How To Master Cold Calling: 11 Best Practices

You’ve probably heard that cold calling is dead. It’s been usurped by social selling, content, and outbound email as a way of driving business. No self-respecting startup would stoop as low as to cold call, right?

Wrong. Cold calling is not dead!

Cold calling has been around as long as the telephone. It’s a technique where a representative for a company calls an individual to share their sales pitch. Since the call is uninvited, it’s difficult to know how the person on the other end of the phone will react. Cold calling isn’t appropriate for every business and can be challenging to execute correctly.

Many modern household name companies built their business on cold calling. Many are still doing it today. When Travis Kalanick started Uber, he cold-called San Francisco chauffeur firms touting for business. Uber is now a $70+ billion company.

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The reason why some say cold calling is dead is that it’s rare to find a business that does it well. When you get cold calling right, it can be a valuable part of your B2B lead generation process. While it can be beneficial because it allows you to reach potential new prospects, it also has its drawbacks. If you are considering adding this approach to your sales arsenal, stay along till the end. 

What Is Cold Calling? 


Cold calling is an activity in sales when reps reach out to potential customers who haven’t expressed any interest in the offered products or services. The cold calling technique refers to the solicitation of a prospect through different channels, telephone, or person without having any prior contact with the salesperson. Over the years, cold calling has developed from a form of giving or, instead of reading a sales pitch into a target-driven sales communication tool. In other words, salespeople target the right prospects to boost their success rate.

It’s a massive challenge to deliver a sales pitch to someone who has never heard about you or your offerings. Quite often, people wonder, is cold calling illegal? Absolutely NOT. Cold calling is not illegal. However, different countries have rules and regulations put in place to limit how, when and whom salespeople can cold call. So, here’s where we stand with cold calling.

What Is The Purpose Of Cold Calling?


This purpose statement is sneaky good because it seems obvious at first, but as we break it down there is a lot more here. You probably notice three primary pieces: conversation, needs, and next steps. Let’s unpack this sentence to derive insight into what good cold calling is really about.

Engage in a conversation:

By definition, a cold call is to a person who is not expecting your call or in our case a prospect who responded to a marketing campaign or other call to action. Instead of just talking at the prospect like most cold calls, you want to generate a conversation. Use call openers. You can use 3×3 Research—or three important talking points you’ve gathered in only three minutes—and teaser questions to turn the monologue into a dialogue.

About Their Needs:

This is a tricky one. At the start of a cold call, you are catching the person unprepared. There is zero trust. In all likelihood, you have not earned the right to ask probing questions about their needs and pain points. You want to keep the focus of the conversation on the prospect while at the same time saying something about your firm in a way that earns you the right to ask questions. The best cold callers are able to frame talking points in the client’s voice, articulate a crisp differentiated value proposition, and then earn the right to develop needs through breadcrumb and interrogative-led questions.

Determine The Next Steps:

Most people agree that a cold call is successful when you get the appointment. But is alive, web, or phone meeting the only successful outcome? Time is the enemy of the salesperson. The best cold callers are able to get prospects to open up and talk. This allows these rock star salespeople to quickly qualify their prospects to see if it’s even worth their time to continue the process.

But at the end of the cold call you hopefully have some understanding of where the prospect is in the buying process. This dictates the appropriate next step – get a meeting, call back later, or another creative offer to advance the prospect from business as usual into an active assessment of their needs.

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Cold Calling Best Practices:


Be Comfortable:

Making your initial cold calls can be very stressful. It’s easy, and natural, to be nervous when cold calling. When cold calling, you need to cut distractions to get in the zone, maintain a clear head and focus on the call. Understanding how your company’s closing process works and visualizing how you’re going to set the appointment beforehand will help you navigate a call with a stranger. Part of being comfortable in understanding your persona and how to speak in their language. Always work towards learning more about your specific industry and the value of your offering.

Prepare Your Opening Line:

A strong opening line is every bit as important as a good close. Maybe more. You can’t close if you never get a chance to get started. You need an opening line that captivates and engages and makes prospects want to know more. Avoid openers that give prospects an easy out…like send me some information and I’ll get back to you. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have ideas for how to tie your message to a prospect’s needs and trigger a positive initial response. Test opening lines until you find the one or two that allow you to get to the rest of your message.

