Cold Calling 101: Advice for Global Sales Teams

Whether you’re an entry-level business development representative (BDR) or a seasoned sales professional, cold calling remains a fundamental element of most B2B sales cycles.

Often seen as the most challenging sales tactic, the natural inclination might be to avoid picking up the phone. But when done properly, cold calling is still a very effective way to make genuine contact with prospects.

To make your calls count, here are some tips from our global sales team. Get ready to book more meetings and build more pipeline.

Transparency is Key 

Whether you’re calling from the UK, Germany, France or beyond, make your intentions clear from the beginning of the call. There are strict privacy regulations in the UK and across Europe, including the UK GDPR, European GDPR, and EU Marketing Laws. Due to these regulations, it’s better to be up-front and honest with your prospects at the start of every call. 

Here’s a sample opening line to incorporate into your talk track:

“Hey [prospect name], this is John Smith from ZoomInfo. I appreciate that we’ve not spoken before so I hope you don’t mind the direct approach — have you got a minute?”

This line is clear, direct, and concise. By incorporating a similar introduction in your talk track, every prospect you call will immediately know who you are, where you work, and why you are calling them.

Location, Location, Location

When you cold call internationally, it’s vital to maintain privacy compliance with local regulations. Make sure you have a system that checks against Do Not Call lists before you reach out to a prospect. Do Not Call lists are managed on a country-by-country basis, so it’s always good to take time to learn about local laws before reaching out.

Of course, there are other local differences to keep in mind as well. You build instant credibility if you can speak the native language fluently. Depending on the region you’re targeting, it may not be acceptable to call prospects during lunch hours or on their mobile phone numbers. Be sure to strategize the best voice, tone, and time to call prospects depending on where they live and when you call.

Of course, you need to be sure the data providers you’re using are up to the job. Since 2021, ZoomInfo has expanded its global data to include:

  • 104 million company profiles — 6X growth
  • 321 million professional contacts — 3X growth
  • 174 million emails — 2X growth
  • 94 million mobile numbers — more than 3X growth

Don’t Sell on the First Call

It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s important to NOT sell on the first call. Instead, the first call to a prospect should focus on discovery, with the goal of making sure you’re both on the same page with a clear path to move forward. 

Rather than jumping into your pitch immediately, use the first connection as an opportunity to get to know the prospect better. Start building your relationship with this new person, learn more about their company, and try to convey how your product could potentially solve their problems.

On the initial call, you might ask these questions:

  • What does your team hope to achieve in the next month? Six months? Year?
  • Why are you vetting providers in this category?
  • Do you have any uncertainties about the information I shared with you today?
  • Is there anyone else you recommend I connect with at your business?

RELATED POST: Learn when to discuss price on a sales call … and when not to.

Keep the Call Simple and Concise

Always remember that cold calls are nothing more than people connecting with other people. Keep your pitch simple and concise, especially since selling a B2B product or solution can often be incredibly complex.

Start by asking a few qualification questions, but keep it simple. The goal is to generate interest that can propel you into the next call. Avoid using lengthy words or a lot of industry jargon. Instead, focus on highlighting the value you can bring to the person you are speaking to in clear, straightforward terms. Then, remember you’ll likely have other chances to share more information along the prospecting journey.

“In the UK, cold calling works but is often most successful when it’s followed by multiple touch points, like email, InMail, and videos. You need to know your persona and what matters most to them — speak their language for best results.” 

– Nadeem Khan, Director of Revenue & Growth, ZoomInfo

Lean Into the Challenges

When selling in different countries, the prospect you’re calling might have never heard of your company. Grab their attention (and keep them on the line) by emphasizing that you understand the challenges they face and how your product or service can alleviate or solve those problems. 

After the initial introduction, you may ask something like: “I noticed you’re using [X platform], have you been experiencing problems with integrations breaking, or still manually updating records?

By demonstrating an understanding of their challenges, they may be more likely to stick around and learn more about what you’re offering.

Remember that every business is going to have a different list of priorities to achieve and problems to solve. These can vary significantly based where each business is located. For example, Germany has a larger concentration of small and mid-sized companies, which are going to have vastly different needs than, say, an enterprise business in London. 

