Before jumping into how to cold call, let’s review the definition of this particular type of sales call.
Cold calling is a sales technique where a salesperson makes first-time calls to leads who have not expressed interest in their product or service before. Even though the lead might not be aware of the salesperson’s brand, a good cold call is made to someone who is likely to have an interest in or benefit from the product—specifically a lead who fits the rep’s ideal buyer persona.
In this article, we’re focusing on cold calling through telemarketing, but cold calls can also refer to in-person contact visits.
Part 1: B2B cold calling scripts to generate high-value appointments
No matter what industry you’re in, you can tailor these cold calling guide scripts to increase your success rate and boost your quotas.
These scripts are particularly suited to account-based marketing efforts. You can apply these to all industries, from SaaS to enterprise solutions.
1. Provide your prospect with options
Instead of assuming which profile her prospects fit into, Jessica Magoch, CEO of JPM Partners, utilizes a “choose your own adventure” approach.
Hi, this is Jess from the Virtual Sales Academy. How are you?
We're working on some solutions to help you recruit and train a new generation of salespeople. Is that something you'd like to hear more about?
There are two ways companies work with us. We can either help them find salespeople for a percentage of the base salary, or help them train new salespeople with our online, on-demand, virtual sales training programs that teach them how to take prospects from curious to client. Which one would you want to hear most about?
(they choose one or the other.)
Awesome. Can I ask you a few questions first?
(I ask them qualifying questions so I know what to present.)
I'll tell you a bit more and then, if it makes sense, we'll set up an appointment before we get off our call today to go over it in more detail. Sound good?
From there I tell them more about the program, just enough for them to agree to set up an appointment, and then go into my appointment setting script.
This is clever, as it elicits a “micro-yes” from the prospect early in the call. By providing prospects with a choice, they’ll invest in you and the message you have to share.
2. Working with gatekeepers
Getting past gatekeepers can be an art in itself.
But don’t just assume you deserve to be connected to the decision maker. Instead, play to the gatekeeper’s better nature with this carefully crafted sample script:
Hello, my name is James. I was wondering if you could help me. I looked on the [COMPANY] LinkedIn page but I couldn’t find your name. Are you usually the person who answers the phone? I’d feel much better if I knew your name before I asked for a favor.
(Repeat the gatekeeper’s name and thank them).
I’d like to speak with [NAME OF PROSPECT]/person in charge of X. What’s the best way to make that happen?
Here, you’re working with the gatekeeper instead of treating them as an obstacle. Build rapport as you would your prospects.
3. “A Friend Sent Me”
What’s the best way to turn a cold call into a warm one?
The answer: Tell them that a mutual connection suggested you speak to them.
Mike and I are seeing great results with [CLIENT COMPANY]’s marketing automation at the moment and when talking about who else would benefit, your name came up.
Congratulations on [securing investment/new acquisition/other personalization]. What you’re doing at [PROSPECT COMPANY] is impressive!
I’d love to show you how we’ve helped Mike generate [RESULT] and how we may be able to do the same for you. Would this be of interest?
From here, go ahead and set the appointment like you usually would.
Of course, it’s likely you’re going to get a few questions here. Go through your usual process. When in doubt, suggest they speak to “Mike,” your mutual contact, for more information.
4. Leaving a voicemail
You’re not always going to get through to your prospect right away.
They might be on the move, in a meeting, or simply focusing on their work.
This script from Bob Bentz, President of ATS Mobile and Purplegator, is a voicemail to leave when this happens.
Hello, [NAME]. This is Bob Bentz with ATS Mobile.
The reason for my call is I have an idea on how to possibly help you improve the troublesome process of recruiting employees, especially nurses. I wanted to see if it would make sense for us to have a quick conversation to find out more about it.
I can be reached at [YOUR PHONE NUMBER].
Again, my name is Bob Bentz with ATS Mobile at [YOUR PHONE NUMBER].
This reads just like a cold email. It’s short, gets to the point and tells the prospect exactly what to do next.
This isn’t the only way you can apply cold email principles to cold calls. Try experimenting with different approaches to see what gets the best response rate.
5. Use a hyper-personalized opener
In most cases, there’s a huge amount of insight available on your prospects through social media.
LinkedIn is a salesperson’s best friend for a reason. Use this insight to open the call and build familiarity from the get-go.
I notice you used to work at [PAST COMPANY], how did you find the culture there?
