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How to Master the Cold Call

Lacey Jackson
July 3, 2019
Min Read

Cold calling is a difficult game.

It requires hard work, and staff are often met with a lot of rejection. Plus, the results of cold calling tend to take a while to appear; it may take dozens of calls before your team is able to connect with a human being and not a voicemail machine. Frequently, they’ll encounter barriers such as receptionists, executive assistants, and other gatekeepers who are blocking your team from making a connection.

You may find yourself wondering, “is all of this effort worth it?” Does cold calling still have a place in 2019?

The research is in and, despite popular belief, cold calling isn’t dead. But to master the art of the cold call, you need to make sure your team is prepared to jump a few hurdles. Today, we’re outlining the biggest issues you might have with cold calling and providing you with a few cold calling tips and tricks to solve them.

Problem: It takes too long to see results.
Solution: Set clear goals and expectations for what should be achieved in cold calls.

You’ve probably got a few entry-level sales team members working on your cold calling campaigns. They’re likely worried about the rejection they’ll experience when they connect with a person during a cold call.

The phrase “cold calling” can strike fear into the heart of even the most experienced salesperson. This is why it’s really important that you set reachable goals for your team. When staff initially begin cold calling, set lower expectations and goals that you can gradually raise as they gain experience. This will help minimize cold calling anxiety and better prepare your staff to take on this important role within the sales team.

Finally, make sure your staff understand how cold calling impacts your business, and why it works. They need to understand that while prospecting by phone takes longer to pay off than other marketing and sales efforts, it's a critical component of cultivating new business.  

How to set expectations for cold calls:

  1. Keep staff informed of how cold calls are positively impacting the business.
  2. Set reasonable goals around the number of cold calls to be made each week.
  3. Outline what cold call success looks like for your sales team.

Problem: My staff hates making cold calls.
Solution: Change how the organization thinks about cold calling.

People often underestimate the power of the way we speak. If you’re dreading attending an event and constantly tell your partner, friends, or colleagues how miserable it’s going to be, you’re probably not going to have a good time.  

The same holds true for your sales team. If you’re constantly hearing staff hang up the phone and exclaim what a jerk the prospect at the other end was, it's time to sit your staff down for a discussion. Cold calling can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions. Good calls are followed by bad calls and vice versa. It's important for your team to know how to find positive alternatives to negative self talk.

For example:
Turn: “That prospect was such a jerk.”
Into: “They were probably having a bad day.”

Lastly, make it clear to your staff that the goal of cold calling isn’t to make a sale. The goal is to make an introduction. This needs to be clearly stated when discussing expectations and goals.

How to change the way your team feels about cold calls:

  1. Start referring to cold calls as “introductory calls” instead.
  2. Make sure your staff knows why they’re making cold calls.
  3. Teach staff how to turn around negative self talk.

Problem: Your cold calls are falling flat.
Solution: Take some time to get organized.

You don’t want to feel like you’re wasting resources cold calling people who would never be customers. That wasted time could be spent reaching out to customers who are actually in the market for a product like yours. Before jumping into cold calling, take the time to dig into what your ideal customers look like and what qualifies someone as a prospect. Once your team has crafted some buyer personas, you’ll be able to better identify strong prospects who are more likely to respond to your cold calls.

Then, you’ll want to make sure you know the difference between cold calling and warm calling, and know which tactic works best for your team. Warm calling may be initiated by sending a prospect a cold email first.

How to get your team organized for cold calling:

  1. Cultivate a solid list of prospects based on customer personas.
  2. Block out time on your calendar dedicated to cold calling.
  3. Provide staff with documentation that outlines industry-specific customer benefits instead of focusing on product features.

Problem: Cold calling irritates customers.
Solution: Write a script for staff, but don’t make them memorize it.

Unless you want it to seem like you’re employing a team of robots, don’t make your staff memorize a long sales pitch or script. No one wants to answer the phone and question if the voice on the other line is real or a recording. Don’t misunderstand—cold calling should be scripted. After all, it is a sort of performance, but you don’t need to be Meryl Streep to do a good job. You just need to follow a few key steps.

Make sure you’re giving your staff the tools they need to be successful. Script parts of the call, like the introduction. Start your script by asking if now is a good time to talk, and reschedule for a better time, if needed. Make sure prospects know you have no intention of wasting their time.

Next, provide some open ended questions to help your staff initiate natural conversation. Make sure you provide your sales team with questions to build rapport (ie. “What are you plans for the weekend?”) as well as questions to gauge how your product could impact a prospect’s business (ie. “What’s holding you back from reaching your revenue/productivity goals?”).

How to make scripted cold calls sound natural:

  1. Create a script for cold call introductions.
  2. Demonstrate respect for your prospect’s time.
  3. Prepare your staff with open ended questions to initiate natural conversation.

Bonus tip: When members of your staff find new open-ended questions that work, make sure you have a way to capture that information! Consider establishing a cold calling process with Formstack Forms + Documents so staff can submit new questions using a form. Formstack Documents will send everyone on your sales team an updated list of questions when new ones roll in!

We hope these cold calling tips will help you better support your sales team. Once you’ve addressed the problems holding your team back, they’ll be working like a well-oiled, cold calling machine. When your cold calling begins to gain momentum and you start passing prospects through your sales pipeline, you’ll need to start generating electronic documents. From sales pitches to invoices, there’s a lot of paperwork to manage. Don’t worry, Formstack Documents has you covered!

With dozens of sales integrations and templates, Formstack Documents is the document generation solution you need to empower your sales team and get work done.  Check out the video below to learn more about leveling up your document generation process with Formstack Documents.


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Lacey Jackson
Lacey is a Product Marketing Manager at Formstack who is dedicated to creating content that showcases the power of the Formstack Platform. When she’s not creating Formstack Builders tutorials, she can be found reading, playing board games, or strolling with her dog. Lacey is a graduate of Franklin College.
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