Cold calling gets a bum rap. That’s too bad, because the phrase’s built-in negativity only fosters a salesperson’s dread and a prospect’s skepticism. Rather than being “un” anything (unwelcome, uninvited, undesirable), I choose to view cold calling through the eyes of opportunity. It’s a chance to introduce yourself, share your business value, expand your professional network and of course, land new deals. And yes, sometimes cold calling sucks, but the more you do it, the more confidence you build and the better you become.
For inside sales, cold calling is a blend of art and science. Mastering the art portion requires a combination of training and real-life experience. For the science side, skilled salespeople identify and leverage sales methodology to their advantage. Studying, practicing – and eventually mastering – several fundamental elements of cold calling will result in increased earnings.
One question I’m often asked centers around “when” to best make cold calls. Through personal experience as well as industry data, I’ve identified my five favorite times for disciplined call blocks. This calling methodology can create the competitive distinction between being a top 10% performer year after year and simply taking home a participation trophy.
- Early Mornings – Beginning a calling block at 7:30AM can feel like stepping outside for a run on a blustery winter morning. Sure, getting going can be tough, but then rhythm sets in. You’re fresh. You’re in a zone. You’re enjoying the rewards of making contact before gatekeepers arrive, meetings begin and the day is lost to myriad of business issues.
- Friday Afternoons, after 3PM – Before launching into a Friday afternoon call block, it’s critical you make the time to prep your space and reboot your mindset. Get a snack. Listen to your at-bat music. Reset your focus and start dialing. While other salespeople are winding down, you’re making a fresh charge. Connect with an executive on a Friday afternoon, and you’ve made a trustworthy impression as someone who will be there until the end.
- Saturday Mornings, 9AM–10:30AM – While it’s one of my favorite times to call, this block isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires tenacious discipline and determination. This is a time for fanatical dialing. Hang up when you reach voicemail and dial the next number. You may not reach a single decision maker. But trust me, when you do connect with those precious few, they’re big wins.
- Any Afternoon Before a Holiday – Similar to Friday afternoons, the final few business hours before a holiday are often an office wasteland. People clear out—including salespeople. Don’t do it, if you can. This is another fantastic opportunity to separate yourself from the pack. And unlike my Saturday advice, this is a perfect time to leave personalized voicemails. The timestamp demonstrates a commitment to your customers.
- Week between Christmas and New Years – This is money week. Plain and simple. And the most effective approach to cold calling during this weird off week is a combination of Saturdays and pre-holidays. Leave personalized voicemails. Let prospects know you’re thinking about them and reaching out in hopes of connecting. The vast majority will end in voicemail, but on the rare occasion when you do connect live, you’ll have undivided attention. The office is quiet, and executives generally use this week for looking ahead and planning the coming year. What better time to make a new connection?
Some sales strategists suggest that cold calling during the beginning and ending hours of the workday both yield solid answer rates. While I agree that fresh-minded, early morning call blocking is a no-brainer, I want more than a live response. I want effectiveness. I want conversion. And I’ll take strategic, focused effort – and the resulting big wins – over afternoon after ragged afternoon. For those of us who are never satisfied with participation trophies, I challenge you to commit to this cold calling methodology for one year. Most won’t. Those who do will reap the rewards.
When have you had your best success in cold calling? Does your industry, service or product affect your dial times? What timeslots have you found to be most effective? Share your experiences.