No one likes getting sold to. If you’re tasked with cold calling, here are 25 cold calling tips and strategies you can use to warm up your lead.
We’ve reached out to small business owners and professionals like you who cold call on a regular basis. Find their advice. Improve your sales technique with these battle tested strategies.
If you’re just getting started out, I also recommend reading How to Write a Cold Calling Script.
Our Top Cold Calling Tips to Warm Up Leads and Get Results
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We use cold calling all of the time to generate new leads and clients.
David James Director & Founder, Business Growth Digital Marketing
The best tips we can offer from our experience includes:
- Qualifying the prospective list We get names, industry personnel, the right decision maker and target the niche to create the opportunity for conversions.
- Develop a strong and targeted pitch for lead generation.
- We get them on the phone with experts. – We demonstrate value which leads to a more qualified sale.
- Follow up We follow up with strong credibility pieces via emails, blog posts, videos and phone calls with experts.
- We nurture the sale as opposed for going for the hard sell.
Identifying the steps your sales team should follow to move a prospect to being a client is a prerequisite to selling better. With a standard method in place and a visual representation of it, you can apply it across your business, test your sales process and improve it. Click here to read our guide on creating a sales funnel.
Rob Boston, Director of Business Development, Media Fusion
I’ve seen substantially more success when I took the time to scope the company or person out for a few minutes prior to calling, and mentioned something during the call that let them know I’d taken the time to look them up.
Talk about them. I learned quickly not to call and pitch my way to the decision maker, but rather to cater each message and conversation to the wants/needs of the person on the other end of the discussion.
Use 21st century methods. While my team still picks up the phone from time to time, a ton of our cold approaches happen via Twitter, LinkedIn, and Email. If there’s a web platform or forum where your target is active, become part of that community.
Sales success depends on three components:
Robert Edell, Founder, Servy
1. the product/service,
2. the messaging around the benefits of the product/service, and
3. delivering the messaging to potential customers.
Even if the product/service delivers a great deal of value and the messaging clearly communicates the value proposition for the target audience, the message has to reach potential customers. Cold calling can be a very effective strategy to connect with customers, but it’s a challenging numbers game that requires diligence.
First, identify who you are speaking to and what their role is within the company. More often than not you’re going to connect with a gatekeeper who stands between you and the decision maker. To get through, you’ll need to convey urgency and value quickly. Never dismiss the gatekeeper as there is potential to turn them into your internal cheerleader, helping move the sales process along for you.
Never pitch too early. Find a way to quickly build rapport, add immediate value, and/or identify problems specific to their business/operation before selling your product/service. Great sales professionals make the other party feel special and that the sales person is listening to their needs and is there to solve their specific problem.
Track everything. A/B test to identify what pitch resonates most, what hours of the day yields the most sales, etc.
Stay positive. Sales conversion rates make baseball batting percentages look miraculous. You’re going to hear “no” often, so develop a process that helps you keep pushing while not completely forgetting any failures, because you ultimately need to learn from mistakes.
You must be organized. In order to first find the seller or buyer you will have to track them down on many sites to figure out their information.
Jesse Yoskowitz, CEO/Founder, Limitless Group
When calling, let them know who you are and stay confident on the phone with them. If you come off not confident and not speaking clearly and thoroughly they won’t want to deal with you.
Give them the 15-30 second elevator pitch why they should use you (a stranger calling them) to sell their property probably worth millions of dollars or assisting them to buy a multi million dollar property. This is the attention grabber, make them want to hear more.
Tell them what you have done, a track record to show them that you are capable of getting the job done right.
If they are still listening and haven’t hung up on you, you’re past the hardest part. Now try and lock in a face to face meeting to hear more about what they want and come to the meeting prepared to sign that exclusive.
Never forget that everyone is going to get rejection, no matter how good you may be.
Mike Smith, Founder, SalesCoaching1
- Call an area that is not constantly overrun with sales people. New reps always want to go to the big buildings with all the offices. Use logic and do the opposite of that. Those offices have the best gatekeepers!. Start in an area where you think where no one is likely working.
- Have a purpose for each call. I would always ask a salesperson, What is the purpose of this call? It should be to make a sale. Too many reps are making a visit hoping something good happens. If you don’t go in hoping to get a sale,or the decision makers contact information,you probably won’t leave with it.
- Make a cold once on each business. Keep records on all the information you get on each call. It will give you a data base that can be expanded as you research the possibility of doing business with that account.The next time you call it will be an educated call.
