Episode #407: Scott Channell

How to Cold-Call Your Highest-Probability Group


Scott Channell

Scott Channell helps sales teams to “Sell more meetings.” He is the author of five books on appointment setting and lead generation, including Sell the Meeting, Powerful Sales Scripts Sell the Meeting and Finding Ideal clients.

Our Mission Is To Change The Negative Perception Of Sales People

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When used correctly and strategically, cold-calling is always relevant. According to Scott Channell, cold-calling is an outbound call to your highest probability group—done methodically—to maximize the odds of an effective conversation. So how does he do it? Scott shares his secrets in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:42] What is cold-calling? Is it still relevant? 
  • [1:58] The art and science of cold-calling
  • [5:03] How Scott prepares for cold-calling
  • [9:52] Scott’s opening techniques
  • [13:16] Why Scott scripts cold calls
  • [17:19] Tools, technology, and metrics
  • [19:53] Scott’s top 3 cold-calling dos and don’ts
  • [22:33] How Scott handles objections and rejections

The art and science of cold-calling

You need to follow rock-solid marketing principles when you start cold-calling. If you don’t hit the right group—your highest probability of success—the work is useless. When Scott started cold-calling, he saw it as direct marketing over the phone. 

You have to make judgments as to who you call. Larger accounts will take more time and research. You need to get a meeting and identify possible future buyers. You have to know when to linger, go deeper, or when to vary from your plan to get a better response. 

How Scott prepares for cold-calling

The way you prepare is by going into every session knowing you’ve done the homework. Have confidence that you’re calling the right prospects. Think deeply about what moves prospects. Practice the verbiage you use so that you know you’re interacting the right way. You need to sound natural. The bottom line is that you need to put in the work. You can’t skip it. 

Know what you’re going to say so your high-probability prospect knows you’re credible, and worthwhile, and that you may be the company to help them solve the problem they have. What is in the best interest of the prospect? 

Why Scott scripts cold calls

The only things you need to think about are if you’re reaching the right people and whether or not you’re impacting them. They need to grasp that your company can solve the problem they have. 

Scott is a huge fan of scripting. Those who are most successful think through how they approach a call, practice it so that it’s concise, and deliver it in a way that sounds natural and confident. Those are the people who win. You can’t assume that you’ll come up with something great to say on the fly—it lets business slip through your fingers. 

What are Scott’s top 3 cold-calling dos and don’ts? Listen to find out!

How Scott handles objections and rejections

Scott believes that there are only 3 objections you have to prepare for: “I’m all set,” “Send me the information,” and “Call me back.” 

When you’re cold calling, more than 9 times out of 10, when someone says “Just send me the information,” they’re blowing you off—they just don’t have the guts to tell you to get lost. They’ll be worthless. Don’t go down that path and waste time. 

Scott will combat that objection by saying, “That’s an option—but the stuff I’d send you wouldn’t help you. It would just tell you what I’ve already said. If you have a specific problem or issue that you’d like insight on, I’d be happy to put together information specific to that issue that might help you out. Do you have anything specific in mind?” 

If they give you a generic answer you can say, “It doesn’t sound like it’s mutually beneficial to proceed but let me ask you this: Do you think there would be a time in the future where it would make sense to connect?” If someone gives you a date, 50% of them will turn into a meeting.

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What was a pivotal moment or experience in your career that shaped your approach to cold calling, and how did it change your perspective or strategy?

There were two. My first cold call appointment setting project was calling companies with over 1,000 employees and booking meetings at the CEO or Exec VP level. The first project was my laboratory where I learned what to do and not do. Booked more than 500 meetings for that company and formed my foundational beliefs about cold outreach. The second was for a major consulting firm. Could only book meetings in certain industries with CEO’s of companies with 1,000+ employees. Booked 5 – 7 meetings a week and earned my cold calling PhD.

Can you share a specific tactic or approach you’ve used in cold calling that significantly increased your success rate? Please provide a brief example or case study.

Actively DISQUALIFY. Embrace nos. Stop wasting time on those less likely to meet. 

Cold calling often comes with its set of challenges and rejections. Can you share a particularly tough challenge you faced while cold calling and how you overcame it?

Had a client with a legacy niche environmental service. The top 25 oil companies were the targets. Set up the program but two callers were unable to get traction. My calling days had long been over, but I jumped in. These were extremely hard to identify and reach targets at giant companies. Despite being bored out of my mind doing and saying the same things over and over I just kept reminding myself “work the system, work the system,” and ended up booking about six meetings I think, worth many millions to the client. That was a tough challenge and a reminder to trust your process. Avoid the temptation to vary because you are bored. Dig in and work your system.

What are the top three tools or resources (e.g., software, books, training programs) you consider essential for someone looking to improve their cold calling skills and outcomes?

Answer: Many programs fail today due to a lack of understanding about the foundational principles of sales and marketing. Read anything by Neal Rackham particularly “Making Major Sales’ and the “Spin Selling Fieldbook” which is the best resource on sales questioning I have ever seen. My third to do, is a not to do. Stop chasing hacks and shortcuts. Build your program on a solid foundation for long-term success. Don’t build on sand.

How do you foresee the practice of cold calling evolving in the next few years with advancements in technology and changes in buyer behavior? What advice would you give to sales professionals to stay ahead of the curve?

I see cold calling as a mostly strategic tool. Yes, there are still some industries where cold outreach is the dominant source of new business, but for many, it is a smaller part of a larger business development plan. Cold outreach works best in a higher-ticket or high LTV environment where it is more cost-effective to go right at your prospects, rather than wait and hope that broader based approaches will find them.

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