Follow Apollo's Cold Calling Best Practices

Article author
Brandan Blevins
Updated

Overview

Cold calling enables you to connect with prospects who might not engage in other channels. Leading sales experts show that dialing prospects is one of the fastest ways to book meetings.

 
Check Your Plan

The availability of certain features that are useful in cold calling is subject to your Apollo plan. Refer to Apollo's pricing page for more details.

The following sections outline some general best practices for cold calling with Apollo.

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Filter Prospects

Thoroughly filtering contacts before cold calling increases the likelihood that you are dialing qualified prospects. There are several ways to narrow your list of cold call candidates in Apollo:

  • Target recommended contacts. Apollo provides these contacts based on the personas you create, which means they likely match the criteria you seek.
  • Use demographics search filters. You can apply multiple filters to your contact searches, including job titles, locations, company size, and revenue. Utilize search filters to identify prospects that match your ideal customer profile (ICP).
  • Use the Phone Status/Confidence search filter. With this filter, you can search your saved contacts to find those with valid phone numbers. This is particularly useful when you have [added your saved contacts to a sequence](#incorporate-cold-calling-into-a-larger-strategy).
  • Add buying intent topics. Buying intent helps you understand which companies are actively researching topics related to your product.
  • Identify website visitors. Track companies that visit your websites by adding an Apollo-provided JavaScript snippet, then filter prospects based on whether they have visited your web properties.
  • Avoid high-risk phone numbers. Apollo warns you if you attempt to purchase a high-risk number. Excluding contacts with these numbers from your cold calling strategy improves your call quality and prevents your number from being marked as spam. However, you should not rule out these leads entirely, so consider adding them to an emails-only sequence.

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Script Your Calls

Cold calls typically last less than a few minutes, and unscripted conversation can leave a prospect feeling you weren't prepared to talk with them. To ensure your calls are successful, you will want to prepare some general dialogue.

Before you dial, write and rehearse a short cold calling script like the following example that you can use both for live calls and voicemails. Try to use your own voice and make the dialogue sound natural, but adhere to the general structure. Don't make your script too complicated. The goal of a cold call is to connect briefly with a prospect and move them to a more formal meeting.

The Opener

The first 10 seconds of your call should be used to ask for their attention for the next 30 seconds-2 minutes so you can introduce the topic of the call.

Hi [PROSPECT’S NAME], this is [YOUR NAME] from [YOUR COMPANY]. How have you been?

I know we didn't plan this call. Do you mind if quickly walk you through why I called,
and you can let me know if you think it's worth a follow-up call?

The Hook

If they agree to continue the conversation, the next 30 seconds-2 minutes should be used to introduce the topic and engage in a short exchange to uncover their pain points. Draw attention to the prospect's role and company so they know you are targeting them, not just pitching anyone that answers your calls.

I noticed that you are the head of [PROSPECT'S ROLE] at [PROSPECT'S COMPANY]. 

I want to introduce [YOUR COMPANY/PRODUCT]. It can provide [VALUE PROPOSITION] to 
your company.

The Close

End the call with an accepted next step. Ideally, this will be a scheduled 15-30 minutes to more thoroughly discuss the pain points that you uncovered.

Do you think [YOUR PRODUCT] could be helpful in solving your team's challenges in 2024?
[WAIT FOR PROSPECT'S ANSWER] Great! Let's put down 30 minutes on your calendar for a walkthrough. How does your
calendar look over the next week?

For more cold call scripting inspiration, refer to 6 Winning Cold Calling Scripts that Actually Book Meetings To learn more about cold calling generally, check out the How to Build Pipeline with Cold Calling lesson in Apollo Academy.

 
Book Me!

Have a prospect that wants to move forward? Set up meetings in Apollo to make it quick and easy to book time on your calendar. You can email the prospect a link that enables them to select an available time slot based on the rules you set.

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Leave Voicemails

When cold calls are not answered, leaving a voicemail is standard practice. Voicemails signal to contacts that they are important to you, and that you are a real person making a genuine attempt to connect.

As with a cold call, you should also script your voicemails to both make your voicemails more effective and to stand out against competitors. A well-scripted voicemail serves as a high-quality touch in the sales process, and is more likely to lead to callbacks from contacts. Your cold call script can serve as the basis for your voicemail script.

Also, do not fear dialing personal mobile numbers instead of office numbers when leaving voicemails. Assuming you adhere to regulations, many sales experts experience more success dialing personal numbers, especially with hybrid and remote work arrangements on the rise.