A friend of mine also went to [UNIVERSITY], what did you study there?
I see you’ve risen through the ranks from SDR to account manager at [CURRENT COMPANY], how did you get noticed by senior management?
If they open up, continue the conversation for a little longer. Otherwise, get back on track and keep your goal in mind.
6. “I don’t have time”
This is usually a polite way of saying “you’re just not important enough right now.”
So, how do you deal with this?
Show them you have something valuable that’s worth their time.
Here’s an effective response to handle this objection:
I understand this may not be a top priority right now, or perhaps you don’t see the value. Several people have said the same, but once we had a brief discussion they were thrilled to learn more. Give me two minutes of your time and I promise you’ll be clear on whether or not this is a good use of your time.
Here, you’re acknowledging their time is valuable while explaining the next step takes only a little investment. The two minutes it takes to make an informed decision is usually worth it.
7. Ask leading questions
Other than the information on their LinkedIn profile, it’s unlikely you’ll know much about your prospect on the initial cold call.
After you’ve introduced yourself and built some rapport, ask questions that elicit specific information from your prospects. These can include:
What are the biggest challenges in your role right now?
Which tools and solutions are you using to help you with X?
What was the deciding factor to hire new SDRs at [COMPANY]?
These questions get your prospects to fill in the knowledge gaps.
Not only will it allow you to tailor the rest of the conversation, but also provide qualitative insights to enrich your buyer personas.
8. Becoming a familiar name
These days, a multi-channel approach can help you build familiarity and turn a cold call into a warm call which will eventually become a prospect who moves through your sales funnel.
For the sake of this example, let’s say you’ve already reached out via email. Use a cold call script like the following to speed up the relationship-building process:
Hi [NAME], it’s James here calling from Pipedrive. I sent you an email last Thursday, did you have a chance to read it?
[PERSONALIZE BASED ON RESPONSE]
The reason I emailed is that I noticed you’re in charge of the sales processes and operations at [COMPANY]. Is that right?
From here, move into your value proposition, address any objections and secure the appointment.
9. Voicemail follow-up
If you’ve already left a voicemail, then chances are they’re now aware of who you are. Use this script to follow-up after the fact:
Hi [NAME], I left a voice message last week regarding X and thought I’d see if now was a good time to reach out.
To remind you, we [STATE YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION]. I’d love to show you how you can generate [RESULT].
Would you like to schedule a call to learn more?
Here, you’re simply referring to the voicemail you left and repeating your offer. The next step is to lead into your usual cold calling script.
10. The Detail-Oriented Follow-Up
Let’s say a prospect was genuinely busy and asked you to call back.
You’ve already told them why you’re calling, and you may have even emailed to provide context for the next time you call.
If this is the case, use this script to follow-up:
Hi [NAME], I’m calling back as requested. I hope now is still a good time, did you have a chance to check out my email?
Great! As I mentioned, we help [PERSONAS] like you generate [RESULT]. As agreed, this is a quick two-minute call to see if we might be a good fit. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to understand more about your needs and see how we might be a fit to work together?
From here, you can ask your leading questions or go through your usual qualifying process to assess if there’s a good fit.
This isn’t a full discovery call. You’re simply resuming the beginning of the sales process. You adapt to your prospect’s schedule while adding as much value as possible.
Part 2: SaaS cold calling scripts for new user acquisition
When it comes to SaaS, or any B2B subscription service, your goals will likely involve generating trials, demos and users.
This cold calling guide is designed to help you increase these outcomes. You’ll find several effective cold calling scripts for a number of situations.
11. Generating user referrals
Use cold calling as a tool to generate referrals. Start by identifying your best users. These include:
Advocates of your brand and content (look for top sharers on social media)
Users of your software on a daily basis (talk to product teams)
Customers who have generated great results (talk to customer success teams)
Customers who have been with you for six months to a year (or more)
Once identified, pick up the phone and hit them with this example cold call script:
It’s James from Pipedrive, I noticed [you’re a huge fan of our content/you’ve seen some great results from using our platform/other personalization] and wondered if could ask a quick favor:
Do you know of anyone else in [INDUSTRY] who would see great results from using our platform? We’d offer your friend an extended trial period, as well as X amount off your monthly subscription for each friend you refer.
Can you think of anyone who would benefit from using our platform?
Personalize this with the incentive you offer for your referral systems. Make sure you have a way of rewarding both your current customer and the friend they refer.
