38 B2B Cold Calling Tips for Sales Success in 2023
People keep saying cold calling is dead, but many successful businesses rely on cold calling to drive significant revenue. Enter: Today’s guide with actionable cold calling tips (and scripts) for sales teams to supercharge your calling efforts today.
Whether you’re in a Fortune 500 company, high-growth startup, or a traditional small business, many companies have sales reps eagerly dialing numbers day in and day out as an integral part of the sales process.
But here’s the catch: If you’re still doing cold calling like it’s 1995, you might as well not do it at all. Too much has changed in the past 20+ years, and you need to be ready to adapt to today’s circumstances.
That’s why we’ve put together 38 of our best cold calling tips for startup founders and B2B sales pros who want to make more sales and close more deals using methods and cold calling strategies that work now.
What is Cold Calling?
Does Cold Calling Still Work?
Many people like to say no and point out examples of cold calls they've received that were a pure waste of everyone's time. But a study by RAIN Group found that almost 50% of buyers prefer to be contacted by phone, and 82% said they accept meetings from sellers who contact them. C-Suite and tech buyers even said they prefer the phone more than sales managers or buyers in other industries.
So yes, cold calling still works. Are you ready to improve your cold calling skills?
Let’s dig into the top 38 cold calling tips we’ve shared over the years, separated into:
- Tips that will help you prepare for your cold calls
- Advice to use during your cold calls
- Cold calling tips that will help you evaluate and optimize your calls
- Ideas to continue improving your cold calling skills
Ready to build a cold calling strategy that helps you meet (and exceed) your sales quotas? Here's what you need to know.
1. Use cell phone numbers to call prospects
Cold calling has changed post-pandemic as prospects started to work remotely. If it makes reaching prospects more challenging, try calling their cell phone numbers.
They are different to direct dials and allow you to speak to prospects even if they’re not at their desks in an office or have decided to work from home. Manually-verified
B2B cell phone number lists from Cognism help SDRs increase connection rates and have more meaningful conversations with prospects.
2. Map Out a Blueprint of the Sales Call
Prepping for a cold call is like preparing for a performance on the big stage: you need to know the what, why, how, where, and when so you can nail every step.
One of the most important foundations of cold calling is to have the conversation mapped out before picking up the phone.
Beyond just the line-by-line script you're using, this blueprint will set you on the right path for achieving the higher-level goal of your cold call—whether that's simply qualifying your lead, booking an appointment, or closing a deal.
Here are two resources to help you structure your sales calls:
- Successful Call Structure: A 5-Step Process Plan
- Call Mapping: 7 Steps to Structure Your Sales Calls Effectively
3. Build Your Own Sales Script
A basic fill-in-the-blank sales script is great to get started with your first cold calling campaign. If you think selling is difficult, don't know what to say, or feel overwhelmed by complexity, take refuge in simplicity.
No excuses, just start with a script today and tweak it over time as you learn more about what does (and doesn't) resonate with the prospects you get on the phone over the course of your first few days of cold calling.
Here are some resources to help you create a sales script:
- How to Create a Phone Sales Pitch Script [Free Template]
- Cold Call Scripts: 7 Steps to Create a Script That Sells
4. Create Talk Tracks to Follow
When a salesperson has more experience, a sales script may start to hinder their unique voice and personality. This is where talk tracks come in: sales teams can use talk tracks to highlight key features of the product they’re selling, overcome common objections, and qualify their leads.
Learn more about creating and using talk tracks here:
5. Turn Your Fear of Cold Calling Into Fearlessness
Entrepreneurs often struggle when they start cold calling. They hate calling people, feeling like they're interrupting their day in order to drum up business, and they're not very good at it either. Their approach is too timid and they give up too soon when they encounter resistance. They don't manage objections well and fail to produce results.
It's not a lack of skills that trip them up, but instead cold calling reluctance and insecurity (which is natural when you're starting out).
To help one sales rep overcome these fears, I challenged him to purposely fail with every call for one day. This completely changed his attitude and helped him realize that, once he did fail, there was nothing really to be afraid of.