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Practice Objection Handling

Contacts have reasons why they are not interested in hearing more about your product, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are not good prospects. Better objection handling enables you to move calls beyond typical prospect objections and book more meetings.

To improve your objection handling skills:

  • Practice your responses to the most common objections you'll hear on cold calls. The following table provides some example responses you can use to handle common objections.
  • Research the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors' products so you can better differentiate them from your own products.
  • Conduct informal A/B testing to determine which responses are most successful, then iterate on those responses to improve them.

Practice the following example responses to common objections:

Objection Phrase You Hear Response Examples
Not interested "I'm not interested. Thanks." "That makes sense. Most people aren't interested the first time I call. When do you see an evaluation or project involving [YOUR TYPE OF PRODUCT] coming up?"

"I didn't expect you to be interested today. If I handed you a magic wand and asked you to change one thing about your workflow, what would it be?"

"I didn't expect you to be interested, especially as this is the first time we are even speaking. The reason I'm calling is to learn when it makes sense to get on your radar down the road. So I know for the future, what do you folks typically look for in a vendor for a [YOUR TYPE OF PROJECT]?"

"I expected that might be the case. You get tons of these calls, but every now and then, it makes sense to listen to the right call. I’m hoping this is that call."
Timing is not great "You can contact us in xx months." "That makes sense. It's rare when my timing is perfect. [MOVE TO YOUR CALL SCRIPT]"
Happy with current set up "We have [YOUR COMPETITOR'S PRODUCT], so we are all set." "I suspected that might be the case, but that's also why I called. The chances that you have a [PROJECT INVOLVING YOUR PRODUCT/WORKFLOW] on the horizon when I first call is rare. [MOVE TO YOUR CALL SCRIPT]"
Working with a competitor "We have [YOUR COMPETITOR'S PRODUCT] already." "Hey, I know it sounds like you're happy, but would it be a horrible idea for you to review your options, in the event that your current vendor is unable to help you [MENTION IMPROVEMENT DUE TO YOUR PRODUCT]?"

"Would you be open to exploring options beyond what you have now, just so you can have this in your back pocket for the future?"

"Would it be a crazy idea to see if this can compliment what you have in terms of getting you more results when your current vendor is unable to, or in addition to, your current vendor? Not for now, but just so you can see your options for the future. Is that something you'd be open to chatting about some time?"

"Hey, I know it's not your job to assist sales people, but when is your vendor coming up for renewal? Maybe it makes sense for me to reach out at that time to see if you'd be open to reviewing your options. Is that something you'd be open to sharing?"
No budget "We’re not making any purchases right now." "Hey, I know it sounds like you're happy, but would it be a horrible idea for you to review your options, in the event that your current vendor is unable to help you [MENTION IMPROVEMENT DUE TO YOUR PRODUCT]?"

"Would you be open to exploring options beyond what you have now, just so you can have this in your back pocket for the future?"

"Would it be a crazy idea to see if this can compliment what you have in terms of getting you more results when your current vendor is unable to, or in addition to, your current vendor? Not for now, but just so you can see your options for the future. Is that something you'd be open to chatting about some time?"

"Hey, I know it's not your job to assist sales people, but when is your vendor coming up for renewal? Maybe it makes sense for me to reach out at that time to see if you'd be open to reviewing your options. Is that something you'd be open to sharing?"
Send information/email instead "Can you send me an email with the details? I’ll take a look." ""I'm sorry, some information?"

"It seems like there's some hesitation in your voice."

"A lot of times, when people tell me to send them anything, it's just a polite way of wanting to fire me, which is perfectly okay. I've been fired 17 times this week. Do you want to be number 18?"

"Hey, just so I don't do you a disservice and flood your inbox with a bunch of irrelevant information, or send you an encyclopedia of info, would it be okay if I asked you a couple of questions?"
Not a priority "Sorry, this is not a priority for us right now." "That's okay. Most of the time when I call, this isn't a priority. It seems like you have a lot on your plate. [YOU LISTEN]"

"That's okay. Most of the time when I call, this isn't a priority. Sounds like this won't be a priority this entire year? [YOU LISTEN]"
Tried your product before "We tried your product. It didn’t work out." "I'm sorry, it didn't work?"

"Sounds like we might have messed things up."

