5 Ways to Prepare a New Salesperson for Cold Calling

Onboarding a new member of your sales team is challenging on its own, but especially so when they have to call prospects out of the blue. Providing the right cold calling training can make or break the success of a new team member.

Nobody likes cold calling. But just because it isn’t fun doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. 

A study conducted by the RAIN Group in 2018 found that “69% of buyers have accepted phone calls from new providers in the last 12 months.” Simply put? If your new salespeople want to be effective, they need to master the art of getting on the phone and connecting with prospects.

Whether you’ve got a new salesperson joining your team or you’re a new sales rep looking to boost your team, the following cold calling training tips will help you hit the ground running when it comes to building your cold calling skills.

1. Give them a script

The most successful sales organizations work off a time-tested sales cadence that guarantees a certain number of touches, while also giving salespeople the flexibility needed to customize their messages for individual contacts.

When a new salesperson starts out, giving them access to your existing scripts can cut their learning curve significantly. If you don’t have scripts to share, either write some up using existing cold calling templates or make it your new salesperson’s first job to create their own.

One tip: make sure your cadence or set of scripts includes voicemail message templates. According to data from RingLead, sales reps spend as much as 15% of their time leaving voicemails. Trying to condense a phone or email sales script into the recommended 18-30 seconds on the fly is a recipe for poor performance.

2. Give them a list

The next thing you’ll need to give your new salesperson to prepare them for cold calling is a list of names and numbers to call on. This might mean:

  • Passing on the list that belonged to the salesperson they’re replacing.
  • Adding their name to your CRM or marketing automation program’s round-robin lead assignment mechanism.
  • Assigning them a new vertical and sharing buyer personas so that they can do their own lead research.

If your new hire represents added headcount to your sales team, you may need to reconfigure your sales territories or lead assignment protocols. If possible, try to avoid alienating your top performers by allowing your new rep to inadvertently cut into their contact pools.

3. Set behavior goals 

Generally speaking, good salespeople tend to be achievement-oriented. You can leverage this instinct by holding them accountable to predetermined goals, but you have to be smart about how you set these initial goals.

Even if your more established reps are responsible for performance-based goals, such as closed-won deals or new revenue, new salespeople tend to do better with behavior-based goals. These goals focus on completing a certain number of specific behaviors in order to build up cold calling muscles and create a foundation for success.

Possible behavior-based goals to track include the number of:

  • Cold calls made
  • New prospects identified
  • Voicemails left
  • Meetings booked

New sales reps aren’t going to close million-dollar sales on their first day. But they can build the confidence needed to perform at that level in the future by successfully completing a series of smaller, behavior-based goals early on. 

4. Set expectations on rejection

Nobody likes cold calling — mostly because nobody likes hearing “no” over and over again. When you’re working with a new salesperson, address that fear head-on by helping them to anticipate and prepare for rejection. 

For example, you could make a game out of it. Measure how long it takes your new sales reps to get their first 100 “no’s,” and track team members’ performance on a leaderboard. Whoever gets to 100 the fastest gets a prize – above and beyond the benefit of having numbed themselves to the negative impacts of rejection.

You could also adapt the “fear setting” exercise from Tim Ferriss’s classic book The Four Hour Workweek to cold calling. Ask sales reps to define exactly what they’re afraid of when it comes to cold calling. Encourage them to realize that the worst possible outcome in a cold call gone wrong is usually nothing more serious than having frustrated a prospect or missing a sale.

5. Assign them a mentor

One of the fastest ways new salespeople can get better at cold calling is by having a more experienced mentor they can lean on for advice. For instance, a mentor might:

  • Listen in on a new rep’s first cold calls (either live or via recordings) to offer suggestions for improvement.
  • Explain their existing sales process and what they learned in the course of developing it.
  • Answer questions new salespeople have about the company, its products/services, and its position in the marketplace.

If you’ve built a deliberately competitive environment, your top sales reps may be resistant to sharing their hard-won wisdom with new hires. In this case, a mentor from marketing, leadership, or product may be more appropriate.

Bonus tip: sign them up for cold calling training

Take a close look at the training resources you have internally. Are you really going to be capable of preparing your new sales hire for success with cold calling?

The “Salesperson’s Perspective on the Impact of Sales Training” report from Training Industry found that more than one in four (26%) surveyed sales reps say their sales training is ineffective. Training Industry may not be the most impartial source, but ask any established salesperson about the training they received throughout their careers, and anecdotal evidence is likely to back that up.

There’s no shame in acknowledging that you may not be able to provide the kind of cold calling training your new reps need to be successful. But if this is the case, make sure you sign them up for some kind of vetted sales training program. We like John Barrows’s sales trainings at Mailshake, but there are plenty of great options out there to choose from.

About the Author

Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures & co-founder Mailshake. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit, and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.

Sujan Patel

Partner at Ramp Ventures & Co-Founder Mailshake