Build confidence and overcome fear with these resources:
- Afraid of Cold Calling? How to Turn Your Fear of Failure into Fearlessness
- 11 Ways to Overcome Sales Call Reluctance & Build Iron Confidence
6. Create an Action Plan for Your Daily Cold Calls
Getting out of a sales slump can feel like climbing out of a dark pit, and cold calling may feel like the last thing you want to do.
To help you combat discouragement and keep moving forward, create an action plan for today. Structure your time to conserve energy and plan cold calling spurts for the moments you’re feeling most productive during the day.
Learn more about overcoming a sales slump and continuing your cold calling campaigns:
7. Build an Effective Cold Calling Cadence
Powering through a list of new leads can be great, but if you want to work through an omnichannel sales strategy that mixes both phone calls and emails, you should try a sales cadence.
When done correctly, setting up a sales sequence that includes multiple touch points can create delightful customer interactions, decrease churn, and speed up your sales cycle.
Here are some resources for setting up a sales cadence for cold calls and emails:
- How to Build a Sales Cadence: Examples, Best Practices, & Top Tools
- 12 Top Sales Cadence Examples: Inbound, Outbound, SaaS, + More
7. Prepare Your Cold Call Script to Talk to the Gatekeeper
I hate the term ‘gatekeeper’. A salesperson shouldn’t treat executive assistants, office administrators, or interns as nuisances. If you prepare to talk to them (not simply ‘get past’ them), these people can turn into powerful champions who will help you get access to the decision maker. They are highly protective of your prospect’s time, so show them why it’s worth their while to let you through.
Get more cold calling tips to talk effectively with gatekeepers:
- 3 Strategies for Getting Past Gatekeepers
- Shortcut to Success: Appreciate Gatekeepers & Thank the Doorman
8. Eliminate Distractions
Sitting at your desk, cold calling for hours, can turn into a rut. Dialing leads, trying to get to a decision-maker, hearing the same objections again and again... it's tempting to entertain your brain with more interesting distractions while you're facing rejection after rejection.
Learn why you should never give in to distractions, and how to regain your focus when other tasks begin to drift into focus while you're in the middle of a cold calling campaign.
9. Get into the Right State of Mind for Cold Calling
Most sales reps think deals are won or lost when you’ve got the prospect on the phone. They’re wrong.
You win or lose the deal before you even pick up the phone and dial; it’s your state of mind that determines the outcome of your cold calling efforts, more than anything else.
There are several ways to get yourself into the right mindset. I have three questions that I ask myself before every crucial sales call: Why? What? How? Another way to get pumped for sales calls is to review customer stories and remember how you’ve helped other customers reach their goals.
Learn more about getting into the right mindset:
- 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making that Sales Call
- Top 15 Cold Calling Tips for SaaS Sales Reps We Found on LinkedIn
10. Use Your Cold Calling Script Effectively
Before, we mentioned creating a sales script. But you also need to know how to use it right.
There are plenty of misconceptions about what a sales script really is, and how to use it. Remember: a script is a great outline of the call, but each sales rep should use it in a way that feels comfortable and natural to them.
Learn more here:
11. Optimize Your Voice
It's not just the words you say when it comes to selling, but the tone of your voice. In fact, 93% of the potential success of your cold call comes down to the tone of your voice. From the beginning, you have to turn a skeptical lead into a trusting customer. How do you do that?
There are three main aspects of your voice to optimize: volume, pace, and body language. Learn more about how to make your voice pitch perfect for that sales call:
12. Make Sure Your Value Proposition is Irresistible
To create a more compelling sales pitch when on a cold call, you need an irresistible value proposition. There’s a simple hack to turn your value prop into something truly valuable for your prospects: talk to your current customers.
Learn how to do it:
13. Overcome Objections Like a Natural
Like it or not, a natural aspect of cold calling is hearing no and learning how to deal with the objections that come up in your conversations. When you’re prepared to face the most common objections (such as, it’s a bad time, send me more info, or I’m not interested), you’ll be able to overcome them like a natural.
Most sales reps fear these objections because they derail their sales conversations—especially when cold calling and starting a brand new dialogue with a prospect that doesn't yet trust you. But YOU will look forward to hearing them because they help you move the sale ahead.