"Hey, I know you probably never want to hear from our company again, but would you be open to seeing how we've addressed these issues? Just so you can see your future options and stay ahead of the curve. Not for now, but just so you have this in your back pocket. Is that something you'd be open to?"
Price "How much does your product cost?" "It depends, but it can be anywhere from [PROVIDE A PRICING RANGE], depending on licenses and other factors. Can you see yourself falling in that range, or is this way too expensive?"

 

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Adhere to Regulations

You should take steps to avoid your calls being marked as spam, including following Twilio's recommendations for maintaining caller reputation. Caller reputation is effectively a scoring system that determines whether your calls are at risk of being screened or blocked as spam and helps you maintain a positive caller reputation. The calls made by a phone number determine the caller reputation. To maintain a positive caller reputation, Apollo recommends:

  • Check the US Do Not Call Registry and the UK Telephone Preference Service (TPS), and avoid calling numbers on these lists unless you have a permitted reason. Enable DNC list screening in Apollo to help you stay compliant.
  • Remove outdated/disconnected phone numbers from your call list. Additionally, if Apollo has notified you that a contact has requested to be removed from the Apollo database, you should not contact them unless you have a separate legal basis to do so.
  • Keep your outbound call volume steady, and ramp up outbound call volume gradually. Unusual spikes in volume can lead to a number being marked as spam.
  • Make calls within common working hours for the area you are dialing, and do not repeatedly dial the same phone number.

You should also comply with the following regulations:

  • TCPA rules: The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) outlines several rules that businesses must follow when contacting consumers via phone. The TCPA includes restrictions around telemarketing, such as requiring express written consent from prospects before making telemarketing calls with automated dialers or artificial or prerecorded messages, among other regulations.
  • FCC regulations: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a US government agency that regulates a variety of communications, including phone communications. The FCC provides tips to consumers that want to avoid robocalls and scams, which means you can use the same tips to avoid being considered spam. For example, do not ask a prospect for personal information, do not pressure them, and use known phone numbers to make calls.
  • Twilio Acceptable Use Policy: Apollo’s provider’s policy outlines several rules regarding call content, prohibited activities, and other restrictions that you should follow when cold calling.

You are responsible for ensuring that any cold call you make from the Apollo dialer is compliant with the law.

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Analyze Call Performance

Apollo provides an analytics dashboard that details call performance across the team:

  • Frontline sales reps and AEs: Identify the reps that make the most effective calls, then listen to recordings of their calls to learn how to improve.
  • Sales leaders: Determine which types of contacts are engaging with your team's calls, then adjust your strategy to prioritize those types of contacts. Also, use this data to perform A/B testing across the team. For example, provide a call script to half the team and a different call script to the other half, then review the data to determine which script performs better.

To access this data, launch Apollo and click Analytics, then click the Call engagement performance dashboard.

Access analytics dashboard.

You can also record calls with the Apollo dialer. To access recordings, launch Apollo and click Calls.

Different roles should utilize call recordings in different ways:

  • Frontline sales reps and AEs: Listen to call recordings from high-performing teammates to glean cold-calling tips and improve your own call strategy.
  • Sales leaders: Listen to recordings from across your sales teams to identify coaching opportunities for individual reps.

Some US states and countries require that all call participants consent to recording calls, so Apollo recommends that you obtain this consent before using the recording functionality.

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Incorporate Cold Calling Into A Larger Strategy

Making cold calls is just one aspect of a multi-touch, multi-channel sales strategy. Each prospect is more or less likely to engage based on your outreach method. That means, in addition to dialing, you should be engaging contacts via email, social media, and other avenues, with the goal of reaching contacts in where they are most likely to engage.

Building a multi-channel sales strategy means keeping track of the various touchpoints being used to reach contacts. Create sequences in Apollo to plan and execute a multi-touch sales strategy, then add your contacts to a sequence. Sequences enable you to set the appropriate contact points and timing for specific types of prospects, then track and complete tasks for each contact from the same area of Apollo.

By using sequences, you can also access data to iterate your sales strategy. For example, add A/B testing for your emails to better understand the types of content that your prospects prefer.

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Learn More

Want to become a master of cold calling? Check out the How to Build Pipeline with Cold Calling lesson in Apollo Academy. This lesson covers how to:

  • Make more dials in less time.
  • Deliver your value prop to on-the-go buyers.
  • Schedule the perfect 14-day call cadence.
  • Transform your cold-calling mindset and avoid burnout.
  • Use Apollo’s click-to-call dialer and advanced call intelligence features.

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