Read our top closing sales tips from expert salespeople to learn how best to ask for the deal, including preparation and follow-up.
Cold calling is a vital skill for the modern sales professional. The best cold callers know not just the basics, but also the deeper-level knowledge of how to book and prepare for meetings, plus how to speak with different types of leads. We spoke with sales experts and compiled the best cold calling tips below to help you develop your skills and become a pro on the phone.
Prior to actually making cold calls, it's important to set yourself up for success. Check out these expert tips on how to prepare for a cold call to ensure you start off on the right foot:
Founder & CEO, Convrrt
"If you're relying entirely on cold calls to establish a book of business, you're going to have a difficult time doing it. Prospecting with only cold calls is quite challenging. Trying to convince people to talk to you when they have no idea who you are is like pushing a boulder up a hill day after day, only to have it roll back down the hill over and again. For this reason, you should begin by defining your overall prospecting plan before making your first cold call. Make sure your prospects know who you are before you even get on the phone by identifying all the methods you may use in conjunction with cold calls."
— Kavin Patel, Convrrt
CEO, Rockstar Marketing
"It's easy to talk yourself out of cold calling. Set yourself a daily target and stick to this, no matter what. Yes, it won't be easy. There will be times when you are required to do them late in the day (or do other work late in the day). But if you're looking to get results from cold calling, you need to set yourself and stick to it. I've used this method to book dozens of discovery calls."
— Ravi Davda, Rockstar Marketing
BD Specialist, QuillBot
"Mondays are for transitioning back into work mode after the weekend and planning the upcoming week . . . Fridays are typically spent getting ready for the weekend, so many buyers aren't interested in beginning a new relationship with a sales team or representative. Wednesday and Thursday, on the other hand, allow for those who have settled into their work week and won't feel rushed by your call."
— Gulsaba Khan, QuillBot
Author, Cleanlots - America's Simplest Business
"Cold calling is much easier to do when you understand that you are not aiming to sell anything in the call. Your goal is to obtain the contact information for the person who can make the decision on what you are offering. The information you forward to them details how your product or service will benefit them. It gets the conversation going."
— Brian Winch, Cleanlots - America's Simplest Business
Co-Founder & Developer, ContentBASE
"The key to successful cold calling is to have a specific and attainable goal in mind. In most cases, the sole viable purpose of a cold call is to schedule a meeting with the prospect at a later date. That's all there is to it. Inexperienced salespeople frequently believe they must 'sell' and 'pitch' the value proposition to the customer. No. That is far too soon. You haven't yet earned the right to do so. Instead, cold calling is all about making an appointment. We demonstrate our knowledge and value by sending a concise, effective, and targeted message that outlines the benefits of speaking with us further."
— Jay Bats, ContentBASE
Co-Founder, LinkDoctor LLC
"First is knowing the company profile, which includes but is not limited to their company’s mission and vision, leadership, financials, and even awards. Second is knowing their company products and personas through extensive research showcased in reading case studies and watching demos and webinars. Third, knowing the competition in order to formulate an efficient marketing strategy that is aligned with what you have learned from them. Lastly, identifying the profile of the person you’re speaking to."
— Daniel Martin, LinkDoctor LLC
"There are only two reasons that prospects say, 'I’m not interested': you’re not talking to the right person, or you’re not saying anything interesting. If you are speaking with the wrong person in an organization or an inappropriate prospect, they will often say, 'I’m not interested.' What they really mean is, 'Why are you calling me? I have nothing to do with this.' Step 1 in overcoming 'I’m not interested' is to have a targeted, qualified, calling list."
— Wendy Weiss, ColdCallingResults.com
"Use LinkedIn or other social media sites to find the name of a company's CEO or other executives. You can also Google the company name and the words 'phone number' or 'contact.' Or look for the company's website and find their customer service phone number. Call the company's main switchboard and ask for the person you're trying to reach, or ask someone you know who works at the company for a contact name or phone number, or try calling directory assistance (411) for contact information on businesses in your area."
— Farzad Rashidi, Respona
Managing Director, Out of the Box Innovations Ltd.
"There is often the conception that scripts are for novices, and more experienced salespeople are better off freestyling their way through. On their best day, an experienced salesperson will do just fine, but no one performs at their best all of the time. A script rescues us when we forget something or have a mental block. Instead of spending mental effort thinking about WHAT to say, we can focus on HOW to say it."
