Cold Calling Secret #3: Focus on the Questions, Not the Pitch

January 22, 2019

Shawn Parrotte

January is in full swing now and we’re back with our third cold calling article, after The Secret to a Scheduled Meeting - Longer Cold Calls and Do You Have at Least 4 Calls in Your Cold Calling Sequence?

The Science team analyzed over 1 million cold calls made through Outreach with our Artificial Intelligence. A quick summary of what we’ve learned so far:

Okay so you make four calls and with some luck, one of the conversations is longer and gets into the weeds. What should be the content of your call? How much of it should be about pitching the product and how much should be qualification and / or discovery questions?

It's Not About Pitching #

Chorus research shows that successful cold calls are not just about pitching the product. Top reps use cold calls also to explore what resonates with the prospect and feed that into the downstream sales process.

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Reps typically ask about four questions related to pain, qualification, and value. One of the best ways to build your cold-calling battle card is to create a list of questions related to all these areas and train the team on how to prioritize one over the other, based on how the prospect responds.

E.g. if a prospect seems reluctant to go in-depth into pains or challenges, the rep can steer the conversation towards something like “So what is a key goal or benefit you are trying to get out of a solution like this?”

How Long Should I Talk on a Cold Call? #

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The average talk time of a rep in successful cold calls is 44%. However, as you know there is no single golden talk listen ratio that you should stick to or measure against. Some prospects might get you to talk much more and that is a great sign. Instead of focusing on one number, follow a best practice Talk/ Listen range and ensure most of your calls fall within that range. Chorus Science data suggests SDRs and sales reps should try to keep most cold calls within a 40-50% talk ratio.

Ask for Feedback #

Scott Barker of Sales Hacker and, says one of his favorite cold calling best practices is to ask for feedback from the prospect. Some of his tips for reps who cold call include:

  • Ask the prospect for feedback at a critical juncture (e.g. if you feel they’re getting ready to hang up on you).
  • E.g. "Hey, I'm really trying to get the hang of this, is there anything I could have changed in my approach that would have gotten you to take a meeting with me?". What this does is jolt them out of their typical "ugh-I-hate-cold-callers-mode", puts them into a position of authority, makes them critically think for a second & then they are in teaching mode.
  • This works on two levels:
    • You get free call coaching on what resonates with prospects!
    • A frequent response you might get it "Hmmm honestly I don't know...what is it that you do again?" and then it gives you a chance to articulate your benefits in a less combative environment (one where they are actually listening).

In our next cold calling article we tell you how to ensure you have an engaging conversation with your prospects.

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