How to Succeed at Cold calling

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post called, “How to Waste Your Time When Cold Calling.” It sparked some conversation and several people asked me what they CAN do to improve their cold calling efforts.

So, here are 9 things you can do that will help you achieve better results when making cold calls. Please note that this is for B2B sales situation and not mass calls in a business-to-consumer setting.

1. Target your cold calls

The first and most important way to succeed at cold calling is to use a targeted list. Flipping through the telephone book or picking up the telephone to dial for dollars is not an effective way to prospect via telephone.

People who achieve the best results use a carefully targeted list of companies who have used or need their product, service or solution. Ask any cold calling expert and they will tell you that the quality of your list with have a direct impact on your results.

2. Research before you cold call

Once you have a good list of companies to contact, you need to do a bit of research. This research will help you determine the best approach to take and how to capture your contact’s attention.

For example, as a sales trainer, if I learned that a company recently downsized their sales team, I would use this information to craft my opening.

3. Refine your cold call opening

Your opening needs to be short, concise and to the point while also demonstrating how your prospect might benefit from your offering.

If we use my example from the previous point, my opening might sound something like, “Mr. Jones, Kelley Robertson from Fearless Selling calling. I read in the national paper that you just laid-off one-third of your sales force. Our research has shown that companies often experience an immediate decline in morale when this happens and their sales suffer as a result. What’s your experience been so far?”

The key is to open quickly and keep your opening as short as possible…ideally no longer than 20-25 seconds at a slightly-slower-than-normal pace.

4. Avoid the pitch

If you noticed, I didn’t immediately launch into a pitch about my services or what I do. Instead, I gave my opening and followed it by a question.

Now, the chances are my prospect will ask, “What do you do?” or “Who are you?” or something similar before answering my question.

Don’t get tricked into talking about yourself yet!

Instead, give a brief reply and ask your question again.

“I specialize in helping companies keep their sales team motivated and up-to-date with the latest selling strategies. When I saw that you had downsized I thought it would be appropriate to contact you. How has your team’s morale been since the lay-offs?”

5. Speak slower during your cold call

Most of the sales people who call my office tend to speak to quickly and they also change their tone while calling.

When you slow down your pace you come across more natural and your tone will become more conversational. Plus, it makes it much easier for your prospect to understand you.

6. Engage them

One of the keys to cold calling is to engage people in a conversation and the most effective way to achieve that is to ask questions.

However, you need to lead into your questions and start with softer questions. You can’t open a conversation by asking, “So, what are the three biggest challenges you face right now?”

You need to demonstrate to your prospect that having a conversation with you will be worth their time.

7. “Send me information”

Many prospects will say, “Send me information” in an effort to end the call. However, before you agree to this, you need to ask at least one more question.

Sending generic information will not close a deal for you so I suggest that you say, “I’d be more than happy to send you information. What exactly do you need to see?”

8. Use a referral

It is much more effective to connect with a prospect if you both know someone in common. Whenever possible, use your existing network to connect with new prospects.

It’s all about the numbers

Regardless of how you slice or dice it, cold calling is a numbers game. Recognize that the majority of calls you make will NOT result in a sale.

9. Start cold calling immediately

Very few sales people enjoy cold calling so they procrastinate and work on other tasks.

However, it is much more effective to get started first thing in the morning because it creates momentum and gets the unpleasant task out of the way.

Set a goal of making a certain number of calls or booking a specific number of appointments and don’t quit until you achieve that goal. If you’re new at this, set small, attainable goals and gradually work your way towards larger, more challenging targets.


Cold calling is still an effective way to generate new sales leads and revenues. Use the ideas in this post to improve your results and stop wasting your time.


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