Smile and dial

Smile-and-dial: How not to suck at sales calls

Samir Smajic
June 23, 2021

Despite the rise of social selling and people’s reluctance to pick up the phone, cold calling is NOT dead. To smile when you dial is to make sure your energy shines through when a prospect does finally pick up the phone.

[Editor's Note: This article was originally published in April 2016 but has been updated for 2021]

Sales professionals can agree on two things: first, many of us do not love making cold calls. And second, all of us have to make them.

Although the marketplace buzzes with new technologies that make sales techniques more diverse and efficient than ever before, using the phone to contact prospects remains critical.

In fact, Daniel Disney, social selling expert and author of The Ultimate LinkedIn Sales Guide, said, “I will never proclaim that cold calling is dead… for the simple reason that some people still are more likely to answer your cold call than they are to respond to your LinkedIn message or your email,” on the season premiere of our podcast, The Sales Ladder.

smile while you dial

To smile when you dial is making you sound more energetic and it will shine through

But let’s admit it: the fear of being rejected lies at the heart of every dreaded cold call. It’s never fun to hear “no”, or worse, at the other end of the line.

When it comes to cold calling, it helps to embrace the “no.” If you acknowledge that “no” is not only going to happen once, but regularly, you can make cold calling easier on yourself.

A negative response is just part of the job as a sales professional. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you’re being rejected; the prospect is simply saying “no.”

So, put fear in its place and change up your thinking. What’s worse, hearing a negative response or not making the call in the first place?

Not every prospect is going to say yes, or even want to speak with you, but avoiding cold calls means you’re passing up opportunities to succeed in your job. Not every call has to be perfect, it just has to be made. Just do it!

1. Put a cash value on your cold calls

Everyone has off days at work, and on those off days, it can feel impossible to pick up the phone and talk to strangers.

If you’re having an off day and struggling to find motivation, why don’t you try calculating what each individual sales call is worth?

To calculate the cash value of each sales call, divide your sales turnover by the number of calls to see how much money each call could potentially be worth.

Knowing exactly how much each sales call is worth can help get you motivated to pick up the phone!

2. Be prepared before you start dialing

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: do your homework, research your prospects, and call only those prospects who qualify. You can decrease the number of rejections you receive by preparing.

If you’re calling folks whom you know can benefit from your product, you’ll be that much further ahead.

Practice what you’re going to say ahead of time. Say it aloud to a colleague, to a friend, or even to yourself in your home office. You’ll be surprised at how hearing the sound of your own voice increases clarity and confidence.

Make the most of your prep and practice what you’ll say if someone picks up OR if you get their voicemail.

If they pick up, know exactly how you’re going to open your pitch.

If you’re leaving a message, your voicemail can be relatively short, polite, and friendly. In fact, that’s a winning cold call combination.

Just a reminder: you might want to email someone before you call them. A “warm” introduction over email might feel more palatable for your prospect, and it’s a simple way to present the value of your product in writing. Again, just like with cold calling over the phone, only email folks you have qualified in advance.

Put in some time upfront and you’ll be happier, and so will your prospect.

3. Break up your cold call list

Even if you’ve psyched yourself up to make calls, the sheer number of calls you have to make in order to meet your quota can be daunting.

Set up a system where you break your list into small chunks and reward yourself at certain milestones.

For example, you could set a goal to make 5 connected calls and then give yourself a quick reward, such as listening to 10 minutes of a podcast or going for a quick walk.

Whatever you choose to reward yourself with, don’t let it last too long: you don’t want to lose your momentum!

The work-reward approach will move you through your cold call list more quickly. You’ll have the great feeling of being in control of your tasks, rather than the tasks controlling you.

4. Use technology to save time

Sales reps only spend 35% of their time actually selling, so make your selling time count.

Your sales tech stack can help your cold calls by:

  • Automating administrative tasks
  • Providing helpful tracking tools for follow-up

Using a power dialer like Mojo, for example, gets rid of the need to plug in each number individually, which ultimately means more opportunities for success.

Mojo power dialer

Sales engagement tools also help sales reps understand their full pipeline and the path a potential buyer takes before picking up a sales call.

Using sales tech to manage your time will help you feel at ease when you get on the phone.

5. Smile while you dial!

With the pandemic accelerating the shift to remote selling, people are now more used to professionals bringing their full selves to the workplace while working from home.

Don’t be afraid to be a person while you cold call. Practice your script, but don’t memorize it or read from it. Do whatever you can to come across like a human to the person on the other line, who is probably inundated with robocalls throughout the week.

Post - 1

Make sure you check your CRM or sales engagement software to see if your prospect has been contacted before via email or LinkedIn and look for any notes to make the call more personal.

Finally, smile while you’re talking on the phone! Smiling while you dial shines through, and the person on the other side will notice it.

You’re ready to conquer cold calling like a pro!

Once you’re on a roll with conquering your calls, enjoy the ride.

You’ll talk to prospects who want to learn more. That’s when the fun really begins, as you talk to them about your product’s value and potential, and problems you can help them solve.

Now, pick up the phone and let your smile and talents shine through. 

You may also like

These stories on Sales tips

Subscribe to updates