Cold calling is no cakewalk.

Most of us don’t like receiving cold calls, and the idea of calling a prospect who might know nothing about your business can be pretty daunting.

What’s more, since the average success rate of cold calling is famously low, there’s always the question of whether this sales technique is even worth it from a business perspective.

In this post, we hope to show you that given the right context and resources, cold calls don’t have to be a waste of your or your prospects’ time.

What we’ll cover:


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What is cold calling?

Cold calling is simply the practice of making unsolicited phone calls to prospects. In other words, you’re calling people who haven’t had a previous interaction with a salesperson from your business in an attempt to build a relationship and sell to them.

Warm calling, on the other hand, is when you call prospects who’ve already expressed some previous interest in your products or services.

The difference in success rates between the two kinds of telemarketing is significant: for cold calls, it’s around 2%, while for warm calls it can be as high as 30%1.

Despite the challenges surrounding cold calling, it can still be an effective way to get your message across to potential customers. In a world dominated by email sales pitches and online outreach, sometimes a sales call stands out—in fact, surprisingly, almost 70% of buyers accept calls from new salespeople2.

The difference between B2B and B2C cold calling

Your approach to cold calling will differ depending on whether your business sells to other businesses (B2B) or directly to consumers (B2C).

B2B selling typically involves a longer sales cycle because of higher price points and the need to win the approval of multiple decision-makers within the business you’re selling to. So, the aim of most B2B cold calls is to pique the interest of a key decision-maker within the target business and to arrange a future discovery session from where you can begin to build your business relationship.

B2C selling, on the other hand, is usually a shorter, more transactional process that directly targets the end consumer. When making a B2C cold call, your aim is usually to convince the consumer that your product or service meets their needs and to arrange the transaction there and then.

Cold calling in the B2C space has become less and less popular in recent years. This is partly because of new technology, but also due to legal developments.

In 2003, for example, the National Do Not Call registry was established, which now lets consumers across America opt out of receiving unsolicited sales calls. (Over 200 million numbers are registered on the database.)

B2C cold calling has also been banned across the European Union (EU), in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced in 2018. This means that salespeople can no longer contact European consumers without their consent.

So, you’re up against some pretty unfavorable odds. How can you even stand a chance at doing well at cold calling? Well, you can’t change or go against the law. But there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance at succeeding.

 

How to succeed at cold calling in 4 steps

Without question, preparation is the key to giving yourself the best chance to succeed at cold calling.

Before picking up the phone to a complete stranger, you should make sure that you’ve done the necessary research, set yourself a clear goal for the call, mapped out what you’re going to say, and have the right tools in place to make the call process easier.

1. Research your prospects

The first thing you need to do is build a targeted prospect list.

You should only include individuals and companies that you think would have a genuine use for your products or services. This will save you time by avoiding rejections from prospects who don’t think you’re relevant.

When gathering your list of prospects using a tool like LinkedIn, pay attention to any defining details about them and the company they work for.

For example: What exactly does their company do? What’s their role at the company and how long have they been there? Have they recently published any content or opinion pieces? Have they recently been to an industry event? Do you have any friends or connections in common? Where did they go to college? How do you pronounce their name?

The idea is to look for any facts that could help you build a more personal connection with your prospect when it comes time to call them.

2. Define your goal for the call

Another key element of preparing for cold calls is setting yourself clear goals.

What exactly are you trying to achieve with the call? What’s the desired result?

For most B2B cold calls, the aim will be to get your prospect’s attention and arrange a follow-up call or meeting.

Whatever your specific aim, remind yourself of it before each call. This will keep you focused and help you think on your feet if the prospect asks any unexpected questions.

3. Create your sales call script

Since each second counts when it comes to cold calling, you need to know what you’re going to say in advance.

A cold call script will keep things concise and on track. Your script should account for the following:

Introduction

The introduction is the most decisive part of your sales call script. It’s your one chance to hook your prospect before their natural instinct to hang up kicks in.

Start by greeting the prospect, stating your full name and where you work. Stating your full name is a subtle way to command respect.

For example: “Hello [prospect’s name], I’m [your full name] calling from [your company name].”

