7 Steps to Heat Up Cold Calling

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Then, too, the sales pitch has to have the right tone, be centered on the right audience, and concentrate on their interests. Individuals have different hot buttons. A front-line contact would likely be interested in the technical aspects of a system while a top-level executive is more likely to be moved by a discussion of the business value. Salespeople should keep the initial discussion at a high level and not concentrate too much on product nuances, those features that make the offering unique. That information should be saved for when the company is ready to examine their options and make a purchase.


One reason that consumers don’t take calls is that they have been traditionally viewed as a one-way street. Basically, the caller wants something from the person on the receiving end of the call. To be effective, a cold caller needs to make a connection and a friend, and not sever a link and create an enemy. This can be done by offering them something of value, something free of charge and with no strings attached, such as a white paper or the results of a survey. The item should be relevant to their responsibilities. If done well, the collateral becomes a way to start a conversation, break the ice, and build trust and credibility.

Warming the prospect up before the call can also help. Ideally, a salesperson should find a common connection who can introduce him to the prospect. Another option is following the business and the individual on social media. “LinkedIn is a good use of outreach, as the person has the opportunity to see your profile, understand who you are, and accept you as a connection,” advises Brian Young, an inside sales manager at Seismic, a sales enablement platform supplier.


Given the short time that a prospect will give to a new contact, salespeople should know what they are going to lead with ahead of time. Many companies outfit their sales team members with scripts, theoretical walk-throughs of call progressions. The salesperson needs to practice, practice, practice. The process should include more than miming the key talking points. Salespeople need to also be ready for the inevitable pushback and prepare follow-up answers to the resistance they will face.

Role playing is beneficial. In some cases, coworkers or friends can take on the customer role. Taking the process one step further, employees record themselves, play back the exchange, and get clearer insights into how well they perform.

But customers are unique and do not operate in a set manner. What works for one might not necessarily be effective for another. So salespeople need to be open to altering their approach to fit the prospect. They cannot become married to the script. If the person answering the phone is robotic and terse, salespeople cannot act bubbly. They must meet their prospects where they are and not where they want them to be.


Timing is everything with cold calling. Salespeople should vary the times that they make calls. Executives have different schedules, so setting aside specific times to make calls is likely to be counterproductive. The busier executives are, the more likely it is that they will be in meetings for most of the day, but they are likely to start or end their day by checking email and voicemail. So calling early in the morning or after hours could increase the odds that they will pick up the phone.

Another common—though controversial tactic—involves masking the caller ID information to make it appear that the call is from a local number “Third parties sell lists with local numbers,” Kosoglow explains. “The prospect may pick up the phone thinking it could be the local dry cleaners.”

And salespeople want an avenue to the prospect that is as direct as possible. “Tools like DiscoverOrg and RingLead are helpful in obtaining contact information within the specific titles your company is targeting,” notes Marco Montano, senior manager of inside sales at Seismic.

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