In the Gong Labs series, you get fresh research from the analysis of sales conversations with AI. Subscribe here to get insanely great sales tips.
This probably isn’t the first cold calling post you’ve read. They’re all over the place. Google “cold calling tips” to see what I mean.
So why does the world need yet ANOTHER post on cold calling? Here’s why: This one involves hard data.
At Gong.io, we have the largest database of recorded sales calls in the world. At the time of this research, over 100,000 of those were cold calls.
We analyzed those cold calls with AI to identify a slew of data-driven cold calling tips.
Here are the 9 cold calling tips we’ve uncovered through data AND hard-won experience.
(Before you read one: Download our FREE cold calling cheat sheet so you can book more meetings)
ONE: Buy as much time as possible
Once your buyer answers, you have 5 seconds to earn 5 minutes.
Successful cold calls are almost twice as long as unsuccessful cold calls. The longer the call, the greater your odds of getting the meeting:
Your job isn’t JUST to get your prospect’s attention – it’s to hold it.
And here’s your advantage: You’ve had this same conversation hundreds of time. You can predict the conversation “paths,” and how to navigate each one. You have the power to plan every move you’ll make in advance.
Every sentence you utter should get the buyer to listen to your next sentence.
That means you have to be economical and compelling with what you say.
Here’s how to be economical: Pretend you get $100 to remove any unnecessary word from your cold call script.
Which ones would you remove? Gut those.
The rest of this post will show you how to be compelling.
TWO: State your full name and company name
People who introduce themselves with their full name command respect. It sounds like this:
“Hi John, this is Chris Orlob calling from Gong.io…”
Here’s why this works.
FIRST, important people state their full name when you meet them. Not just their first name.
Next time you meet someone new, notice if they introduce themselves that way.
If they do, I’m willing to bet that your respect level for them jumps up a notch (or two).
Again, people who introduce themselves with their full name command respect.
SECOND, when you state your name and your company’s name upfront, you maintain control.
The person who asks the questions controls the conversation.
What happens when you don’t give your name and company name upfront?
Your buyer asks “Who is this?” or “What company are you with?”
When they’re asking the questions, you’re put on the defensive.
THREE: DON’T ask: “Did I catch you at a bad time?”
This is a common way new reps use to open a cold call.
“Hi John, this is Chris Orlob with Gong.io. Did I catch you at a bad time?“
This opening line is recommended by multiple sales books.
Here’s the theory behind it:
People like to say “no,” so they can feel in control.
And when you ask, “Did I catch you at a bad time,” they want to say, “No.”
It opens the door to a successful cold call.
Sounds good in theory, right?
But, in our analysis, opening your cold call with “Did I catch you at a bad time” makes you 40% less likely to book a meeting:
Cold calls that opened with this line had a dismal 0.9% success rate.
Here’s what to do instead.
FOUR: DO ask: “How’ve you been?”
In our dataset of 90,380 cold calls, one opening line stood above the rest:
“How have you been?”
It came in at 6.6X higher success rate than the baseline:
Cold calls using this question boasted a 10.01% success rate.
I know what you’re thinking:
Chris, wasn’t the success rate due to a previous interaction?
I get why you’d think that. “How have you been?” implies there was a previous interaction. But this isn’t the case – the data set was exclusively first interactions (hence the term “cold call”).
So, why does this question work so well?
It’s an unexpected, pattern interrupt that scrambles the prospect’s brain (in a good way).
Even if you’ve never talked to the person before, you can plausibly ask that question to a perfect stranger.
Sure, it may sound like you’ve met before, but you’ll be surprised at how rarely anyone calls you out for that.
FIVE: Open with the reason for your call
Opening your call by stating the reason for calling increases your success rate by 2.1X:
Humans want reasons, even if they’re not particularly strong reasons.
Using this cold calling opening line early and often with this phrase puts the buyer’s mind to rest.
Keep in mind, this line is not exclusive to the others. If you’ve followed along with the previous tips, here’s what your script might look like so far:
SIX: Do your research
I wanted to start my post with this tip, but I was afraid that you’d roll your eyes and close it immediately. You’re probably tired of hearing the same old “personalize your message!” and “do your research!” advice.
But now that you’ve read the first five tips, I hope that you’ll give me a chance to expand on this one.
You HAVE to know who you are going after. And with the tools available to you today, there’s no excuse for going into a cold call blind.
LinkedIn makes this easy.
When our sales team prospects, they have to know how many sales reps the company they’re prospecting has.
LinkedIn gives a wealth of information, including growth rates, employee count, and the number of sales reps:
This gives our reps the “ammo” they need to predict which pain points this company has.
Now, do the same thing for the person you’re reaching out to. You’ll learn things from their profile that you may be able to speak to when you call:
If I were targeting ^ that dude, I would use some of his language in my outreach. Imagine an email subject line that said:
Win the unfair share of your market
Your buyer’s words will always resonate more than your words.
SEVEN: Avoid discovery
“Listen twice as much as you talk” doesn’t apply to cold calling.
Cold calling isn’t about discovery – it’s about selling the meeting.
In fact, the talk-to-listen ratio for successful cold calls is HIGHER than unsuccessful ones:
It’s your job to sell your buyer on why they should attend the meeting. You can get into asking about their “top strategic priorities” later when you book the meeting.
Think about it…
Have you ever tried asking “What are your top priorities…” at the outset of a cold call?
You probably didn’t receive much of an answer.
Focus on selling the meeting, not on asking a probing question your sales manager would be proud of.
EIGHT: Make your (targeted) value prop
If you’ve followed the previous tips, you’ve secured a platform to make your pitch: It’s your time to sell the meeting.
Successful cold calls ALMOST ALWAYS involve making such a pitch:
I know, I know. “Pitch” seems to be a bad word in sales today.
But there’s a time and place for them. Midway through a cold call is one of them.
So what do you SAY during your pitch? You SELL THE MEETING.
Okay, let’s break that down.
Talking about their competitor is SURE to get them snap up and listen.
After that, I delivered an insight related to their pain point. That by itself is often enough to sell the meeting (they want to know more).
To top it all off, I melted away any possible resistance with the phrase:
…You can judge that for yourself.
THAT is what I mean by “selling the meeting.” Notice there was no mention of the product.
NINE: Book your meeting with this closing question
Alright… You’ve done your research. You’ve opened the call smoothly. You’ve sold the meeting. Your buyer’s interest is at its peak.
Now get that meeting scheduled! Here’s your magic phrase to do it.
After you’ve made the suggestion for the meeting (see the previous step), finish off with:
Do you have your calendar handy?
It is by far the best closing line for a cold call I’ve ever seen.
Keep These Scripts In Front of You
PHEW! That was a lot. My hat goes off to you for reading this far.
Here’s what to do next.
Download our FREE cold calling scripts. It’s a PDF you can save to your desktop (or print) to keep these tips on your mind:
Click the image above to download it today or get our full list of cold calling techniques.
Cold calling is alive and well, not dead!