12 Strategies to Make Cold Calling Easier

Few elements of a sales career are more challenging than cold-calling. Here's a quick list of 12 easy-to-implement strategies that can make cold calling easier, less painful, and (if you're willing to give them a chance) even a little fun:


  • STRATEGY #1: Pre-qualify your leads. Tell your marketing group to winnow out your list of leads to those who are most likely to buy. If they won't do it, do it yourself. See the list of links below for some "how to" information on this important skill.
  • STRATEGY #2: Use more referrals. The absolute best lists of suspects are ALWAYS referrals from existing customers, because they've already vouched for you. NOTE: If you're asking for referrals from people who didn't buy, or just after they've bought, you're doing it wrong.
  • STRATEGY #3: Call at the right time. Schedule your cold calling sessions early morning or late afternoon, preferably on Thursday, but avoiding Friday, especially Friday afternoon.
  • STRATEGY #4: Prioritize your calls. Make your cold call selection based upon how "hot" the leads are. If they're streaming in from your web site ALWAYS make those calls first. For other leads on your list, call the most recently-harvested ones first.
  • STRATEGY #5: Have the right attitude. Your sales effectiveness is dependent upon whether you sound like somebody who can add value. The only way to do this is to have your outward presentation (voice, tonality) reflect the actually attitude that you want to help. Check the links below to find out how.
  • STRATEGY #6: Respect the customer's time. Your first sentence of your script should (in this order) identify who you are and who you represent, communicate respect for the customer's time, provide a compelling reason to speak with you, and then obtain permission to continue the conversation.
  • STRATEGY #7: Move the opportunity forward. The second sentence of the script should mention a customer-oriented benefit without providing details that would normally emerge later. It should also naturally guide the customer to the needs analysis part of the call.
  • STRATEGY #8: Experiment with different wording. Different approaches will get different results, so don't be afraid to play around a bit with the woriding. Do a mental debriefing after each call to decide what you could do better next call.
  • STRATEGY #9: Celebrate both wins and "losses." Needless to say, it's cause for celebration when you've converted a lead into a prospect. However, ever lead that doesn't pan out is also a victory, too, because you've disqualified a lead that otherwise could end up wasting your valuable time.
  • STRATEGY #10: Measure your conversions. Keep a record of your success rate. You may find that your industry, or your region, is slightly different than the averages. For example, if you're a "night person" rather than a "morning person" you'll likely get a better response calling late afternoon than early morning.
  • STRATEGY #11: Check your tonality. Did you sound like you're focused on helping the customer? Or did you sound like a salesman? Record your voice to make certain that you're coming off like a real person rather than sounding like a cliche or a cartoon.
  • STRATEGY #12: Get some feedback. If you're not sure what you're doing wrong, get a colleague or your sales manager to listen in on a few calls. They will be able to hear, better than you, what you might be doing wrong.
READERS: In my new book How to Say It: Business to Business Selling, I lay out an entire program for cold calling (including selling via voice mail), based upon the best advice from the world's top sales experts. The book is now available for pre-sale here:

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