11 cold calling tips to get prospects to stay on the line

by Brad Smith

If you think cold calling is a dead form of outreach, you’re wrong.

Tons of businesses are still using cold calls to drive revenues because they work. Phone calls are a personal way to build relationships and make sales.

Cold calling has become more difficult than it used to be in past years, though.

In fact, the total number of calls it takes to actually reach a prospect is more than twice what it was ten years ago.


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It’s harder than ever to nail down an initial phone call. This means that you have to know what you’re doing when you’re reaching out.

If you can get a prospect to answer the call, you’d better be sure that they don’t hang up or rush to get off of the line.

Here are 11 cold calling tips to ensure that prospects stay on the phone with you.

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1. Prepare for rejection

Rejection isn’t easy. It’s discouraging, disheartening, and downright painful to experience. If you focus on rejection (or spend too much time fearing it), you’ll hate calling your prospects.

And you won’t be good at it, either.

But rejection comes with the territory of cold calling. If you prepare for it beforehand, you’ll be less shocked when someone says no to you or doesn’t want to speak with you.

You’ll know what to say when someone resists your efforts, making you seem even more personable.

Studies show that as many as 80% of salespeople don’t close deals because of call reluctance. Up to 44% quit after hearing their first “no.”

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Feeling nervous to call is normal, but you can’t let nerves affect your actions.

According to Brevet, 80% of deals are closed after the 5th follow-up.

Create a calming work environment and eliminate as many distractions as possible before you start calling people on your list.

A simple way to “warm up” your cold calls is to rehearse what you plan to say to people, which we’ll go over soon.

Another easy way to make cold calls less cold is to research who you’re calling so that you have tons of icebreakers to choose from.

2. Do your research

You obviously already know that researching your contacts will dramatically boost your results.

But you’re probably forgetting to do it because you’re too busy focusing your attention elsewhere. So looking up each contact might be the last thing on your mind.

In today’s world, research is easier than ever before, so you really have no excuse not to look up who you’re calling.

Here’s a simple technique to complete lead research so fast that you can get it done while dialing their number.

Start researching a particular company by heading to their LinkedIn page.

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You’ll be able to see a company description, employees, and more.

Then, just choose an employee off of the list that you want to get in touch with. Or, search for a particular person if you already know who you’re looking for.

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Their LinkedIn profile will reveal personal information such as past jobs, where they live, and where they went to school. Just send them a message to get in touch and set up a call.

It’s as simple as that. You can even use Twitter to get in touch in the same way.

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Once you’ve scheduled a call or located a phone number, you’ll need a script.

3. Use a personalized script

When cold calling, you need to show prospects exactly why you’re different from other callers. Quick.

After you’ve introduced yourself, you should begin personalizing the call immediately.

Here’s where that research you just did can come into play.

Open with a compliment on a recent award that your prospect may have won or ask them a question about their past projects.

Write up a quick script that you can reference while you’re on the phone with them.

You could even tweak an email script and use it for calls.

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According to Criminally Prolific, here’s why the template example above from Close.io converts:

  1. It clearly identifies the sender and what they’re selling.
  2. The sender asks for direction about who to speak to.
  3. The invitation to talk more at a later time specifies the time and date and how long it will take.

You don’t have to stick to this script word for word, but it’s a helpful guide to keep you on track.

The point of a cold call isn’t necessarily to get your prospect to commit to you right away. You're trying to set up an in-depth meeting or call for a later time.

You also have to be sure to call prospects at the right time.

4. Call at the right time for your prospects.

According to Yesware’s research on over 25,000 sales calls, weekday afternoons are the best time to make cold calls.

The research shows that most calls that last over 5 minutes occur between 3:00-5:00 pm on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

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However, just because these are the best times for Yesware doesn’t mean they’re the best times for your company.

There are countless tools out there to help you track calls, like Close.io.

With Close.io, calling is as simple as one click. And you can even leave notes about the call for other members of your team.

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You can also record calls with Close.io.

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Just be sure to use trigger events, too, so that you call them when they’re ready to talk.

5. Track trigger events

Contacting people at the right moment is about more than just calling on the right day and the right time.

It’s about calling them when their interest is piqued.

Perfect timing is important, and it doesn’t have to be hard.

Tracking leads and opportunities is important because you’ll know exactly which stage each prospect is at within your sales funnel.

Tracking these metrics in Close.io is simple.

You can visually view and graph leads that are currently active or that you have won or lost.

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You can also track trigger events by using other services such as Google Alerts, Mention, or Zapier.

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Close.io launched new Zapier triggers this year, too, so you can automate your sales workflows to best fit your needs.

With these tools, you can keep tabs on things like:

  1. New company hires
  2. Customer announcements/large company achievements
  3. Geographical company expansions
  4. Whether a prospect opened your email or not (so you can call them later)

You can monitor emails and calls at the same time with Close.io so that you can tailor outreach to companies based on these triggers.

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Quick tip: Wednesdays tend to be the best days to send emails, while Thursdays are the worst, according to HostingFacts.com.

Once you know someone is a good outreach candidate, and you’re ready to get in touch, your first impression will either make or break the exchange.

6. Make a good impression

The very first thing you should do when cold calling is make sure that the person you’re talking to is the right individual.

How you choose to verify their identity is the first impression they’ll have of you.

