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Is Cold Calling Dead?

business person making cold calls for marketing

Everyone has received a cold call, and many have been the cold caller themselves.

For most people, these calls are not met with much enthusiasm. This is especially true if the company calling is not relevant to your needs and/or is too pushy in getting a sale. 

Cold calling is the unsolicited contact with a person or business in an attempt to sell products or services. It’s a common sales tactic used to try to convert leads that companies have had little to no contact with before.

However, cold calling is becoming less and less popular as a lead generation tool. 

Therefore, you have to ask, does cold calling still have a place in the current market? And if so, what can you do to make your cold calls a success?

The Current State of Cold Calling

Cold calling generally has a bad reputation. It seems outdated and is considered quite intrusive. It is also one of the most time consuming marketing tactics. 

More and more consumers are relying on internet research when making purchasing decisions.

They’re also being targeted with more and more digital advertising. Even these types of online ads are considered intrusive and annoying by many. It’s therefore easy to see why people don’t want to contact cold prospects via call. 

Despite this, cold calling is still a main form of prospecting for many companies. What’s more, cold calling can be successful. If it’s not successful then the problem is most likely the salesperson and that they have not adjusted the way they conduct these calls. 

Most companies will need to undertake some form of “cold” marketing to get enough leads. While there are more options available these days and more data to use to help with targeting, cold calling still has its place. 

Most companies will need to undertake some form of “cold” marketing to get a good number of leads. While there are many options available today along with more data available to use to help with targeting, cold calling still has its place. 

Cold calling is one of the most direct forms of marketing. You can communicate directly with your prospect, personalize your approach, and really understand their needs and concerns.

Cold calling is still a main form of prospecting for many companies.

Cold calling is also relatively low cost to conduct, resulting in high returns when you get conversions. 

Just like all marketing tactics, cold calling works for some prospects and not for others. It’s important to research each prospect and only call those that fit a predetermined profile.

For example, you want to make sure you’re contacting the main decision maker.

Whether cold or not, phone calls are still a great platform to sell through. You can directly talk to the prospect gaining information on them and their needs. You also hear their concerns or objections and help ease those. 

How To Be Successful At Cold Calling

From researching prospects in advance to creating a calling script, and analyzing each interaction, there is a lot you can do to make your cold calls a success.

Try these tips for your next set of cold calls and you are sure to see better results!

Create A Targeted Cold Calling List

When creating a list to reach out to, do not just include everyone whose contact information you have. Make sure you know exactly who you need to be getting in touch with. 

For B2B calls, ask yourself:

  • What kind of industry does your target client work in?

  • What size company do they work for?

  • What is their role/title? Who do they report to? Who reports to them? – if they are not a decision-maker, it probably is not worth calling them. 

  • What tools may they be using?

For B2C calls, think about the demographics and psychographics of your target customer. There will be certain customers that are a better fit for cold calling than others.

For example, you may target 30 to 60-year-olds, but the 50+ segment is probably most likely to respond well to calls. Call this segment and target the 30 to 49-year-old segment in another way. 

Narrow down your original list of contacts to include only those that meet the criteria of your target cold call customer. Calling people that do not fit this is a waste of everyone’s time.

Keep On Top Of Industry Events 

If making B2B calls, be sure to keep up to date with industry news and trends. There are many “trigger events” that you can use to initiate a call. Keeping up to date can help in highlighting times when companies may be in the market for a new vendor. 

Frequently check industry news websites (and/or sign-up to their newsletters and follow on social media) and set up Google Alerts for certain phrases. Trigger events to look out for include:

New Hires
Many companies will publicize new executive hires. These new hires will often be decision makers so are a great contact for you. When new higher-ups join a company, they often look at current suppliers and consider changes. Getting in touch with these new hires as soon as possible can put you at the top of their list if they decide to make a change.


Company Expansion

Opening new store locations, expanding product lines, or other expansions are a good reason to get in touch. The company may need additional suppliers to meet demand, suppliers for a new location, or a supplier that can offer good economies of scale. If you can help, the prospect will find your call valuable.

Mergers and Acquisitions
If one of the companies involved is a current client, get in touch early to keep the account and hopefully up-sell the new company. If not, it is still a good opportunity to get your foot in the door. Like with new hires, executives often look to make changes after a merger or acquisition including changes to suppliers.
Gaining Additional Funding

Companies getting extra funding is a great reason to get in touch. They may be looking to improve the quality of their suppliers or replace a current supplier that cannot meet their demand with an increased budget
among other things. Make sure you are on their list as a potential client to work with on their new budget.

Contacts Interacting With You

If a client frequently opens your emails or newsletters, for example, be sure to reach out. Interaction like this from a prospect is a good reason to call. They are likely to know who you are already and may have been considering working with you or reaching out themselves. 

Even if you’re selling consumer products, still keep on top of trends in your industry and current events. There are many trigger events that can make your products or services more appealing to your target audience.

Know What Times Work Best For Calling 

Use industry data and your own and other sales reps’ experience to find the best times to call. Research the best times to call for certain industries.

Also, test out call times to see when you get the most responses. More experienced sales reps will know what times work well for certain prospects so ask for their advice if you can. 

According to research, calling on weekdays between 3 pm and 5 pm works well to get a response. If you have no other information on good calling times, try that time period first and adjust if needed.

