Did you know that according to one study, approximately 80% of decision makers accept meetings with sellers who cold call. That’s 8 out of 10 buyers, proving that cold calling is far from dead.
With so many C-suite decision makers willing to take cold calls and book sales meetings, why is it so hard to get meetings on the calendar? Well, to put it mildly, most salespeople have no idea what they’re doing on the phones. And to be honest, most sales managers could use a healthy dose of coaching here as well. It’s OK – that’s why you’re here!
If you’re not connecting with CEOs on a meaningful level and booking appointments daily, then you need to GET TO THE POINT in the first 20-30 seconds of the call.
Get to the Point + Other Wisdom on Cold Calling CEOs
Look, CEOs get upwards of 50 calls per day, 250 calls per week, and 1,000 calls per month! They are busier than ever, and they don’t have time to read between the lines. To make matters worse, they have to put up with cheeky opening lines from rookie SDRs who think they’re the hottest you-know-what in the game. So the odds are stacked against you…
That is, unless you get to the point faster and with more confidence and respect than everyone else.
RELATED: Sell Value, Not ROI
Ask for Their Time
Be cordial but confident. Stand tall in your tone. And ask for a couple minutes of their time. This is a subtle play that CEOs love… because it gives them the power (which is what they’ve come to expect as CEO). It’s a permission-based ask. And saying it with kindness and confidence is disarming so they will probably drop their guard. They can tell you want to help them.
Whatever you do, don’t ask “Is this a good time?” Because it’s never a “good time” for a CEO.
Next, tell the CEO why you called. And don’t make them have to piece it together. The idea is to eliminate friction as much as possible. Don’t overthink this, start with “I’m calling because…”
OK – at this point you’ve earned a couple minutes of thier time, they know why you called, and NOW’s your time to shine. As you read on, remember your mission: to plant the seed of an authentic relationship and to get a meeting booked on the calendar. That’s it and nothing else.
Speak to Their Pain Points
This is the CEO of the company that you’re talking to. They know their product or service better than anyone. They know the ins-and-outs of their industry. And they have an encyclopedic knowledge of their company — we’re talking the people, processes, profits, you name it. So you HAVE TO COME PREPARED to speak their language. More importantly, you have to know their struggles and pains.
This takes a little investigative work on your part, looking at their LinkedIn, visiting their website, going through their portfolio of clients, reading testimonials and reviews, even looking at their social media if you can. No need to go overboard here, but take 10-15 minutes to get a well-rounded picture of the company and person you’re calling. And take LOTS of notes.
CEOs want you to know their pain points. So be sure to state them explicitly. If you’re calling a financial tech startup on behalf of a consulting firm, something like this will work: “Congrats on the series A! I’ve found that leaders in FinTech who’ve secured funding often struggle to scale their operations and sales while really keeping their customers happy. Does that sound like you?”
Bingo! You nailed it. You learned on LinkedIn that they’re a 7-figure firm going through a series of funding to hit 8-figures and beyond. But once they have the money, how do they hit sustainable-growth mode while not losing their existing customer base? Well, YOU have the answers. And now you’ve really piqued their interest.
The idea is to personalize your outreach. This is guaranteed to set you apart from at least 45 of the 50 cold callers attempting to make a connection. You’ve done your homework, you’ve prepared a thoughtful conversation starter, and CEOs really (really) value that.
Other Tips for Cold Calling CEOs
It may take five calls, four emails, three LinkedIn messages, and a social media comment to get a CEO’s attention. So expect it to take some time. Patience and persistence is the name of the game in cold calling. Keep trying, don’t give up, and you will get through.
Hyper-personalize Outreach with Video
If it’s a dream client of yours, or just a big account you have your eye on, hyper-personalize your outreach by making a custom video for them. This only takes 10-20 minutes, and you can record your screen with simple tools like Loom. This works especially well if you’re a service-provider (web-design agency, marketing and consulting firms, etc.) as you can share a live image of their website as you talk through some key insights, basic competitor analysis, and why it’s important they get on a call with you.
Don’t Pretend You’ve Met Them
This and other sneaky tricks don’t work anymore. Think if the tables were turned and someone called you pretending they met you. You’d be confused at first, then when you realize they’re trying to sell you something, you’d get pretty angry with them for doing it under false pretenses. Not a good tactic. You should build every new relationship — business or personal — from a foundation of trust and authenticity. Also, most CEOs can sniff out B.S. a mile away. That’s a huge takeaway.
Don’t Sell Them Anything
This intitial cold call isn’t the time to sell the CEO anything. If you do, you risk losing the thread. Or to put it in fishing parlance, you risk snagging a big one, only to have the line snap and watch it swim away. Your mission was to simply book a sales appointment on the calendar. So do this and only this. Even when you’re on the actual sales call your mission isn’t to sell… it’s to provide value and help Mr. or Mrs. CEO to solve a specific problem. Remember that.
Don’t Burn Bridges!
The business world is tighter-knit than you’d ever think. So if you’re getting hangups or nasty responses, or if you’ve been ghosted by a CEO, do not retalitate in any way. Just let it go, it’s part of sales. You probably have a long and successful sales career ahead of you, so don’t blow it by burning bridges. It’ll come back to bite you when you least expect it. Take a deep breath, swallow your pride, keep your integrity intact, and dial another number.
RELATED: Top 6 Sales Mistakes
So today I’ve shared some time-tested wisdom on how to cold call CEOs. Think of this as a cheatsheet to booking meetings. You might even consider printing this out and hanging it up at your desk. If you’re a sales manager or leader, send this around to your entire team so that everyone’s on the same page.
While CEOs are busier than ever, this actually presents a great opportunity for the SDRs and sales reps who are willing to dig a little deeper than their competition. And if you’re reading this, this means YOU! Follow these simple principles and watch your sales numbers shoot through the roof. And as a bonus you’ll be making real connections with industry leaders and other movers-and-shakers. That’s the beauty of sales.
Until next time…