What is cold calling? (tips and scripts included)

Are you failing to reach your target audience on social media? Does your marketing strategy flop, no matter what you try?

Maybe it’s time for a different approach. A way to contact customers directly and let them know exactly how your solution can help resolve their problems.

But, calling someone you don’t know out of the blue just to tell them about how great your product is can feel like an imposition on both ends and can thus be quite stressful.

But, despite how it seems at first glance, a cold call is a great tool in any business’ arsenal. So, in this blog post, we’ll talk about:

  • What cold calling is,
  • What makes an effective cold call,
  • Tips on cold calling,
  • Cold calling techniques,
  • Cold calling scripts,
  • Cold calling examples, and
  • Cold calling FAQs.
What is cold calling cover

What is cold calling?

Cold calling is the practice of calling a customer who has had no previous interaction with the salesperson. The term covers both phone calls and door-to-door interactions.

Cold calling has experienced a decline in recent years, both due to the decrease in landlines and the increase of scammers using the technique. However, it is still a valid sales technique, challenging as it may be.

It’s also important to distinguish between cold and warm calling. While in both cases, a potential customer doesn’t expect the call, in a warm call, the customer has previously shown interest in the type of product or service that you’re trying to sell.

By doing some research or hiring a data broker, you can create a list of prospects who are likely to listen to your proposals.

💡 Plaky Pro Tip

Whether you rely on cold calling or other sales techniques, it’s good to have your sales processes organized. Here are some resources that might help you:

What makes an effective cold call? 

Making a cold call is one of the most nerve-wracking tasks. It takes lots of charisma and persuasion skills, and even then, the chances of success are slim.

A few things that make or break an effective cold call are:

  • A pleasant tone — customers are more likely to hear you out if you sound friendly.
  • Staying persistent — you’ll need to make plenty of follow-up calls with a customer — don’t give up on them easily.
  • Knowing your customer — if you’re calling a business, do your due diligence and research before you call them. If you’re calling a customer, know your customer base, their needs, habits, and common issues.
  • Preparing a script — while you should cater to every specific customer, having a general script to follow goes a long way and gets you back on track whenever you’re unsure of what to say.
  • Focusing on the conversation — yes, your end goal is to sell something. However, you’ll need to establish a conversation with the customer to build trust and comfort.

💡 Plaky Pro Tip

These tips work well with another sales technique you might want to use — upselling. Learn about it here:

How to cold call: 5 expert tips for cold calling 

While cold calling is difficult, the upside is that experience makes it easier. The more you cold call, the better you’ll get at it. In time, as you listen to your potential customers, you’ll naturally understand what kind of approach gets a positive reaction.

As experience is a large determinant of an effective cold caller, we’ve talked to experts about the tips we should share with you today.

Tip #1: Practice active listening

The purpose of a product or service is usually to resolve a problem that a customer has. Therefore, treat your customer as a person with a problem that needs to be heard.

We spoke to Eric Watkins, President at Abstrakt Marketing Group, who shared some valuable insights about active listening:

Eric Watkins

“Active listening is the best practice that every cold caller (or salesperson in general) should master. We know that salespeople are Chatty Kathys and love engaging with others; however, without active listening, you risk ineffective conversations with key decision-makers that could have resulted in high-earning business deals.”

By actively listening, you put your customer first, which goes a long way. The best way to get your customers talking is by asking them questions. But, Eric warns that some questions are better than others:

Eric Watkins

“Ask open-ended questions. If you don’t ask open-ended questions, you won’t have anything meaningful to listen to.”

Tip #2: Discover pain points and pitch accordingly

As mentioned, most customers will have a problem that you’re seeking to solve. It’s up to you to find out what the problem is and focus on it. As Eric puts it:

Eric Watkins

“When you discover a prospect has pain points with their current service provider, you have more of an opportunity to strongly pitch prospects and get them to agree to an appointment with your company.”

