B2B cold calling involves sales reps speaking to business decision-makers to generate interest in their product or service and convince them to buy. Its reputation has dwindled among salespeople for its low conversion rates, with 63% of sellers confirming “it’s the worst part of their job.”1 Despite these depressing statistics though, many businesses still rely heavily on cold calling as part of their sales strategy — and enjoy impressive results. You, too, can turn this tactic to your advantage if you follow best practices and monitor the right metrics.
Is B2B Cold Calling Dead?
Many salespeople are skeptical of the effectiveness of cold calling and hold endless debates on the value of this strategy in today’s business landscape. However, research from Sales Insights Lab found about 41% of sales professionals claim the phone is the most fruitful sales tool.2
The notion that cold calling is dead is due to a lack of understanding of how to launch successful campaigns, unrealistic quotas, and a stubborn focus on the number of calls rather than their quality.
You can watch the CEO of SalesRoads David Kreiger bust that myth in this video below.
How Does Cold Calling Aid Sales Development?
Generating leads is a vital part of sales development, and cold calling provides fresh opportunities to reach new customers, hold individual conversations with them, and learn about their needs. Sales development representatives (SDRs) use it to conduct personalized targeted outreach and qualify and nurture prospects. This keeps the pipeline filled with hot leads for account executives to close.
Benchmarks, Metrics, and Statistics for Productive Cold Calling
Sales leaders must keep abreast of cold calling benchmarks and statistics to manage and organize their campaigns. That information enables you to identify and address skill gaps, set realistic quotas, and optimize strategies to improve sales performance. Review the following benchmarks to achieve stronger cold calling results.
The contact rate measures the number of successful conversations with decision-makers. Top cold calling providers recommend aiming for a 15%–20% contact rate per campaign.
Conversion rate is the percentage of calls that produce positive outcomes, such as a sale or a qualified lead. The average cold calling conversion rate is 2%, so a 2%-3% conversion rate is a respectable goal; it demonstrates your sales reps are engaging prospects with personalized messaging.
Average number of calls before reaching a decision-maker
According to CrunchBase and Rain Group, it takes an average of eight attempts to reach a decision-maker via cold calls.
Percentage of cold calls that result in appointments
A Unifyo study3 revealed less than 2% of cold calls secure a sales appointment. This underlines the need to improve call quality for higher appointment rates.
Average length of a successful cold call
The average duration of a successful cold call is 5 minutes and 50 seconds, with 70% of the conversation consisting of long monologues. Aim for a three- to five-minute call length to maintain the prospect’s interest without dragging on the pitch.
Number of follow-up calls needed to close a sale
To secure a sale, SDRs typically need to make six follow-up calls after reaching the decision-maker. Notably, 80% of completed deals require at least five.4
Cost per lead (CPL)
CPL is the average cost of generating a lead. It’s an essential financial metric that should be kept as low as possible. The chart below from FirstPageSage displays CPL data across 30 industries5:
Calls per day
The optimal number of calls each day ranges from 50-100. That allows SDRs to strike a balance between prospecting and other sales tasks while preventing burnout. Sales experts recommend making 60 calls per day.6
Best day and time to make cold calls
According to CallHippo, the best time to make cold calls is between 4 and 5 pm, with Wednesday being the most productive day, and Friday afternoons the least.7
Response rate is the percentage of prospects who engage with your call out of the total number of calls made. A 10%-15% response rate is ideal and demonstrates your reps’ ability to generate curiosity and encourage leads to take further action.
Percentage of decision-makers who accept cold calls
An astounding 82% of buyers accept meetings from cold calls when salespeople reach out to them. In the past year alone, 69% of buyers have taken cold calls from sales reps.
Average revenue generated per successful cold call
The average revenue generated per successful cold call depends on factors like industry, product or service price, and target audience. However, as a general recommendation, aim to hit $121.48 for each successful cold call.8 Keep in mind, you may need to adjust this figure according to your specific circumstances to provide an accurate representation of your sales performance.
Tips to Improve Cold Calling Results
Ask open-ended questions
To obtain valuable information from prospects, ask open-ended questions that encourage them to elaborate, rather than merely yes or no answers. The more they share, the better you’ll understand their needs and can tailor your pitch accordingly.
Conduct pre-call research
Researching potential clients gives sales representatives insights to personalize conversations and improve cold calling success. Gartner’s Sales Development Technology report found that salespeople who conduct pre-call research are 34% more likely to be successful than those who don’t.9
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools enable sales representatives to organize, manage, and track prospects efficiently throughout the cold calling process. CRM systems automate the sales process, allowing SDRs to focus on selling effectively.