Here are our best resources for overcoming objections on cold calls:
- 3 Outbound Sales Objections Any Inside Sales Team Needs to Learn to Overcome
- Handling “Send Me More Information by Email”
- Cold Calling: How to Respond to “I Don’t Have Time”
- 2 Common B2B SaaS Sales Objections (and How to Handle Them)
14. Use the Right Opening Line
The initial lines of your cold call are crucial, especially if you’re in lead generation mode—and what you say can determine whether your prospect continues to listen or politely declines.
The right opening line tells prospects why your call is important, shows them you understand who they are and what they need, and targets specific pain points.
See how to open your cold calls right:
15. Avoid Pitching Prematurely
This is a very common mistake sales reps make when cold calling their prospects. They launch into a pitch way too early, without first understanding what the prospect wants and if your offering will genuinely be able to help them at all.
Instead, you need to find the exact right moment to deliver your pitch and customize your pitch when cold calling so that it makes your prospect want to buy from you. Learn how:
16. Capture Attention by Emphasizing What’s Important
Once you've got a decision maker on the phone, how do you captivate and keep their attention? It's not enough that they hear you speak—you have to make them really listen. Otherwise, your cold calling campaigns won't net any results for your bottom line.
Some people possess the charisma and showmanship that naturally mesmerizes their listeners. If you don't, you'll need to master the mechanics of getting attention. Learn a simple 3-step process to get your message across when cold calling:
17. Make Sure You’re Heard, Even With an Accent
Being successful in sales with an accent can be challenging—I know firsthand. Having grown up in Germany as the child of Greek immigrants, I moved to the US in my 20s, and I had a terrible accent. Yet, not only have I learned how to close many millions of dollars in deals, but I've also taught others how to do the same.
Don't let your accent get to you and in the way of closing more deals. Just use my practical, simple advice to sell like a champ, no matter how bad your accent might seem:
18. When Selling B2G, Use Cold Calling to Discover Your Champions
The business-to-government model may seem complex and hard to break into—and it is. But B2G sales doesn’t have to start with huge multi-million dollar deals. Even small businesses and startups can sell to governments.
Cold calling is extremely effective in B2G. Since most government offices aren’t inundated with cold calls like other industries, they’re more open to giving you information, and that can be helpful. You can quickly learn about your potential buyer’s situation, and identify champions within the government office that can help promote your solution.
Learn how one startup stumbled into the B2G model, and why they rely on cold calling to close more B2G deals:
19. Use a Sales Dialer to Save Time
Any sales team doing cold outreach needs to connect with as many prospects as possible. Manually dialing, listening to the ringtone, and waiting for someone to answer is a huge waste of time.
Cold callers can get that time back by using a sales dialer to increase their call volume. A sales dialer can help you reach 60% more leads by calling through your list automatically. With Close’s built-in Predictive Dialer, you can even dial multiple numbers at once, and the software only connects you to a call when someone answers the phone.
Learn more about using a sales dialer, and what you should know about them:
- How to Choose the Right Dialer Software For Your Sales Team
- When Should You Invest in a Predictive Dialer?
20. When Contacting C-Level Executives, Ask for Advice
If you’re selling in a startup, it can be hard to grab the attention of C-suite executives. A cold calling technique that works in this situation is asking for advice instead of asking for a sale. In this way, you appeal to their ego and show how their advice may directly influence the end product, so they can get exactly what they need with new technology.
Learn how this works:
21. Call Prospects Who Opened Your Cold Emails
Are you sending out cold emails and tracking the email opens? This creates a great opportunity to start warm calling, since the prospect may already recognize your name. Follow-up calls to prospects who opened your email can be fantastic, but you need to call with the right expectations: none at all.
Learn this tactic can work in your sales process:
22. Talk About Value Before Price
When you're cold calling a prospect and they want to know the price of your offering, how do you respond? Most sales reps know that they shouldn't just give out a straight price, but just telling the prospect "no" can be too abrasive (and doesn't add value to the conversation).
