When it comes to cold calling, this right here is the worst advice:
“You were born with two ears and one mouth—listen twice as much as you talk.”
The “name of the game” in cold calling is different than other types of sales calls, such as sales discovery calls. Cold calls are not necessarily about listening or asking great questions.
They are about buying time, educating, and selling the meeting.
Achieving that goal is just as much about being listened to as it is listening well.
Let me explain.
Does Cold Calling Still Work In 2021?
We have a rapidly growing database of over 1 million sales call recordings. 90,380 of those (currently) are outbound, connected cold calls.
We analyzed the content of those cold calls with natural language processing. The aim was to use data to identify the anatomy of a successful cold call:
Successful cold calls were defined as those that ended up in a held follow-up meeting.
To maximize the insights we could surface, we filtered out “no answer” and IVR calls. In other words, the “unsuccessful” cold calls in this analysis still contained a conversation that we could analyze and compare to successful cold calling conversations.
Let’s take a look at what we uncovered.
The Name of the Game In Cold Calling Is Buying Time
The most striking difference between cold calls that result in a meeting and those that don’t comes down to how long you can keep the prospect on the phone:
The longer the call, the greater your odds of getting the meeting.
Every sentence you utter has one and only one purpose: to get the listener to listen to your next sentence.
Some of that involves passing the torch to the customer and getting him or her talking. But only so you can craft your next sentence more resonantly; more targeted.
Cold calls are won inch-by-inch, second-by-second. So pre-call planning (even a minute or two) is a good idea.
Let’s continue to unpack the data to bring more richness to our understanding.
After all, does length cause success? Or does success cause length?
4 Cold Call Statistics You Can’t Ignore
1) Successful Cold Calls Involve Less “Listening” Than Other Calls
The optimal “talk-to-listen” ratio for discovery calls is as low as 46:54. But cold calls are different.
The talk-to-listen ratio for successful cold calls is higher than unsuccessful ones. The rep “owns” more of the conversation:
Sure, it’s great to get the prospect talking if you can.
But only if it’s targeted (ever tried to ask “What are your priorities” on the outset of a cold call? How’d that work out for you?)
To get someone to agree to a meeting, you have to inform and educate them. That requires you to talk in a way that resonates. Let’s break down that “talk-to-listen” ratio into its component parts.
2) Successful cold calls involve longer (not shorter) “monologues” from the sales rep
The average “longest burst of talking” in a successful cold call is 37 seconds. By contrast, it’s only 25 seconds in unsuccessful cold calls.
Successful cold calls have 50% longer uninterrupted bursts of talking.
Yep, you read that right. Be careful with correlation and causation here. Maybe long monologues like this cause success.
But maybe the reps was given the opportunity to speak for that long as a result of something else. In either case, it’s another testament to the idea that buying more time is the name of the game.
3) Successful cold calls also involve more frequent “monologues” from the sales rep
There are 70% more 5+ second monologues in successful cold calls — 20 vs. 12 per call:
Let’s contrast these data points with what’s going on on the prospect’s side of the conversation.
4) The average prospect monologue length in successful cold calls is only 3.5 seconds
That is, how long you can get the prospect to talk uninterrupted. It’s 8 seconds in unsuccessful cold calls.
Prospect monologue: 3.5s vs. 8s. Successful cold calls actually don’t have long bursts of talking from the customer. Your job is not discovery. It’s to get the meeting.
Like I said earlier, the job of a cold call is not discovery. It’s to educate and get the meeting. Pre-call research is your discovery.
Don’t get me wrong. A small amount of ad-hoc discovery is useful. But it should be economical and targeted. If you’re executing a SPIN Selling sequence on your cold calls, it’s probably overkill.
Successful cold calls don’t have more questions asked than unsuccessful ones. There was no difference there.
8 More Cold Calling Statistics You Need to Know In 2021
5) Successful cold calling demands focus on openers
Will Rogers once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Every time you pick the phone to make a cold call, be ready to make an unmatched impression. You only have a few seconds to deliver as much weight as you can in an impressive way.
With a poor opener, the prospect is most likely going to hang up on you. Some openers trigger harsh responses. You don’t want prospects to keep disconnecting your calls due to inappropriate and boring openers.
Cold calling statistics indicate that whenever you open a cold call with, “Is this a bad time?” you have a 60% guaranteed failure of booking a meeting.
On the other hand, sales reps who use more friendly openers have 3.4 x possibility of getting a follow-up meeting. “How are you doing?” is one of these friendly openers that give you a 5.2 cold calling success rate.
