Successful cold calls require sales professionals to cultivate and refine certain skill sets. We’ve outlined the top hard and soft skills every sales development rep (SDR) should possess before picking up the phone. Companies that use cold calling as part of their sales strategy should prioritize developing these abilities in their SDRs and managers who are in charge of daily cold calling operations to boost their chances of closing deals.
Soft Skills For Cold Callers
Prospects invariably connect more with sales reps who thoroughly understand the challenges they face. SDRs can foster relatability through in-depth research and demonstrating empathy and a sincere interest in the prospect’s business.
This approach helps lower the prospect’s guard, minimizes their resistance, and lays a strong foundation for building rapport.
The best salespeople provide meaningful responses to queries on the fly. Cold calls allow no time to look for answers; SDRs must be able to think critically and respond quickly to prospects’ questions. Failure to do so can portray your reps as unprepared and potentially jeopardize the deal.
Cold calling is one of the most difficult sales tactics and a common source of frustration among sales professionals. People will hang up or respond rudely, but the only way to achieve profitable outcomes is to keep going. Like sales coach Brooke Greening says, “Resilience in cold calling is getting told ‘no’ one hundred times and still making the one hundred and first call like you will make the sale.”
Mental fortitude is built over time, so SDRs should dedicate attention to developing their resilience to produce quality results.
Maintaining a positive mindset during cold call outreach is crucial for sales professionals, as it helps them stay motivated in the face of objections and unsuccessful conversations. SDRs should take breaks and manage their time to prevent burnout and mental fatigue.
Greening offers a few tips for maintaining positivity during cold call outreaches:
“Take a deep breath, let out the disappointment, and move on. Reflect briefly: Is there something you can learn from the call? Can you be more clear? Evaluate but remember, progress over perfection. We must remember that even though we have heard 20 rejections that day, the next person we call has never heard from us. If we believe they will say no, that is reflected in our voice and posture, so they will say no. Every person you call is a new customer, so don’t bring baggage in from the past.”
Hard Skills For Cold Callers
The ability to uncover key information about your prospects sets your SDRs apart from other reps and produces stronger cold call results. Salespeople with solid research skills can easily find vital data for qualification and rapport-building in their outreach.
They can then leverage the insights gathered from pre-call research to craft customized approaches for potential clients and lay the groundwork for more productive discussions.
To maximize your cold calling cost-benefit ratio, you must be able to identify promising prospects from a list of potential clients. This helps you focus your efforts on the leads who are a better fit for your business instead of wasting time, energy, and resources reaching out to those unlikely to convert.
Sales professionals must clearly convey value to prospects during cold calls to avoid hang-ups. These calls present a rich opportunity to make a memorable first impression, and positioning yourself as a worthwhile partner is pivotal in shaping your future relationship with the prospect.
Posing questions during a cold call uncovers useful information about prospects, establishes rapport, and demonstrates genuine interest in their business. Experts recommend relevant, well-timed, and open-ended questions during sales calls, as they elicit insightful responses and encourage a more engaging two-way dialogue.
Gatekeepers in sales are employees within a prospect’s company assigned to manage the decision-maker’s attention and time. Reaching your target contact can be daunting if you’re unskilled at handling them.
The most prudent salespeople can turn gatekeepers into allies, building relationships with them to gain access to the person they need to speak to.
The art of handling objections as they arise is key to saving a cold call. These touch points are typically the first contact with a prospect and are often met with numerous rejections and hurdles.
Cold callers must learn to overcome these challenges with confidence, the right tone, and composure to encourage the prospect to proceed with the deal.
A sales rep must have extensive knowledge of the product or service they’re trying to push. It’s equally important to become familiar with competitors’ products and pinpoint areas where you hold an advantage.
However, salespeople should exercise caution not to rely heavily on this skill or engage in direct comparisons, as it could be construed as discrediting the competition and potentially dissuade the prospective customer.