12. Tie new hires to product needs
There are various signals that may show a prospect or target account have a need for what you offer, such as a new hire for a specific role.
Here, Eric Quanstrom, CMO of KiteDesk, provides the perfect script to use when reaching out:
My name is Eric from KiteDesk, and the reason I’m calling is that I noticed you were hiring new SDRs from [NAME OF JOB SITE]. You're most likely hiring to solve the problem of needing more meetings, and I wanted to let you know we offer a prospecting platform designed to get your current team more qualified meetings.
It would be worth a 10-minute chat to see if we’re a fit before you take your next interview. We can even show you how you can see email and contact info displayed, instantly.
13. PersistIQ’s process for building rapport
Brandon Redlinger, Head of Growth at PersistIQ, has provided this framework to follow when cold calling potential new customers:
Get their attention by using their name. Start off by saying “Hi, [NAME],” in a warm and welcoming tone, then proceed directly to Step 2. Notice I didn't say, “Hi, [NAME], how are you today?” because it gives your prospect a chance to jump in and disrupt your flow. Cold calls are all about taking control in the beginning.
Identify yourself. “My name is Brandon with PersistIQ.” This is pretty straightforward, you need to tell them who you are.
Tell them why you're calling. “The reason I'm calling is to get some time on your calendar.” Diving right in demonstrates that you're a professional. Save the small talk for your follow-up calls after you’ve already built the relationship.
Build a bridge. This statement connects the reason you're calling with why they should care. “I just noticed on your site that you're hiring 10 new sales reps this quarter. Several companies in the [INDUSTRY] are already using PersistIQ to help their current sales development team get more conversations started and meetings booked. They are also able to cut new rep ramp time in half.”
Ask for what you want and shut up. “I thought the best place to start is to schedule a sales meeting to learn about your outbound sales challenges and goals. Do you have time on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon around 10 AM?” Ultimately, our goal is to set meetings with prospects because we’re calling on a more targeted list. However, if you’re calling on a less qualified list, then your ask may be for a piece of information that qualifies the lead.
This is a straightforward approach that respects the prospect’s intelligence and time, and will likely be appreciated and work in your favor.
It offers something many decision makers want from a cold call: no tricks, just the opportunity to say “yes” or “no.”
14. The one-sentence value proposition
SaaS products are usually appealing due to their self-serve nature: taking action is often frictionless.
Take this philosophy and apply it to your cold calling scripts.
How? Instead of bombarding your prospect with information, give them a one-sentence value proposition.
Here’s how we’d do it for Pipedrive:
Hi [NAME], this is James from Pipedrive. I’m calling sales-driven organizations in our industry to see if they’d benefit from our solution.
To put what we do in a single sentence, we help sales managers empower their reps to become unstoppable by providing a CRM for maximizing the outputs from their sales process.
Is this something that would be of interest to you?
From here, you’d move to the qualification process.
15. Qualifying your SaaS prospects
Cold calling has a problem.
The prospect really has no way of knowing if what you have to offer would be of interest or not.
Even if you’re the perfect fit, they don’t know you or trust you… yet.
To get around this, ask the same questions you’d ask after a “yes” when you hear “no.” In other words, qualifying questions can also be used as objection handling questions.
These questions include:
What are your biggest challenges in [ROLE]?
Are you looking for a solution to this challenge? Why/why not?
What does your current X process look like?
What software and solutions are you currently using for X?
Why did you decide to invest in those tools and solutions?
What results do you hope to achieve in the next 6 months?
When handling objections, avoid the usual qualification questions (who is the decision maker, what is your budget, etc.).
The goal is to elicit enough information to show them the value you and your solution can provide.
With this insight, you can steer the conversation and demonstrate how you can help them based on their specific challenges and needs.
Heat Up Your Cold Emails With 25 Customizable Email Templates
These cold email templates sourced from Pipedrive sales experts will help you scale your prospecting, drive more replies and stay out of those trash folders.
Part 3: Real estate industry cold calling scripts
So, you’re looking to build your reputation, generate appointments and, ultimately, sell homes. Just like the example scripts shared in parts 1 and 2, these cold calling guide scripts are aimed to help you add value to your community. Most importantly, they’ll help you get you more real estate clients.
16. Forcing a quick response
When it comes to cold calling, real estate agents often need to get to the point quickly.
Here’s a script that does just that:
Hi, this is Natasha Smith from Exploration Homes. My company currently has buyers looking for a home in the [AREA] neighborhood. Tell me, are you considering selling your home now or in the near future?
