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min read

What is Cold Calling

headshot of Sidney Jones
Sidney Jones
September 6, 2023
Cold calling vs warm calling

Cold calling is dead or doesn't work. It’s impossible to generate revenue without highly-skilled professionals

These are just a few comments you’re likely to hear when the subject of cold calling comes up.

Honestly, we can’t blame them because not many people want to get called out of the blue by a stranger claiming they have a product or service that could revolutionize their business. 

Most people will think cold callers are selling some sort of scam, or that it is too good to be true. They might throw an objection at you and say, “I don’t have time,” or “I am about to have a meeting.” Or worse, they may just hang up on you before you even nail your sales pitch.

But all you need is for that one person to give you their time, and there’s the true magic of B2B cold calls.

Cold calling is one of the few sales channels where you can truly connect with prospects. They can hear your voice, you can identify the pain points they are having, and show how your brand can alleviate those problems.

There’s nothing like cold calling to generate sales, but to unlock its benefits, you must get the prospect intrigued enough to keep listening.

That’s why in this cold calling guide, we’re going to unpack the ins and outs of cold calling and get into things like: Are cold calls legal? How are they different from warm calling?

You’ll learn the answers to these questions as well as highly effective cold call tips on how to break the ice and connect in seconds. We’ll also share some tools to help you save time on contact list-building, learn more about your prospects, and book that follow-up appointment.

What Is Cold Calling?

So, what is cold calling?

Cold calling is when sales professionals calls potential customers who’ve never spoken with them or shown interest in the products and services the brand sells. 

The goal with cold calling is to take the prospect from cold or uninterested to hopefully warmed up and intrigued to learn more about your solutions, or better yet, piping hot and ready to buy ASAP. 

Business-to-business or B2B cold calling is nearly the same. The only difference is that businesses reach out to other businesses with their solutions (software tools, raw goods, etc.) instead of reaching out to an individual prospect.

Is Cold Calling Legal?

In short, Yes!

Cold-calling legality has a set of rules called the Telemarketing Sales Rule that the Federal Trade Commission put in place to protect the rights of consumers. 

Some rules range from the time of day you can cold call to who you can cold call (anyone can register on the National Do Not Call Registry, and sales professionals must comply with people’s wish to not be solicited). 

But as long as you follow these rules, cold calling is legal and safe as long as you are prepared and ready to handle rejection.

Cold Calling vs. Warm Calling

Where cold calls involve prospects who’ve never engaged with your brand before, with a warm lead, you call someone who has shown some interest. Maybe they attended a webinar or filled out a Facebook form from your company. However they come into contact, a warm call involves reaching out to someone familiar with your brand. 

  • Warm Calling: Warm calling, by contrast, involves contacting leads who have had some form of interaction with the company or have shown interest in some way. This could be through downloading content, signing up for a newsletter, engaging on social media, or through a referral. Here are the characteristics of warm calling:
    • Prior Interaction: Unlike cold calling, warm calling is based on some level of prior interaction, which can provide a foundation for the conversation.
    • Higher Conversion Rates: Since the prospect is already aware of or interested in the brand, the chances of a positive response are significantly higher.
    • Targeted Approach: Warm calls can be more targeted and personalized based on the information already known about the prospect’s interests and previous interactions.
    • Relationship Building: Warm calling focuses more on building a relationship and nurturing the lead, using the initial spark of interest to foster trust and rapport.
  • Cold Calling: Cold calling is the practice of contacting prospective customers who have had no prior interaction with the salesperson making the call. It is characterized by a lack of established relationship or prior consent, making it a challenging first point of contact. The prospects are typically unaware of the salesperson's company and products, and they have not expressed any prior interest. Here are some key aspects of cold calling:
    • Unsolicited Contact: The salesperson initiates contact without any previous interaction or expressed interest from the prospect.
    • Higher Rejection Rates: Because the call is unexpected and the prospect has no existing relationship with the brand, the likelihood of rejection is higher.
    • Skill and Resilience: Successful cold calling requires a high level of sales skill, resilience, and the ability to handle rejection and continue persisting.
    • Volume Driven: Cold calling often involves a numbers game, where success is a function of volume — making as many calls as possible to maximize the chances of conversion.
  • Hot Calling: Hot leads are the easiest to convert. These people are at the bottom of the sales funnel. They might have considered several companies, compared their offers and pricing, and know your competitive advantage pretty well. Hot leads are highly engaged and interact with the brand's emails, calls, and messages. They have both budget and authority to make a purchase. They don't require nurturing but need a final push to buy.