Make A Call, Not A Dial:

Getting something out of every call is important. It’s easy to say “I made 100 dials today,” but what did you actually accomplish? You need to have back and forth communication with prospects, not just dial in and read a script. Extract value from every call, because you always want to be moving forward.

A dial is only a touch. A call is in pursuit of a goal.

Always Be Closing:

With every stage in the sales pipeline, you want to be moving your leads further downstream. But remember, sales development isn’t sales. You’re not trying to sell them the offering. You’re trying to nurture them and move them to the next step so your salespeople can do what they do best, close the deal.

This mindset ties in with professional persistence. One rule of thumb we abide by at EBQ is the 3-No’s Rule. Don’t stop investigating until you hear three professional “no’s.” After hearing three “No’s” you can be confident in relegating that contact and move on to your next lead

Be A Human, Not A Robot:

Building trust is incredibly vital in the business world. The market is oversaturated with script-reading telemarketers who don’t give enough care and attention that’s needed to maintain a natural and valuable conversation. You wouldn’t call your friends and family reading a script word for word. Why would you treat a prospect any different? Interact with the prospect like you would anyone else. Match the emotional level of the person with whom you’re speaking. For example, if the person answering the phone was very dry and to the point, you’re not going to want to come in acting bubbly. 

Listen To The Conversation You Are Having:

Reading your cold calling scripts verbatim is a poor use of your time. Unless you have superior acting skills, you’ll sound like you are speaking at them, instead of with them. Maintain a natural and fluid conversation that develops a connection with the person on the other side of the call.

Another thing to consider is how you handle the conversation. You may have questions you want to ask, to feed to your sales team, but don’t dominate the conversation to get your questions answered. If you aren’t able to get your questions answered but can set up a meeting, your sales team will be able to fill in the gaps further downstream.

Understand The Prospect’s Pain Points And Drivers:

Different positions at a company have different values. For example, low-level contacts would likely appreciate the technical aspects of your offering whereas someone in C suite or a VP will usually be more concerned with the value to the business and how it will contribute to their bottom-line.

Moreover, because their values are different, so will their pain points. Consider it like you were fishing, different fish need different lures to catch. Regularly highlight their relevant pain points throughout the call, remind them why this call is important to them. If a certain pain point isn’t resonating, swap lures and cast again.

Outline The Offering As A Solution:

It’s not about what features your offering has; it’s about what it solves. You shouldn’t get caught up in the bells and whistles when they’re looking for utility. When explaining your offering to a prospect, frame it as a solution to their problem, a cure for their ails. Understand how your offering deals with various pain points, and show how it can help solve the problem.

Let The Prospect Ask Questions:

It can be distressing to entertain the prospect’s questions because you may feel like you’re losing control over the conversation. This is fine, remember to be comfortable and listen to the questions they’re asking. If the prospect is asking questions, that’s already a step in the right direction. Think of it this way, letting the prospect speak and ask questions shows some level of interest on behalf of the prospect, helps you understand what they really need, and whether they are a fit for your offering. Learn something from every call.

Breathe And Stay On The Phone:

Even if you’ve already set an appointment, don’t leave the call. Take the time to work through your remaining discovery questions and verify if the lead is a good or bad fit. If someone can satisfy all your discovery questions, they may be a good lead. If you’re asking questions and they don’t know the answers to those questions, they may be a bad fit.

Ask For Referrals.

Referrals build your company’s reputation. They often pave the way for you to reach out to a new prospect. If you have a good conversation with a prospect—even if you haven’t yet set an appointment—ask for a referral. They’re not as hard to get as you might think. According to Hinge Marketing, 69% of respondents in a recent study said they are willing to give referrals. The surprising thing, however, is that 72% of those same respondents reported that they are never asked.

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Wrapping It Up:

Cold calling is a tool that can be used to continuously add new prospects to your pipeline of selling opportunities. Typically, cold-call-generated prospects are not the ones you find through inbound methods; because of this, they compliment other lead generation strategies, giving your pipeline both buyer-generated and seller-generated leads. If you follow these cold calling practices, you can be sure to see higher-quality interactions with your prospects and set more appointments with your salespeople. Let me know your thoughts in the comment below!


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