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3 Phone Sales Tips to De-Stress Prospects When You Cold Call

Receiving a sales call completely out of the blue creates stress and uncertainty for your prospect as soon as they answer the phone. They start to ask themselves,

Is this someone I know?

What do they want?

Can I trust this person?

How do you overcome that and put your prospects at ease? We’re going to look at three phone sales tips to build rapport and be less of a surprise to prospects when you call them:

  1. Leverage LinkedIn
  2. Follow the engagement
  3. Bring insider information

We’re going to look at each of these in depth in this article, but first — in order to understand how to build trust with your clients — let’s examine why cold calls cause stress in the first place.

Why People Hate Sales Calls

Bottom line, uncertainty creates stress.

People say they love surprises, but what they want most is certainty. Our brain is a prediction machine, hardwired to predict what should come next.

Take walking, for example.

When you take a step, you assume your foot will hit the ground safely. You don’t even think about it.

You’ve taken enough steps in your life that your brain has stored these memories to create a prediction of what will happen next — your foot safely hitting the ground and you taking your next step and so on. But if someone runs into you while you’re walking, it creates a moment of uncertainty. The person running into you could be a threat to your physical safety, or maybe it was just an accident and you can move on with your day.

This creates a moment of stress.

When there’s a moment of uncertainty, our brain generates a threat-response, or at least an alert-response, in our body.

The same thing happens when you receive a call from someone you don’t know.

But now, let’s say the person calling you is really a coworker from an unknown number. Right when you pick up the phone, you have the same response as you would to a cold call — stress.

But as soon as they introduce themselves, the alarm bells stop ringing. The person is familiar. The uncertainty disappears, and a conversation can take place.

The same goes for your prospects when you cold call them.

RELATED: The Dangers Of Being Too Salesy (And How To Build Trust Instead)

The longer it takes you to introduce yourself and the reason you’re calling, the more stressed your prospects will become. For some, they’d rather hang up than deal with the stress.

The cure is to make yourself as familiar as possible before the call. Let’s jump into how you can do this.

Phone Sales Tip #1: Leverage LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great way to build rapport with prospects, but for these next few tactics to work, you need to be very active on LinkedIn.

If you aren’t already active on LinkedIn, here’s what you can do in about three hours each week to be more active and engaged:

  1. Connect with 10 new prospects every day
  2. Engage with (like, comment, share) 10 of your prospect’s posts every day
  3. Write one post per week sharing a client story or addressing a challenge your prospects share with you during sales conversations

A simple habit of connecting with your prospects, posting content, and interacting with other people’s content will put you in front of your prospects on a regular basis.

RELATED: 4 Tips to Build Your Digital Presence (& an Engaged Network) on LinkedIn

For examples of reps who are crushing it on LinkedIn, check out Sarah Brazier at Gong.io, Jeremy Leveille at LeadIQ, Belal Batrawy at Clearbit, Amy Quick at IntelliMagic, and Sarah Drake at Directive.

Once you have that in place, here’s how you can leverage LinkedIn for your cold calls…

Call on prospects who visit your profile

From your home page, click on “Who’s viewed your profile” to see everyone who’s looked at your profile.

 

From there, look at the list, and you’ll probably notice that most of them aren’t 1st connections with you.

Click on the “interesting views” section, and LinkedIn will sort out the prospects from companies you follow or that are in leadership positions.

 

Action:

Check to see which prospects fit your ICP, and call them.

Here’s what to say:

Hey [first name], this is [your name] with [your company]…

I saw that you stopped by my LinkedIn profile…

PAUSE (wait to see if they recognize your name)

I took a look at your profile as well and noticed [something that stuck out to you related to how you can help them].

I’m calling to [share an idea, see if you need help, to learn more about…etc.].

I know I caught you in the middle of your day here. Do you have a few minutes?

Call on prospects who connect with you

If you’re active on LinkedIn, prospects likely connect with you on a weekly basis. If they aren’t, make a dedicated effort to post and engage more or be featured on podcasts.

The other day I received this message:

 

I could have responded with, “Thanks for checking it out! How’s prospecting going for you these days? Any challenges?”

But many of these conversations stop in the LinkedIn inbox. The prospect doesn’t message back, or what I send them doesn’t resonate for whatever reason.

I say skip that step altogether.

Check out the prospect’s LinkedIn profile and company page. Make sure they fit your ideal client profile. Use a tool like Apollo.io or LeadIQ to grab their direct dial, pick up the phone, and shoot them a call.

Taking the conversation to the phone gets things moving much faster.