Warm calling is generally more effective than cold calling due to the pre-existing level of interest or familiarity. Using tools like Seamless.AI can help better understand ICP to target them with personalized approaches or messaging.

Sales teams then tailor their pitches more effectively, addressing specific needs or interests that have been previously indicated by the prospect. This strategic advantage not only increases the likelihood of a positive reception but also enhances the overall efficiency of the sales process.

While cold calling is about casting a wide net in hopes of finding interested parties, warm calling is more about deepening existing interests and building relationships that have a higher potential to result in sales. Both strategies have their place in a sales strategy, but warm calling often leads to more productive conversations and a better return on investment.

Is B2B Cold Calling Still Effective?

Now that you know the core differences between cold and warm calling, which is better for your business? 

Cold calling and warm calling both have their strengths and challenges.

Warm calling can lead to a closed-won in less time vs. cold calling. However, just because a lead is warm doesn’t mean the prospect is a guaranteed close. Sometimes, you can spend all that time reaching out to people with whitepapers, etc., to warm them up before you call. And in the end, they just aren’t interested or ready to buy.

Cold calling, by contrast, can be more cost-effective and drive a ton of revenue. You can generate millions using cold calling. Even better, cold calling forces you to become an expert on your solutions and objection handling

However, the stigma associated with cold calling can be hard to overcome. Furthermore, it can be difficult to get prospects to bring their guard down.

In sales, you need to know your prospects’ pain points to offer them the right solution. Cold calling is one of the few channels where you get to engage in real-time and identify and solve customer pain points

Ultimately, because there are pros to cold calling and warm calling, your best bet is to use both for maximum results rather than pick one over the other.

Now that you’ve had a crash course on B2B cold calling, here are some pointers to get started on make great calls that close deals.

Top 5 Cold Calling Tips

#1: Accepting Rejection

We all wish we could close every cold call, but the reality is that you will face rejection more often than not, depending on how targeted your cold calls are.

Rejection can be discouraging no matter how little or how much experience you have, and it can affect your ability to grow in sales. But B2B cold calling is a numbers game, so even if you get nine people that say “no” in a row, the 10th person might be the one to say “yes.”

One way to help ease some of the stress of hearing “No” is by asking the prospect why they think your company can’t support them. By doing this, you are making your cold call more of a conversation instead of a pitch, and you can then identify points in your pitch to improve on, such as placing a bigger emphasis on the benefit of your product or service.

Remember, no one closes every single prospect they engage with, especially when they are cold calling. So accept the rejection, keep your head up, and keep dialing. 

#2: Focus on Learning

New sales reps should focus on maximizing their learning rather than making sales. 

One way to improve when starting a new career in sales or even changing to a new company is to find out who the top sales rep is and do what they do. You can do this a few different ways, like asking for their scripts so you can see how they pitch the product or service or by joining a Zoom call to shadow them while they make calls.

By shadowing the top sales rep, you can see the best ways to overcome cold call objections, and they can give further explanations for any questions you might have.

A third way to improve is by making a Slack channel for people to post audio recordings of sales calls. This is a simple and effective way for sales reps to find ways to improve when they have free time or feel discouraged with their current strategy.

By learning from the best, each sales rep can significantly improve their communication with prospects and show them exactly what they need to do to succeed at the new company.

#3: Practice, Practice, Practice

As with any acquired skill, you have to put extra time and effort into practicing cold calling to improve. Many cold calls will be very similar regarding objections and concerns from the prospect, so that should be the focus of your preparation.

