of the sales process and can separate you from your peers if done correctly.
So the question becomes, how can we become more effective and generate more revenue from our cold calling outreach? Here are some things you can do to make your cold calls a little easier.
1. Create a “call flow” or “sales script” – For Jr. sellers or people struggling with cold calling, you should write out a call script that you can follow on each call. It’s a roadmap to get from point A to point B more efficiently. If you try and “wing it” on these calls you won’t be as convincing. You may come across unprepared and may catch yourself rambling. If you do those things you run the risk of not getting to the next step in the process. If you’re trying to get more comfortable cold calling and/or just starting out I recommend reading right off of the script. There is no better way to say it than the way it is written on the page. It’s like having an open book test where you’re able to bring all the answers. Write out the verbiage you’re most comfortable with and have it with you while you’re making calls, knowing you have that safety net will allow you to feel much more comfortable.
2. Practice – Cold calling is a skill and requires practice. Much like hitters taking batting practice, golfers going to the range and basketball players working on their jumper, you need to develop your sales skills in practice so you can execute when you get on the field and onto a real life sales call. Find peers in the office you can role play with, ask your boss to practice with you or practice together with your team. Be tough on each other but make it realistic. You may struggle through it but that’s ok, it’ll make you better when you get on the phone and do it for real.
3. Get into a call rhythm – Set aside time in your calendar for cold calling. Get a list together of similar type prospects and focus on only those during that time. Once you begin to call the same type of prospects one after the other you begin to feel more comfortable and the calls get easier. You hear similar answers and your verbiage is consistent. Try and avoid calling one person, then doing something else, then coming back and calling a couple different prospects. Set up a list, set time in your calendar and get into a rhythm, it’ll help you be more effective.
4. Warm up – It’s possible that during a cold calling time you won’t get anyone to answer the phone and you won’t have any “real” sales conversations. It’s important to get a couple practice sessions in right before you start making your calls to get your brain and your mind warmed up. The key is to be sharp every time you dial the phone and if no one is answering it’s hard to stay sharp. Whether it’s real conversations or practice ones be sure you’re getting repetitions in so you stay sharp and ready for each call you make.
5. Write out rebuttals to sales objections – One thing is for certain when cold calling.. people are going to say no, “not interested”. Often times you’ll get hit with an objection within the first 90 seconds. The key in dealing with objections is to be succinct and confident with your response and then ask another open ended question to get back on track and back in control of the conversation. In sports sales, the good thing with our objections is that we often get the same 4-5 reasons all the time. Price, time, number of games, team performance and seat location. Write out your responses to these objections and post them up in your cubicle. When you get one, just read your response right off the sheet and keep moving. Don’t try and wing these. Much like the call script, there is no better way to say it than the way you have it written. By having those there you’ll feel much more confident and your calls won’t be as difficult.
6. Focus on your presentation – When you’re cold calling, presentation is king. The way you say it is more important than what you actually say. Energy, enthusiasm, voice inflexion, confidence, tone, pace are all contributing factors to that. By writing out your call script along with your rebuttals you’ll be more comfortable with what to say so you can instead focus on how to best say it. If the content is good, and the delivery is too, you’ve got a great shot and making connections with new prospects over the phone.
7. Keep at it – Starting out, you’re going to struggle, but don’t worry we’ve all been there. Perfecting this skill is very difficult. However, if you stick with it you’ll get more comfortable and confident with each additional call you make. Try and stay consistent with your cold calling blocks and hold yourself accountable to doing it. There is no substitute for experience. Just by making this a part of your regular routine these calls will become much easier and the results will follow.
There is so much more to becoming a great cold-caller and it’s something that you may never perfect, but by doing these things I’m confident you’ll become more comfortable making these calls and over time they’ll get easier and easier. Good luck and happy calling!
Bob Hamer is the President and Founder of Sports Business Solutions and creator of theClubhouse. SBS is a sports business consulting firm specializing in sales training, consulting, and recruiting for teams and properties. They founded the company in 2014 and support more than 100 sports organization clients across the US and Canada. Prior to starting SBS, Bob was the VP of Ticket Sales & Service at the Phoenix Suns. In total he worked 8 years at the Suns, starting as a young salesperson and working his way up. He attended the University of Arizona, and is originally from Orange County, CA. You can email Bob by contacting him at email@example.com. To learn more about Sports Business Solutions you can visit their website here.