There are many things salespeople despise about cold calling – like hearing the word ‘no’, ‘Can I take a message?’, or the dial tone.
Cold calling is both a science and an art, which means there a hundred different ways to get it absolutely wrong. Chances are, you’ve already discovered a few highly effective strategies for getting yourself on some of your leads’ blacklists.
To help you sharpen your tactics and close more deals, here are the most common ways startup founders and B2B pros are sabotaging their sales calls.
We’ve said this once and we’ll say it again. Never pitch right out the gate.
Going straight for the jugular will only result in your pitch being rejected so fast you’ll still be reeling from the whiplash after you’ve hung up. If a total stranger stood in your way while you were rushing to work and tried to sell you on their latest product, you would probably have a few choice words for them too.
Go slow, take your time and let the message sink in before you reach for their wallet.
Just as with successful B2B marketing campaigns, the secret is in the build-up. Start with researching what they want, what they care about, what they wish could stop happening, and so on.
If you don’t understand their problem well enough then you won’t know how best to pitch your product as the solution. You’ll essentially be throwing darts in the dark, and that’s no way to grow a business.
According to Close.io, you’ll have a much better chance of getting the right answers that lead to the pitch by avoiding yes and no questions. You want to avoid the prospect from saying ‘no’ at all.
Ask questions like, ‘What is your biggest challenge right now?’ rather than ‘Are you interested in reducing staff costs?’ This way you can position yourself as a helpful consultant and not a clueless salesperson desperate to meet their quota.
Keep asking questions until you reach the point where you can genuinely say, ‘You know, I think I have something that can help you.’ And that’s when you can jump into your pitch.
Talking price before giving value
Ever had a prospect hit you with ‘What does it cost?’ much too early in the conversation?
This is a particularly tricky one during B2B sales calls. You know you shouldn’t give away the price before understanding your prospect or establishing the value of what you’re offering.
But they asked, so you feel pressured to respond. Except no matter what your price point is, giving it away prematurely will always be the final nail in your coffin.
Before even thinking about the price, your prospect should be engaged with questions that feed you relevant insights. A few key things you need to know include:
- Are they a small, medium or enterprise-sized prospect?
- What do they want or need?
- What’s their budget?
- How much value could your solution create for them?
Once you have that, you’ll be able to redirect their concerns about the price to excitement over the potential ROI. At this point, your price should no longer be an issue. However, if they still find it ‘too expensive’, then you need to work on communicating value more effectively.
Falling for the ‘Send me more information’ line
If you haven’t had this line used on you as an escape card before, then you’re not in sales. Prospects who want to interrupt the sales conversation without bluntly cutting you off tend to say something along the lines of, ‘Can you send me some more information? I’ll review it and get back to you.’
You thank them, hang up, send them an email and then…nothing. Maybe you’ll send a sheepish follow-up or two, then pronounce the lead dead. (Speaking of which, learn how to instantly reheat your cold leads here.)
Don’t let it get to this point. When the conversation is just getting started, you don’t know enough about them to send a personalised email that actually converts, meaning you’ll be only be sending them a generic message that they will gladly delete.
So, what can you do?
First, don’t let them off the hook just yet. Ask them for an email to send the information to, then ask the following question: I want to make sure that I send you the most relevant information. Can you tell me if your company is more interested in __________ or __________?
Now you actually have something to go on. You can keep asking them easy qualifying questions like this to move the sale further, until: 1) You’ve both realised there is real potential in continuing the relationship, or 2) They ask you to send the information anyway. In either scenario, you’ll be better equipped to send a tailored email that may actually hit the mark.
Calling the wrong person
One of the keys to B2B sales is reaching out to the prime person for your solution. As a sales rep, it’s on you to do the research so you’re not flying blind when talking to a prospect.
Tentatively asking, ‘Who’s the best person for this conversation?’ will likely get you flung over the dreaded gatekeeper. Although there are certain tactics to get past the gatekeeper, ideally you don’t engage with them in the first place.
People change roles, interests shift, company conditions change, and you should verify it all before picking up the phone. One way of gathering this information is by using Triggr, a SaaS platform that filters data to help B2B sales teams identify, engage and connect with their target buyer personas at scale.
All it takes is a few clicks and you’ll be on track to ring up the right prospects, make more sales and close more deals. (Try it for free here or ask us about the special discount just for startups.)
In the meantime, if you’re not entirely sure about the person you’re talking to, you can politely ask them to confirm their current position before you dig into the sales conversation.
Most of the time, they’ll either say yes or admit they’ve switched roles but can intro you to whoever is doing it now. Then all you need to do is be respectful, listen more than you talk and avoid the rest of the blunders mentioned in this post.
At this point, you already know better than most B2B sales reps out there. So loosen your shoulders, fine-tune your sales script, do the research and go out and start crushing your meeting quota.