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12 Cold Calling Techniques That Actually Work

By Bill Rice
12 Cold Calling Techniques That Actually Work Feature Image
15 minute read

Cold calling, the art of starting a conversation with a new prospect, is one of the most difficult, but necessary skills to master in sales.

I won’t sugarcoat it. You’re going to need to put in a lot of practice – that means hundreds of calls.

But, if you use this simple framework I guarantee that you will have immediate success.

Let’s look at 12 cold calling techniques that will actually work for you.

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1. Make it all about them

Our natural inclination is to introduce ourselves.

“Hi, this is Bill and I’m from Hometown Insurance. We have great aged internet leads that will help you close more deals this month, for a fraction of the cost of real-time internet leads.”

Did you see how long it took me to get to the YOU part?

You had your finger on the hang-up button at, “Hi, this is Bill.” Why? Because you knew I was a salesperson and they were immediately on the defensive.

Instead, start with them and begin the conversation more like a friend might:

“Hey Jim, this is Bill.” Pause. They will start searching their memory banks for a Bill. You won’t seem aggressive. Their sales person defenses never have time to entrench.

After that pause – beautiful non-threatening silence – say something like this:

“I’m reaching out today because I know you’re a mortgage broker with Hometown Lenders and, having been a broker for years, I know how hard it is to hit that monthly number, month after month.

We’re helping our clients, folks like you, get an extra couple of deals a month with affordable aged mortgage leads. Have you ever used aged leads?” Pause

The conversation is started and you’re ready to answer questions and field objections. But, they know that it’s about them and you are delivering measurable (not hyperbole) results to people like them.

2. Have a goal for every call

Your CRM is full of leads in all kinds of different stages of the buying journey.

Some are past clients that you’re staying in touch with until they are ready to do another mortgage or home equity loan with you. Others you are hoping to get referrals from.  While a lot of them are brand new leads and you’re just trying to make contact.

The point is every lead is somewhere on that journey to a sale. Even if you’re new to sales, you probably have a pretty good idea of what that journey looks like. You know the steps that need to be taken and the objectives that need to be met for someone to decide to do a mortgage with you.

Some might need the time – time to improve credit or save up for a down payment. Those folks might need you to check in and guide them with education and tips.

Others might need a real estate agent to help them find a house. So, you need to refer them to a partner to get that ideal home found.

You might need to help them understand the slightly more complicated process of getting a mortgage when they’re self-employed.

In all of these scenarios, you should go into the call with a specific goal in mind – a step to be accomplished. Even if you’re working on a power dialer, take that 5 seconds as the call connects to skim the record and find some little clue as to what they need.

3. Use assumptive language – be assertive

This is my silver bullet.

Too many salespeople go into conversations ready to apologize.

  • “Sorry, for interrupting your day.”
  • “I know I’m calling out the blue.”
  • “I’ll only take a minute”
  • And the one I hate the most – “I’m not selling anything.” Why would you start a relationship with a lie???

Instead, believe in your product. Assume that you are going to make a sale, or at least move the sales process forward. Have confidence that you bring value and a purchase will make your client’s life better. Know that if they don’t work with you, they’re likely to get hooked up with some schmuck that is less known and will probably screw up their deal.

If start with this level of confidence in your product, then go sell a different product!

Now that you’re confident that every client desperately needs your product, it’s time to get that confidence in your sales conversations. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “Let’s move forward and fill out a quick loan app and see what you’re qualified for…” – You’re expertly guiding them through the necessary process.
  • “What’s the next step?”- This, of course, assumes that they are going to take the next step with you. You’re just assuring them that they are still in control.
  • “Oh, no problem. I don’t make these kinds of decisions without my spouse either. Let’s set an appointment for 6 tonight? Will both you and your wife be available at that time?” – You’re assuming they are moving forward and you just need to find the best time to get them both on the phone together.

