Morgan Ingram didn’t necessarily plan to have a career in sales. As a graduate of The University of George with a degree in sports management and finance, his first dream was to become a sports agent. When his dream didn’t quite take flight, he met an up-and-coming tech startup in Atlanta called Terminus, an account-based software for B2B marketers. As the company’s newest sales development rep (SDR), Morgan learned all that he could and eventually took his newfound knowledge to YouTube where he created a channel called “SDR Chronicles”, which gained him his first following. His channel focused on sales development, motivation, sales tactics, and general tips for improving prospect conversations. Later, Morgan was promoted to SDR Manager and gained an entirely new set of skills, which he also shared on his channel.
In mid-2017, Morgan was approached by John Barrows, a well-known sales trainer and strategist. John needed someone else to deliver sales training, and he liked the content that Morgan had been producing. Shortly after, Morgan accepted a position at John’s company as Director of Sales Execution and Evolution. In his role, Morgan focuses on helping to enhance sales professional’s and leader’s roles by giving them tools and know-how to succeed. In this article, Morgan shares some super practical tips and tricks for how SDRs can not only cut to the chase on cold calls, but make each conversation more meaningful and therefore more effective.
Role Play of a Powerful Cold Call Introduction
Morgan explained that most SDRs or cold calling sales professionals open each cold call by introducing themselves and perhaps asking how the prospect is doing. The problem with that approach is that the SDR doesn’t actually care how that person’s day is going—they’re just trying to break the ice. In addition, by introducing himself right away, the SDR gives the prospect ample time to say “now isn’t a good time”. Rather than using this weak stand-by that typically produces meager results, Morgan recommends adopting a much different approach.
He explained that the best SDRs break pattern by skipping the introduction at first and getting straight to the matter at hand, which is to ask the contact if she has a few moments to speak. Morgan explained the first few seconds might go something like this:
“Hi Mary, thanks for taking my call today. Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
Morgan explained that this approach is impactful as he allows Mary to respond with either a “yes” or a “no”. If she says yes, then Morgan proceeds and if she says no, then he cuts right to the point, acknowledging that she’s likely in the middle of something.
Once he’s given a “yes”, Morgan then takes the opportunity to share his name and company and then goes right into the reason for the call without offering up a break in conversation. He makes sure that the reason is valid, helpful, and intriguing. It might go something like this:
“The reason for my call is that I talk to a lot of SDR leaders in the high tech arena who are looking for ways to help their team see consistent results. Does this resonate with you in any way?”
You’ll notice that in Morgan’s example, he explicitly points out the reason that he’s calling, and he also asks a question at the end to gauge the interest of the prospect. If she responds with a “yes, that resonates,” then it gives Morgan the opportunity to dig a little deeper:
“Are you looking at doing any training for your team or are you working on any initiatives at the moment?”
Rather than use Mary’s response to right away ask for a meeting (as most SDR reps will do out of sheer excitement), Morgan prefers to take advantage of having the prospect on the phone and will ask 2 more questions that serve as the foundation for the next call:
- What are some reasons that you’re evaluating sales training?
- What topics or tools are most important to you as it pertains to training?
Once Morgan is able to capture more context, he then begins to close the call in a simple, yet effective way:
“Great, glad we’re having this conversation today, Mary. I want to be respectful of your time. I have my calendar pulled up—does a next step call on Thursday at 3pm work for you?”
He cautions, however, that some personas don’t appreciate that level of directness and instead would rather be approached with a simple, “which is better for you, mornings or afternoons?” question. As in all things, Morgan firmly believes that SDR teams must test which messages resonate best with the particular audience they’re calling.
Lastly, Morgan will ask the prospect for her email address and will send the calendar invitation while still on the call to ensure it’s accepted. He explained that this helps to mitigate calendar invites being deleted the day or morning of the meeting because the prospect simply can’t remember the context for the call.
Build Confidence Through Research
Morgan is a strong believer in doing research prior to making any cold calls. He recommends researching the prospect company’s site, LinkedIn profile, and even searching the prospect’s Twitter profile to look for triggers or points of interest. He’s also found success blocking out an hour or two of time and calling the same types of companies (such as those within the same industry or with a similar profile) so his talk track can remain similar.
Confidence is hard to teach—it’s not necessarily a coachable skill as individuals are motivated by their ability to be successful. But Morgan believes there are a few things that sales development reps can do to prepare for cold calls, which in turn will boost confidence:
- Thoroughly read and digest content on the company’s website, along with articles to internalize the company’s positioning and value props
- Continually digest podcasts, read books, and learn about the personas and industries that are being targeted
When an SDR knows exactly how he’s going to position the call and understands the industry and the business inside and out before he even picks up the phone, Morgan believes that this both eliminates fear and builds confidence at the same time.
Additionally, it can be helpful for teams to also create what he calls “web tracks” or essentially guided conversation notes that allow an SDR to pivot on the call by knowing how to respond in real-time when situations arise:
- What are the things that prospects most often object to?
- What pain points and and triggers are discussed most often?
- Which stories do prospects resonate with best?
Morgan’s Advice to SDRs: Be Calculated About When To Call and Test, Test, Test!
When SDRs come into their day, they often see the blaring number of calls and activities that they need to accomplish. Rather than be calculated in their approach, a first tendency is to hit the phones and try to crank out the calls. Morgan cautions against this, however, as there are clear times in each week that tend to yield better results. While this can vary in every industry and should be tested and re-tested, his theories include:
- Calling executives either first thing in the morning before they’ve had meetings or in the evening when they are much more apt to be direct about their interest (between 8:15am – 9:30am local time or between 4:45pm – 6pm local time)
- Calling Fridays between 2pm – 4pm local time, as well as Wednesdays
For SDRs that are eager to continue learning and sharpen their skills to progress to an account executive or enterprise sales professional level, Morgan recommends keeping up with the following resources:
Ready to Learn More?
For more information on best practices of great sales leaders, check out the Costello resources below. If you’d like to see Costello in action, request a personalized demo of our real-time sales playbook software.