Cold calling can be tough, which is why so many salespeople are hesitant to do it. The uncertainty, the hang ups, the defensiveness, the monotony—it's a lot to put yourself through multiple times an hour, eight hours a day, five days a week.
To be blunt: Cold calling can be agonizing.
But there's a reason why we're still cold calling. Cold calling can be wildly effective and is one of the best strategies for generating new leads.
And, here's the kicker, cold calling doesn't have to suck. The software you use to cold call can make or break your success, as well as the experience -- with the right tools it can even be fun!
Software can help you prepare for a call, handle voicemails, emails, texts and other repetitive workflows, manage leads and communication history, and improve sales agents' efficiency and ability to close deals.
In this post, we'll discuss what to look for when choosing your calling software. Let's get started.
What Features Should You Look for in a Cold Calling Software?
What are the most important and non-negotiable features to look for in a cold calling software? Here’s what you don’t want to miss out on:
Manual dialing is the worst. Not only is it painfully slow to dial manually, but it's also easy to make input errors and call the wrong number.
But some dialing technology improves efficiency at the expense of experience and effectiveness. Take predictive dialers, for example, which subjects contacts to dropped calls and awkward pauses at the start of each call.
This is why you need a cold calling software that includes a power dialer.
Power dialers increase efficiency without a contact knowing software is being used. The experience is as seamless as manual dialing.
With a power dialer system, you upload a list of numbers or integrate with your CRM. The software can handle all of the repetitive tasks associated with dialing and follow-up so reps and agents spend their time engaged in productive, live conversations.
Your agent is always in control with a power dialer. They initiate each call as they disposition the previous one. They are on the line when the contact says “hello” and they can reply immediately. Or, they are able to drop voicemails (and send emails) in one click, when a contact doesn't answer. Agents are also able to review and edit notes and contact history, initiate follow-up emails and texts and more.
In contrast, with a predictive dialer, the system dials multiple phone numbers at the same time for each agent. The system uses a complicated formula to predict agent availability and increases or decreases call volume to maximize productivity.
Unfortunately, with this type of system predictions are not perfect. Calls are placed when agents are not available. Calls are dropped (which can result in costly penalties for a business). Customers experience an audible and off-putting "delay" after answering before an agent comes on the line. As such, you're more likely to get hang ups when you use a predictive dialer.
This is why power dialers tend to be more effective from a conversation and conversion standpoint. It’s not just about calling more prospects. Instead, it’s more important to connect with those prospects. Some teams are obsessed with speed and volume, but there’s a happy medium where you can achieve higher productivity without frustrating your prospects.
Sales teams love a power dialer software because it skyrockets calling productivity and streamlines follow-up and post-call workflows, while ensuring reps are fresh and focused when they get a live answer. Where you may only be able to make up to 20 calls max per hour when dialing manually, you'll be able to pump up the volume and call up to 80 leads in one hour. That's per agent per hour! Multiply that by the number of agents you have on your team, and you can call hundreds, or even thousands, of new leads every single hour.
CRM is short for customer relationship management software. As the name suggests, a CRM will help you manage your customers (including prospective ones) so that you can track them in your pipeline from contact to customer.
There are a lot of CRMs on the market, but not all will provide the level of customer management you need. When vetting CRMs, look for a software that can record the following information about your contacts:
- Phone number
- Local time zone
- Email address
- Call history
- Call recordings
- Email opens
- Attachment views
- Link clicks
- Custom fields
- Text exchanges
- And much more
You can record every interaction with your contacts in your CRM. This way, you build upon your last interaction with your lead and continue to nurture a relationship. CRMs with sales cadence and campaign tools make it easy to know exactly who is on your list to call today and where each lead is in your sales pipeline.
Using a CRM makes it so easy for your agents to log in and start logging new cold calls. They'll also be able to use the CRM to quickly research the lead ahead of or during a cold call to improve their chances of building an immediate rapport.
Local Caller ID
Here's a quick question: Will you answer a call from an area code you've never heard of before? Or are you more likely to answer a call from your own area code, even if you don't recognize the number?
Local, right? Most people give preference to local numbers. You'll increase your chances of getting your calls answered if you go hyper local.
But don't worry if you need to call multiple area codes in the course of your sales day. Choose a cold calling software that offers local ID. This way, when you call a prospect, your software will automatically display a number that's local to one that you've dialed—no matter which area code you’re dialing. This feature will improve your call pick-up rate dramatically.
Some software can even rotate between local numbers to reduce call output for each number. This can reduce the likelihood of spam flags or number blocks, which take call volume into account.
Most cold calls go to voicemail. But if you hang up and don't leave a voicemail, it's almost like you never called in the first place. Leave a voicemail to introduce yourself and warm up your lead for a future follow-up call.
Here's the thing about leaving voicemails—it's an incredible time suck (and so monotonous). Not only do you need to wait for the voicemail to pick up and listen to the message, but you also need to leave a message of your own.
When it's all said and done, you've spent, on average, one minute on the process. One minute may not sound like a lot of time, but keep in mind that 70% of calls go to voicemail. Multiply that over the course of one week and you can easily waste hours on leaving voicemail.
This is why you need voicemail drop. With voicemail drop, you can pre-record voicemail messages and then, when you know that the call is heading towards voicemail, click a button to automatically drop your message. This frees you up to move on to the next call while still initiating contact with your lead.
The same click that drops a voicemail can also send an email and/or a text, which can dramatically increase callbacks and replies.
Manually distributing leads is another time suck. If you're working with a team of agents, you need a way to efficiently distribute leads. This way, you ensure productivity because everyone on your sales team has a list of leads to call throughout the day. And admins can maintain their sanity because there’s no need to distribute the leads manually.