Take a look at my article, 10 Powerful Assumptive Sales Phrases, to learn more about how to use this technique to move more of your calls to a close.

4. Create a script and use it

I can’t emphasize this enough. Create and use a script. Too often our pride gets in the way. We assume we’re eloquent, quick on our feet, and able to sell ice to an Eskimo. The truth is without a script and a lot of practice rehearsing that script, most of us sound like a rambling, bumbling idiots.

You don’t need to be a robot and read your script. Think more of like an actor with a script. Use the script to organize your ideal dialogue and familiarize yourself with the scene you are trying to create between yourself and the client. Then practice it over and over until it becomes natural and you become the confident, authentic, believable salesperson in the scene your script is preparing you to perform on each call (i.e., movie take).

Sales Training

Complete Guide to Sales Scripts

Learn how I design, write, and use quota breaking scripts. 13+ video lessons, ready-to-use sales scripts, and my personal system for working aged leads.
I want this!

And, just like shooting a movie, with actors and scripts – know that you will need to do a lot of takes (calls) to get it perfect.

Learn how to create better sales scripts in my article, The Nuts and Bolts of the Best Sales Call Scripts.

5. Practice your opening – out loud

Once you’ve written your sales script, it’s essential to practice.

I encourage folks to do this out loud. There are several ways to do this and I encourage a blending of all of these techniques.

  • Practice your sales script out loud in your car on your commute to and from work. I often work on my openings in the morning and then on the way home I review the objections I heard during the day and how I could have improved my responses.
  • Record yourself. This is a great way to create your own sales training library and to critique your sales script and techniques.
  • Role-play with someone else on your team or your sales manager. This is one of my favorites because you can use each other’s experience to really stretch your skills, trying to overcome tough objections from a fellow sales professional.

The key with each of these approaches is to practice out loud. If you rehearse it in your head, it will always seem perfect. Then when you try your voice on that first call, you’ll realize it’s still not natural at all.

6. Practice overcoming your top objections

Objections are always challenging. And with cold calling, you know you’re going to get a bunch of them. A lot of them are similar to the ones you’ve had in the past. But, each time you get one you’re always caught a little bit off guard.

Just like your openings and trial closings, overcoming objections need to be practiced over and over again until they become second nature.

The technique that I encourage is to write down the top 3-5 objections you encountered that day, as you’re closing up shop. Then on your commute home, rehearse and perfect responses that you think would have been better.

Sales objections are just like any argument you’ve ever had – as soon as it’s over you think of all of the perfect things you should have said. Practice all of those perfect responses, because in sales you’re very likely to encounter the same objection tomorrow. If you practice, the next time you’ll be ready.

7. Create a call list and dial, dial, dial

One of the biggest challenges to cold calling is getting started. There is so much anxiety over making that first call, that anything can distract you. Sorting leads, doing research, checking on deals already in process.

Avoid these distractions by having your call list ready to go. Build it the day before. Then when your day or call block starts, dial the first one and don’t stop dialing until you hit your call goal for that session.

8. Change When You Call Prospects

A big part of cold calling success is knowing when to dial and when to focus on other tasks, such as cold emailing.

You know your audience better than anyone, so let your intuition and your experience guide you. Along with this, here are some basic tips that will put you on the right track:

  • Wednesday and Thursday are generally the best days of the week for sales calls.
  • The best time of the day for sales calls is between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  • The worst time of the day for sales calls is between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
  • Check the prospect’s time zone before dialing. 

In addition to the above, get into the habit of tracking results based on two factors: day of the week and time of the day. 

As you gather more data, it’ll become clear as to when you should spend the majority of your time on the phone. 

9. Find a Reason to Call

You don’t need a reason to call a prospect, but it can help break the ice. And when you do that, your chance of success goes through the roof.

