Cold Calling Advice From a 16-Year Sales Vet

Talking to people on the phone is easy, right?

In a world enamored by text, phone calls aren't as common as they used to be, making it all the more awkward when you have to run outbound calls as part of your job. Add in prospect resistance, and you've got a recipe for a very difficult day.

But cold calling still offers an amazing opportunity to drive leads, which is why most B2B businesses still practice it regularly.

So, how do you succeed?

To get expert cold calling advice, our VP of marketing Nadia Milani sat down with Tom Slocum, a 16-year sales veteran and GTM consultant at The SD Lab. He shared some smart tips to guide you no matter your experience or comfort level.

Keep reading for the top highlights from our recent installment of The Closing Show Live or watch the full video.

(Or, skip to minute 24:02 to hear playbacks and reviews of real cold calls.)

Tom Slocum's expert cold calling advice

Acknowledge prospect resistance

Admit it. When your prospects say they're not interested, they have good reason. You probably haven't even gotten to your value prop yet or even had a chance to give them a reason to listen.

Rather than try to fight their resistance, acknowledge it.

Tom recommends responding to that lack of interest with something like this:

“I understand. I cold called you out of the blue. I wouldn't be interested either in what's been shared thus far. Do you mind if I explain a little bit more about exactly why I called you? And then we can figure out if you’d like to hear more. Or better yet, do you want me to send you an email with a little bit more information and I'll touch base with you another day?” - Tom Slocum, Sales Consultant at The SD Lab

Or, try this variation:

“I get it. You might not be interested in what I’ve shared thus far. I get this often, but hey, the reason I was giving you a call is I saw your post around XYZ and, is that a priority within the org right now?” - Tom Slocum, Sales Consultant at The SD Lab

Either way, by accepting their resistance, you might put your prospect in a more receptive mood.

Use uncertainty to your advantage

You have no idea if the person on the other end of the line is interested or is even a fit for what you're offering. So if you feign confidence, it'll likely be off-putting.

By listening back to his own cold calls, Tom has found that uncertainty is a winning trend. Try weaving a little bit of that natural unsureness into your tone of voice, like this:

“What I do at The SC Lab is to help early stage companies like yourself work on XYZ. Is that a priority for you right now? Is that something that’s really top of mind?” - Tom Slocum, Sales Consultant at The SD Lab

Approach your calls with a curious mindset so it feels more like a conversation, not an interrogation or a pitch.

Lead the call (without being obvious about it)

It's important to keep conversations on track while still letting the prospect talk about what matters to them. You want the prospect to feel empowered. To achieve this tricky feat, use a choose-your-own-adventure approach.

You might say something like:

“Hey, based on your post and this event you've got going on, I can tell that cold calling might be something you guys are focusing on. Tell me about that. Where is it that you see you're struggling?” - Tom Slocum, Sales Consultant at The SD Lab

You're leading the conversation, but in a slightly open-ended way.

Know when to go for quantity over quality

Sometimes, it’s okay to choose quantity (volume) over quality (personalization). A focus on volume might be useful for certain business models and target audiences. And it's always helpful when you’re new to cold calling.

Tom puts it like this:

“I think a high volume of calls is important in the beginning because I encourage everyone to fail hard and fail fast in the first 90 days. Rip the bandaid, and get in as many convos as you can, get as many failures as you can, objections as you can. And know that you’re going to be better after each one.” - Tom Slocum, Sales Consultant at The SD Lab

Try the bucket system to prioritize your personalization

But after you've gotten through 90 days of focusing on call volume, you should prioritize which prospects deserve a personalized approach.

Consider this advice:

“What I teach SDRs is prioritization and bucketing. And so your top tiers are getting that personalization and you're putting in that research. For your top accounts, use the three-by-three or five-by-five method, meaning you’re sharing three pieces of prepared information in under three minutes or five pieces under five minutes. For your lower tiers, you're doing more persona-based outreach. You’re outreaching around the problem and the solution.” - Tom Slocum, Sales Consultant at The SD Lab

Tom also recommends taking excellent notes in your CRM on what outbound techniques you used and what value props you covered. This will not only help you track lead conversations, but it will help you hone your cold calling skills.

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Cold Calling Advice From a 16-Year Sales Vet

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