— Jason Lavis, Out of the Box Innovations Ltd.
Check out our article on how to write a cold calling script with a free template provided to elevate your cold calls.
Founder, Scott Keever SEO
"As a cold caller, you probably have a script to follow, and most people do a very bland job when it comes to it. This is because most of the time they are reading the script off from a screen and the tone that comes out is quite robotic. Learn your script by heart, and prepare it like an actor. Imagine yourself playing the role of salesman and then sell the product. Expressions, tone, convincing power, all of this comes in handy when cold calling, just like it does for an actor."
— Scott Keever, Scott Keever SEO
Now that you're prepared to have successful cold calls, it's time to start dialing. Check out these expert tips on how to conduct yourself over the phone:
VP of Sales, SalesRabbit
"Knowing the best time of day to call a customer helps you catch them at a better time and leads to an easier cold call. The best times of day to call leads are between 4:00 and 5:00 PM and between 8:00 and 10:00 AM in their local time zone. Just as important, the worst time of day to call leads is between 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM in their time zone."
— Sean Huckstep, SalesRabbit
CEO at Solitaire.dev
"The impact of a strong opening line cannot be underestimated, as you only have 5-10 seconds to prove you are worth the prospect's time and attention. Introduce yourself and completely shift the narrative by complimenting the person on the other side, [such as]:
- 'I have seen your work on X'
- 'Congratulations on your promotion'
- 'You are an inspiration to our company'
Remember that the prospect wants to feel valued and special. It is your job to make them feel like your company is going to work in their best interest."
— Ryan Nieman, Solitaire.dev
Director of Sales, Insurance Geek
"When you get through to the right person, eventually, then you don’t want to waste their time or indeed your own. So BE HONEST. . . . Set a timeframe and what you are going to do. Try ‘Hi, I’m Trey from Marketing.com, and this is a sales call; can I take just 30 seconds of your time to explain what we do, and after that you can tell me you’re not interested? No harm done. Or you can agree to talk with me a little more on the subject. Is that ok?' "
— Brad Cummins, Insurance Geek
"Try calling prospects by their first name (you should ask for permission). This puts you on an equal playing field. If you start off with Mr. or Ms., psychologically this gives them a feeling of superiority. The key is to be professionally friendly."
— Deborah Pretty, PYTalkBiz
Managing Partner, Shapiro Negotiations
"If you say too little, the other side won’t know enough to care, but if you try to say too much too quickly, you will quickly turn off the other side and be told to send the dreaded email with your details. So, try to include a question that leverages the person’s curiosity."
— Andres Lares, Shapiro Negotiations
Founder, Intelus Agency
"The best way to set yourself up for the perfect pitch when making a cold call is to ask a question to reveal how much your solution can help them before you even pitch. If you sell a product that saves your clients time, ask how they currently do XYZ. When they tell you it takes much longer than it would if they use your solution, say: 'If you could do XYZ in half the time, would you try our solution and see if it's a good fit?' The same approach applies to other pain points such as helping the client avoid pain, worry, frustration, money loss, etc. Lastly, it can be applied to helping clients achieve XYZ outcome, gain, or increase. Don't pitch until you know how much the solution will really help them. The more you understand the pain or desire, the better positioned you will be to recommend a solution."
— Chris Mitchell, Intelus Agency
CEO, Robben Media
"Our best approach in cold calling is a combination of intense research to find the prospect's problem so we can clearly communicate it at the start of the call, and then transition with, 'We can help you fix this.' By doing it this way, you make the prospect the hero and get their attention by knowing their challenges and having a well-thought out solution."
— Brian Robben, Robben Media
Founder, Content Dog
"Watch your tone and have patience. Cold calling is not always a favorite of the customers. Hence, you need to be patient. Don’t be triggered and don’t trigger the customer. Keep your talk short and sweet. Don’t beat around the bush and waste time."
— Hilda Wong, Content Dog
Chief Editor, vpnAlert
"You can say all the correct things, but if your tone of voice doesn't match, you won't be able to close the deal. You must also project self-assurance. Your prospects will see if you're bored, and they won't want to do business with you. After all, why should they be excited if you, the one selling the items, aren't? It might be difficult to retain that excitement on a daily basis, but your tone should be confident but welcoming at all times."
