Marketing & Sales

What is Cold Calling?

When handled properly, cold calling remains one of the most effective methods of outbound marketing among sales professionals at an executive level. 

Cold calling is a form of telemarketing that entails outbound calls to potential customers that have no prior dialogue with the salesperson in the hopes of selling a product or service. 

It can hold a bad reputation sometimes due to certain telemarketing companies saturating the market. However, when done properly — it’s still an effective sales approach. 

Cold Calling: Everything You Need To Know

Despite what you may have heard, cold calling is not dead. 

Many businesses, no matter the size or budget, can benefit from cold calling. It’s a simple concept that remains effective and levels the playing field across different industries. 

How Effective Is Cold Calling?

Cold calling has been around for a long time because it’s successful. For decades it was almost a right of passage for entrepreneurs to perfect their cold calling strategy to grow a business out of perseverance. 

However, the original methods of cold calling prospects with very little preparation are not that effective. Today we have more information at our disposal and various forms of communication, so our sales techniques should evolve as well.

We’ve seen numerous reports and surveys on the topic, but the consensus seems to be that cold calling converts about 2% of the time, compared to 20% for qualified leads and about 50% for referrals. 

Even with a less-than-appealing conversion rate, cold calling still remains an essential sales tactic for certain businesses. That’s because it is still effective, but most salespeople aren’t doing it correctly.

The best action plan for cold calling businesses is to use an integrated approach. A modern B2B salesperson needs to be willing to layer their prospects using emails, LinkedIn, Twitter, and phone calls. The integrated method of sales will land the most deals. 

Cold Calling Tips For Success

Research Your Prospects

Don’t waste your time blindly calling someone out of the blue and expect results — research the individual company to identify problem areas where your product or service can help. 

Respect Their Time

If you are lucky enough to connect with a potential client, be respectful of their time. Introduce yourself and ask if they have a quick moment. If they’re busy, ask for a good time to call back.

It may take longer to build a rapport, but you’re more likely to have a positive outcome when you ask for permission.

Prepare Your Words

Briefly let them know what your company does and the benefits you can provide. Be prepared with open-ended questions because listening is the best way to find a solution to their needs.

Know that objections are part of the process, so familiarize yourself with them so they can be quickly addressed. Always have a close in mind to better your chances of gaining a win.

Don’t Be Afraid To Follow Up

Learn to be okay with rejection and keep chugging along in the numbers game. Most cold calls are closed after the 5th call attempt, so don’t give up too soon.

Offer valuable information with every outreach, and don’t give up unless they’ve clearly expressed no interest.

Is Cold Calling Better Than Email Marketing?

Cold calling and cold emails are both effective marketing tools when utilized properly.

It’s not that one is superior over the other, but more of an issue of volume and convenience. It’s easier and less time-consuming to blast cold emails in bulk, but cold calls are better for obtaining direct responses.

Stay In Control With Cold Calling

The very mention of cold calling is enough to make some people shutter.

Most prospects don’t want to be interrupted from their day to hear a sales pitch, and many sales reps can’t handle the feeling of rejection. Yet the cold call strategy has historically been one of the best methods for salespeople to find new clients.

That’s because when executed the right way, it offers sales reps more control over the outcome of their call. Cold calling is completely predictable.

You can prepare your responses as you understand the answers costumes are likely to have to your questions. As you ask the primary question, you’ll know the possible answers and be prepared with the perfect response.

Cold Emailing Offers Scalability

A cold email doesn’t offer sales reps as much control of the sale as a conversation with a prospect does, but it does have another advantage.

Salespeople can reach a large number of people in a short period with cold emails. Cold emailing provides scalability to sales teams that don’t have the resources to make a large volume of calls.

As with any type of sales approach, there is a right and wrong way to do it. Once you have your email template perfected, there is no difference between sending five, 500, or 5,000 emails.

The trick is to start with a quality list and proper targeting. Do your research on the decision-makers you need to reach so you can appeal to that specific audience.

Cold Calling vs. Email Marketing: How to Decide

Sales reps will likely need to incorporate both of these strategies into their approach at one point or another. Dialing the phone and sending emails are used in the most effective sales campaigns.

Salespeople should consider the best method for them and which strategy is the most appealing to their potential customers. Then lead with the technique that generates the most interest and use the other one as necessary. 

Is Cold Calling Better Than SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing or text messaging is the lowest used technology for sales reps. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in sales, but it’s not a leader in the industry.

That’s because texting is usually seen as a personal form of communication. Texting someone out of the blue without prior contact will rarely generate a positive response.

The trick is knowing when SMS marketing is appropriate or not. According to a study by Leads360, if you text message a prospect before communicating on the phone, it decreases the likelihood that you’ll ever make contact by 39%.

Interestingly, the same study suggests that texting a prospect after the initial phone call has been done converts more than twice the rate of regular sales calls. Three or more purposeful text messages after the initial contact can increase conversions by 328%.

The data speaks volumes — while they shouldn’t be the leading form of contact, text messages do still have a place in the sales process.