It’s more effective to ask if you’re “talking with” the right person rather than asking if you’re “speaking to” the right person.

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The phrase “speaking to” makes it seem like you’re planning to have a one-way dialogue with them rather than engaging in a conversation.

“Talking with,” however, implies that you plan to listen to the prospect instead of just talking at them.

That’s why it’s important to ask questions and tell personal stories.

7. Tell a story (and ask questions)

If someone tells you they’re busy when you call them, consider that a red flag.

If they were really in a meeting, would they have answered a call from an unknown number?

Probably not. That’s why you have to prove your worth quickly, even if they claim to be busy. A great way to do that is with personal stories that build rapport.

This will make your prospect feel more human and will probably even cause them to lower their defenses toward you.

Stories of social proof can also be helpful. Social proof identifies pain points and proves how your company has relieved them for others.

And it saves them time because they won’t have to worry about looking up reviews of your products and services themselves.

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Start out by telling a customer success story. Then, ask your prospect questions that relate to your story. This will show that you are calling to help them with their needs.

Try out the Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff (SPIN) Selling questioning sequence to get them to realize the cost of their inaction. It might sound something like this:

Situation: “Tell me about your company?”

Problem: “How do you generate new customers?”

Implication: “How much is a new customer worth?”

Need-Payoff: “How would your business benefit from getting ten new customers each month?”

It’s personable, kind, and will make them feel like a human being that you value. The goal here is to build a lasting relationship, and this method is the best way to do it.

After you’ve done this, shift all of the attention to them.

8. Make it all about them.

It’s important to never pitch something too early. Focus the conversation on your prospect for as long as you can first. People love to talk about themselves.

Jill Angelone, the Account Executive at Lyft Corporate Travel Emerging Markets, said it best: “Be quiet and build trust through listening.”

By giving your prospect the chance to talk, you’ll also be gaining more insider information about them.

Try to hit the assertiveness “sweet spot” by avoiding being too aggressive or too sociable, too risk-averse or too unpredictable, or too uncaring or too competitive.

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You have to know what your prospect wants before anything else. That’s why it’s important to listen and only speak when necessary.

Listening is key to building great relationships. It builds the trust you need to get a prospect to commit to you.

Be sure to keep the conversation on track, though.

9. Stay on track and keep goals in mind

You only have about ten seconds to show a prospect that you’re worth their time.

That’s why it’s so important to stay organized.

Engage in conversation, but be sure to take notes, and keep the end goal in mind.

Sales organizations that use organized and structured sales processes perform better than those that do not.

Close.io’s reporting tools make staying on task simple, easy, and more organized than ever.

You’ll always know the value of a lead, the desired close date, the status of that lead, and which of your team’s members are focused on any given prospect.

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That way, everyone will know exactly when to follow up.

10. Follow up when needed and leave a voicemail

When you follow up, your prospect might not be available. That’s why it’s important to leave an effective but brief voicemail.

Start out by telling them who is calling them, why you’re calling, and then end on a note that will trigger a quick response.

According to Gryphon, the optimal voicemail message is only 8 to 14 seconds long.

Here’s a great example of a voicemail template to stick to:

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Typical voicemails usually suck.

By sticking to a template, you’ll stay away from filler words, speaking too fast, or rambling on and on about unimportant information.

That’s why you have to create interest naturally and quickly in your voicemails. You want your prospect to call back as soon as possible.

If they have to listen to your voicemail over and over to copy down a callback phone number, they’ll decide to devote their time to something (or someone) else instead.

Pre-recorded voicemails can solve this problem.

11. Leave pre-recorded voicemails with Close.io

If you have a voicemail template, it can get boring and stale to repeat the same message to thousands of recipients.

Why not just record one great voicemail with Close.io?

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When you call a prospect and hear the beep to leave a message, all you have to do is push one button, and it will leave your pre-recorded voicemail.

Then, you can move on to the next phone call.

All you have to do is:

  1. Upload a recorded voicemails message by going to Settings -> Phone Settings -> Pre-Recorded Voicemail Drop.
  2. Click the “Leave voicemail” button when hearing the beep after a prospect’s voicemail greeting.

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Most people think that cold calls are a thing of the past.

But they’re one of the most effective tools for building relationships with prospects, making sales, and closing deals.

Cold calling is harder than it used to be. It now takes twice as many calls to reach a prospect than it did ten years ago.

But if you know what you’re doing, you can make sure that they stay on the line once they finally answer.

  • Start out by preparing to be rejected. Don’t let it stop you from calling and being confident in your pitch.
  • Do your research on companies and individuals so that you have effective icebreakers. Be sure to personalize your cold calling script to whomever you’re talking to.
  • Call on the right day and at the right time of day, and pay attention to trigger events.
  • Make a good impression by asking to talk with people rather than speaking to them, and make the conversation about your prospect, not you.
  • Keep your goals in mind and follow up on time. Leave brief, powerful voicemails if you don’t receive an answer.
  • And don’t forget to pre-record voicemails with Close.io to save time so that you can move onto your next call.

Want even more cold calling tips? Download a free copy of Your Growth Hacks Aren't Working today. Learn how to qualify and close prospects, deal with sales objections, and much more!

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Brad Smith Founder of Codeless.jpgAbout the author: Brad helps SaaS startups create actionable long-form content for a fraction of the price of a content writer. Give him a pug and a pencil and he's off to the races!