Look for a lead distribution feature that gives you the power to customize your distribution based on goals and rules, and the unique set up of your sales team. A lead distribution feature should give you the following options:
- Blind Pull - Leads go into a shared pool and are distributed to participating agents who are logged in and ready to make calls.
- Preview Pull - Agents can review information about a lead before initiating the dial.
- Round Robin - A pool of leads is distributed to participating agents based on rules defined for each agent, such as a maximum number of leads per sales session.
- First Come - Leads are distributed to the one recipient until their allotment is reached before giving leads to next recipient.
- Lead Blitz - As real-time leads come in, they are made available to participating agents and the first to claim the lead gets it.
One of the best ways to improve your sales team's productivity is by automating those tedious tasks that eat away at their time. Here are a few time-wasting tasks that you can easily automate with the right cold calling software:
Manual Dialing - When you're dialing a high volume of prospects, manually inputting those numbers can slow you down. A power dialer will eliminate the need to manually dial. It saves a few seconds each call, but those seconds add up over the course of a day.
Waiting to Leave Voicemails - The majority of sales calls go to voicemail. By waiting around for the prospect's answering service to pick up, your agents lose time and energy. But your software system can automatically drop pre-recorded voicemails at the click of a button without reps even needing to wait for the beep.
Contact Management and Cadence - After a call, your agent should update the CRM with new information about the prospect, such as if they answered or left a voicemail, as well as arrange the next step in the follow-up cadence. These tasks are necessary but can slow the agent down and prevent them from moving to the next call. Your cold call software can speed up the process. Instead of manually inputting information, the agent can click on buttons that you customize for your unique processes. These dispositions can automatically update the contact records and systematize the next step in the cadence.
Email and SMS Follow-Up - Outreach these days is an omni-channel experience. The best cold calling software will also facilitate email and even SMS outreach to increase exposure, callbacks, and conversions. All of these touchpoints can be automated based on call outcome so that email and SMS follow-ups are triggered right as a call ends, with no additional effort needed by the sales rep.
After setting performance objectives for your sales team, how do you know when you're meeting them?
The right cold calling software will help you monitor campaigns and measure both productivity and performance.
Automatic Dial Session Tracking - You should be able to track the dialing activity for individual agents or your entire team. Look for a platform that allows you to see your dialing performance over time, review individual dial session statistics, or drill down to individual call lengths and results.
How many dials are being made? How many voicemails are being left? How many emails are sent? Equally important is outcomes. How many contacts are interested or not interested? How many appointments are being set? The right cold call software will track every call, by every rep, so you understand activity as well as outcomes.
Team Reporting - Because you manage a team of sales reps, you’ll benefit from using a platform that supports team reporting, so that you can see a birds eye view of what’s working and what needs improvement. This will help you assess training needs, reward top performers, and take actions that promote revenue growth.
Call Recording and Monitoring - Your cold calling software should be able to record calls for future training, or listen in live. This way, you can use actual calls to assess skills and training gaps, and have something to refer to in coaching sessions.
Real-Time Leaderboards - Your sales team may already know and love leaderboards, except most of the time, they tend to be manually updated, lagging behind real-time performance. Look for a platform that allows you to broadcast metrics you care about improving — daily call count, talk time, and prospect engagement. These tools not only help you monitor activity throughout the day, but can be an effective way to motivate everyone to perform to their best ability.
Automated Reporting Right to Your Inbox - You should be able to build reports at any time with your cold calling software or have them automatically emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis. This helps you stay on top of your team's efforts.
What are the Best Practices for Cold Calling?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're performing first time cold calls, or following-up on existing leads and prospects.
Learn From Rejection, and Hone Your Craft
You and rejection are going to be best friends. It's just part of the game. While you can’t prevent cold call rejection from happening, you can learn from it and eventually reduce rejection by honing your sales techniques. For example, you can create more effective sales scripts, use a call cadence, and have a better plan for handling rejections.
Perhaps the most important strategy for every sales agent is persistence. A “no” usually means “not right now.” Don’t give up. With a little persistence, you may be able to win them over.
Accept that rejections will happen, but when they do, don’t linger. Let them roll off of you. Instead, focus on the good calls. If you’re particularly sensitive to rejection, build a library of positive sales call recordings that you can then listen back to after a particularly harsh rejection. This little hack will return you to a positive state of mind and remind you that you can do this.
Don't Expect to Close the Sale Immediately
A cold call gets your foot in the door, but it doesn't usually close a sale. According to The Brevet Group, it takes an average of eight cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Then, after meeting with a prospect, it takes another five follow-up calls to convert the prospect into a customer. That's a lot of energy but it's worth it when you make the sale.
Use your initial cold call as an opportunity to introduce yourself and make the prospect aware of how your product or service solves a pain point. Then build a well thought out cadence that combines follow-up calls, emails, texts and other exposures that educate them on how your offering provides a solution to their need.
Don't Read Directly From a Script
Good cold calling software provides the ability to add a script that you can refer to during your phone session. However, instead of reading from it, know it, and “ad lib” to keep things fresh and natural. Give yourself the freedom to switch things up and learn as you go.
The goal of having a script isn't to use it as an actual script that you read off of verbatim. It's to cover main talking points, hot buttons, and pain points so that you hit on the key motivators during your call. But if you sound like a robot, or your contact feels like a number and not a valued prospect, hitting all the right notes won't close the deal.
Naturally, if you're working with a new agent, it may be useful for them to read directly from the phone script until they're confident in their selling ability. But that's only a stepping stone to conversational proficiency.
Your cold calling software can empower your sales team and make it easier for them to hit important business objectives. If you’d like to learn more about PhoneBurner’s cold calling software (and sign up for a free trial), click here.