- Have a planned attack for cold calls. Pick an area where you have some established accounts so you use them as a referral and a way to reinforce you can create customers.
Never forget that everyone is going to get rejection, no matter how good you may be. It is the price you pay to work in a highly rewarding career. The best thing is the next no might be the last one before a yes.
My main focal point and I find that this is what works is, to exude confidence and make it sound as if this is a routine phone call.
Jeremy Levi, VP of Business Development, Garden State Medical Supply, Mars Wellness
How to do this? Let’s say you want to reach Dr. Martinez to try and have him push your product to his patients so you call up his office. You know there’s no way he’s picking up the phone, yet when the receptionist answers you should always say, Hi Dr. Martinez or, if possible, the person’s first name. This makes it sound like you belong, as if it’s not your first conversation and that the target of your call is expecting to hear from you.
Once you get past the gatekeeper the rest is a walk in the park.
Multi-tasking while cold calling is prohibited. The caller needs your undivided attention.
Latoya Rogers, Marketing Coordinator, RevUnit
Imagine that you are speaking to your long lost BFF. Enjoy the small talk, which will likely turn into valuable information as you establish a relationship.
Your script is merely a guide, but remember to be human.
Be persistent. Do not allow voice mail, “I’m busy,” or hang ups to discourage you. Press on.
Overcome objectives in advance. Be proactive by thinking of the top three obstacles you may face.
Being in the real estate industry, cold calling forms a crucial part of the process.
Ivan Ciraj, Square One Life
All new team members are made to spend time cold-calling to help build their interpersonal skills, rejection handling and of course to gain leads. One of the key tips I always tell agents and have utilized for myself is to stand while cold-calling. When you’re standing you feel more awake, alert and have higher energy levels as opposed to slumping in an office chair. This heightened energy and enthusiasm resonates with people on the phone and gives you that slight edge when cold calling
After many years of cold calling everything from consumers to C-level executives, there is one thing that I learned which always leads to higher success, be yourself.
Ramon Khan , Online Marketing Manager, National Air Warehouse
I know it sounds simple but it separates you from the rest of the scripted cold calling salespeople that call each day.
Certain industries are more prone to cold calling and some executives can get upwards to 30 or more cold calls per day. Imagine if you are the person receiving all those calls. Every 30 minutes someone calling you with an overly enthusiastic voice and saying the same intro that they just spilled 100 times before they called you. People can smell though it all day and they get instantly turned away by it. It is like your brain is already trained to instantly recognize a cold caller when you hear one. When you are trying too hard and not being genuine, you sound like the rest. But when you sound confident, not like a salesperson and more like a regular person, you get much better results 100% of the time.
Does being overly enthusiastic, small weather talk and cracking a funny joke work as well? Sure. But at the end of the day, does it wins your subjects trust and leads to your end goal of having a long lasting relationship with your client, no. People want genuine connections, especially in today’s world. Do you want to talk to an overly enthusiastic sales person? I didn’t think so. But what about having a conversation with a person that might be able to help you with something and if things don’t work out, at least you had a real conversation? That option sounds a lot better to me.
At the end of the day, you want to have an interaction that regardless of if you achieved you intended goal or not, you still had a positive and real connection with someone. That person is much more likely to call you later on if they ever need your service, refer someone or politely answer your call in the future if you reach out again. So toss the script and be yourself, you will get much better results. Every person is different and treating everyone the same is a very narrow minded approach.
For better and easier sales, become a master of prospecting.
Jim Herst, CEO, Perceptive Selling Initiative, Inc.
Ways to cause a Buyer to self identify can be found. Then when strategically executed, the ratio of appointments to ‘attempts’ will grow. More important, closing such presentations multiply, and, most often without encountering perceived objections.
When it comes to cold calling, whoever hears the most no’s makes the most money.
Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates
The more you no’s you can hear in each call–without irritating the prospect–and the more of those calls you make, the more successful you’re going to be.
Small businesspeople who cold call successfully see every no is a small victory, a step on the path to ultimate success. And motivating yourself to take those steps, and to make each step as meaningful as possible should be part of your job description.
And if a cold call is less than perfect, understand that all sales calls are less than perfect. And that no matter how long you’ve been selling understand that each call is part of your education. Training and pre-call planning are vital, but the best preparation for making sales calls is making sales calls. Don’t paralyze yourself with worries that you might not be perfect. A master craftsman is one who has already made every possible mistake–and learned from each one.