Once you’ve provided this basic information, you’ve got a few options for what to do next:

  • Simply pause for a second or two before saying anything else. This can trigger curiosity in the mind of your prospect who’ll be asking themselves who you are since it sounds like you might know them. Are you a former colleague? Someone they’ve already reached out to? A client?
  • Another approach is to refer to a trigger event specific to your prospect. This lets them know you aren’t just calling them at random, and it frames your sales pitch as something hyper-relevant to them. For example: “I’m calling because I noticed [their company’s name] just announced [their new product]. We can help you get more traffic to your website to support the upcoming launch.”
  • You can also use basic manners to disarm skeptical prospects. The idea is to get them to invite you into the conversation by showing you respect their time. For example: “I appreciate you weren’t expecting this call. But do you have a brief moment to chat? I really think we can help you with [desired result].”

Build rapport

Once you’ve got a foothold in the conversation, your next goal is to establish some kind of rapport with your prospect and demonstrate that you understand their business and specific needs.

If you can get your prospect talking about their work, you’ll create opportunities to respond with your own thoughts and observations about them and their business. You’ll also give yourself a chance to learn a little more about them as an individual.

To get your prospect talking, ask an open-ended question.

For example: “By the way, congratulations on your recent promotion. How are you finding the new role?

Deliver your positioning statement

Once the conversation has started to build momentum, it’s time for you to give the prospect your positioning statement and encourage them to reveal more about their specific pain points.

Your positioning statement is just a short description of your product or service, who it’s aimed at, and what it can do for them.

For example: “We work with [business type] looking to achieve [business objective]. We find that most of our customers/clients are looking for ways to improve on their [strategy or goal]. Does that sound like you?”

If the prospect says yes—and they should if you’ve done your research—encourage them to talk more about their particular business difficulties.

Schedule a discovery session

Once your prospect has explained their situation in more detail, reiterate the main points of what you’ve just heard.

For example: “Thanks, [their name], makes sense. So it seems your main troubles are [summarize what they said].”

Now you just need to tie it all together by proposing a follow-up call or meeting where you and the prospect can have a more in-depth conversation about what your company can do to help them.

4. Use the right tools

There are countless tools available to make the lives of your sales reps easier.

Everything from customer relationship management (CRM) systems, to analytics software, to cold calling software can play a huge role in making your sales processes far more effective.

Pro-tip:

RingCentral’s phone system has a few useful features designed to help salespeople who need to make lots of cold calls. For example, the local phone numbers feature lets you pick from over 200 area codes so you can create the sense of being local to your customers. When cold calling, your prospects will see your local number as your outbound Caller ID and may be more inclined to take the call.

RingCentral also offers integrations with multiple CRM platforms. There’s the integration with SalesNexus, which includes a click-to-dial feature. Just click on a prospect’s number on your SalesNexus dashboard and it’ll automatically dial them using the built-in RingCentral softphone:

RingCentral and SalesNexus Integration

Now that we’ve covered the fundamental requirements of building a successful cold calling strategy, let’s take a look at some extra tips to help make your calling scripts more effective.

4 tips to make your sales call scripts even more effective

1. Find a good call schedule

One way to improve your chances of cold call success is to catch your prospects at a good time.

Most people are in the office between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and have a break for lunch somewhere between noon and 1:45 p.m. Clearly, your prospects are less likely to take your call when they’re waist-deep in work, so you should try catching them around lunch or towards the end of the working day.

One way to work out the optimal times to call prospects is to look at your past sales data⁠—when were previous customers most receptive to your calls?

As you build your understanding of the best times to call new prospects, you’ll start making better use of your time. For example, you can prioritize calling the most promising or high-impact prospects during the best hours and focus on research and polishing your script during the worst ones.

2. Learn to manage gatekeepers

Many prospects will have assistants to screen their incoming calls and schedule their meetings.

