“Hi, this is Pat from So & So Company. I’m calling to tell you about our newest product, which—”
That’s how cold calls go for most entrepreneurs. Before they can pitch their product, the prospect has pressed the big, red hang-up button.
You might wonder:
“Does cold calling still work in 2023?”
About once a week, I see a hit piece saying, “xy is dead!” This time, it was about cold calling. That prompted me to update this 2-year-old article for 2023.
(Coincidentally, it’s always companies trying to sell something “new” that say something “old” is dead.)
Cold calling is still alive and kicking in 2023.
A cold call is just one of many ways to make first contact with a potential client. With the right approach, cold calling is still a great way to get your foot in the door.
But your prospect has to stay on the phone until you’re done with your pitch.
What can you do to keep clients from hanging up on you?
I interviewed Jack Vincent, author of A Sale is A Love Affair. In his book, Jack writes about how similar sales and dating are.
“What are your best cold call opening lines?” I asked Jack.
“Let me ask you another question first. What’s the best way to chat up someone you find attractive?”
“I’m not sure. Most of the time, I don’t just chat up people. I get introduced by a mutual friend, and then it flows naturally.”
“That’s it. Get referred,” he said.
The one cold call opening line you need is…
“[Insert referrer’s name here] told me to call you.”
Imagine your phone rings. You pick it up. The person on the other end of the line says that your friend, Cédric, told them to call you. You know your friend has your best interest in mind. Cédric wouldn’t send a random sales rep to you if that sales rep couldn’t help you somehow.
Your trust in Cédric makes you trust the caller. At least enough so to hear what they have to say.
As the cold caller, this is a great spot to be in. You don’t have to rush your pitch or awkwardly establish your credibility.
You have your foot in the door. But hold your horses. You can’t pitch your solution just yet.
I’ll tell you what to say next in a minute.
But first, how do you get a referral?
It’s so simple, it’ll blow your mind: You just ask for it! When should you ask? You should ask for a referral at the end of every call. No matter the outcome.
“Before I hang up, do you know someone else who might be facing the same challenge?”
Even if your prospect isn’t interested in your solution, they might have a friend who is.
Bonus: Not only will your calls be easier, but your prospect list will build itself. You’ll have a whole new list of prospects you didn’t even know existed.
How’s that for lead generation?
What to say next.
You’ve introduced yourself, said [insert referrer’s name] sent you, and that he or she says hi.
To prove your value, tell your prospect about a client you’ve helped to overcome the exact same challenge they’re facing.
Think of a case study that compares to their situation. Make it short and relatable for them.
“[Insert mutual friend’s name] told me you have trouble with [insert challenge]. Just last month, I helped a client to overcome this challenge by [insert method]. Now they are [insert super cool outcome and benefit]. Is that something you’re interested in as well?”
If they say no, ask them if they know someone else who might be up against this challenge.
If they say yes, don’t start pitching yet.
Remember, it’s not about you, your company, or your product. It’s about your prospect.
Before you pitch, ask questions and listen.
“What obstacles are you facing when it comes to [insert challenge]?”
Ask more open-ended questions. Why it’s a challenge, what they have tried before, how it affects their bottom line, etc., etc.
Get your prospect talking about themselves. You need to learn as much about them as possible.
Don’t fear you’re being too nosey, or you’re annoying your prospect. People generally like talking about themselves and your prospect will appreciate you for actually listening to them and not just going for the quick sale.
When the time comes for your pitch, relate all your solution’s features and benefits to your prospect’s situation. Don’t be generic.
Jack says that in the best-case scenario, your prospect will say something like: “It’s good, but…”
Now you can bounce ideas off each other. The exchange makes Oxytocin—the love hormone—flood your prospect’s brain and makes them like and trust you even more. It’s neuroscience. You’ve just become a team!
Breaking the ice: Three more follow-up lines for cold calls.
You may not have had a similar case before or can’t talk about it for some reason. There are still some great follow-ups, according to Lucas Scherdel, Director, Healthcare Innovation at DayOne.
“I’m calling because…”
Skip the small talk and get straight to the point. Let your prospect know your true intentions and ask if they want to hear more.
“I’m working on…”
Tell your prospect about something exciting you’re working on. This works best if you research your prospect beforehand to discover what topics interest them.
“I just saw your post on…”
This is Lucas’s favorite tip.
Check your prospect’s social media profiles and reference a recent post or comment they’ve made. If they don’t have personal social media, maybe they’ve published something on the company’s accounts or website.
The ice is broken, and now the process is the same as before. Ask a lot of questions, shut up and listen. Keep asking questions until you find something valuable to base your pitch on.
Need more tips for successful cold calls?
Cold calling becomes infinitely easier when you can call on a referral. Your new prospect will instantly have a level of trust and a feeling of familiarity towards you.
If you don’t rush your pitch and connect the benefits of your solution to your prospect’s distinct challenge, they’ll see the value you can provide.
Not doing business with you would be stupid.
That being said, be prepared for rude people and smart-asses. Some detest cold calls, and they’ll do anything to “not be sold to.”
Let them. Don’t lose your cool. If they are too proud to “being sold on a cold call,” it’s their loss.
A warm approach to cold calling.
How about you warm your prospect up before you call them? Follow your prospect on social media, place some likes and comments. If your comments are interesting, your prospect will reply. Interact naturally, and they might like and comment on your posts, too.
Once you’re exchanging likes and comments, you’re acquaintances, not strangers. They’re likely to be happy for you to call them, making it not a cold call anymore.
Bonus: From how they’re interacting online, you can deduce if they’d make a good client or be a pain to work with.
“If I were the head of sales, I’d have my staff give me a list of people they started following every day,” Jack says.
If you’re struggling with finding new customers, read our definite guide to finding new customers.