Cold Calling During COVID-19

Cold Calling During COVID-19

If there is one thing more pervasive than COVID-19 right now, it’s the advice on how to deal with COVID-19. Instead of just spinning thought clouds, we decided to look at data, speak with sales-leaders and thoroughly analyze hundreds of sales-calls to see what’s been working during COVID-19. 

Here are 5 changes you need to make to your cold-calling strategy to have meaningful conversations that result in more demos.

#1 Who you call

  1. Clean your lists of desk-phone numbers

This will improve your efficiency significantly by focusing on a list of people more likely to connect with you during this period of WFH.

  1. Create smaller focussed lists
    John Barrows mentioned the problem with lists in his recent webinar; generic lists have too wide a variety of people on them. You’d have to rework your calling script each time you pick up the phone. Instead, making a list of similar people for that cold calling hour, you will sound more confident and relaxed by knowing exactly what it is that you want to say every single time.

#2 Get in the groove

While working remotely this becomes even more important. It is non-negotiable to have a quiet place, the right mindset and of course- all your notes; to feel a 100% on your cold calls. Before your next cold call, try this:

  1. Allocate an hour to cold calling so you are in the groove for it.
  2. Spend the 1st 10 to 15 mins preparing yourself, grab a bottle of water, pep yourself up, and do a few practice pitches e.g. hard-nosed exec., voicemail, and an ACTUAL conversation.
  3. Get a buddy and do a joint cold-calling blitz. This can really accelerate the learning and help your morale when the rejections start flowing in. If you are wondering how to run a good cold calling blitz while being remote check this out.

#3 Know the customer’s vernacular

People in different industries and roles use different languages (I don’t mean English, Spanish, etc.). What you want to do is match their language in complexity, formalness, pace, and structure. This helps them feel you understand them, you do business with others like them and has a big impact in helping them open up. We don’t offer a ‘customer language’ course in Duolingo but here are a few tips:

  • Read a few reports on how their industry has been impacted by COVID-19
  • Keep company news handy
  • How has their messaging evolved due to COVID-19 – an easy way to check this out is to track the changes to their website since Jan this year. Wayback machine can help you do this pretty easily.
  • Spend time reading content posted by the company and/or your prospect. You could use Grammarly to determine the tone of the content and Crystal to understand your prospect’s style.

One of our customers discovered through Wingman that the words they choose to set up a demo impacted the no-show rates for demos by as much as 50%! This is perhaps the strongest reason to have a cold calling script and follow it.

#4 Treat objections as opportunities

You are likely to encounter 1 of the 3 most common objections in 80% of your calls – ‘not interested’ / ‘no budget’ / ‘bad timing’. You should treat them as part of your script and be ready with responses.

Based on analysis of thousands of calls across Wingman’s customers we know that in 1 out of every 6 calls you will encounter the dreaded “not interested” objection. Most sales reps give up and end the conversation with a polite thank you at this stage. This is your opportunity to shine and distinguish yourself from the pack. You can read more about the exact script to handle this here.

Here are a few strategies that you can test out:

  1. Coach them – the fundamental belief in coaching is that the coach has the tools and skills to deal with the situation. They don’t need someone else to tell them “here is what you should do”, they instead want to discover their own answers and reasons. Don’t just say “I understand what you are saying” instead show them that you understand them.
  2. Use humor – when you hear the ‘budgets are frozen’ on your next call perhaps you could respond with ‘yeah looks like budgets are frozen more than the arctic ice-caps’. Ok humor isn’t my strong suite but you get the idea. If you are looking for some fun you could get your sales-team trained for humor by someone like Jon.
  3. Step back to make progress – switch off your selling mindset and instead listen and repeat their objection back at them. Gently ask for a future time if this seems like a time-based objection and move on.

#5 Don’t hang up because they can’t buy

When life serves you lemons, make lemonade- COVID-19 hasn’t been a bed of roses but there are 2 upsides to the current situation:

  1. It’s global: never before in our living history has there been a single unifying theme across humanity. Building rapport in a manner that is meaningful hasn’t been as easy ever before.
  2. Emotions are running high: people are able to empathize with others and there is a good chance your buyer will be in this frame of mind “I know you are cold calling because it is your job and your job probably got a lot tougher due to COVID-19. But really there isn’t anything I can buy right now”

If you assume that most of your buyers will be in this frame of mind, what would you do differently on your calls? Try this:

  1. Build a relationship: people are more open to having a conversation in today’s world and without the pressure of trying to close every prospect; this is a great time to develop your relationship-muscle
  2. Ask for help: See if they might be willing to share some information that could help your prospecting efforts. E.g. when will budgets open again, are they evaluating other tools, do they know some business in their network that has been positively impacted, offer a ‘gift’ that could be mutually beneficial (e.g. results of a survey and ask their inputs on those questions to add to your survey database)

On your next cold call if someone says “We don’t need this right now, but I will reach back out when we do” what is going to be your response? If you’d like to test out different responses and see which one wins more often, do check out Wingman.

Shruti Kapoor

Shruti Kapoor

Shruti is co-founder and CEO at Wingman.

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