The key here is to find a reason that will resonate with your prospect. Some examples include: 

  • New product or service: If you have a new product or service that may be of interest to prospects, reach out shortly after it hits the market. This is a strong talking point that will capture their attention.
  • Company expansion: This comes in many forms, ranging from new hires to a bigger office space to closing a round of funding. Growth is a big deal, so use it to your advantage when connecting with prospects via phone.
  • Interest indicators: For example, if a prospect viewed your LinkedIn profile or liked a tweet, there’s some level of interest. It may not be enough to close a deal on the first call, but it’s a foot in the door.  

When you have a reason to call, there’s a greater chance of making an immediate connection with the prospect. Not to mention the fact that it’ll help calm your nerves. 

10. Use Social Proof

Let’s face it: many people are influenced by others’ behavior. 

In the sales games, “others” can be big-name brands, competitors, or industry influencers. 

There are several ways to use social proof to hook a prospect early in a sales call.

Name drop a competitor

For instance, if you’re selling a new service, you could say something along the lines of “we recently signed up XYZ corporation, a company that works in your space.” Don’t go overboard talking about competitors. A simple sentence like the one above is enough to get your point across. 

Tell a story

You don’t have a lot of time to tell stories on a sales call — especially a cold call — but that shouldn’t stop you. You could touch on a current client with similar pain points. You could share a brief case study. Keep it short and sweet. If the prospect wants more information, they’ll ask for it. 


Do you have a unique or rare industry certification? How about the coveted “blue checkmark” on Twitter? These details are not trivial. They’re worth sharing with prospects. 

You may be thinking to yourself I don’t have any social proof I can use on cold calls. But that’s just because you’re looking in all the wrong places. Keep searching!

11. Listen!

You have a lot to say and not a lot of time to do it. So, it’s natural for you to talk, talk, and talk some more. But this isn’t the right approach. It’s just as important to listen to your prospects.

Even though you’re the one who made the call when you talk at your prospects they’ll soon lose attention. 

Think about it this way — a sales call is a two-way street. 

Let your prospect do just as much — if not more — talking. This approach keeps them engaged while allowing you to learn more about their wants and needs. 

It’s a difficult habit to break, but it’s a must if you want to achieve a higher degree of cold calling success. 

12. Learn from Rejection 

This isn’t exactly a “technique” but it deserves a spot on this list. 

If you don’t plan on learning from rejection, you’re better off shelving cold calling for the time being. You’re going to hear the word no (and much worse) more times than you care to remember. 

On the plus side, rejection isn’t a bad thing. If you approach it in the right way, it can actually work in your favor over the long run. 

Here are some tips for learning from rejection.

Track every rejection

 If possible, quickly track the reason for every rejection. Did the prospect hang up before you had a chance to talk? Did they tell you that they bought from another company? Did they tell you to call back at a specific time? When you know the most common reasons for rejection, you can formulate a future plan of attack. 

Don’t take it personally

There will be times when you’re frustrated, stressed, and maybe even afraid to pick up the phone again. That’s okay. It’s natural and it’s something that every salesperson deals with. But don’t take it personally. Keep a positive attitude and move on to the next call. Every rejection moves you one call closer to your next sale.

Don’t consider it the end of the road

Just because a prospect rejects your first advance doesn’t mean this will hold true in the future. On average, it takes eight cold call attempts to even reach a prospect. From there, you’ll likely need to make even more calls to close a deal. 

Rejection isn’t as bad as it sounds. Learning from it gives you the power to make more sales in the future, and that’s what matters most.

Do More Cold Calling and Become a Better Salesperson

Cold calling is the fastest way to become a better sales professional. So, stop avoiding it and look at it as a training opportunity – a workout that makes you stronger and better. Like any skill, the more effort you put into practice the better you are at the game time.

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Further Reading

Photo by Joseph Gruenthal on Unsplash

About Bill Rice

Bill Rice is the Founder & CEO of Kaleidico, a lead generation agency. Bill specializes in mortgage marketing, legal marketing, lead management, and sales automation.

Further Reading