These gatekeepers can be tough to get past, but here are a few ways to deal with them:

  • Get on their good side: Remember the gatekeeper probably fields multiple calls a day and is just doing their job. So show respect, build rapport, and make a note of their name.
  • Show you’ve done your homework: Use the information you gathered during your research to show you understand their company. This establishes a level of trust and lets them know you’re less likely to be a waste of the decision-maker’s time.
  • Try going above or below them: This might be your best option if you’re having no luck getting past the gatekeeper. You could try reaching the prospect directly by calling after hours when the gatekeeper has gone home, or you could try reaching out to someone below them in the company and pitch your offering to them. If they’re convinced, the word may well travel back to the boss.

3. Master voicemails

Over 90% of cold calls go to voicemail, so it’s essential that you learn how to consistently leave great messages.

Keep your messages short and purposeful—anything over 30 seconds is probably too long.

After stating who you are, explain the value you can offer your prospect in a sentence or two and get to the point about what you’d like from them, be it a follow-up call or meeting.

Keep your message clear and enthusiastic, and repeat your name and number at the end so your prospect doesn’t have to replay the message to jot down your details.

4. Review your calls

One of the best ways to refine your sales call scripts is to review your past calls and see where you can improve.

By listening to the calls of your best-performing reps, the rest of your sales team can learn new ways to step up their game.

RingCentral’s automatic call recording feature lets you listen back to incoming and outgoing calls. This feature is also available within various RingCentral integrations, allowing you to access recordings directly within your CRM dashboard.

Let’s now take a look at some script examples for different industries.

3 industry cold call templates

Real estate

One way realtors can find qualified prospects is to target private sellers or sellers with expired property listings.

These people are eager to sell their property but may be having trouble convincing buyers to bite. This presents a perfect opportunity to swoop in and pitch your services. (Just make sure they aren’t already using another agent.)

A script template like this one could work well in this kind of scenario:

Hello. It’s [your full name] here calling from [your agency’s name]. Am I speaking to [prospect’s name]?”

If they say yes:

Great. I’ve noticed you’ve had your house up for private sale for a while now. I was wondering whether you’ve had any success?”

Chances are they haven’t:

I get it. It’s a tough market to crack at the moment. I wanted to talk to you because I’ve recently helped a number of homeowners in your area sell their properties well above asking price.

If they continue to show interest:

For example, it took me just [X days] to find a buyer for [neighbor’s address]. Would you be interested to meet this week to see what I could do to get your house off the market?”

If they don’t want to meet, follow up with them again in a few weeks. They might realize they could do with your help.

Financial advice

Financial advisors will often reach out to business owners to offer new financial products that could help them get better returns.

Here’s an example of a script for selling an employee retirement plan product:

Hello, [prospect’s name]. It’s [your full name] here calling from [your company name]. I know you weren’t expecting this call, but do you have a minute to talk?”

If yes…

“Great. I’ll get straight to it. My team specializes in helping businesses like yours get the best out of [their retirement plan scheme] without changing their provider. Most companies overlook their retirement plans even though they’re a huge part of employees’ financial future. What we do is teach employees everything they need to know about preparing for retirement⁠—things like asset allocation, cash flow analysis, and diversification.”

Pause for a response. If positive…

“Why don’t I set up a 10-minute appointment with you later this week so we can discuss different options. How does Thursday sound?”

SaaS

As with all businesses, referrals are a huge source of new customers for software companies.

One way to ramp-up your referrals is to simply ask your most engaged users to reach out to people in their network who might benefit from your product.

Here’s an example of a calling script for reaching out to existing users:

“Hi, [customer’s name]. It’s [your name] here from [your company name]. How are you doing today?”

Wait for them to respond…

“Glad to hear it! I’m calling because it’s clear you’ve had some great results using our platform, and we hoped you could do us a little favor…”

Wait for them to respond…

Well, we were wondering if you knew of anyone else—maybe a friend or colleague—who could also benefit from using our platform. We’d offer them an extended free trial, and we’d reduce your monthly subscription by [X amount] each time you referred someone new.”

Ready to level-up your cold calling scripts?

Cold calling has always been a numbers game, requiring patience and persistence in equal measure.

But with a little preparation and planning, you can drastically improve your chances of making breakthroughs with your ideal prospects.

Well-crafted calling scripts are a key pillar of building an effective cold calling program. Use the tips covered in this post to take your cold calls to the next level.