Cold calling is the lifeblood of a healthy pipeline and is still one of the most effective ways to drive revenue, but jumping into these calls without an established plan can not only hurt your brand image, but burn bridges with prospects.

In this blog post, we’ll walk through 4 steps to up your cold call game and book meetings with your top prospects.

1. Don’t overthink your opening line

How to open a cold call is one of the most controversial topics in sales. Every salesperson has a different opinion and no matter which opener you choose, somebody will tell you it’s wrong.

The key is to test out a few of them and find the one that works for you. That being said, here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

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Straight to the point

Hi {name}, this is Bob with Company X, was hoping I caught you for just a quick minute? I can be brief.

Specific Seconds + Fair

Hi {name}, this is Bob with Company X. I know I’m calling you out of the blue here, but do you have 27 seconds to hear why I’m reaching out?

How’ve You Been + Specific Hook

Hi {{name}}, it’s Bob calling from Company X, how’ve you been?

*Let prospect respond*

I know there’s no good time for a cold call. Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I’m calling and then you can tell me if it makes sense to keep talking.

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The words that come out of your mouth are actually less important than how you say them. Are you speaking overly formal? Are you using buzzwords? Are you speaking too fast?

Keep your introductions casual, jargon-free, and at an appropriate speed.

2. Use an illumination question to open up the conversation

So you’ve just nailed your opener, but how do you open up the conversation to keep the prospect engaged? Ask an illumination question.

An illumination question is a question that piques curiosity about an issue the prospect might not be thinking about. You’re shining a light on a potential problem.

Here’s an example of how someone selling an automation tool could use this:

“For other sales organizations in your industry, the average rep spends 15% of their day doing admin work. What are you doing to make sure that your sales reps aren’t wasting time on non-selling activities and instead are filling their pipelines?“

Try to come up with one for your company. This will help to spark your conversations and help you collect more information.

3. Know your objections like the back of your hand

After you’ve illuminated a potential problem, the prospect will most likely tell you more information about their situation or respond with an objection. This is where it’s imperative to have your objection handling skills top-notch.

Create a list of every single objection that you’ve received. Go through that list, and then write down how you plan to overcome each one.

The next and most important step is to practice, practice, practice. Practice overcoming these objections so much that even if you’re caught off guard, you’ll be able to answer without hesitation. The key here is to keep your responses casual and conversational.

4. Close with a ‘no’ oriented question

Chris Voss, a former FBI Hostage Negotiator and author of Never Split The Difference, states that people feel safer and more protected when they have the option to say ‘no’.

When people say ‘yes’, they are making a commitment, and as soon as there is a commitment, people start worrying about what they’ve signed up for. Your prospects are no different.

So why not put this technique to use when cold calling? Turn a ‘no’ into a positive situation. Here’s an example of how we could use this when scheduling a meeting:

“Would you be opposed to seeing if there are opportunities beyond your current capabilities that could help your sales team cut down on admin tasks and other non-selling activities so they can spend more time filling their pipelines?”

See how somebody answering ‘no’ to this question is actually a positive result? Use this to your advantage! Use ‘no’ oriented questions to close the call.

Conclusion

While there is no secret sauce to turn every cold call into a success, there are a number of steps you can take to turn more of them into successes. Cold calling is still one of the most effective ways to drive revenue so it’s essential that you’re making the most of each call. Take the time today to develop a cold calling plan and your pipeline will thank you.