In life we often think, If only I’d said this, or if only I said that. But the beauty of cold calling is that the same situation will recur. Perhaps in the very next call. You have the chance to be prepared.
Don’t sound like a salesperson.
Mike Roth, Roth Consulting
Here’s the one that works every time. When someone answers the phone… you ask: Are you the most kind, patient person in your office?
Shannon McGurk, Founder and Managing Partner, Authentic Masculinity, LLC
I have used this approach maybe 75 times, now, and only once did someone say no, but even she laughed as she said it and we were able to build rapport in less than 20 seconds.
For those who are selling a product that requires a demo, I recommend not talking price until the prospect commits to a demo.
Adam Kirsch, CEO, Yorango, Inc.
This way, they can evaluate the value of your product before dismissing it on price. It also gives you an opportunity to feel out any objections around the offering without the confounding effect of price hindering sales efforts.
The issue of cold calling is one of the most humbling experiences for a business person.
D. Anthony Miles, Miles Development Industries Corporation
One of the biggest issues of cold calling is getting past the gate keeper. I earned my strips as a former account executive is learning how to prospecting for business by cold calling. Getting past the gatekeeper is literally a chess move.
One strategy that I have used in the past to get past the gatekeeper is this:
First, when you cold call a new business and the gate keeper answers the phone, do not sound like a salesman! Second, say I am interested in doing business with your company, who would I need to talk to about that? This is because most of the time the gatekeeper does not want to turn away potential business by shutting you out. It is very difficult to screen a cold set up like that. I have used this cold calling strategy had about 95% success rate getting past the gatekeeper. I also got a lot of business that way. I had a 50% success rate. Lastly, when you get past that gatekeeper and get to the decision maker, sound professional and do not sound like a customer. Have an attitude of, “you really want to do business with my company.” If they aren’t interested, take down the decision-makers’ name and info and get them into your call log. Then follow up on a monthly basis.
We always position ourselves as we are here to help, not sell them on something.
Kornel Kurtz, Owner, WebTek
We work from a targeted list of prospects we really feel we can help with our services by doing some preliminary due diligence. Since we are in the website design/development field, we start by evaluating their website and see if it accurately depicts the image they desire. We also evaluate if we feel it is converting visitors to leads the way it should. If we feel it doesn’t, we add them to our targeted list. If we can get our foot in the door, I believe we can educate prospects on where they are lacking and what they need to improve their bottom line and get a strong ROI. We try to help those that we can, even if they may be hesitant to use our services. Our company is truly there to help them be more successful online (our tag line).
When you cold call, never EVER ask how someone is doing. It’s not genuine. You know it. They know it. And that’s your leading impression. A person who is going to con their way into a conversation with fake rapport. You deserve to be hung up on.
Yasin Abbak, Co Founder, Paired Media
Make a profile of the person you’re calling. Make it brutally honest. In fact, make two profiles, and practice talking to these people OUT LOUD in a role play. Do you need multiple profiles because you will talk to a gate keeper first? Name the profiles. Give an age. A gender. A background. Find out what they like to do on the weekend.
As you make more calls, refine your profile, and talk directly to those people.
The problem with cold calling today is you unusually get voice mail and it is particularly difficult to give an elevator speech with any hope of getting a call back using voice mail.
Art Koff, Founder, RetiredBrains.com
I have found that leaving a voice mail or in the rare circumstance when you actually reach the decision maker the following is absolutely the best approach.
Let me tell you what is working and perhaps more importantly what is not working for companies (selling, marketing, manufacturing, retailing, etc.) the same (products or service, by name) that you have.
The recipient of the call probably has no intention of doing business with you, but would very much like to hear this information.
My favorite cold calling tip is to make it warm and keep it short.
Jess Magoch, jpmpartners.com
Here’s my favorite script:
Hi my name is — from — we help (target market) with —- (problem you solve-should address emotions). I’m reaching out to you because (this is where is gets personal and specific.) I was wondering how I can help you?
Keep the part about you brief and specific and let them do the talking. No one wants to be on the end of a one way sales pitch.
The time when I was the manager for a call center our best strategy was to convey the message that we were not trying to sell but that we were trying to help with our product / service.
Taylor Murray, Co-founder and Senior Developer, www.calltools.com
Let them know what your product can do if they do it right. Don’t promise the world when you know your product is not going to have the same results for everyone. Understand that there are many factors for something to have positive results and let your prospects know.
