Cold calling can be one of the most challenging parts of telephone sales. Here are some indications that you may need to tweak your call approach.

There’s plenty of guidance out there about refining your cold call approach, but following that guidance doesn’t guarantee success. While much of that guidance is valuable, the only way to really understand if your cold call approach is effective is by analyzing customer behavior and measuring results following any given series of calls.

Success isn’t only measured by sales, though. A cold call may very well be considered successful if all you’ve done is secured another meeting or built trust with a client. After all, most cold calls don’t result in immediate sales, so it’s a little unfair to use that alone as the measuring stick.

But we’re not looking at measuring wins here. Sometimes, a call approach just isn’t working. It may mean that you need to add a little coaching to weekly meetings, or perhaps you need a better call script. Whatever the case may be, it can be hard to know when to review your methods. Here are some indications that your cold call approach isn’t working.

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8 Indications it’s time to change your cold call approach (and how to fix it)

1. Numbers are too low

The most obvious indicator that your cold call approach is failing is simply having low numbers. While cold calling “success” rates are typically low, those numbers generally only measure calls that turn into sales. Forget about those for a minute. Look at other statistics such as how many people accept your calls, how many calls turn into second meetings, and how long your cold calls last. These statistics don’t mean you’ll make a sale, but they can tell you whether or not your approach is working even if you’re experiencing low sales.

2. Not making enough touches

Another number that can give you insight into the effectiveness of your cold calling is the number of calls you make each day. On average, a sales rep makes about 33 cold calls every day (even more with technology like Call Logic). If you’re doing more than that, great, but if not, your call approach may be failing just because you’re not making enough calls. Block out time to make cold calls and set a goal for each day. If, for some reason, you don’t reach your target, try to make up for it the next day so that your weekly average comes out to a reasonable amount. Remember, much of cold calling is a numbers game, so you’ve got to keep the numbers up to win.

3. Giving up too easily

It takes an average of eight cold call attempts to reach a new prospect, so if you’re quitting after just one or two attempts, you’ll likely enjoy less success than your competitors. Cold calling takes persistence for sure, but don’t let that affect your ability to cultivate a successful call approach. If you call and leave a message, call again in a couple of days or sooner if you think it’s reasonable. Give yourself at least two weeks of trying to reach a prospect before you determine that they’re a cold lead.

4. Voicemails aren’t returned

If people aren’t getting back to you, that may be a sign that your approach isn’t working. The problem may be with your voicemails. Using technology like Call Logic, you can pre-record voicemails and leave them quickly and easily. This ensures that you’re succinct and that you hit the essential points in the 15 seconds or so you have to make an impression in a recorded message. True, many voicemails will still go unreturned—that’s just the nature of the beast. But if you’re leaving quality voicemails, at least a few of them should generate enough interest to keep the conversation going.

5. Prospects are hanging up

Perhaps the worst part of cold calling is when someone outright hangs up on you before you’ve even finished speaking. This, however, can be an indication of a problem with your call approach rather than simply a lack of interest from the prospect. Make sure that you’re asking the right questions, that you’ve qualified the lead before reaching out, and that you’re providing some value. If a client says now isn’t a good time to talk, respect that and ask about another time. Be persistent, but don’t be pushy.

6. Not reaching the right people

Many cold calls are intercepted by “gatekeepers,” and good gatekeepers do an excellent job keeping you from your audience. This can be frustrating, but there are ways around it. Turn up the charm and remember that you’re not selling to the gatekeeper; rather, you’re trying to get past them to sell to someone else. Emphasize the value of your offering and why your target audience would be highly interested in it. Respect gatekeepers as well; they can make or break your ability to connect with the people you want to talk to.

7. Feeling burnout

Another sign that your cold call approach is failing is if you constantly feel burned out from making calls to which no one responds. If you feel like you’re beating your head against the wall, it’s probably not because you’re bad at your job; instead, it’s likely because you need to change your call approach. Try calling at different times of day (within TCPA guidelines, of course) or try a different opening. If you feel burnt out, slow down, take a deep breath, and ask yourself honestly what you could be doing differently. You’ll often find that minor adjustments to your approach can yield incredible results.

8. Prospects seem interested, then disappear

If you’ve successfully gotten through to someone, they seem interested, and then you never hear from them again, it could be a sign that you’re doing something wrong. Take a look at your follow-up practices—perhaps you’re not doing enough to proactively get back in touch with them. Also, when you close your calls, do what you can to measure interest at that time. Don’t just take a prospect’s word for it. Find out what interested them the most and ask about a time for a future call. If you’ve got them on your side, you should easily be able to reconnect with them and hopefully make a sale.

It’s never a bad idea to review your approach to cold calls and make adjustments. You never know when a few small tweaks will result in big rewards.

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