3 Ways to get a Prospect to Return your Cold Call

Whilst many in our profession may have put the final nail in cold calling’s coffin, at IRD we maintain that, when done right, outbound calling and the much-maligned cold call remains one of the most powerful tools in the box.

being-hardAs we said in 5 ways to warm up a cold call, businesses that completely dismiss the value that relevant sales calls can add are missing out on many opportunities to grow and drive efficiency. The question is not whether to employ outbound phone tactics, but how to develop a smart and targeted way of prospecting for business that will lead to a relevant conversation between buyer and seller.

Whatever your position is on the outbound call debate, one thing is for certain, a large proportion of your calls will inevitably end up with you being asked to “please leave a message and I’ll get right back to you”.

And herein lies one of the biggest frustrations for many sales people. Whilst gearing yourself up to make the call in the first place is one thing, arguably the biggest challenge and productivity killer faced by the cold caller is getting their prospects to return voicemails. It’s all well and good, embracing the phone, but we need to accept that more often than not our initial call will land on an answer phone or PA rather than the object of our attentions. Not only do we need to factor the voicemail rate into our overall activity metrics, we need to ensure that we master the art of voicemail to ensure the maximum bang from our cold calling buck. Simply put, getting the message you leave right can be a critical component of sales success.

To define the killer cold call, let’s pause for a moment and reflect on why prospects don’t return your calls.

From my own experience, having replayed countless messages cold callers have left on my voicemail, it is fair to say there’s 5 key failings that bring me to hit delete quicker than you can say Jack Robins:

  1. Your voicemail is too long.vm

    The phone message isn’t the time and place for a protracted pitch. This approach tells me a lot about you. I know if I call you back and accept a meeting I’d only be subjecting myself to more long winded pain.

  2. You don’t get to the point.

    Your message fails to get to the point and I’m suspicious. Anything but short, succinct plain talking destines you to deletion.

  3. I’m none the wiser as to who you are.

    Unless you work for a globally recognised brand, chances are I don’t know your business and what it provides.

  4. I don’t need your solution.

    Whilst you might assume there’s a universal need for your product or service, unless you’ve caught me at just the right time, you’re unlikely to catch my attention.

Whilst this may seem obvious, the art of voicemail that have a high call-back rate is no simple thing. At IRD we advocate a smart calling approach where every opportunity possible is taken to turn a cold call into a warm call. With that in mind here’s our three tips on how to grab attention, motivate a response and create a sense of urgency:

  1. Give a reason, Get a call back.

    Bottom line is that without a compelling reason to return your message, few prospects will take the time out of their busy schedule to get back to you. Make sure to do your research so that you can demonstrate the challenges that they’re likely to be facing, and flag that by calling you back they’ll be taking the first step towards easing their pain. As will all sales calls, think in advance about how you add value to your prospect’s business and communicate this succinctly. Focus the message on how you can help your prospect and pique their interest by demonstrating that you’ve done your homework. Product features are not relevant at this stage, so if it is all about you and your business, the message is going to be deleted.

  2. Be upfront about the benefits.

    The hierarchy of messaging in your message is a crucial consideration. You’ve got mere seconds to capture the attention of the person listening to your message before they open the trapdoor. Your prospect won’t be interested enough to call you back because you are John Smith calling from “Well Know Brand X”. They’re a selfish bunch that always want to know what’s in it for them. So, if your product or solution can fix an issue you know they face, make sure you lead heavily, but concisely, with that proposition. Drop your value proposition asap and leave the company backgrounder or your bio for another time.

  3. Build a connection.

    From an early age, stranger danger is drummed into us. Human nature is such that we build trust from the familiar, so never miss an opportunity to drop the name of a mutual acquaintance or to flag a connection you have with your prospect’s company. Mentioning the person who referred you or a mutual contact will set you aside from other callers and will significantly boost your credibility and chances of a return call.

Whilst cold calling is ultimately a numbers’ game and the reality is that a high percentage of your messages will not be returned, we know you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the positive impact these three tips will have on the overall success of your cold calling endeavours.