One way to prepare is by going through the top sales role-play scenarios with your coworkers as often as possible (this is crucial for first-time sales reps who lack real-world experience). When role-playing, use several different objections that the sales reps are likely to run into so that you can see exactly where they need to improve their pitch.

The better the pitch, the less likely you will hear “No” on the phone. 

#4: Memorize the Script

Memorize your cold call script like the back of your hand. 

But also, don’t forget about cold-calling voicemail scripts! You often won’t be able to reach a prospect because they’re either busy or intentionally didn’t accept your call. Either way, you need to craft a compelling voicemail that’s so persuasive and value-packed that the prospect can’t help but call you back sooner rather than later to learn more.

As a new sales rep, you should not try to deviate from the standard pitch until you have a solid understanding of what you should be saying to a potential client.

As you start to make cold calls, you should note where in the pitch you are getting rejected most often. Once you have sufficient evidence, you can tweak the script to make improvements where you are struggling and make it more natural for how you talk.

Once you repeat this process multiple times, you will find more prospects wanting to listen to your entire pitch, which means you will be closing more deals.

 #5: Use Different Tools to Save Time

Like any type of selling, there are many other tasks that sales reps have to complete daily, such as sending emails to prospects, manually dialing each phone number from their list, or even building a list of prospects. Luckily, there are many tools to help streamline these daily processes so that you can focus on making sales and generating revenue.

Some of the most helpful tools for sales teams include:

1. Prospecting Tools

Use Seamless.AI to build calling lists in seconds and get direct dials to your ideal prospects so you don’t waste time at the gatekeeper’s desk.

2. Sales Dialers

Sales dialers are a tool that enables you to make calls faster. Check out tools like Mojo. 

3. Scripts/Playbooks

Write personalized, higher-converting cold calling and voicemail scripts in minutes with Writer by Seamless.AI. 

4. Sequence Management 

Use a tool like Outreach for all your point of contact needs.

You can practice around the clock and have all the right scripts and tools, but none of that means anything if you don’t know how to build rapport on a cold call.

Today’s prospect does not want to be sold to. In fact, if a prospect feels they’re being manipulated or forced into anything, they will likely shut you out and hang up.

If you want meaningful sales conversations that leave the prospect feeling that you get them, follow these do’s and don’ts to build rapport during cold calling.

Positive Cold Calling Do’s 

1. Research

Before making a cold call, conduct thorough research on the prospect's industry, company, and role. Familiarize yourself with common pain points faced by similar businesses or individuals in their position. This background knowledge will help you ask targeted questions and demonstrate your understanding of their specific challenges, enhancing the credibility of your conversation.

2. Compliment

One of the top ways to start a sales conversation is with a researched compliment to quickly begin building rapport. The psychology behind this is simple–people love being acknowledged for the fantastic things they are accomplishing. 

Look at their LinkedIn profile and company website, and find out all the great things they’re doing. Then, drop one of these accomplishments at the start of the call.

Example: Hi Cynthia, big fan of you and what you’re doing at Company X. I saw that you just did {{Accomplishment Y}} –amazing!

With this, they’ll be ready to drop their guard and connect more.

3. Find Common Ground

Trust is critical to building rapport. And people tend to trust those who are similar to themselves. So check out their social media and see if you have any shared interests. Maybe you both have a favorite sports team or a favorite TV show?

Do your research, find the common ground, and reference it on the call.

Example: I noticed on your LinkedIn that you went to College X. I did my undergrad there! What did you major in?

This line warms up the prospect and lets them know that you took the time out to do some research on them. 

4. Listen

On average, you should listen 57% of the time and talk 43% of the time. When you spend more time listening rather than talking, the prospect can tell you are sincerely interested in them and what they have to say.