Cold Calling vs. SMS Marketing

Cold calling has stood the test of time with sales reps because it consistently delivers results. It’s a fail-proof method for salespeople to reach prospects when they need to generate revenue.

Text messaging is limited, but it can reach a larger audience once the initial contact has been made. It’s an excellent means of following up with automation since you can create a text template for different stages of the sales journey.

Ultimately, making cold calls is better than text messaging because you’re not limited to who you can reach. Regardless of your resources, any sales rep can locate phone numbers for prospects and make the first call. 

Which Demographics Respond Best to Cold Calling?

Cold calling will not be the best sales strategy for all situations. Knowing your target client and the best way to communicate with them is important.

According to the research, the higher up the ladder of importance within a company, the more open they are to cold callers. RAIN Group sales training reports that 57% of C-level buyers and Vice Presidents list cold calling as their preferred method of initial contact, compared to 51% of directors and 47% of managers.

Of course, not all top-level executives feel the same. 54% of technology buyers prefer to be contacted by cold call. That’s significantly higher than financial services (40%) and slightly higher than professional services (50%). 

How To Cold Call: 5 Steps

  1. Gather customer information in advance
  2. Mix a script with Ad-Libs
  3. Respond politely to a “no”
  4. Cold call at the right time
  5. Explain the reason for your call

Cold calling is an instrumental skill in lead generation for businesses. To succeed, you simply need to focus on a few basic elements of sales prospecting.

The good news is that cold calling techniques are easily learned and improved with practice. A sales rep who is willing to put in the work will be able to increase their success rate. 

Gather Customer Information in Advance

A salesperson should always go into a call feeling prepared. Research the company and what they do, what their potential pain points are, and how you can be relatable to them.

Social media can be a great source of information to learn more about a company and its employees. You can raise the chances of securing an appointment or a meeting by 70% if you begin a cold call with “I understand we share a common LinkedIn group.”

Gather information on how your product or service can help their company so they can clearly see the value proposition. 

Mix a Script With Ad-Libs

Have a general cold call script that outlines your key points. The introduction is the most important section because you’ll need to capture the prospect’s attention within the first 30 seconds.

Create your cold call script with different variations. Adapting to different outcomes and responses is crucial, so you’ll need to use your cold script as a guide instead of reading it verbatim.

To keep the conversation authentic, write a list of common interests you might share with prospects and the ways your product or service can meet their specific needs. Practice different scenarios, so your tone remains confident. 

Respond Politely to a “No”

In order to work in sales, you have to be comfortable with rejection. You can’t be afraid of the word “no.”

A lot of sales reps avoid making cold calls out of fear of embarrassment. The thing to remember is they’re not rejecting you as a person; they’re rejecting the product or service.

Every time someone says “no,” you can learn something that will improve you on the next call. Keep a list of the most common objections to prepare the best response for each scenario.

A fun way to make light of the situation is to challenge yourself to get at least 100 “no’s” each day. You’ll be happy to check another one off your list! 

Cold Call at the Right Time

The key to successful cold calls is identifying the best time to call. You won’t be able to get it right every time, but you can increase your odds by paying attention to what the experts say is the best time to reach out.

LinkedIn has shared that Tuesday has a cold call connection rate of 10%, and that percentage gradually decreases throughout the week, leaving Friday’s connection rate at 8.7%.

In regards to the time of day, the Keller Center Research Report shares that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the best time to make cold calls. That timeframe accounts for 53% of all appointments and referrals. The worst time for cold calling is after 5 p.m.

Explain the Reason for Your Call

Lead your cold call with a proactive opener.

Let your potential customer know that you have a definitive reason for the call and give them a reason to listen. When you begin your call with a proactive reason for contacting them, you’re twice as likely to be successful than starting without one.

People appreciate it when a salesperson speaks straight with them. Starting with “The reason for my call is…” will help to set a practical tone for the call.

Cold calling is like a mini elevator pitch, so it’s crucial to get to the meat of the conversation quickly. When you speak with authority and authentically explain the reason for your call, the receiver is much more inclined to hear you out. 


Cold calling is the original form of telemarketing where a salesperson reaches out to a potential client on the phone without any prior contact.

It has earned a bad reputation over the years due to providers using technology with automatic dialers that took the sales strategy to another level. When executed properly with careful planning and etiquette, it remains one of the most effective outbound marketing methods for sales professionals.

Learning the right way to make cold calls and practicing with a script makes all the difference. Incorporating other means of communication such as email and social media increases the success rate even more.

If you feel less than confident about your cold calling skills, you can receive personalized guidance from a Hoist Coach today. 


Is Everything You Were Taught About Cold Calling Wrong?: How To Cold Call | Forbes

Should You Choose Cold Calls, Emails or Both? | Pipedrive

Top 60 Cold Calling Statistics for Prospecting Success 2022 | Selling Signals

Get ahead of the competition.

Join the 14,000+ entrepreneur growing their business with Hoist's guidance.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.


We're Hoist. We help entrepreneurs successfully run and grow painting businesses. Learn about how to build your company by following along on Instagram and Linkedin.

More for You