7 Steps to Heat Up Cold Calling

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Another recommendation is to be courteous and polite to prospects’ executive assistants, who often serve as gatekeepers. “The executive assistants are often very helpful in connecting you with the person you are trying to reach and even have access to their calendars,” Young says. “Even if it’s simply learning his or her name, this could be the difference in them putting you through.”


Salespeople need to move through each prospect efficiently and effectively. At the very least, they should keep a record of the prospects they called, the time they called them, and whether voicemails were left. Marking contacts appropriately provides context and visibility into how well they are performing, so adjustments can be made.

It’s also important to note that the initial cold call is just one step in a multichannel process where follow-up is vital. The goal is to begin a dialogue that leads to something more significant in the future. Salespeople have more tools than ever before to monitor how prospects react, and they need to put structure and discipline into their business processes. They should look to uncover trigger events, sequences that have a high likelihood of sales success. “If someone opens up an email or clicks on a link so many times, you follow up,” Heinz states.

Salespeople also need to find the right amount of attempted contacts. “We found that 11 attempts to reach out over 13 business days was the optimal mix for our clients,” Heinz says.

What distinguishes successful sales reps from unsuccessful ones often comes down to attitude. The former are able to anticipate and accommodate the many times they hear no. They are undaunted and are always moving one step ahead. They have a Plan B ready because they know Plan A seldom leads them straight to their objectives.


Management often looks at the possibilities that technology offers and tries to automate as many steps as possible. In some cases, such effort hinders rather than helps the sales process. For instance, companies use robodialers when searching for prospects. They make more calls, but they lose a critical element: human interaction and connection.

The movement to digital channels might have other unintended consequences. “Embracing digital sometimes values volume and compromises quality,” Heinz argues. “They take a scorched earth approach to gaining leads.”

Enterprises can also send out more emails and social media connections so that they seem to be engaging with more potential leads, but the interactions might just be superficial.

Heinz Marketing still includes low-volume, high-touch interactions in its marketing plans. The firm holds breakfast meetings with small groups of marketing executives, which would seem far less efficient than buying a bulk mailing list with thousands of names. However, the firm found that such events create deeper relationships than standard email blasts.

These seven rules lead inevitably to this: It’s just a good idea to keep cold calling alive. Technology today has added greatly to the number of options that salespeople have for reaching out to prospects. Phone is not always their first choice. Email and social media have gained traction for a variety of reasons. A person writes one email message, pulls up a group mailing list, hits a button, and sends materials out to tens, hundreds, or even thousands of potential customers at once The work is done in a fraction of the time that it takes to dial numbers, and the salesperson is spared the wasted time waiting to see if the person picks up before moving on to the next call. This has prompted some companies to shift resources away from cold calling altogether.

But electronic communications also has warts. “Some salespeople hide behind email,” says George Donovan, chief revenue officer at Allego. “They fear rejection, getting yelled at, or being told to stop bothering the person.”

“Some individuals are lazy,” Kosoglow adds. “If you give them an excuse to not get on the phone, they will take it.”

That’s never a good strategy. “The phone has become underutilized,” Heinz says. “I can get 40 to 50 emails every day, but not one call.”

Which could present an opportunity for salespeople who do pick up the phone. Traditional cold calling might have lost some of its luster, but it still has a role, often a very important one, in many organizations’ successful sales campaigns. 

Paul Korzeniowski is a freelance writer who specializes in technology issues. He has been covering CRM issues for more than two decades, is based in Andover, Mass., and can be reached at paulkorzen@aol.com or on Twitter @PaulKorzeniowski.

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