5 Tips to Sharpen Cold Calling Skills

Sell more by sharpening your cold calling skills.

Be Targeted: Traditionally, the thinking with cold calling was that if you consider anyone a prospect and make enough calls, sales will start to happen eventually. But Wendy Weiss, a New York City-based sales coach, says that is no longer a reality in the modern sales-scape. “Today one can make calls for long periods of time without ever reaching a prospect directly,” says Weiss, president of “The ‘numbers game’ idea is a myth.”

Instead, sales pros should be extremely targeted in the prospects that they contact. Reps should identify potential high-quality buyers and then reach out to them with a compelling, well-honed message. Says Weiss: “The real numbers game today is conversion – conversion of dials into conversations and conversations into an appropriate next step.”  

Know Your Prospect: Being targeted enables you to execute another essential element of contemporary cold calling: preliminary research. Use the online tools available to you – company website, social media accounts, etc. – to gather relevant information about the prospect. Then, use this intelligence to craft call messages that are specially tailored to the potential buyer. “Being uninformed about who you’re calling is inexcusable,” says experienced cold caller Michael Thrasher, a research analyst with ValuePenguin. “Taking even five minutes to research an individual I’m about to call has undoubtedly made a difference in success rates.”  

Dispense With Empty Platitudes: The people you’re calling are probably busy. If they’re not, they’re likely not thrilled that you’ve interrupted them during what little down time they have. Therefore, refrain from asking questions like “How are you?” and “Is now a good time?” This gives people a chance to tell you to get lost before you’ve had a chance to reveal how you can help them.

Polish Your Opener: The time you have to capture your prospect’s attention is limited. Therefore, have a polished but natural-sounding pitch that’s aimed at getting their attention right away. Keep it short: 15 to 20 seconds is good. As important, your call intro should be rooted in relating the value you can provide the prospect. Suggest benefits to the buyer – positive outcomes they’ll receive by working with you. Conclude with an open-ended question – something relevant to the prospect that compels them to respond.

Barry Maher, a best-selling author and sales trainer, gives an example from a succinct and effective pitch he has used: “I help businesses of all sizes generate significantly more business by improving their sales teams’ closing ratios. For example, a training we did for XYZ Company resulted in an immediate increase of over 10%. What kind of closing ratio does your sales team have?”

Warm The Call: An effective tactic for increasing your chances of success with a cold call is to “warm” it up. For instance, you can send prospects a letter or direct mail package with an attention-grabbing product or two that details benefits you could offer them. Then, call to see if they received it, segueing into a discussion that ultimately leads to an appointment. “Sales professionals need to make use of all the resources that are now available to them: sales intelligence, social media, voicemail and email,” says Weiss. “When cold calling is used well and is part of a multi-touch strategy, it can be extremely effective.”