RELATED: 90-Second Pre Call Planning: A Simple Process for Cold Calling Success

When I made this call, it didn’t feel like a cold call at all. The person already had an idea of who I was.

Action:

Don’t message back and forth with prospects who connect with you. If they fit your ICP, call them.

Here’s what to say:

Hey [first name], this is [your name] with [your company]…

PAUSE (wait to see if they recognize your name)

You sent over a message to me on LinkedIn about [reference their message].

I’m calling to [share an idea, see if you need help, to learn more about…etc.].

I know I caught you in the middle of your day here. Do you have a few minutes?

Call on prospects who are engaging with content

This is one of my favorite techniques. You can pull this off in one of two ways.

First, you can call prospects who engage with the content you post. To do this, go to your posts and click on the likes and comments:

 

Run through the list of people to see who fits your ICP. Simple as that!

 

The second technique you can use is similar, but it’s with another person’s content.

For me, I’m looking for content related to sales or prospecting. Then, I engage with people who fit my ICP and who are commenting on one of those posts.

I like and comment with something thoughtful (preferably asking them a question about their comment). Then I wait a day or two to get a response.

Response or not, I call them.

Action:

Look through your competitor’s posts for prospects that fit your ICP.

Here’s what to say:

Hey [first name], this is [your name] with [your company]…

I saw that you commented on [person who posted]’s post about [post topic]. I thought what you said about [what they said] was interesting because [reason you found it interesting].

PAUSE (wait to see if they remember the post)

I’m calling to [share an idea, see if you need help, to learn more about…etc.].

I know I caught you in the middle of your day here. Do you have a few minutes?

Phone Sales Tip #2: Follow the engagement

Statistically, more than half of the prospects you reach out to will never open your emails. You’re wasting time if you’re chasing prospects who have shown zero interest in what you’ve sent them.

Instead of calling every prospect on your list, save your calls for prospects who are opening your cold emails but not responding.

 

Action:

Set up a trigger in your sales engagement platform to create a task to call a prospect if they open your email but don’t respond.

Phone Sales Tip #3: Bring Insider Information

Many sales teams use a top-down approach when prospecting. They start at the C-level and then work their way down. This approach works great if you have insights to share, but it’s challenging because these high-level executives are the hardest people to get in touch with.

Every salesperson is calling on them.

Getting an executive’s attention requires more than referencing a few news articles. Simply summarizing a few points from their LinkedIn profile doesn’t usually cut it, either.

If you’re prospecting into mid-market and enterprise companies, trying to connect with C-level can be a common problem.

What you can do instead is take a bottom-up approach.

Let’s say your ideal persona is a VP of Sales. I’ve had success getting in touch with VPs by starting the conversation at the rep or manager level. Especially if the rep or manager engaged with my content on LinkedIn.

In these sales calls, my goal isn’t to get a meeting on their calendar. My goal is simply to see if they’re willing to help.

I’m looking for two things:

  1. Insights into any challenges that are related to my product/service
  2. If they know the person I should be talking to

When I do this, the conversation often goes something like this:

REP: Hey [first name], this is [your name] with [your company]…

Prospect: Hmm…

REP: You sent over a message to me on LinkedIn about [reference their message].

Prospect: Right!

REP: I was hoping you might be able to help me out?

Prospect: Sure, what’s going on?

REP: I’m calling to [share an idea, see if you need help, to learn more about…etc.]. Do you know about any challenges or initiatives you guys have in this area?

Prospect: Actually, [shares insight]…

REP: Interesting…[dig in more]. Do you know who would be best to chat with about this at your company?

Prospect: That would be my boss, [their name].

REP: Great. Would you be comfortable doing a quick intro?

Now you have a warm intro up the food chain to the person’s boss. Plus, you likely learned a few things about the inner workings at the account that you’d never find online.

Action:

If you’re having a hard time getting a hold of the C-suite, start one level lower than you think you should when you’re prospecting. Use that conversation to bring insider information to the C-level or VP.

Bringing It All Together

Your number-one goal is to be less of a surprise to the prospect when they get a sales call from you.

Look for ways to interact with them on LinkedIn. And instead of messaging prospects back and forth, pick up the phone and call them.

Focus on prospects engaging with your emails. Create triggers in your sales engagement platform so you can be notified immediately when prospects open your emails.

And don’t be afraid to start one level lower than you think you should when prospecting. It’s a great way to gather inside information to bring to VP and C-level conversations.

What would you add? Do you have a sales call tip that beats anything else you’ve ever done?

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