Don’t let what they say go in one ear and out the other. Practice active listening because it’s a fundamental skill when identifying pain points. During the cold call, focus on the prospect's responses and ask open-ended questions, encouraging them to elaborate on their needs and concerns. You can gain deeper insights into their challenges by attentively listening and demonstrating empathy. Then, later in the call, you can revisit some of the information they give you with your pitch.

 5. Mirror Tone 

As we mentioned earlier, people like those who remind them of themselves. Use this to your advantage by mirroring and matching your prospect’s tone.

So, if you notice that the prospect is bubbly and energetic, match their energy and be more upbeat in your delivery.

Just make sure you don’t take it too far and mock the prospect. That can quickly backfire.

6. Warm Up the Call

Rapport building is all about repeated nurturing. 

Warm up your sales call by emailing your prospect beforehand and letting them know who you are, what you can do for them, and the pains and problems you can solve. This way, when you get on the phone, the prospect is already warmed up and open to not only connecting further but also hearing more about how you can help them.

Negative Cold Calling Don’ts

1. Focus on the End Result

It’s difficult for salespeople to build rapport because the whole time they’re on the call, they can only think about the end result– making a sale. 

When you focus on the end result, you talk over the prospect and don’t listen to them because you’re too busy rushing to close.

It sounds counterintuitive, but if you want to improve your rapport building, forget about the end goal of the call. Focus on the person on the other end of the line. Remembering the human aspect of sales is the reason AI won’t replace salespeople, and it’s the thing that will leave you more relaxed on a call and more apt to win prospects over and deliver value.

2. Take More Than You Give

As a salesperson, you should always give more than you take. Repeatedly delivering value (whether it’s a free book or a white paper) is how you nurture and build rapport on a cold sales call.

But if you want to drive prospects away, go into the call focused on yourself and what you want and watch the prospect hang up on you.

3. Talk More Than You Listen

If you want to burn a bridge with your prospect, ramble about your company.

This may sound harsh, but no one cares about you on a sales call. People want you to show interest in them and explain how you will help them accomplish their goals. So make it about them, not you. It’s crucial to building rapport.

4. Fake It 

Whatever you do, don’t fake it. Don’t be overly friendly or excited because prospects can read right through this, and they will shut you down. 

They’ll think, If this person is fake on the phone, how can I trust them with my money? How can I trust that they’re telling the truth about their product?

Being disingenuous brings up trust issues and makes you and your brand look bad. Be sincere and true to yourself at all times.

Once you build rapport, use these strategies to identify customer challenges so you can tailor your pitch and provide a relevant solution.

B2B Cold Calling Strategies

Probing Questions

Craft a series of well-thought-out discovery questions that uncover pain points on a B2B call. Ask about their current processes, goals, and any roadblocks they encounter. For example, "What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to [relevant topic]?" or "How are you currently addressing [specific issue]?" These questions encourage prospects to articulate their pain points, providing you with valuable information to address their needs effectively.

Pay Attention to Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues

During your conversation, pay close attention to the prospect's tone, pauses, and hesitation. Body language can increase sales by offering insights into the pain points a prospect may have about their workflow or certain aspects of your product or service. When this happens, take note and work on unpacking the prospect’s challenges. 

Connect Pain Points to Solutions

Once you've identified a prospect's pain points, connect them to your product. Emphasize the benefits and advantages that directly address their challenges. By linking their pain points to your offering, you can present a compelling case for how your solution can alleviate their concerns and drive positive outcomes.

Follow-Up and Documentation

After the call, ensure you document pain points and any other relevant information. This documentation will be valuable for future reference and can inform your follow-up strategy. Consider sending a personalized email summarizing the pain points discussed and how your solution aligns with their needs. This demonstrates your attentiveness and commitment to addressing their challenges.

Final Thoughts

Despite what some would say, B2B cold calling is NOT dead

It’s still a sales strategy that’s alive and well, and it can help you fill your pipeline with lifelong customers if you make a point to practice, do your research, and make the call about the prospect and their needs.

We hope this article helped so you can hit the dialer with confidence. After all, you’re just one call away from your biggest deal!

Happy dialing!

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