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Cold Calling definition

Cold calling in telephone marketing. (© Sven Bähren -

Cold calling in telephone marketing. (© Sven Bähren -

Cold Calling is a form of marketing that involves calling people out of the blue in order to try and sell them something, turn them into a lead or get more information from them. This is generally frowned upon but is often required as a ‘last resort’ form of marketing.

In business and sales, we normally talk in terms of ‘leads’. A lead is someone whose details you have and who has given you permission to contact them. They have demonstrated some kind of interest in your business ideally.

Leads can be rated and will change over time. This is known as the lead lifecyle. Your job is to nurture the leads from

  • ‘cold’, to
  • ‘warm’, to
  • ‘hot’.

That means increasing engagement, building interest and trust and getting to the point where they are ready to buy.

openPR-Tip: Cold calling is so named because these are not warm leads. Rather, these are people who have shown no interest in your business, but whose contact details you have nevertheless managed to secure. You may have bought the details. They are not expecting your call and therefore, they are not necessarily going to be happy to hear from you.

The challenge is succeeding in making a sale regardless of that fact.

How to Make a Good Impression in a Cold Call (And Make Sales)

Be Polite and Friendly

If you call someone out of the blue, then you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes and imagine the mood that you now find them in. They may well have rushed to answer the phone because they were expecting an important call. They are therefore not going to be pleased to find you on the other end.

This is why it is so important to be friendly and polite. Do not launch right into a sale or they will hang up. Ask for their name, ask how they are and be too darn likeable to hang up on.

Be Enthusiastic

Enthusiasm is contagious. If you’re going to try and sell the product, then your audience needs to believe that you believe in it.

Talk Slowly

This enthusiasm should not translate to babbling however, and if you talk too quickly you'll find it quickly causes you to lose your listeners as they struggle to make out what you're saying and presume you to be nervous. Talking more slowly has been shown to make you seem more confident, more intelligent and calmer - so make a real effort to pause in between what you say.

Use Names

If you want to impress someone really quickly then a great way to do so is to remember their name and to use it often. Something that can help you to do this is to introduce yourself early on and ask for their name as you do. When they tell you, repeat their name out loud. Not only will you seem confident for doing so, but you will also make yourself more likely to remember it as you will have said it yourself rather than just hearing it. And people love hearing their names.

Likewise, make sure to introduce yourself by name too.

Value Proposition and USP

While you’re being polite and taking names, you shouldn’t be wasting time. You do want to try and get to the point of the matter at least fairly quickly. That means you need to establish the pain point and you need to explain your ‘value proposition’.

Every business product and service has a value proposition. This is simply why what you’re offering is inherently valuable. For instance, if you have a book on fitness then the value proposition comes from the fact that you’re going to help people look and feel better about themselves.

If you’re selling toner, then the value proposition is that you’re going to help them print more and promote themselves better.

The USP is what sets you apart – such as cheaper rates, better delivery, a completely unique and more effective product etc.

That needs to go into your pitch.

Ask your listener: ‘Are you paying too much for your toner?’

Or: ‘Is your current supplier unreliable?’

Or: ‘Would you like to get better abs ready for the summer?’

This quickly establishes what you’re there for and hopefully gets the listener interested and even excited.

In and Out

This might sound like a quick way to drive your listeners off – but that’s actually not necessarily a bad thing. If the person on the other end of the call is definitely not going to buy, then you need to move on to the next call. Quickly establishing whether there is any interest is beneficial for all involved.


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