6) Appropriate wording in your cold call raises your success odds
There are words you ought to avoid to improve your sales. In some cases, you will cold call a prospect and get nervous in the middle of the call. As a result, you will utter words that are a turn off for prospects.
Cold calling stats that will boost your business include understanding that using the phrase “we provide” frequently drops your closing rate. If you use this phrase more than four times in one cold call, you risk reducing your closing rate by 22%.
Similarly, using the word discount on a cold call turns 17% of buyers off. You have to avoid these words when you make your cold calls to improve your closing rate. Here is a suggestion, replace a phrase like “I’m not certain” with “l will find out and get back to you.”
7) Successful cold calling requires timing
In sales, time is not the main thing; time is the only thing. For this reason, you have to utilize time well and exercise timing in your cold calls.
If you get late by a single minute, you risk losing a prospect. Your competitor may be making a move on your prospect.
Follow the 10 am to 4 pm cold calling statistics of making a cold call. Calling a prospect at any time of the day is not a good idea. Instead, it would be best if you planned when to call and utilize the time you get.
The time of day is not the only determinant of the success of your cold call. The cold calling day is also vital. If you make a cold call on a Friday afternoon, you have an 8.7% possibility of closing the deal.
8) Preparation is important in cold calling
Look at these cold calling stats. 42% of salespeople claim that they don’t have sufficient data. Now, if you don’t have enough information before picking up your phone, how will you persuade the prospect?
Therefore, you must do thorough research about market trends and the pain points of the prospect you want to cold-call.
Next, strategize on how you will satisfy the prospect’s needs. Finally, simply package that information that you will recall during the cold call with ease.
Personalize the message you will be conveying. This technique will show 82% of B2B decision-makers that you are an ever-ready sales representative.
The best place to do research is on the prospects’ social media platforms and websites. Read through what the prospect posts and figure out a way of solving the challenge they are facing.
Be sure to take notes as you do this research. Refer to the notes during the cold call to improve your chances of booking a follow-up meeting.
9) Approach cold calling in a “learn” then “sell” perspective
You begin by learning your prospect’s pain points then selling your product or service with the learned knowledge in mind. Cold calling statistics show that 87% of sales prospects claim that sales representatives make cold calls without learning the prospect’s needs. This then leads to 98% of cold calls being rejected.
If you are to make more sales, you have to approach cold calling with an open mindset. Be ready to learn from the prospect as you keep engaging them in a conversation. Be ready to learn more about the prospect’s pain points, in addition to your research.
Let your monologues drive the prospect to volunteer more details about their challenges. Chances are, if you are open to listening, the prospect will also listen to you. However, make sure you don’t lose control of the conversation.
10) Cold calling statistics show that 72% of prospects schedule follow up meeting
When you successfully pitch your ideas to a client, you have better odds of getting a follow-up meeting. The meeting does not have to be in your office. NO! An event or seminar organized by your sales company is a perfect meeting point.
In the meetup, you will have more time to explain the benefits of what you are selling. This becomes a better environment to continue with the conversation you started on the cold call.
72% of the prospects you pitch to in a cold call will show up for a continuation of your talk.
This encouraging cold calling statistic is proof enough that cold calling is a successful tactic to incorporate in your sales process.
11) Cold calling has great conversion opportunities
Do not be discouraged by the 80% voicemail cold calling statistics. On the contrary, it should look at the situation from the brighter side perspective. The cold calling stats give you a 20% possibility of engaging in a conversation.
With your persistence, you will have conversations every day with prospects. All these conversations are opportunities to sell your product or service.
Make sure you engage in meaningful conversations that lead to sales. Avoid certain words that are likely to drive prospects away.
To increase your odds of converting the 20% prospects into clients, come up with cold calling scripts that will ensure the conversation goes in the right direction.
12) You have to persistent if you are to win a sale
If you make about six calls without giving up, you have a 93% possibility of winning a sale. By your sixth attempt, the prospect will be convinced of the benefits of picking your product or service over the competitors.
If you do not make a second cold call, you miss 50% of sealing the deal. It would be best if you were persistent; but again, don’t take it too far. If you make the seventh call, you will have a 45% less likelihood of winning the sale.
The Most Successful “Opening Lines” for Cold Calling
So far the data we’ve presented only illustrates the skeleton of a successful cold call: interaction and behavior-based stats.
What we haven’t yet discussed is fleshing out that skeleton with the words, phrases, and content of a successful cold call. That’s what’s in store for our next post, which is scheduled for 2 weeks from today.
We’ll talk about the most successful opening lines for cold calls, how to wrap them up to get the next step, and anything interesting we find in between.
In the meantime, here’s the complete list of words that sell — if this doesn’t maximize sales, I don’t know what will!
Also published on Medium.