Let’s face it, most sales people dread making the cold call. Who wouldn’t? Essentially, you’re interrupting someone’s day to get something you need out of them: information, a meeting, a new sale, you name it.

But at salesforce.com, picking up the phone is not only one of the best ways to connect with customers, it’s one of the best prospecting tools in the salesforce.com arsenal.

Created from the best teachings from the best front line salesforce.com managers, here are five tips to get the sales job done.

1. Organize by Skill

To create new opportunities and sales pipeline, understanding everyone’s skills is essential to playing the right people, at the right time. Identify four essential areas to success: in-bound lead qualification, out-bound prospecting, deal closing, and account management.

Identifying these skills needed for each role will create the right incentives to deliver the best results. For example, people who qualify leads are rewarded on volume whereas closers and account executives are rewarded on total dollars sold. Meanwhile, the team in charge of prospecting, business development reps, are rewarded on the pipeline generated (total dollar value of sales opportunities).

2. Know Thy Target

Though most sales people know this, many still make cold calls without enough preparation to turn even a short conversation into something more.

The best prospecting teams work with marketing and product teams to build extensive “personas” to discover who may be the best fit for the product. While prospecting tools can be a foundation for these with insights into title, company hierarchy and industry overviews, you need to go much further and deeper for a complete picture. A good “persona” details a prospect’s motivations, outlines day-to-day job functionality, mentality, and most importantly, the biggest business pains they may have.

Working out these things before you call will shape everything that happens after the first hello, putting you on much better footing to develop a selling relationship.

3. Always have a reason for calling

At the basic level, know the prospect’s title, info about the company and how the company is organized. Even a little information about your prospect can help you learn more and develop a vision about how you can help them. Research their company’s current marketing campaigns. Dig into business news articles that might mention them.

Using what you know, show them you have a vision for their business. You can do this by developing or choosing a pre-existing offer for them. Webinars, ebooks an ROI calculator, a white paper or analyst report can all make it clear that you understand their business.

4. Always have a referral

The first goal of cold calling might be to close on an in-depth meeting, but its unrealistic to think that will happen with every call you make. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get something out of the call, namely the next best thing: a referral.

Why? For one, it means the door hasn’t been shut. And two, a referral gives you a new name to talk to, maybe someone you didn’t even have on your radar. Even better, because you’ve been referred, your call to that referral gives you credibility you can’t get anywhere else. In fact, when you connect with someone based upon a referral, the likelihood they accept a meeting goes up.

5. Measure. Then measure again.

Think about anything you ever cared about getting better at: running, losing weight, or how much you make. Those are all measurable. It’s no different when it comes to prospecting. With knowledge you can then adjust and improve.

Once you start tracking, the key isn’t the number itself, it’s to focus on how you can make the number better.

  • How many calls do you make?
  • What time of day works best?
  • How many quality discussions do you have (not with gatekeepers)?
  • How many referrals do you get?
  • How many meetings do you set up?