Instead, the conversation needs to be steered toward better understanding the prospect's unique needs, and positioning the value you'll add to their business. Here's exactly how to handle this scenario effectively over cold calling:
23. Use the Ethical Bait-and-Switch
The bait-and-switch is a device often used by scammers, but it can be applied by ethical companies that have their customers' best interest at heart too—and using it within your cold calling campaigns can work wonderfully (to your mutual benefit) when you do it right. In short, your bait needs to provide real value to your prospects.
Learn how to use bait-and-switch the right way:
24. Ask Questions, Then Actively Listen
Asking good questions can exponentially increase the success rate of your first call to a prospect—but only if you know how to listen. As one sales director told me early in my career: “Whoever asks the questions controls the conversation.” Asking open-ended questions and listening closely to the answers can give you a powerful step-up in your cold calls.
Learn more about asking good questions on cold calls, and listening effectively:
- How to Close More Deals with the Best Sales Technique I Ever Learned
- 40 Open-Ended Sales Questions + How to Ask Them
- 27 Revealing Discovery Call Questions Every SaaS Rep Should Know
- How to Instantly Improve Your Listening Skills
- Consultative Selling Questions: 27 Questions + How to Ask
25. Improve Your Voicemail Messages
The average sales rep spends 15% of their time leaving voicemails. To make a time-consuming task even worse, the typical voicemail sucks!
Too many sales reps speak too fast and ramble, filling the message with lots of “um’s” and “ah’s”. Then, potential clients have to listen to the voicemail three to four times, just to write down the callback number. That’s why messages are deleted, and prospects never return cold calls.
A good voicemail sparks interest. It’s well-planned and compels the recipient to phone the caller back immediately. And a truly fantastic voicemail is one that you can record and drop automatically as soon as you hear the beep.
Learn more about improving your cold call voicemails:
- Why Most Sales Voicemail Messages Suck
- 13 Proven Sales Voicemail Scripts That Get Higher Callback Rates
26. Get Tight-Lipped Prospects to Talk
Successfully qualifying a prospect while cold calling depends on how much knowledge you can quickly gather about their situation. But how can you pitch your solution if they refuse to share any information about their situation?
Prospects tend to be tight-lipped on cold calls because of a lack of trust. So, you need to sell your intentions and prove that you’re trustworthy. Here’s how:
27. Maintain Control of Your Sales Conversations
It’s not always easy to get a cold call back on track, especially when you’ve let the prospect take the lead. But the truth is, most salespeople aren’t great at leading conversations. When prospects refuse to answer questions—or they have an endless number of objections—salespeople rarely know how to regain control.
Here at Close, we teach a three-step framework to regain control of your sales calls:
- Start with a clear goal
- Ask your prospects questions and listen
- Use friendly strength
Learn how to put it all together:
28. Use Friendly Strength to Deal With Hostile Prospects
Your prospect has completely lost it. They’re shouting at you over the phone, making ridiculous demands. Your ears are ringing and you have a massive headache. After a while, you can’t take it anymore, and just hang up the phone. They were completely out of control—a saint would've done the same.
Except that's the wrong approach.
You can’t control why the bully is the way they are, but here's how you handle one when cold calling:
29. Don’t Do Discovery on a Cold Call
Don't try to fit too much into your cold call. The only thing you want to accomplish with that first cold call to a prospect is just to schedule the next call. That next call—that's going to be the one where qualification and discovery happen.
The team over at Gong churned through a huge dataset of sales calls and found out that in successful cold calls, the sales rep talks more than the prospect—whereas the opposite is true in a successful discovery call.
30. After the Call: Analyze Your Sales Call to See if it Went Well
The best way to get better at cold calling is to make a lot of calls, and learn from every call. But most salespeople are never taught how to effectively evaluate a call. Instead, they focus on the level of rapport they've achieved with the prospect. You have to look beyond that and understand what does and doesn't define a successful sales call.
There's an easy, unambiguous process for this: understand the two key stages of the sales call and then determine if your call was a 10/10. Use this process to quickly evaluate the quality of every sales call within less than one minute—you'll never be left guessing or wondering how well a call went again.
31. Develop the Right Mindset to Recover From a Bad Call
When cold calling goes wrong, a particularly painful rejection can totally deflate your sales soul. But don't forget that failure is a guaranteed part of your sales process—not every prospect in every unique situation will be a good fit for your solution.