After you discover the issue, you need to focus on how your product helps them:

Eric Watkins

“By actively listening to customers, you can pitch products or services that provide relief to their pain points. In return, this encourages them to actively listen to what your company has to offer.”

For example, say you’re pitching a TV service provider. During the conversation, you learn that the customer is unsatisfied with the satellite service of their current provider, as they live in a remote area and are experiencing reception problems.

Now, you want to focus on your state-of-the-art satellite service, assuring them they’ll get a signal wherever they are. It’s better to focus on this than, say, the number of channels you provide or the extra internet package, as the customer has not expressed interest or issues in those areas.

Tip #3: Review previous calls

In every job, it’s important to learn from your mistakes. This goes double for cold calling. As Tom Snyder, Co-founder & Managing Partner at Funnel Clarity, tells us:

Tom Snyder

“Leverage call recordings to understand the context and review information. Using call recordings as a part of training materials allows you to break down the steps second by second to understand what works and what doesn’t in your industry.”

Cold calling can be stressful in its own right, so it’s easy to miss important details while on the call itself. Reviewing previous calls and taking notes on what worked and what failed can make a significant difference in the future.

Tip #4: Practice with role-play

If you’re new to cold calling and you need to get the hang of it, or you’re experienced but want to refine your skills, a mock cold call can help. As Tom says:

Tom Snyder

“Pair sales reps together or leverage management knowledge in role-playing sessions to ensure skills are constantly sharpened. The more accurately you can set the environment, i.e. separating and using real phones, the more likely the skills will transfer without a hitch when it’s time to conduct actual calls.”

It’s generally good to pair up with a more experienced colleague and have them play the customer. They’re sure to have more knowledge of what an actual customer would say in a given situation. 

When you switch and you play the customer, focus on phrases or questions that a customer would say that you have issues with. Gaining insight into how a more experienced salesperson would handle those situations will improve your approach.

Tip #5: Close with a specific date and time

Cold calling requires proactiveness on your part. Eric talks about the danger of leaving the interaction in your customer’s hands:

Eric Watkins

“When you close up to the discretion of your customer, you’re making yourself look more vulnerable and less confident in your role as a salesperson. As you close a prospect, you should always have at least four dates or times in the next two or three days for them to meet with another member of your sales team. This also increases the likelihood of them showing up to the sales meetings, reducing your no-show rate.”

Let’s say you’re at the end of a conversation with a customer, and they say they’ll need more time to think about it. 

Instead of telling them to call you back when they decide, try saying something like, “Of course, you need time to make an important decision. I’ll call you back in a couple of days. How’s Friday around noon for a follow-up?”

Eric tells us that this kind of initiative is necessary:

Eric Watkins

“By doing this, you put the customer in a good spot to think about their availability rather than saying no. In addition, this also makes you look more confident, skilled, and organized in your role.”

5 Best cold calling techniques to use

Now, let’s take a look at some practices you might want to implement, that will help you boost the success rate of your calls.

Technique #1: Focus on the conversation

Don’t aim to sell your product on the first call at any cost. Instead, focus on building a rapport with the customer.

If the conversation ends with them not wanting to buy, that’s alright. If they need time to think about it, are using a different service, or are just not interested — it’s not a big deal.

The most important thing is to establish rapport and pitch accordingly. If your customer feels like they’ve been heard, you’ll stand out from the crowd.

This means that the next time the customer needs what you’re selling, you’ll be the first provider they think of. A good sales call can pay off months after it’s finished.

Technique #2: Do your research

Don’t pick up the phone too hastily. First, research your customers and the market. If you work in B2B, you’ll want to research the business you’ll be calling.

Businesses are often appreciative of the research you’ve put in. For example, if you work in real estate, and you’re offering a rental of an office building, you could say something along the lines of “I see you’ve been upsizing recently. I was wondering if you’re looking into a larger office to accommodate the increase in staff?”

If you work in B2C, you can’t do much research on a specific customer, but you can do research on the customer base. 