Personalize Every Call

Often, the first call is just the first of many. Research from our database shows that it takes an average of six touchpoints (a combination of emails and calls) to get a cold prospect to respond. This average is the same, whether you’re talking with a new prospect or with someone who has previously engaged with your business.

When you’re making dozens or even hundreds of cold calls a day, it might seem daunting to personalize every single one. However, a prospect will quickly be able to tell if you’re simply working through a list with a script. 

Personalization is a great way to build trust and credibility with prospects. It’s also an opportunity to show that you understand the local market and the prospect’s needs. You might look at the products and services from the prospect’s website, or even go a step further and do your own research on the prospect. 

“LinkedIn is a great way to start, or even Twitter. Find out what they care about and even see what their interests are outside of work. That’s how you stand out from the crowd.” 

– Bruno Broughton, Manager, Sales Development, ZoomInfo.

Use business data to help frame each approach. A prospective company’s industry can help you pinpoint key challenges. Another helpful trick is to tailor your conversation based on the company size, employee count, or annual revenue. 

With ZoomInfo, your team can identify the exact title and best contact information for the person you are hoping to reach, how their organization is structured, as well as any recent company news that could impact the call.

Even something as simple as: “Hi [prospect name], I lead SMB new business sales at [your company name] and am interested in helping your team resolve [X, Y, and Z challenges]” is a great way to highlight that you know what you’re talking about and build trust.

Show, Don’t Tell

As salespeople, you know your product or solution inside and out. But remember, what is familiar to you, might be completely foreign to your audience. Don’t take the value of your product for granted. Sometimes you’ve got to show the power, potential, and performance as experienced by third parties rather than relying on your words alone to tell the story. 

Here are some examples of how you can demonstrate the value of your solution:

  • After the call, send a follow-up email with a link to a press release that details a recent award your business received.
  • During the call, share a social post on LinkedIn where a customer positively mentions your product or service and how it impacts their day-to-day work.
  • Invite the customer to an upcoming webinar so they can learn about the subject matter experts building your products and the thought process behind the business.

Once you explain the value that you provide, it’s much easier to highlight new features and customer success stories to really solidify your pitch.

Acknowledge Feedback From Prospects

Cold-calling is not easy and it can often be challenging to juggle pushback from prospects. Objections can be tricky to navigate, but when handled properly they can present opportunities to learn new information, rather than just halting your efforts. When selling into new markets, objections and feedback can help you better understand what resonates and what doesn’t with prospects.

Try to view initial objections as a chance to explore more. Use the objection as a springboard for a follow-up question:

  • “Is there someone else I should chat with?” 
  • “Is there an internal challenge that is preventing you from considering a new vendor?”

“There’s probably more to the story — but you won’t know until you ask,” says Tihana Tokić, a sales development team lead at ZoomInfo. “From there, you can strategize the best way to help the prospect and ultimately progress the conversation.”

While objections may present opportunities to learn more, it’s also important to respect when a prospect does push back and acknowledge any feedback they share before moving on. Maybe there’s a chance to turn it around, or maybe the product or service you are selling falls flat in one area. Or maybe there is an internal issue at the target company and no way to progress the conversation at that particular moment.

Remember: The Call is About Them, Not You

Getting results from cold calling is no easy feat, especially when selling into new markets around the globe. However, a thoughtful cold calling strategy can lead to more conversations, more meetings, and ultimately, more opportunities. 

Whether you’re conducting cold calls in the UK, Europe, or beyond, here’s a summary of the top takeaways to remember:

  1. Be timely: Don’t assume that it’s the right time for a prospect to buy without conducting research ahead of time. Did they recently raise a new round of investment? Did they hire a new executive who may affect the buying process? Understanding key data points going into a call can help generate better results in the long run. 
  2. Be concise: Time is money. Don’t try to talk about every feature or function. Instead, focus on the key areas that may help their needs at that point in time. Being focused and concise helps lower the risk of overwhelming your prospect.
  3. Be human: At the most basic level, a cold call is an opportunity for two individuals to connect with one another. Make sure to respect their privacy and approach things in a professional, personalized way. Don’t prioritize checking a box before making an authentic effort to get to know the person on the other end of the call. Closed-won deals are built from collaboration, trust, and transparency.