Mastering Cold Calls: Tips on Gaining Trust 

How to Master Cold Calling

In today's rapidly evolving B2B market, trust plays a significant role in successful sales engagements. The concept of trust has changed. Buyers are cautious and more informed, doing their own research before engaging with sales representatives. Trust levels are at an all-time low, forcing sellers to adapt and find new strategies to navigate this changing landscape. In this article, we will explore why gaining prospective buyers' trust is essential and how to gain their trust in cold calls, with valuable insights from Chris Beall, CEO of ConnectAndSell.  

Why You Need to Gain Trust when Cold Calling

The buyer in a B2B market is unlike a buyer in a B2C market because in B2B, the customer is putting their reputation on the line when they make a purchase. Not only is the buyer sacrificing their time and career by acquiring your product, but the buying committees are bigger than ever, and the purchasing process is more complicated than it has ever been. If the customer makes a bad purchase the number of people affected and the amount of money at risk is much greater than a B2C customer puts on the line. 

Due to the lack of trust, many B2B buyers opt for the “no decision” route. They hesitate to move forward with a purchase because they lack trust in the seller. Chris Beall, CEO of ConnectAndSell, compares the trust a buyer gives to the seller in the B2B industry to the trust we give a surgeon before they operate on us. You need to get your prospect to trust in your expertise regarding your product and your understanding of their needs. 

Trust is at an All-Time Low

B2B customers now conduct extensive research before engaging with salespeople. A study by TrustRadius done in 2022 surveyed 2,185 tech buyers and found that almost 100% of buyers prefer self-service for part or all of their buying journey. These changes don't mean customers won't take advantage of or interact with a salesperson. Still, you need to ensure that your technology, content, and website offer a seamless, up-to-date, and informative experience for customers to navigate.  

Alex Weitzel, Marketing Manager at Omedym, presented at the Demand Gen Summit and said that in 2024 half of the workforce will be millennials who are twice as likely to be skeptical of sales reps and want to gather their information themselves. So, when a conversation does take place, prospects expect their sales representative to be product experts and to get them answers quickly and easily.  

Gain Trust Quickly

The process of gaining prospective customers' trust has shifted considerably. It is even more important to gain your customers' trust in the initial encounter, which will present opportunities to establish a long-term trusting relationship. Changes in research trends also leave opportunities and openings for cold calls to be more effective if used correctly with a personalized and well-targeted message that offers genuine value to the recipient.  

During a presentation at the 2023 Demand Gen Summit, Chris discussed a meeting he encountered with Christopher Voss author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depends On It, where he said that in a cold call, you have 7 seconds to gain someone's trust. In the initial interaction prospects are evaluating whether they can trust the business or salesperson, if trust is not gained quickly the customer can become skeptical and even dismissive of further engagement. It is important to acknowledge possible down-funnel problems in the first interaction for early qualification and to allow the salesperson to tailor their solution to the prospects pain points.  

How to Start the Process

Chris said, “The standard way of talking to a prospect, sending an email first and reaching out second, is likely not to work,” there is an idea that CEOs and higher-ups in a company get a multitude of phone calls throughout the day, which Chris said is a misconception. An email is more likely to be disregarded and is more likely to come across as awkward, scripted, or even creepy when it is received before a conversation is had face to face or over the phone.  

Contrary to assumptions, ambushing someone on a phone call can be an effective way to gain trust if you are well-prepared and possess the right skills. Ambushing only works if you have trained the proper skills, which come from a practiced script and a belief in your product. 

Sincerity in the Script

It is essential to have a script prepared before your cold call so you can optimize the short amount of time allotted to gain the prospect's trust. Practice and coaching are necessary to modify and maximize the effectiveness of the script.  You need to establish a solid underlying belief in the value of your product, which in a cold call is a discovery meeting or opportunity to discover if your solution is a good fit for them. You are selling the value of your product, the belief that your prospect will benefit from the meeting even if they never buy into you and your company. This belief is important because it will allow you to come across as sincere with your prepared script. 

“That belief in the value of that meeting for that human being you're speaking with, even if you're never going to do any business with them, that belief is the key to getting the sincerity in your voice to go along with anything that is scripted. So, the scripts got to be practiced with coaching to the point where it’s natural, and it has got to be supported by an underlying belief that allows you to be sincere in your voice,” said Chris.  

Tactical Empathy

Tactical empathy is a method by Christopher Voss to quickly gain trust, show the other person that you can see the world through their eyes, and then demonstrate to them that you are competent to solve their current problem. Tactical empathy includes showing the other party that you’re listening intently to their words and displaying an understanding of their position. A common tactic is “mirroring,” which includes repeating one to three words that the other party used, which displays how intently you are listening to their problem.  

A large part of the use of tactical empathy is to discover what the prospects need is under their apparent need. In a study done by the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, 92% of buyers said they would be influenced to buy from sellers who “deepen my understanding of needs,” buyers want to know that you not only understand their needs but that you deepen them as well. Tactical empathy is essential when it comes to making your customer feel you have deepened their need. 

Solving the Customer's Problem

In a cold call the pressing issue is you, the seller, diverting the customer’s time and attention. That may seem constraining at first to call yourself the problem, but Chris remarked that since you are the problem you can always solve the problem. By offering to go away after the prospect listens to what you have to say, you are already offering up a solution to the issue at hand. 

Taking accountability for being an inconvenience before the potential customer does, it can display your authenticity and understanding of their position which can help you to earn their trust quickly. Once trust has started to build you can nurture a long-term relationship, it can also open opportunities to connect with other professionals in the B2B market through referrals. A B2B market consists of people who have a need for your offer, if one person buys from you, it demonstrates to other potential clients that your product doesn’t come with as much risk as others might. The more you sell, the more potential leads you will get from referrals. 

After the Conversation

Chris advised that after having a conversation with a potential buyer you should send them an email thanking them for their conversation. You are more likely to get a response than if you were to reach out to them with an email first because they already trust you and the relationship building process has already begun. The optimum order to connect with your prospect is to engage in a conversation first and reach out over email second. Your thank you email will be naturally personalized because you have already had a conversation beforehand and begun the process of building a long-term relationship.  

Now that you’ve initiated the relationship, and the client has granted you with their confidence, you have started what will ideally become a long-term relationship. According to the RAIN Group study, 71% of buyers want to talk to sellers when they’re looking for new ideas and possibilities to drive stronger business results. Chris said in his presentation that 11 out of 12 times your prospect is in the market in the future, or about a year or so in advance. Most of your prospects are looking to build a trusting relationship with a salesperson who can help them understand their needs more and who is willing to invest in the relationship before they commit to a purchase.  

Conclusion

With changing dynamics and increased skepticism, gaining potential customers trust has become progressively more important and the process has changed. Sellers must adjust their tactics specifically in cold calls by demonstrating expertise, understanding customer needs, and using tactical empathy. These strategies will support a long-term relationship between buyer and seller. In the current untrusting industry, the ability to gain and maintain a prospects trust will be the differentiating factor for success in the B2B marketplace.   

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