Outbound sales can be grueling:
- Everyone is getting hammered with calls.
- Every niche is competitive.
- Every call requires you to differentiate yourself.
- Every conversation feels like it’s a greater challenge than ordering a regular coffee in a way Starbucks baristas understand.
Ever since you were in the Sales equivalent of diapers, you’ve been taught that success comes from the little things like focusing on selling benefits rather than features, writing personalized emails, giving firm handshakes and maintaining eye contact.
Those are all tried and true parts of selling, but they’re also exactly what everyone else is trained to do too.
That’s why this article isn’t about the basics. It’s not about how to present your product well or how to take a prospect from discovery to deal closed.
Because none of that matters if you can’t get your foot in the door.
Instead, this article is about what else you could be doing to improve your chances at outbound success.
We’ve polled some of our favorite Salespeople and compiled our favorite ways these professionals are differentiating themself from the competition. These are things you can do too. Take a read.
1. Use a Phone Number Local To Your Prospect
When was the last time you picked up a random call from across the country? If your answer is more recent than “never,” you’re probably the only one. To be precise, people are 4x more likely to answer calls from local numbers, even when it’s from an unknown caller ID.
Now, I’m not saying you need to go around buying a phone number in every region of the country in case you get a lead there… But if you're hoping to expand into a new market, or there's a few places you're having trouble making a connection, it will pay dividents to invest in some phone numbers with those area codes. That way, wherever your prospects are, you’ll have the best possible chance of getting them to pick up the phone.
2. Pre-Record and Test Different Voicemails
One of the most difficult (and most discouraging) parts of cold calling is getting sent to voicemail, over and over again...and then having to nail your voicemail script with excitement and confidence.
Voicemail drop features immediately put this problem to bed by allowing you to pre-record sales voicemails and then “drop” them right into an inbox. You can even set a delay to your message, giving you a few seconds to personalize it with a prospect’s name or local greeting.
This may seem like a strange tip at first since, if you’re being sent to voicemail, you’ve clearly failed to get your foot in the door. However, that’s the reality of cold calling. You’re going to get sent to voicemail a lot. But by removing the time and morale it costs to leave the same voicemail over and over again, your team can stay fresh and focus on the calls that connect.
Using voicemail drop, our own sales team has seen more callbacks and a 60% increase in call volume each day. I’m sure they’d love a chance to teach you the ways of their success.
3. Have Your Work Phone on Every Device
Once you’ve made contact with a prospect, you never know when they’re going to call you back. It could be in ten minutes. Or it could be three days later while you’re working from home or making a grocery run.
Wherever you are, you need to be able to answer that call. Because if you don’t, their next call will be to your competitor.
Luckily for salespeople everywhere, any phone system worth its salt will have options to put your work extension on all your devices.
Cell phone? Boom. Mobile App that lets you use your work number on your personal device.
Laptop? Boom. Softphone application that puts a whole virtual dialer on your screen.
Smart fridge? *has quick conversation with development team* You know, it might actually work! I don’t know why you’d want to talk with prospects through your fridge, but it’s an option. Though, you might want to try your smart washing machine instead. I don’t know about you, but my washing machine seems way more ‘in the know’ than my fridge.
4. Ask “How Have You Been?” Instead of “Did I Catch You at a Bad Time?”
For this one, I’m going to lean on some data from our friends at LinkedIn. Bear with me.
One of the most common ways salespeople open their cold calls is to ask, “Did I catch you at a bad time?” It’s a tactic recommended by multiple sales books, and the theory behind it is that people naturally prefer to say “no” when presented with unexpected situations.
Therefore, when you ask a question where “no” is actually the positive answer you’re looking for, it’s a great way to move ahead without the prospect feeling like they’ve given up control.
Unfortunately, opening your cold call with “Did I catch you at a bad time” makes you 40% less likely to book a meeting.
Fortunately, opening your cold call with “How have you been?” has proven to increase success rates by almost 7x and, in many cases, result in meetings being set 10% of the time.
Why does it work so well? Well, it’s complicated. But the main reason is that “How have you been?” implies a previous interaction, even when there wasn’t. This catches your prospect off guard and causes them to scramble for a polite response.
Even if you’ve never talked to them before, it’s still a perfectly acceptable question to ask someone. Sure, they might call you out and say they’ve never spoken with you in their life, but you’d be surprised how rarely that actually happens.
5. Call One Number Off
So I can’t promise this will work, but if you’re having an especially hard time getting a prospect on the phone, try calling one number off from their direct line. For instance, instead of dialing 720-398-6248 and getting sent to voicemail again, try 720-398-6247.
If you’re tremendously lucky, they’ll have a second, special line that they’re much more likely to answer. More likely, you’ll get someone else at their company who may be willing to transfer you over. Transferred calls look different on caller ID, so your prospect is much more likely to pick up than if you’d called directly from the outside.
6. Bond Over a Shared Interest
In the internet age, it’s simple as pie to find out a prospect’s interests and at least pretend to have one in common.
If they have a favorite sports team, bring up their recent performance. If they have an obscure hobby, bring up that you’re trying to get into that same hobby. If they’ve been binging a new show, ask what they thought about [SPOILER] or what predictions they have going forward.
Most people love talking about themselves even more than they hate random calls from salespeople. The chat is worth the investment.
For instance, remember when the whole nation was obsessed with Tiger King? I do, because I spent nearly 20 minutes listening to one of our salespeople discuss every juicy detail with a prospect before even making his pitch.
Guess who landed another happy FluentStream client.
7. State Your Full Name and Company
People who state their full name command respect and have an air of importance about them. Try it. Seriously, try it the next time you introduce yourself to someone new. I guarantee you’ll both feel cool, and the new acquaintance will straighten their back a bit.
Also, be sure to include the company you work for as part of your introduction. Don’t try to hide it or “intrigue” the prospect into asking. As with all conversations, the person asking the questions holds the power.
By laying a baseline right away of who you are and why you’re calling, it allows you to get to the proper business of finding out more about your prospect rather than the other way around.
8. Send a Phone Pre-Programmed with Your Extension
This one might seem a bit silly, but I promise it works more often than you’d think. Anyone and everyone hands out business cards with their company info, or their personal cell number so they can be reached “day or night.”
The only problem is, prospects don’t want to call you in the middle of the night while you’re at home. They want to call you when they’re at the office to talk business like professionals.
That’s why, instead of a phone number, you send them a whole dang phone pre-programmed with your direct line as the first number on their quick dial list. It’s like their own personal Batphone straight to your extension whenever they have a question or want to schedule a meeting.
The worst-case scenario is that the prospect gets a cool new phone for their desk and always thinks of you when they use it. You never know then that goodwill might pay off down the line.
Want to increase your cold call connection rate by as much as 400%? Do you have other burning questions about the ways modern phone technology can help you book meetings? Our Communications Experts are standing by at 303-462-5683 or email@example.com.