Do Research Before Your Call

Conduct research on the individual prior to your call. Then create a pitch tailored to them and what their needs appear to be.

Research the industry they are in along with the prospect’s history and interests. Try to determine what problems they may be facing and how you will convince them that you can help with these issues.

Understanding the prospect helps create a personalized pitch. This will make you appear interested in helping them and not just in making a sale. 

People are looking for as much information as possible during the purchasing decision process. Use your call to give them as much information as you can so that they understand how you can help them.

The call can even be used to help them realize they have a need for a product or service like yours. 

Laptop, list, and cellphone on desk
There will be certain customers that are a better fit for cold calling than others.

Plan The Call In Advance

All salespeople should plan for their cold calls in advance. This includes planning a general outline of the call, questions you need to ask, and how you will incorporate information you discovered through research. 

The Opening Statement

Planning a strong opening for each call is highly recommended. You have about 10 seconds to convince the prospect that it is worth their time to stay on the call. Plan an opening statement to use and then adjust based on results.

Make sure you tell the prospect who you are and the company you represent. Also sum up clearly and concisely what you want to discuss and the value you offer them.

List Your Questions

Before the call, plan a list of questions to ask. Make sure these questions are open-ended so that they require more than a yes/no/maybe response.

You need to form questions that create a two-sided conversation and help you collect information on the prospect and their needs. 

Create a Calling Script 

Having somewhat of a full calling script can help some salespeople too, especially if they’re new to cold calling.

Don’t follow a script word for word though. Use it to guide you from question to question.

Each prospect could give different responses and lead the conversation in a different direction. You need to be able to adapt as the conversation progresses.

Focus On The Client, Not On Selling 

When making cold calls, use an inbound not outbound sales method. You need to use this first contact as a way to understand the customer and begin to provide value to them. Don’t use this call to start really pushing your product or service.

You also don’t want to overwhelm the prospect. They will not be expecting your call so are already caught off guard. Providing too much information upfront can overwhelm them to a point where they cannot process the information so choose instead to end the interaction. 

Ask easy questions, let the prospect talk, and use the call to start building a relationship in a relaxed way.

Looking for a way to connect without cold calling? Learn how social selling can help you grow your business.

Use Success Stories 

Consider collecting some success stories to use in your calls to back up what you offer. Obviously you will tell the prospect that your product or service is the best for their needs. Backing this up with testimonials from happy customers can increase your trustworthiness and make your points more credible.

Hearing that someone else had a similar problem or need and got good results using your product or service can be the thing that keeps your prospect from saying no.

Set Up Next Steps 

As mentioned, you should not be using this call to get a sale. It is a way to learn more about your prospect. However, you do need to set up a next step at the end of the call. This next step will probably vary based on the responses of the prospect.

Some common next steps include asking for an email address and sending a follow up email and asking if you can schedule another call or in-person meeting.

Don't Be Afraid Of Rejection 

You’re quite likely to experience rejection when making cold calls. Use these rejections to help improve future calls.

If the prospect is nice in their rejection, ask why they said no. Don’t try to sell anymore after asking that. Simply use their response as a way to understand why they decided to reject your offer. End by thanking them for that information and make a casual suggestion for future contact. 

Consider the reasons for rejection when planning for and making future calls. Many people will have the same objections so you are more likely to be able to overcome these if you plan for them coming up. 

Make sure to keep a positive attitude no matter how many rejections you get. The more you practice and use each interaction to plan your next, the better you will get at cold calling.  

Like with any marketing or sales technique, the first attempt probably will not get the best results. You need to assess what went well and what did not and adjust as you go.

Testimonials from happy customers can increase your trustworthiness.
Man Making A Phone Call On Cell Phone

Analyze Each Call

After each call, analyze how it went whether it was a success or not. Some things to look at include:

  • What answers were given to open-ended questions?

  • What questions get people talking the most?

  • What are some common objections?

  • What worked at easing these objections? What did not?

If there are other sales reps on your team, discuss your calls together. See what similar problems arise and discuss how these could be fixed. They may also have suggestions for you on improving your technique. 


Over 70% of cold calls go to voicemail. To be successful at cold calling, you therefore need to know how to leave an effective voicemail. 

To be effective, you must get the recipient’s interest. Ensure you mention something that makes them want to call back. 

Create a standard voicemail message, adjusting case by case if necessary. This is a quick one-way message so you do not want to waste time thinking what to say on the spot. You can, however, try variations of your message and see which gets the most callbacks. 

Decide what you want the recipient to know and choose one main message to focus on. They need to know who you are, what you offer, and why they should call back in a clear and concise way.

Also make sure you:

  • Keep the message under 20 seconds long 

  • Use their name and tell them your name

  • Have a friendly and upbeat tone 

  • Indicate urgency

  • Do not sell to them! 

  • Do not offer offer sales based incentives like discounts in return for a callback

In Conclusion

If done correctly, cold calls can still be an effective way to contact leads and convert them into customers.

Hopefully these tips help with your upcoming cold calls! By having a well segmented calling list and personalized pitches, you’re much more likely to move your prospects on to the next step.

Whether you’re prospecting for new clients or marketing to a new audience, the right strategy can make all the difference.

Is Cold Calling Dead?

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