Businessman cold calling customers at his desk

Some people say cold calling is dead, so many new business owners shy away from giving it a try.

The technique often gets a bad rap because entrepreneurs and salespeople don’t put in the time and effort to prepare for and deliver their cold calls effectively. That’s a shame, because it can open doors to decision makers, and begin business relationships on a positive and productive note.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking for viable, cost-efficient ways to move leads through your company’s sales funnel, don’t overlook cold calling. I’ve seen it work well for both new and well-established businesses in a wide variety of industries. But for cold calling to work, it requires the right approach.

Taking the “cold” out of cold calling

Cold calls should actually be anything but “cold.” They need to invoke a sense of warmth and connection with the person on the receiving side—and that requires some focused effort and preparation.

How can you make your cold calls an effective tool for generating sales leads? It all starts with an understanding of what you need to do to help them succeed. If you’re looking for creative ways to find new customers, be sure to check out this article next, and keep reading to learn how to make cold calls effectively.

7 ways to warm up cold calls and open doors for your business

1. Make sure you’re prepared

Before even thinking about dialing prospects’ phone numbers, do your homework. Have a firm understanding of your prospects’ industries, and brainstorm some of their potential challenges. Also, research what your prospects’ companies do, the customers they serve, the number of employees they have, and their primary competitors.

In addition, I recommend using LinkedIn to learn about each target contact’s role within the organization. Yes, this is a lot of work, but it will give you an opportunity to understand how your company’s solutions might fill the void and offer value. I must caution you not to become too set in your assumptions, though.

While preparation is vital, keep an open mind. What you learn during your cold call could either support those assumptions or prove some of them invalid. Preparation is a necessary part of the process, but it can’t answer all of your questions.

2. Have a well-organized script

While you won’t want to read it verbatim and sound stiff and stilted, a script that’s logically organized will help guide conversations in the right direction. Your prospects’ time is precious to them, so you’ll need to keep your calls to the point.

Although the script you use will depend on your specific circumstances, here is a general structure that serves most sales cold call scenarios well:

  • Introduction (who you are, what company you’re with, why you’re calling)
  • Connecting the dots (what you noticed about their company that has prompted you to call them)
  • Confirmation that it’s a convenient time (and vow to respect their time)
  • Request info about their challenges
  • Recap of their challenges
  • Explanation of your company’s solutions to overcome their challenges
  • Next steps

Avoid the pitfall of jumping ahead of yourself and getting too granular from the start. For example, suppose I’m making a cold call to a prospect on behalf of my company.

If I begin the conversation with something like, “Hi! This is Gregg Schwartz from Strategic Sales & Marketing. I’m here to provide a lead generation solution that will help your company concentrate on your core business, increase sales and profits, develop a fresh pipeline of leads, cut employee training costs, control capital costs, etc., etc.,” I’d likely be on the receiving end of a hangup. That was too much too fast.

A better start would be, “Hi! This is Gregg Schwartz from Strategic Sales & Marketing. We provide major account B2B lead generation services to software companies.” That type of approach allows you to subtly ease into the dialogue, so you don’t overwhelm prospects.

After structuring your cold call into the basic components that make sense for your situation, flesh each segment out into sentences that flow naturally. Again, you will risk sounding fake if you read your script word for word. Instead, become intimately familiar with your script so you need only use it as a guide to ensure you address every step in the process.

3. Keep your delivery down-to-earth

Remember the person on the other end of the line is just that—a real person. Use a conversational and relaxed tone to help put your prospects at ease.

Use a cold calling script as I suggested in point #1, but don’t become a slave to it. Let your personality come through to build rapport. Be careful, of course, not to get too casual by using slang or accidentally letting curse words slip out—aim to be both approachable and professional.

4. Create the opportunity for discovery

Incorporate less talk and more listening into your cold calls. Focus on asking open-ended questions rather than those that solicit only “yes” or “no” answers. Your goal is to allow prospects to do the talking.

The more you give them an opportunity to share their challenges and pain points, the better you’ll understand what products and services you can offer to help them overcome them.

5. Confirm what you’ve heard, to check understanding and show you’ve been listening

Never, ever neglect to summarize your understanding of your prospects’ problems and needs while on your cold calls.

Restate what your prospects have shared with you to demonstrate you’ve been listening intently. If you skip this step, you’ll miss out on a prime opportunity to build trust and gain customer confidence.

6. Provide information that catches their attention

Now it’s your turn to shine! Share how you believe you can help your prospects by providing a synopsis of how your solution has helped customers with similar issues. By framing your value this way, you can avoid sounding pushy—and it will help your prospects visualize how you might serve them.

You might be wondering, “But Gregg, how can I know what examples to use when I’m first learning about my prospects’ challenges during the call?”

That’s a great question. The key is to maintain a good working knowledge of your company’s success stories. Perhaps you have case studies that demonstrate how you can solve the types of problems your prospects face. Then, when you talk with prospects dealing with any of those particular challenges, you can readily relate with one of the case study scenarios applicable to them.

7. Coordinate a follow-up

Let your prospects know how and when you’ll follow up with them, and share what they can expect from you when you do. Will you email them a link to more information immediately after you end the call? Will you send a brochure in the mail? Will you call next week to touch base? This will set the stage for continuing your conversation.

When you do follow up, you’ll show your dependability and trustworthiness. Delivering on your promises will give prospects a reason to believe in your company’s ability to deliver on its promises.

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid and convince yourself that cold calls no longer have a place in doing business. Sure, like any other sales technique, they can fail if not executed properly. But when they consist of the right stuff delivered in the right way, you can succeed.

With preparation and planning, your cold calls can serve as the much-needed building blocks upon which you can establish strong relationships for your business.

AvatarGregg Schwartz

Gregg Schwartz is the Vice President of Sales at Strategic Sales & Marketing, one of the industry-founding lead generation companies for B2B major account lead generation and appointment setting services. He leads his firm’s content marketing and SEO strategies.