Business dictionary, defines cold calling as “calling a prospect (who does not know the caller) for a sales appointment”. But, since your sales representative may make some email or social media contact before calling, I prefer this broader definition: Cold calls are calls made to people not expecting them. This includes:
- Calling cold prospects.
- Calling respondents to a marketing campaign.
- Re-engaging existing customers (somewhat out of the blue).
Your challenge? Ensuring high productivity for your Sales Development Representatives. You want high conversions, low cost of acquisition and most optimal use of your workforce. And of course, keeping in mind that cold calling is a really tough job: you want to reduce your teams’ frustrations, ease their pain points and keep them working at their best. Can technology help? Here are 10 tools that can specifically improve the cold calling process.
It takes 18 dials to connect with a buyer.* So automate it with a power dialer, and save valuable time for your SDR. Automating the dialing process also reduces cognitive load on your salespeople. This lets your rep cover more ground, and stay focused on selling rather than browsing through databases and dialing.
HOW IT WORKS:
- A manager/supervisor just uploads a contact list from your CRM /Database/ XL sheet into a dialer.
- The dialer systematically dials out each number.
- It rules out busy tones, voicemail diverts and answering machines, and connects agents to live callers. Agents don’t have to wait for people to answer or retry engaged numbers.
- The dialer can be scheduled to retry numbers that didn’t connect.
BUSINESS BENEFITS: An automated dialer can give up to 250% increased productivity. I’ve illustrated this using some of our own data:
Auto dialer scores over manual dialer in agent utilization
- Using dialers increased our total talk times from 30% to 68%. That means dialers let your SDR spend more time talking/selling.
- ACW decreases. Surprisingly, we found our ACW decreasing by 8% when we used dialers. This was due to the dialer’s integration with the contact list/database/CRM. Because this decreases the need for manual data entry, it reduces ACW.
Answering Machine Detection & Pre-recorded Voice Messages
In a Keller Center Study *of the 6,264 cold calls placed, only 28% were answered. How many hours are your SDR’s wasting in leaving voicemails? If they answer 70 voicemails in a day, they will waste about 25 hours each month *. Save that time by using an AMD or Answering Machine Detection.
HOW IT WORKS: Your AMD is generally inbuilt into your Autodialer. When it hears the beep of the answering machine it disconnects. A pre-recorded voice mail message can be even more effective especially if it includes a scheduled call back time.
BUSINESS BENEFITS: AMD saves time for your agents. Like the dialer, this results in increased agent utilization and talk time. Your agents spend more time talking to actual prospects.
The toughest part of cold calling is being completely in the blind. Any information your sales representatives have about the prospect can help them get a foot in the door. Let them have easy access to all the data you have on the prospect. This is especially important when upselling, cross-selling or even randomly re-engaging existing customers.
HOW IT WORKS: A screen pop integration takes all existing data on the prospect from your CRM /Database and displays it on the screen. (Read more on using CRM integration to improve sales)
BUSINESS BENEFITS: It helps your SDR personalize their pitch making each call more effective. Good screen pop integration with your CRM also strengthens your database. This is because all notes and call dispositions that your sales rep makes, get saved into your CRM. This data is then accessible during follow up calls, so it helps automate and improve your entire sales process.
According to studies,* it takes 5 continuous follow-ups before a customer says yes. Help your SDRs schedule those meetings, and automate the process using schedulers
HOW IT WORKS: Your SDR can schedule a call time and date, while wrapping up the call in their agent dashboard in their screen. Your dialer calls can also be scheduled in your auto dialer or as per your customer/prospects call history. (Read more on call scheduling)
BUSINESS BENEFITS: Make it easy for SDRs to increase their conversions by 80%. (80% sales go to those who follow up*). Plus, with automated scheduling, you ensure your SDRs can stick to their appointment times, reiterating their (and your business’s) reliability.
Warm Transfers and Conferencing
Your prospect needs information, detailed information, and more information before they make a decision. For example, 6 out of 10 buyers want to discuss pricing on the first call. And, More than half of prospects want to see how the product works on the first call. *Warm transfer tools can enable your SDR to connect or conference-in experts from within your organization, in a few clicks.
HOW IT WORKS: Your SDR uses the conference or transfer button to initiate a warm transfer/call conference or a colleague who can answer their queries immediately. (Learn how warm transfer work here)
BUSINESS BENEFIT: Close deals faster. Qualify leads and transfer them to a senior representative within the same call.
Text Message and Email Plugins
Email or text message follow up to a call is important, but mostly, it’s not fast enough. Ensure your SDR has buttons to click, at their fingertips, to send off that email or text message right away.
HOW IT WORKS: A simple whatsapp integration, an SMS plugin or an email plugin lets your SDR send the follow-up message on your prospect’s preferred channel in a single click.
BUSINESS BENEFIT: 20 minutes is the ideal response time for a follow-up message. * Automation can ensure you respond way faster, without reducing your SDR’s talk time or diverting him/her from calling the next prospect.
Analytics & Live Dashboards
“Cold calling is dead.” “No it isn’t.” Don’t get confused by other peoples’ opinions—use your own analytics to judge the effectiveness of your campaigns.
HOW IT WORKS: Use the inbuilt analytics in your telephony software to analyze your SDRs for average talk time, campaign effectiveness and more. contact center software or telemarketing software gives you access to call recordings, 70+ analysis reports, and live dashboards.
BUSINESS BENEFITS: You cannot improve what you do not measure. Use call recordings and speech analytics to improve training. Generate reports and measure performance to identify shortfalls and improve it continuously. Live dashboards help you to announce, reward and motivate performance.
Voice bots are the very latest technology that can further optimize your SDR’s time. Instead of just dialing a number, a voice bot platform on your telephony system can even interact with the prospect and gauge their availability before connecting your SDR.
HOW IT WORKS: Can a voice bot help your particular business. Read our blog here to know more.
BUSINESS BENEFITS: Save time for SDR and increase optimization.
Cold Calling: Get The Table Stakes
It is essential that your business ensure some basic prerequisites for your cold calling process. For example, an absolute no-no when cold calling would be a poor voice connection. Ensure that you have:
- High-quality microphones and a good noise cancellation headset. Given the high volume of calls and usually the space constraint, where there are 100’s of agents/ reps in a single floor, the noise chaos is so much that without a good quality headset which has noise cancellation, its next to impossible for the reps to speak to prospects. Invest in a good headset for each of your sales reps so that they can focus on sales/ attracting a prospect than the surrounding noise on the floor.
- High bandwidth internet connection for your cloud telephony software
- Good Ergonomic chair. If you want your reps to stay positive about work, feel at home and work for better conversions, invest in their seating and also lighting if you ask. It has been proven with past experiments in office ergonomics that reps work well in a relaxed office environment than a high-pressure work environment.
- Great scripts. Your scripts are your guides to communication. Train your representatives to use them while adding their own personalization and enthusiasm. Also, train them on handling customer objections so that you have an awesome reps team who churn out numbers to meet targets
- Quality assessment and training. To ensure all your SDRs work efficiently towards the same goal. – Invest in a QA team who will listen in and analyze each sales rep and make sure to find out weaknesses/ corrections for training. Invest in a continuous feedback and training loop so that all your sales reps know their errors and work constructively to improve their performance.
- A sense of humor and a tough hide. Need I say more?!
Instead of just focusing on numbers, it is important to focus on overall lifestyle and daily life of reps. Create a winning work culture, let your reps have fun so that everyone remains motivated to work. While results do matter, they are the end result and if your team does not enjoy getting there, then everything is lost in the long term.