What are their usual pain points? 

What kind of services do they require?

This knowledge will help you establish focus points in your call.

Technique #3: Nurture your leads

Lead nurturing is another important technique to use while cold calling. If a lead already has a contract with a different company, check in from time to time. Eric made a point of how useful this technique can be:

Eric Watkins

“Lead nurturing is important because it allows you to follow up with prospects regularly to check in and see how things are going with their current provider. This provides top-of-mind awareness for when it comes time to reevaluate their contract. If they are looking to make a change, your company will be the first one that comes to mind.”

Of course, you’ll want to provide new information with every call. For this, you’ll need to keep notes for every prospect and review them before every call. When contacting a lead, you want to avoid repeating the same information every time.

Instead, give value to every call by providing information you haven’t talked about before. This gives justification to every call you make and keeps the prospect interested.

Technique #4: Find a creative opener

First impressions matter. Therefore, in the first few seconds of a cold call, you could gain or lose the prospect’s interest completely.

Make your wording friendly and even humorous — it will help you stand out. “How are you?” is a perfectly fine opener and will get you some good responses. However, it’s rather generic. 

Surprisingly, “How have you been?” has been observed to be the most effective opening in a cold call, according to a Gong.io study on cold call openings

Even though it’s just slightly different from the previous version, this question implies familiarity. Right off the bat, you put yourself in a position of knowing the prospect, while putting them in a state of slight, “good” kind of confusion.

Or, as Eric suggests:

Eric Watkins

“Consider using humor to your advantage, by saying something like: ‘I know I probably caught you in the middle of lunch. What’re we eating today?’”

Technique #5: Build a prospect list

Now, this technique will effectively turn your call from a cold call into a warm call. After all, warm calls are generally more effective than cold calls.

Say you’re calling to pitch your company’s security system. If you call long-established businesses, chances are they already have one in place (not that there is no value in calling them too, as we saw in technique #3).

However, any new business will probably be searching for one. With that in mind, you can use social media to scout potential clients or use data brokers, as we mentioned earlier.

Cold calling scripts 

To ensure a cold call flows without any issues, it’s good to have a script to come back to whenever it seems like there’ll be a lull. 

Now, this isn’t to say you should follow the script word for word — on the contrary, that would be terrible for your call. 

If you’re just reading from a script, it’s easily noticeable, which makes you seem uninterested. Instead, most of your conversation will have to be somewhat spontaneous, as you’re looking to cater to every individual you call. 

You can use the script to take note of the most important points you want to mention during the call.

Best cold calling script in general

This cold calling script is applicable to any kind of solution you provide. There is room to tweak it a bit to fit your niche and business’ needs, but it’s a great starting point for any cold call.

Hello, [prospect’s name]. I’m [your name] calling from [your company name]. How have you been?

I’m calling to see if you’re having issues with [issue your company is looking to solve]. / I’m calling to see if you are interested in [your company’s solution].

Well, [your company’s name] works to solve that kind of problem. We’d be happy to help you, by offering [value propositions].

(If the prospect is interested)

Great. We can set up a meeting right away. How does Thursday at 4 p.m. sound to you?

(If the prospect is not interested)

That’s alright. I’ve sent you an email detailing our pitch, so, if you change your mind, give me a call at any time.

Cold calling script for real estate

In real estate, your value proposition could be a number of things. Your customers could be looking to buy, sell, rent, etc.

In the real estate industry, doing research to make a warm call is often needed, but that does not exclude the necessity of cold calls.

Hi, [prospect’s name], this is [your name] from [your company’s name]. We specialize in real estate of any kind. May I have a minute of your time?

How are you feeling about your residential situation?

Have you been thinking about changing or selling your residence? 

(If the answer is positive) 

That is what I specialize in, so I’d love to help you with that. Would you be interested in setting up a meeting?

