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Top 10 sales outreach tips for 2023

By Steve Richard | January 17, 2023

Sales outreach is a critical part of a rep’s daily routine. The average sales rep makes 52 calls every day. Yet, 63% of sellers say cold calling is the worst part of their job. 

Want to make it better? Here are ten tips to make sales calls easier — and more productive.

1. Treat each call differently

No two sales calls are the same, so why would you treat them that way? Instead of leveraging call scripts word-for-word, use the script as a guide. Think of the structure of your call not as a straight line but as Lego bricks you assemble in different ways depending on what direction the call takes. Use your guide dynamically, listening to the nuances of the conversation as you go. 

Prospects can see through a canned pitch. If you want to differentiate yourself, personalize conversations based on the unique challenges or objectives you uncover.

2. 3×3 research is critical for cold sales outreach

Before picking up the phone, do some “3×3” research on your prospect. 3×3 research is something you can use to build trust and rapport. Sometimes all it takes to break the ice on a cold call is a commonality. Mentioning a connection can increase the likelihood of attaining a meeting by 70%.

Here are some examples of 3×3 categories:

A chart listing categories of 3x3 research sellers can use to connect with prospects.

You can use your CRM, Google searches, social media including Twitter and LinkedIn, blog posts, Sales Intelligence tools such as Owler, ZoomInfo, and SalesIntel, press releases, industry publications, analyst reports, or conversations with other employees in the organization to execute your 3×3 research. Add a short text box to your sales engagement tool where reps can put their 3×3 bullet points.

3. Tap into your network

Don’t be afraid to tap into your social network and use your second-degree LinkedIn connections when performing cold sales outreach. According to a LinkedIn survey, sales reps introduced by a mutual connection left a favorable impression with 87% of buyers. 

Have you built your social network? Get in the habit of connecting with everyone you know in the “real” world to grow your second-degree connections. Then use those connections to introduce yourself, and you could see a 568% increase in the number of qualified first sales meetings booked. 

4. Listen to the voicemail greeting

When reps hear the start of a voicemail message, they too often hang up and move on to the next dial. When you do that, you risk missing quality information. The prospect could list alternate contacts, information on how and where to find them, a cell phone or alternate number to reach them, and the nickname they go by — not to mention the pitch, tone, and pace of their voice. 

Don’t underestimate the small details. These are helpful tidbits of information you can add to your 3×3 research to help increase your chances of booking a meeting.

5. Leave a voicemail to increase the response rate of your cold sales outreach

So you’ve listened to their voicemail message. Now what? Leave a voicemail. 

Most voicemails average a 1.5% call back rate. That may seem low, but you’ve already dialed the number and a quick 30-second voicemail message could potentially get you 1-2 more meetings toward your monthly goal.

One caveat: I don’t recommend leaving more than two voicemails in 30 days. 

6. Set an agenda for your first scheduled call

Beyond your cold sales outreach, the first scheduled meeting with a prospect can be rough. After all, you don’t know each other yet. To avoid the dreaded awkward silence, try using an agenda where the buyer is in control. You could ask the buyer something like:

 I know you probably have questions and want to see our technology. I have a lot of questions for you as well. Would you prefer that I go first so that I show you things you care about, or do you want to start by seeing a little bit of the software before I ask you some questions about your current situation?

Setting up your agenda this way gives your buyer a sense of empowerment while also allowing you to guide a productive sales conversation.

7. Don’t be afraid to call someone’s cell phone

Since the pandemic, many workers have gone remote. Remote and hybrid work models are expected to stick around in 2023. Because of that, a mobile number may be the best way to connect with prospects. 

When using a cell phone number for sales outreach, be prepared to back off from the conversation. If the prospect asks how or why you called their mobile number, apologize and explain that you saw this number online and ask if they would rather you call them back on a different number at another time. 

If the prospect asks what the call is regarding, your 3×3 research can be valuable. Connecting with a prospective buyer on a familial level often makes them more open to a conversation.

8. Find an optimal window for sales outreach

When most employees were still working in the office, lunchtime (12-1 pm) was the least optimal time to connect based on dial-to-connect rates. People were away from their desks, eating lunch with their coworkers, customers, or partners.

That’s no longer the case. Because many people are still working from home, there is a much higher probability that they’ll answer the phone at lunchtime.

9. Add new contacts to a fresh list

This is an important variable when building sales generated pipeline. What do you do when you go after your most wanted prospect at your most wanted account with calls, emails, social media, and a video message — and you get nothing back? 

Try a new contact at the same organization. Your priority contact could be on family leave, about to retire, or not invested in what you are selling. But that doesn’t mean the account isn’t a good fit. Finding a new point of contact at the organization could lead to a successful interaction.

10. Always ask this question when following up on leads

Leads are not all created equal. They may come in as referrals, request a meeting, download content, watch a webinar or attend in-person or virtual events. One key question to ask a lead before hanging up the phone is: How did you find out about us? 

Their answer is a great way to tell where they are in the buying journey. If they saw a banner ad, they might only be interested in the topic or content. If they found you by Google search, what were they looking for? There is a good chance they are further along in their buying journey and actively looking for solutions to their problems. 

The information the prospect provides in their answer allows you to tailor the phone call to their unique needs.

Want more sales tips? Download The Ultimate Sales Coaching Playbook today.

Steve Richard is the founder of ExecVision & Vorsight (sold in 2021).  Steve’s mission and life’s work is to help as many sales teams as possible become wildly successful.  He has been featured in numerous publications including The Harvard Business ReviewThe Washington Business Journal, and The Washington Post.  Outside of work, Steve enjoys scuba diving, skiing, running, and watching lots of football.  He lives in Arlington, VA with his wife Ellen and their four kids ages 6, 8, 10, and 12.

Follow Steve’s one minute sales tips of the day on LinkedIn.

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