Hopefully, you are selling a product that does work because it’s very important for the sales personal moral. If you have people who don’t believe in the product you are selling you are setting up yourself for failure. There is also very important factors that you must follow before you start selling a product make sure you got that covered.
Call a friendly, familiar voice.
Julie Austin, Create for Cash
I’m an entrepreneur running 4 businesses. I make at least 2,000 cold calls a year and the one thing I do before I start every morning (super early!) is to call a friendly, familiar voice. It sounds crazy, but it puts me in a good mood to begin selling, and warms up my voice.
Here’s my insight on cold calling. Most important – make sure to research who you’re calling – are they a good fit. Why? Knowing about them and how you can benefit them is 50% of the struggle.
Ratko Ivanović, Manager, EnCoCreative
It’s good to know the name of the person you’re trying to pitch to, but you don’t need to know that, make sure you provide a bit of info on the benefits when trying to reach them.
Going forward, focus on benefits – what value can you bring to them. It’s fine to highlight a problem you’re solving, but you need to tell them what they’ll get out of it.
Make it all short, clear and you have to end with a call to action to the next step – suggest the next step if they’re interested (meeting, another call, etc.).
Make sure you’re resilient as well, and stay calm and focused when doing it over the phone.
Ditch the sales scripts!
What’s the best way to turn someone off? Call them and tell them something that it’s obvious you have told hundreds of other people. People are like feet. Some feet need a big shoe. Some feet need a medically prescribed shoe. Some feet sweat so bad that they need clogs and sandals. Some feet have been all mangled due to some freak lawnmower accident.
The point is, if feet need that much personalization, how much personalization does the human mind require with all of its embedded experiences, prejudices, values, experiences, etc. etc.? My guess is, a hell of a lot to be made to feel comfortable.
Because of this, script reading is like applying one shoe size to the thousands of feet you will be sizing. Yes, using a script will eventually have some success. After all, if I throw a ball at a glass window from 500 feet away, you’ll eventually be successful at breaking it. However, wouldn’t you rather have the best possible fighting chance of getting a client for every person you call?
The point is, speak to the person you are calling. Disarm them with probing questions, compliment their business and never forget that they are people like your sister, neighbor, best friend and worst enemy. If you’re a good salesperson, a script will only stand in your way, not pave your path to sales success.
My favorite cold calling tip is actually a three-step process:
Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling
Prepare. Prepare for cold calling the way you would for any major presentation. Know exactly who you are calling. Know what you want to say, how you want to say it and how you want to represent yourself and your offering. Know the goal of your telephone call.
Practice. If you are new to cold calling or uncomfortable with cold calling, practice out loud. Role-play with friends or colleagues. Practice various sales scenarios. This way, you will not have to worry about what you are going to say. You will be prepared, and you can focus in on your prospect.
Make calls. Nothing happens until you speak with a potential new customer. Schedule a time on your calendar to make calls every day – and make them.
I do cold call and one of my favorite tips to learn as much as I can about the client.
Carol Marak, SeniorCare.com
- Check them out on LinkedIn – what are their special interests and hobbies? A person can learn a lot from the profile on this site.
- Check them out on Twitter – what news do they broadcast?
- Google their name.
Work according to your prospects’ schedule, not yours!
Greg Bryant, Founder, Pioneera
It is becoming increasingly difficulty to reach people over the phone, so work out the best times to call & it’ll increase your effectiveness tenfold. Generally the best times to call are 4-5pm, or 8-10am on Wednesdays and Thursdays.. You’ll find that calling either earlier or later in the day will mean you can avoid the gatekeepers office hours. The worst times to cold call are 11-2pm. However, keep continually testing the best days & times and note down when your prospects answer the phone. Work the hours that your prospects work and it’ll pay off considerably.
As with most outbound marketing strategies, cold calling will generally yield a low success rate if it’s not integrated with other marketing tactics.
David Scarola, Vice President, The Alternative Board
Warm up your cold calls by preceding them with a direct mail campaign. That way, your prospect already has some idea of who’s on the other end of the line. Once you’ve reached your prospect, acknowledge that you are calling unexpectedly and may be interrupting. Ask their permission before jumping into the sales pitch, then get to your point in 30 seconds or less (most people don’t have a minute to spare). Once you’ve hooked them, try to arrange a follow up conversation, either in person or over the phone. Above all else: be brief, be patient, and be polite.
A very big thank you to everyone who shared these strategies for cold calling success. If you have a strategy that we’ve missed, let us know in the comment section.