💡 Plaky Pro Tip

If you want to learn more about the real estate industry, you might want to get started with a useful guide and a template:

Cold calling script for sales

In a sales call, your focus is more on the solution that you’re selling. However, the friendly tone and conversational atmosphere still apply to these conversations.

Hello, [prospect’s name], I’m [your name] calling from [your company’s name]. I might have caught you at a bad time, but I was wondering if I could get 2 minutes with you.

I’m calling to discuss [company’s solution] and how it can help [prospect’s issue]. If you’re interested, we can schedule a call to discuss this further.

💡 Plaky Pro Tip

If you want to keep track of your clients with ease, check out this Plaky template:

Cold calling script for B2B

For B2B calls, it’s important to do your research on the business you’ll be calling. Showing knowledge of the inner workings of the company can give you an edge over other callers.

Hello, [prospect’s name]. I’m [your name] calling from [your company’s name]. How have you been today?

I read up on [prospect’s company], and I have to say, you do some great work! I worked with companies in your industry before, and many of them struggled with [possible issue your solution can help with]. Have you had any experience with that?

In that case, [your company’s name] is working on a solution for that exact issue. We offer [value propositions].

(If the prospect is interested)

Great. If it’s alright with you, I’d like to set up a meeting right away.

(If the prospect is not interested)

That’s alright. I’ve sent you an email detailing our pitch, so, if you change your mind, give me a call at any time.

💡 Plaky Pro Tip

If you’re running a B2B business, you might want to check out Plaky’s CRM template:

What are some examples of cold calling? 

Let’s fill in some of those scripts and take a look at what some real-life cold calls might look like.

Example #1: The perfect call

Sometimes, you might achieve success on the first try. If you keep a good tone and follow our tips, your call might look like this:

Hello, Bernadeth. This is Mike, calling from House Movers Official. How have you been today?

Hello, Mike. I’m doing fine, making lunch currently. What is this call about?

Early lunch — love it. Actually, I have clients who are looking to move into the neighborhood, so I’m making some calls to see if anybody would like a change of pace. Have you been thinking about moving or changing your residence recently?

As a matter of fact, I have. My children moved all the way to Texas last month, and I’ve been thinking about moving nearer.

Well, congratulations to your kids. Becoming a homeowner is a big step. So, would you be interested in a meeting to further discuss this prospect? I don’t want to take up too much of your time, your lunch might burn.

I’d be very interested, thank you.

Great, how does Monday at 11 a.m. sound to you?

Example #2: Uninterested customer

Still, most of the time, your conversations might sound similar to this:

Hi, Peter. This is Layla, calling from BeeMobile. Could I have a minute of your time?

Uh, sure.

How happy are you with your current mobile provider?

Perfectly happy, honestly. I’m not looking to change any time soon.

Perfectly reasonable. Still, being informed can only do good, so would you like to hear about our new package?

Look, I’m really in a rush right now, so I don’t have the time.

I understand. I’ve sent you an email detailing our offer, so if you happen to change your mind, give us a call. If it’s alright, I’ll check in with you in the coming days.

No, it’s alright. I’ll call you if I’m interested.

Alright then, it’s a deal. Bye.

What’s important to note here is that if a customer doesn’t agree to your follow-up, calling them anyway would most likely further aggravate them. 

Example #3: A business already under contract

Here, we’ll be taking a look at a B2B exchange.

Hi, Elias. I’m Helen, calling from Papers, Please. I was wondering if I could get a minute of your time.

Hi Helen. I do have a bit of time.

Great. I was wondering — since Pleudon is an accounting firm — if you would be interested in connecting with a paper distributor at the moment.

As a matter of fact, we already have a contract with a distributor.

Are you satisfied with their services?

Well, they never sent us any faulty products, and their customer service is great. However, their deliveries tend to be late from time to time. All in all, 50/50.

That’s a shame to hear. I know your printers must be working overtime, so a delay in a necessary resource has to be frustrating. That’s why we at Papers, Please always send our shipments a day early, to accommodate unforeseen delivery issues. We work with over 50 companies and haven’t gotten a delivery complaint yet.