To stay buoyant when confronted with failure (or an ill-tempered prospect who reacts abusively to you), it’s important to take a step back. Get out of your chair, away from your desk, and take a 5-minute break. Get some distance from what just happened. Then you’ll be able to come back with a better mindset for calling.
Here’s more on how to recover from a bad sales call:
32. Follow up, follow up, follow up
If you often find yourself waiting around for a prospect to get back to you after a great sales call, you probably need to level up your follow-up skills.
I have a simple philosophy: I follow up as many times as necessary until I get a response. I don’t care what the response is as long as I get one.
Get the inside info on my follow-up philosophy:
33. Analyze Cold Calling Benchmarks and KPIs to Optimize Your Strategy
When you’re in sales, you’re always wondering what’s good enough. A great sales professional is never satisfied and always on the hunt for more.
Should you dial more numbers?
Do you need to improve the quality of your leads?
Should you focus on crafting a better sales pitch? Or work on a more effective opening?
There are many opportunities to optimize your cold calling process. If you want to know how you're doing in different stages of your sales process, you need to track the right metrics and compare them to industry benchmarks. The main metrics you need to track are activity, quality, and conversion metrics.
Learn more about how to use cold calling KPIs and benchmarks to identify where you can get the biggest wins with your B2B cold calling efforts:
- Cold Call Conversion Rates: Funnel Metrics & Benchmarks
- Sales Benchmarks: The 30/50 Rule for Cold Emailing & Cold Calling
- Data-Driven Sales: The 3 Cold Calling and Emailing Metrics that Matter
34. Try SMS to Connect With Leads
You know the power of the phone in sales, but did you think about actually texting your prospects? According to a 2017 report called The State of SMS, by now 48.7 million people will have opted in to receive text messages from businesses. That's a HUGE number, so why not add this to your toolkit?
There are so many reasons why SMS can change your sales game. For one, no other medium has the reach rate of text messaging. Emails might get caught up in spam, and phone calls might go unanswered—but text messages almost always get read.
If you're ready to start texting your leads today, sign up for a free 14-day trial of Close.
Learn more about using SMS to do cold outreach and follow up with prospects:
35. Don’t Assume the Worst About a Prospect That Hangs Up
No one likes getting hung up on while cold calling, but you can’t let one bad sales call ruin your day. Just take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Is this result any different than if I’d never made the call?” Next, focus on why the prospect hung up on you, so you don’t make the same mistake twice.
36. Come Into Call Reviews With an Open Mind
Many sales managers will set up call reviews with junior reps, or even with more advanced sales professionals. Remember, the goal of a call review is not to humiliate you or put you on the spot—instead, your manager wants to help you improve your skills and up your performance.
So, come into call reviews with an open mind. Be ready to accept feedback, and think about how you can improve your skills.
36. Listen to Your Recorded Calls to Become a Cold Calling Pro
Want to know what the fastest and most effective way is to become great at cold calling? It’s a simple two-fold approach that anyone can follow and doesn't require expensive sales workshops or coaches: make a lot of cold calls, and record your calls so you can listen back to them.
37. Practice Your Skills with Mock Sales Calls
Mock calls may not be the first thing you want to do to increase your skills, but they will help you develop self-awareness, track your progress, and reduce stress as you grow more confident in your tactics.
38. Use a Call Coaching or Call Monitoring Software
When your team is using a call coaching software, your manager can help you identify key moments in the call where things went well, help you see where you could’ve done things differently, and give you specific feedback on how to improve for next time. Call coaching software with Barge features also allows you to have the confidence that your manager is waiting at the ready in case you get stuck.
- Top 15 Sales Coaching Platforms to Develop a High-Performing Team
- How to Use Call Monitoring: 9 Scenarios to Listen, Whisper, or Barge a Sales Call
The Only Way to Get Better at Cold Calling is to Keep Dialing!
If you've worked your way through this guide and the resources we've referenced and still crave more cold calling knowledge, that’s great!
As a salesperson, you’ll never stop learning about cold calling and how to improve. So, maintain a hungry mindset and stay motivated to improve!
Here are a few more resources you can use to keep learning and improving your cold calling game: