Cold calling is not everyone's cup of tea. In fact, it is much like matcha. Some appreciate it for its long-term benefits despite the painfully bitter taste it leaves. But getting rejected a hundred times a day on calls may still be unpalatable for seasoned professionals.
Just like the Japanese who turned matcha into a fast-selling milkshake by loading it with sugar and cream, you too can make cold calling more – palatable – with just the right ingredients. Copious amounts of practice, a pinch of negotiation skills, a handful of rock-hard perseverance, and a dash of tuning into demos will do. The detailed recipe is below.
Setting up such a robust training process ensures that even the nerve-wracking new joiners are comfortable dialing prospects from day 1.
In this blog, we detail a three-step cold calling training framework you can use to coach your salespeople to be successful cold callers.
Feel free to adopt it, twist it, turn it, tug at its logic, and or add more to it.
Why Is Cold Call Training Important?
Cold calling experts are not born, they're made. You can't expect your sales reps to pick up the phone and ace cold calling from day 1. To drive results, they should learn the ropes of it. With a structured cold call training, sales reps will:
- Know how to talk about your solution in the most compelling way
- Learn to handle rejections and objections they face during cold calls
- Find it easy to tame their cold calling anxiety
How To Train Salespeople in Cold Calling?: A 3-Step Process
1. Learn the Why: Why Are They Cold Calling? + What Are They Selling?
Your sales reps need to know why they are cold calling before they start. And the 'why' isn't about crushing their quota or booking a meeting. It is about helping prospects discover the pain points they were unaware of.
"My job is to start conversations and shine a light on problems my prospects didn't know they had. It's to raise "What-ifs" and make them think about the different ways to get their job done", says Zac Walter, Account Development Executive at UserGems.
Once your reps are clear about the 'why', it is time for them to know the product they are selling. Your reps needn't know every single detail about your product. In fact, they just need to know enough to convince the prospect that your product will help them solve their pain points and achieve results.
2. Absorb the Script: Reps Should Absorb the Script + Learn To Improvise
This is where you introduce your sales reps to cold calling scripts. Scripts help sales teams tame their cold calling fears and deal with the uncertainties of cold calling.
To ensure that your reps are able to learn the script, remember it, and absorb it enough to improvise on it, they have to practice their learnings. While practicing the scripts you need to train them on the importance of the tone of voice, the pace at which they deliver the script, and how long they can hold the conversation for.
3. Become a Maestro: Listen To Call Recordings + Coach Reps on Best Practices
Once reps have learned what to say and how to comfortably make hundreds of cold calls, you need to push them to improve on the nuances, like how many calls they can make and maintaining the quality of the calls as the number increases.
The learning never stops. We're not going to whip out another quote by another godfather, because you know the point. Learning to cold call fearlessly was just the first step, then they have to make calls that convert, they have to rewrite scripts, reinvent new ways to handle objections, and crush quotas that are nearly impossible to achieve.
From your part, many conversation intelligence tools allow you to go through a rep's call recording, assess their performance, and coach them.
10 Effective Techniques To Train Your Sales Team
1. Show Them How to Research for the Call
Having a script is only going halfway. Before new sales reps start their calls, they have to gather information about the prospects and prepare.
Set a time cap on research and give them a clear idea of what to look for while researching your prospect. This ensures that your reps don't go down the research rabbit hole.
The 5-minute research technique made popular by Kyle Coleman, SVP, of Marketing of Clari is a good way to go about this. According to this technique, your rep should find 5 interesting insights on each prospect within 5 minutes.
Here are some of the non-negotiable details your reps should look for during the 5-minute prospect research:
- The target company's goals, decision-makers, and how they are solving the problem right now.
- Trigger events like new rounds of funding, new hires, news articles, events/conferences, and regulation changes.
2. Teach Them to Gauge Prospects’ Responses
A prospect who outrightly says no is better than someone who leaves you confused. The sooner your sales reps understand this, the more time and effort they save.
Even though it is one of the cold calling skills nurtured over decades of experience, you can equip your rep with the basics of gauging a prospect's response. For example, in a cold call, if the prospect is:
- Giving short answers,
- Refusing to connect you with the decision-maker
- Not giving you a timeline
It means the prospect is not interested in engaging with you and is simply wearing you out.
3. Provide a Cold Calling Playbook
Every sales team would have designed an efficient cold calling process. If not, you can build one using the information here. Document the whole sales process and share it with your sales reps.
Add all the best practices too. All your reps are not using the same opening line or selling the value proposition in the same manner. Sometimes what sets successful sales reps apart are the smallest tweaks, the microcosms of change they must have added to the existing scripts.
Your cold calling playbook should include the following:
- Current calling strategy and process:
- Making cold calls,
- Taking call notes, updating the call status in the CRM, google sheet..etc.
- Best responses to handle objections (Check this out for tips and best practices)
- List of best CTAs
4. Ask Them to Shadow Experienced Sales Reps
Ask reps to shadow experienced sales reps for the first month and learn crucial aspects of bringing the cold call alive from them. While shadowing, ask reps to take note of the:
- Pre-call rituals follow
- Their cold calling process
- The tone of voice they use
- The openers they use
- The pace they follow
- The way they handle objections
- The way they analyze their calls
5. Encourage Them to Role Play With Colleagues
Second, after nearly a week of shadowing top performers, reps can start role-playing with their colleagues. The only way to absorb those learnings is through practice. Set aside 1-2 hours daily for their practice/roleplay sessions.
Another addition to make the sessions more useful is to let them score each other on various parameters that make a cold call successful. This exercise will highlight areas they need to improve and make them more confident to call strangers. It will also improve their active listening skills. Stephen Covey author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." Hence, such cold calling exercises will help them actively tune in to the prospect's responses.
6. Challenge Them to Cold Call Internal Stakeholders
Once your sales reps gain confidence through shadowing and role-playing, it is time for the ultimate ordeal - cold calling your internal stakeholders. Ask them to call your CXOs and pitch.
This way, your reps will get used to talking to chief decision-makers and get an idea about the main objections they will raise.
7. Help Them Handle Rejections and Objections
Practice like you're preparing for an apocalypse, especially the objections. But sometimes, nothing you or your sales rep can help when the prospect is simply not interested. And you must train your reps to be prepared for those rejections.
This fear of rejection is also the primary culprit that holds reps back from going all in with cold calls. So let them know that it's okay to be rejected. The key here is to build confidence and drive to keep on going.
They can practice getting various rejections from colleagues. Meanwhile, divert their attention to what is in their control: dealing with objections.
Create an exercise sheet filled with common objections shared by your experienced SDRs. Leave some space for the responses. Get the reps in training to fill them out towards the end of their training period.
8. Analyze Their Call Recordings
Analyzing the cold calls your sales reps make is an indispensable part of cold call training. But listening and noting down suggestions for every cold call they make is impossible.
A conversation intelligence tool comes in handy during this time. These tools :
- Finds the most common mistakes your reps make
- Gives them suggestions for improving
- Analyzes cold calls using various parameters like talk-listen ratio, topic duration, etc.
9. Show Them How to Self-Evaluate Their Cold Calls
In the final phase of the training, reps need to be able to review their own work. That is, they can listen to their own calls and pinpoint areas they can improve. Here are some questions you should train your reps to ask after every cold call:
- What would they do differently if given a second chance?
- How did they handle the objections the prospect raised?
- What was the pace and tone of their voice?
- Which opener did they use?
Most sales engagement tools will have a call recording feature built in. Reviewing their own calls will help them take ownership of their growth and help them stay motivated.
10. Set up Cold Calling Benchmark Metrics
This is not a one-size-fits-all approach here, you have to choose your call KPIs according to your industry, product or service, deal sizes, etc. To begin with, note what your current top performers are scoring and use it as a benchmark to assess the performance of your newer reps'.
There are two most common metrics that you can use to rate your reps' performances:
1. Qualitative Metrics
- Tone of voice - Did they talk in an upward or downward inflection
- Pace - Did they talk fast, slow, or in a normal pace
- Objection handling - How did they handle the objections that came their way
- Productivity – Are they able to follow through on the calls that did not convert?
2. Quantitative Metrics
- Number of calls - How many cold calls did they make during a week/month/quarter etc.?
- Call duration - What's the average call duration of cold calls they make?
- Call conversion rate- The number of successful cold calls/ total number of cold calls.
A structured cold calling framework helps your reps learn the ropes of cold calling. But never let them fall into the trap of over-preparation and procrastination. Teach them it is okay to fail, get embarrassed and rejected, and push them into the arena ruthlessly as any well-intended coach would do. Because, after all, the best way to ace cold calling is by making more cold calls.
How Can I Practice Cold Calling by Myself?
- Make more cold calls
- Analyze every cold call you make
- Listen to cold recordings of top-performing reps
What Is the Goal of Cold Call Training?
- Gain the confidence to cold call
- Master cold calling
- Meet their quota and thus help hit your revenue goals.