Cold calling has often been likened to bull riding. The first eight seconds are the toughest, but if you can get through that period your prospect will calm down and your success rate will increase.

First impressions are critical in sales. In cold calling this first impression happens in a matter of seconds. In fact, according to leading sales author Collin Francis, “Salespeople will generally have between 4 and 30 seconds to make a first impression on prospective clients that will compel them to want to engage.”

Here are seven helpful tips for call center agents to make cold calls more effective. 

1. Use a Script

Top performers don’t leave those first few seconds to chance. They (or their companies) invest significant time in designing precisely what they are going to say when they get a prospect on the line, or when they leave a voicemail.

What’s interesting is that average performers are the ones who more often resist utilizing scripts, claiming that they feel better “going with the flow.” While these mediocre reps complain about scripts, it’s really the next two tips that get them.

Call center softwares now offer dynamic scripting. Which has completely changed the game for outbound operations and the way they run their campaigns. Dynamic scripting brings a “mad libs style” to your call center. Your agents will simply enter answers in free form–allowing for more natural and sales driven conversations with your potential customers.

2. Practice makes perfect

A script is only as good as the person delivering it. It’s true in acting and it’s true in sales. Like all great actors, top performers don’t “wing it” on calls. They rehearse their script making it a natural and normal part of their routine. When they connect with a prospect, they move into the script as a natural part of the process.

3. Humanize Yourself

Nobody wants to be sold to. A good script matched with rehearsal allows you to sound like a normal person. When you begin speaking on a cold call, your prospect should feel as though a friend were calling. You should be conversational and sound like a real person.

4. Actively Listen

Believe it or not, your ability to listen (even on the phone) has a dramatic impact on how your prospect will react to you. A good cold call gets the prospect talking early. Your job is to listen – really listen – to what is being said (and what is not being said). Don’t make the common mistake of listening so you can formulate a response; listen for the intent of what they’re saying. You’ll connect with them faster that way.

For call center managers, Convoso’s end-to-end call center software features: “Coaching,” which will allow managers to listen in on agents calls, whisper for help, or potentially barge in when necessary. This will allow managers to assess how their agents are actually performing on call and allow agents to see tangible ways that they can improve cold calling. Thus improving confidence within your sales operation.

5. Script Your First 3 Questions

Bill Walsh, multiple Super Bowl winning coach of the San Francisco 49ers, made the idea of scripting the first plays of a football game famous. Ironically. What makes a good sales rep, is equal to what makes a good sales rep. Like preparation in football, sales reps should always be prepared for their calls with questions that can lead them to a sale.

As we just mentioned above, you need to be actively listening and if you’re trying to figure out the first couple of questions you’re going to ask you won’t be listening effectively. Script your best first questions so you confidently know how to advance the conversation.

6. Be Prepared for Resistance

You know your prospect is going to resist in the beginning of the call, so be prepared for it. Have a question or comment prepared for when the resistance shows itself.

Too often, salespeople are surprised by the resistance they know is coming, fumble for a response and lose the prospect. Don’t let that happen to you.

7. Talk, Don’t Pitch

Lastly, ditch the pitch. The more you sound like a salesperson the less effective you are going to be.