— Bram Jansen, vpnAlert
Sales Consultant, Kin Insurance
"If your lead uses a serious tone, you’ll want to match that seriousness; similarly, match the tone of more casual leads to keep them comfortable. Pay attention to how loud they’re talking, and try to mimic their volume, as it’s likely the most appropriate level for their environment. People usually talk as fast as they find comfortable, so don’t overwhelm them by talking faster than they do. Mirror them as closely as possible."
— Pat Kelleher, Kin Insurance
Real Estate Sales Trainer
"A mistake I see a lot of salespeople make is they think they are supposed to go from top to bottom every time. But if somebody is already on the topic of question five out of your ten-question script, why would you start at the top? You’re going to break rapport, they’re going to think you’re not listening, and it kills the flow of the conversation."
— Bryan Casella, YouTube Content Creator & Real Estate Sales Trainer
Once you've hung up the phone, check out these tips and ideas from selling experts on what to do to ensure you increase your cold calling success moving forward:
Founder, Frootful Marketing
"When cold calling, it's easy to turn rejection into motivation. You get rejected so much that you start needing to turn a cold prospect into a lead, or better, a customer. But you that task will get much tougher without enthusiasm and wit, and as you get more tired, those things will disappear. Make sure to take breaks often and not burn out. Take at least five minutes every hour, and if you have a choice, don't cold call for more than three hours a day."
— Sean Dudayev, Frootful Marketing
Owner of Affluent Co.
"Just write down every objection that you get, and then write down an answer next to that, and over time you’re going to master objections. The secret is in the follow-up — the success is in the objection-handling."
— Jordan Platten, Affluent Co.
Co-founder & CEO, Chronos Agency
"After trying some of the abundance of free sales scripts available online, see which ones drive the most favorable responses. With practice you’ll start adjusting your script based on the objections you’re hearing. Eventually, you may even start writing your own scripts."
— Joshua Chin, Chronos Agency
President/Owner, Funeral Funds of America
"We use a predictive dialer to avoid going through the tedious task of calling. It helps us avoid manual dialing, waiting on hold, and scheduling follow-up. It only places us into a conversation with the prospect when they answer the call. Predictive dialer saves us time and money because it makes the physical act of cold calling simple."
— Randy VanderVaate, Funeral Funds of America
Founder, Sales Insight Lab
"Follow a prospecting campaign, where calls might be a part of that process, but then you’re also sending emails, you’re making LinkedIn requests, you’re sending packages, you’re sending letters, and you’re leaving voicemails."
— Marc Wayshak, Sales Insight Lab
President, Lighthouse Recruiters
"95% of my first time calls go to voicemail, so I try to stand out by connecting immediately with a note on LinkedIn and a personalized email at the same time. For example:
- Voicemail: Intro of who I am, why I’m calling and something about their profile that stood out. ‘Call me back if you’re interested.’
- Immediate email (form letter that inserts their name): ‘Hey Nicole, I just left you a voicemail, but I wanted to make sure that you got the message. I would like to speak with you about XYZ opportunity.’ I include a few interesting facts about the job and that their skill set is exactly what they are looking for. I create some urgency and then a call to action.
- LinkedIn connection: ‘Hey Nicole, even if it’s not the right time in your life for the opportunity I sent, can we connect and share networks?’
I like the shock and awe approach because it’s memorable. If done the right way, it’s not pushy, but instead opens the door a crack for your follow-up calls."
— Joe Ames, Lighthouse Recruiters
CEO, 301 Madison Consulting
"Every person who wishes to work in sales should know the cardinal sales rule: rejection is a part of the job. So you should learn to not be afraid of rejection, but embrace it. Even if you put in a lot of effort but the other person doesn’t buy from you, try to keep a positive outlook, and move on towards another prospect. If you’re in constant fear of getting rejected, you would never be able to make successful cold calls."
— Cale Loken, 301 Madison Consulting, LLC
Sales Executive, Faruzo
"Always follow up, at least once! Even if you did not get a good response the first time, one follow-up is extremely necessary. It will either end up with you potentially turning the prospect into a customer or get a definitive no from them. In both cases, there is no ambiguity and you can move on to the next client."
— Aviad Faruzo, Faruzo
Each of these tips is going to help you become a better cold caller as well as generate better leads. Incorporating all of them will not only improve your sales skills, but also make your job more enjoyable. At the end of the day, success is the greatest motivator, and these tried-and-true cold calling tips will increase your level of success on the phone.
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