That is impressive. Still, like I said, we’re under contract. But we’ll keep you in mind as soon as reevaluation rolls around the corner.

That’s great to hear, thank you so much. In the meantime, I’ll be following up with you if I come across any information you might want to know.

Cold calling statistics 

As the practice of cold calling diminishes, so do the statistics regarding it. Still, there’s some pretty interesting data out there. Here are a few stats we thought you should know:

  • Top-performing callers widely outperform the rest, according to RAIN group’s research on sales prospecting. Top callers get around 2.7 times the conversion rate and 1.8 times more quality outcomes.
  • 94% of consumers think that unidentified calls are scams and for a good reason. According to Hiya’s state of the call report, consumers get, on average, 144 spam calls a year (which is 1 every 2–3 days), and more than half of them are actual scammers.
  • If a lead submits an inquiry, and the sales representative doesn’t contact them within the hour, the chance of contact drops by over 400%, according to CallHippo’s month-long study on cold calling.
  • In the same study, we learned that the chance of contact increases the more you call. From the 1st to the 6th call, the chance of a prospect answering jumps by more than 40%.
  • In Gong.io’s analysis of over 100,000 cold calls, they concluded that wording is crucial. Using “our” instead of “my” was 55% more prominent in successful cold calls.
  • In the same study, it was shown that the most successful calls are those that are the most interactive. In successful calls, there were 77% more instances of a switch in who was talking.
  • Finally, the Gong.io study showed stating the reason for your call in the opening has a 2.1 times higher success rate than withholding it for later.

FAQ about cold calling

If you’d like to know more about cold calling, here are a few things you might be wondering about.

What is the best time for cold calling?

In a report by CallHippo, a virtual phone company, they analyzed over 15,800 phone calls made over a 30-day period. 

They found that the best time to cold call is between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., while the second best time is between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. 

Before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m., there are steep drops in response rates.

The best day for cold calls is Wednesday, with the largest number of conversations established on the first attempt. The worst day to cold call is Friday.

In 1991, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). It outlined a national DNC (Do Not Call) list and made regulations for people who are not on that list.

If you cold call in the USA, you can only call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., you must introduce yourself and your company, and explain the reason behind your call. 

You mustn’t cold call any number from the DNC list.

There’s also the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), which is almost the same as the TCPA, except it requires callers to keep their own DNC list, besides the national one. Any customer who says they don’t want to be contacted will be put on that list. 

How many cold calls should a cold caller make per day?

It really depends on the number of leads you have. Generally, the previously mentioned CallHippo statistics show you want to call a lead 6 times to have the highest chances of contact.

So, how many people do you call per day? Depends on the job and the day. Generally, however many people you should call, multiply it by 6, and you’ll get the number of calls you should make.

Some companies ask for 80, some are content with 30. If you have 10 leads for the day, that means you’ll be doing 60.

Conclusion: Use cold calling as an effective strategy to directly interact with customers

With the coming of newer technologies, cold calling is being dismissed as an old sales strategy. Yet, despite it seeming outdated, it can still produce great results.

If used correctly, cold calling can be a valuable asset to your business. An email or a social media ad is much easier to ignore for a customer. A cold call will, with persistence and skill, get their attention.

After you gain a customer’s interest, the chances of a cold call being successful increase immensely. 

✉️ Has this guide helped you improve your cold calling skills? Have you ever tried cold calling before, and how did it go? Let us know at blogfeedback@plaky.com, and we may include your answers in this or future posts. If you liked this blog post and found it useful, share it with someone you think would also benefit from it.

LukaBogavac Luka  Bogavac

Luka Bogavac is a project management author and researcher who focuses on making project management topics both approachable and informative. With experience in entrepreneurial projects, education, and writing, he aims to make articles that his younger self would appreciate. In his free time, he enjoys being outdoors hiking, or staying indoors with a good film or video game.