Cold calls reveal information about prospects that SDRs can leverage to develop tailored strategies that engage them. Sales reps must hone their ability to take concise, relevant notes to avoid information overload.
Note-taking demands speed, accuracy, and a structured, individual approach to yield optimal results. Recording and incorporating key points signals your attention to detail and deepens the prospect’s interest in your offering.
Sales experts recommend using a structured note-taking template so you can easily retrieve information for personalization, objection handling, and product presentations. Shane McEvoy, Managing director of Flycast Media, affirms this practice:
“Using a standardized note-taking template or framework, reps can capture key information consistently and efficiently. This approach ensures that important details are recorded accurately and can be easily referenced for follow-up and future interactions.”
The closing phase of a cold call is your chance to drive home your product or service’s value and persuade the lead to take action. Strong closures require time, patience, and dedication to guide a cold call toward a mutually beneficial conclusion.
A salesperson should be able to maintain congenial conversations with ease. Establishing rapport is the most effective way to make a prospect feel comfortable sharing information that informs your strategy. The more they share, the more targeted they can make their pitch, so it’s imperative your SDRs hone their skills in asking questions, arousing curiosity, actively listening, and encouraging leads to share more.
To measure a campaign’s success accurately, you must establish objectives to achieve within a specific time frame. These goals should adhere to the SMART methodology (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) and align with your overarching sales strategy.
A proficient cold caller should factor in their quotas and targets during goal setting as well to ensure their objectives are relevant and achievable. Companies then need to set benchmark metrics to monitor their progress and establish reward systems for high-performing employees.
Tips For Honing Cold Calling Skills
Feedback and coaching
Feedback and coaching from sales managers contribute greatly to nurturing cold calling abilities. In our recent study, we discovered that 56% of salespeople attributed responsibility for their coaching exclusively to their supervisors.
Sales managers play a significant role in their SDRs’ skills development, as they’re in charge of scheduling dedicated training, organizing role-playing exercises, and instituting call supervision and feedback sessions.
Leverage professional connections
Your more experienced colleagues are a rich learning source for effective cold calling. Engage with these professionals within your organization or industry to learn from their experience and insight.
To take it a step further, run periodic mentorship sessions or focus group discussions that provide tips and best practices for honing essential skills.
Sales courses & books
Although more traditional, sales courses and books nevertheless offer a wealth of knowledge on important cold calling abilities. They instruct on prospecting, communication, empathy, pitching, closing techniques, buyer psychology, and other invaluable skills necessary for sales professionals to excel.
These resources also provide the opportunity to learn from field experts with extensive experience.
Keep abreast of industry trends
It’s imperative to stay informed about new developments in your niche. Actively monitoring trends helps you maintain a competitive edge and positions you as a well-informed — and thus authoritative — sales professional.
The skills and tips outlined above shape salespeople into effective cold callers. It takes time and effort to develop them, and there are multiple avenues of education, so devote proper attention to building a robust training program that accommodates various types of learning. By continuously honing their abilities, SDRs will improve their performance and produce successful outcomes.
1. Is cold calling a resume skill?
Yes, cold calling is a skill that can be highlighted on your resume for jobs in sales, marketing, and customer service. Applicants should include it in the skills and experience section of their resumes. For example:
1. Under the skills section:
- Excellent cold calling skills
- Proven cold-calling abilities
- Ability to conduct cold call outreach effectively
- Expertise in cold calling techniques
2. Under the experience section:
- Maximized cold calling to generate [X] new leads per month
- Increased sales by [X]% through effective cold calling
- Used cold calling to book [X] appointments per week
2. What books can I read to improve my cold calling?
We recommend the following books to refine your cold calling skills:
- Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work!) by Stephan Schiffman
- Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling by Jeb Blount
- Smart Calling: Eliminate the Fear, Failure, and Rejection from Cold Calling by Art Sobczak
- The Secrets to Cold Call Success: Close More Business in Less Time Than Ever Before by Paul Neuberger