Keep it brief
Cold calls aim to generate interest and bring your company to the forefront of the prospect’s mind. Since you’re interrupting their day, it’s essential to keep conversations short and sweet. As further proof, RingDNA Prospecting Performance Report revealed the likelihood of booking an appointment decreases once the call duration surpasses the 14-minute mark.10
Use a script
The best sales reps use cold calling scripts to guide conversations and provide instant responses to common objections. They help SDRs stay focused on the call and pass messages effectively. Scripts are also valuable training tools, as they prepare SDRs for the difficulties of cold calling.
Repeating scripts verbatim, however, makes a caller sound robotic and deters prospects, so personalize scripts for each client to establish rapport and address their specific needs.
Create a product cheat sheet
Cheat sheets compile key information about your company’s products and services, including features and client testimonials from various industries. Keep this document handy during conversations with prospective clients to maintain a strong grasp of product knowledge and promote your authority.
Leverage LinkedIn prospecting
LinkedIn is an invaluable resource for learning about prospects before a cold call. The platform grants access to potential leads, and salespeople can filter searches based on criteria such as industry, job title, and company size.
Jeremy Lebourgeois, CEO of the LinkedIn marketing agency HelpIn, explains how it fits into a powerful cold calling strategy:
“LinkedIn is a great tool for warming up prospects before a call. The secretary barrier is non-existent, so you can have interactions directly with the business owner or manager. When you call them, you’ll have a foot in the door and you can take whatever happened on LinkedIn as a foundation for the call and make them understand you are not call-spamming.”
Additionally, prospects often research companies on LinkedIn before committing to a business deal. Publish content on your company page that attracts clients and showcases your expertise.
Use a local number
Potential clients are more likely to answer calls from local numbers because they believe they originate from individuals within their community. This minimizes the perception of spammy telemarketing calls, as prospects feel comfortable having conversations with a nearby business.
Use a local number to increase contact rates and boost cold calling effectiveness.
Emphasize your value
During cold calls, prospects may attempt to steer the conversation toward price. However, at this stage, focus on understanding the client’s specific needs; establishing value should take precedence over discussing costs.
Sales reps must learn to control the conversation in the initial phases. The goal is to build rapport by identifying the prospect’s pain points and then emphasizing their product’s value.
Roleplaying and mock calls
Sales teams should roleplay to practice scripts, develop skills, and identify areas needing improvement.
Roleplaying enables sales representatives to develop essential communication skills, such as verbal and non-verbal cues, vocal tonality, pacing, and body language, all of which are vital for establishing rapport. It also allows them to refine their pitches and create more persuasive monologues that improve cold calling efficiency.
Prepare for objections
Salespeople can prepare for objections by conducting thorough pre-call research and practicing cold call opening lines. During the conversation, minimize objections by anticipating and addressing their concerns, as well as actively listening.
Follow up after your call
A study on sales follow-ups discovered 44% of salespeople give up after just one follow-up. Meanwhile, 60% of prospects respond “no” four times before saying “yes.”11
Be persistent with follow-up calls and messages to build trust, show dedication and commitment to dealing with the prospect’s issues, and boost your cold calling success rate.
Hold periodic reviews
By conducting regular evaluations, organizations can identify best practices, pinpoint areas for improvement, and ensure their sales representatives remain on track to hit their goals. Sales development managers should share insights from both successful and unsuccessful sales calls so their teams can replicate effective strategies and avoid unproductive ones.
Call reviews also create opportunities for targeted coaching, enabling SDRs to receive personalized feedback and guidance as they work.
Salespeople can and should supplement cold calling with other techniques for the best results. An omnichannel approach that combines social media, email marketing, and content creation generates more inbound leads and produces higher sales.
To buttress this point, Vladimir Fomenko, Founder of Infatica, asserts, “Any successful B2B sales strategy has a multi-pronged approach, employing various channels to initiate contact with leads and nurture them into customers. B2B cold calling might not be dead, but evolving with the times and using multiple channels is necessary.”
Is cold emailing as effective as cold calling in B2B sales?
The effectiveness of each strategy depends on the product or service, industry, and specific business preferences. Ilija Sekulov, marketing expert at MailButler, explains, “Some businesses find cold emailing more effective because of its scalability and lower pressure on recipients, while others prefer cold calling for its personal touch and ability to generate instant feedback.”
The strong approach is to use both cold calling and cold emailing as complementary strategies to expand your reach and thus improve lead generation and sales revenue.
By applying the tips above, sales professionals can hone their skills and realize more fruitful cold calls. Managers should monitor and analyze benchmark metrics for each outreach to ensure continuous improvement and positive sales results.
The key to successful cold calls lies in establishing genuine connections, adapting to evolving customer preferences, and incorporating frontline data to optimize outcomes.