It’s quick and, most importantly, it’s clear. The homeowner on the other side of the phone knows exactly what the call is about.
It also forces a quick “yes” or “no” response.
If the answer is “yes,” you can go through your usual process. If it’s a “no,” then you can make arrangements to follow up in the future and move on.
17. The community champion
Instead of positioning yourself as a salesperson, become a champion for your community by putting it first. This sample sales script demonstrates this perfectly:
Hi [NAME], this is James from Exploration Homes. I’ve been living in the [LOCATION] area for over 20 years and love my town. As a new agent with a specialization in the local market, if I could find suitable buyers for your home in the next 30 days, would you be open to meeting with me?
This sample script will elicit the usual “yes” or “no” responses but is also likely to start a conversation about your local area.
You’re likely to hear questions such as, “where did you go to school?”
Even if they’re not ready to sell, you’ll build a relationship for when they are—and there’s a real potential to collect referrals.
18. On a mission
Similar to the above, this script positions you away from “salesperson” and more towards “trusted authority.”
In this example script, you’re telling a story:
Hi [NAME], this is James from Exploration Homes. I’ve made it my mission to help 100 people move into their dream home by [DATE]. I truly believe I can help you find your ideal home as quickly as possible. Is this something you’d be open to exploring?
This demonstrates that you’re on a journey, and people will want to learn more about the story so far.
Not to mention how you’ve already helped other sellers, which can quickly build trust.
Turn Talk Into Action With These Cold Calling Scripts
Download these customizable cold calling scripts to convert more conversations into qualified leads
Part 4: Seven effective cold calling tips
We’ve covered several example scripts you can take away and adapt to your own sales processes.
But blindly following scripts won’t help you become a top salesperson. You’ve also got to generate insight and follow best practices.
Let’s dig into seven of our most effective cold calling tips to help you make sales calls.
1. Deep research for hyper-personalization
It’s far easier to build rapport by knowing what your prospect is up to and which segments they fall into.
But you need the right insights to fuel that personalization.
This task can take some time, so make sure you start at the beginning of the day when you’re planning your “hit list” to keep information fresh and top-of-mind.
Start by looking at their LinkedIn profile for:
Groups they’re actively engaged in
Influencers they follow
Recent changes in employment (new role or promotion)
Content they’ve created or engaged with
Education, volunteering and where they live
For example, one prospect is a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk:
Using this insight, you can personalize the cold call around macro-business strategies, or even mention a recent piece of content Gary has put out.
If you’re reaching out to senior decision makers, then it’s likely they’re creating content of their own.
A quick search on Google will show you what they’re doing to build their own personal brand:
Check out their Twitter profile. If they’re creating their own content, they’re likely sharing it here:
Now you have this insight, you can open the call with flattery by focusing on the topics that matter most to them.
But you can also use it to turn a cold call into a warm one. Simply follow this process:
Take the time to identify your biggest opportunities
Look for the content they create and engage with it
Share, add comments and get involved in their conversations on social
If you’re in the EU, or contacting someone inside the EU, this approach has the added advantage of ensuring that your cold calling efforts are GDPR compliant, as you’ll know that you are using this data to pursue legitimate interests.
2. Create a structured outline
What if you want to create your own email templates? You need to follow best practices and create a proven outline.
Here are the building blocks of a good cold calling script:
Introduction: Keep it short and simple. Start by saying who you are and where you’re calling from. If necessary, ask if you’re talking to the right person before moving on.
Opener: If you’re going down the personalized route, create a bridge between the intro and the reason for calling by mentioning something you have in common. See “Use a hyper-personalized opener” in “Part 1” for more on this.
Reason for calling: Why are you calling? What have you got to offer? In many of the scripts shared in this article, you’ll see they get straight to the point. Use this approach to show how you can help your prospect.
Value proposition: Move into talking about your value proposition and offer. Mention which companies you work with, results you’ve generated and what makes you different from the competition.
Questions: Ask them if they’re interested, or use leading questions to qualify your prospects.
Close: What’s the next step? Is it to book a demo? An in-person appointment? Be clear on what action you want to take next and lead the prospect towards this.
Alternatively, you can mix and match the scripts shared throughout this guide.
3. Build an environment to focus
You’ve made five calls and now you’re itching to get up to make a coffee, check Facebook or chat with your fellow sales peers.
How do you fight these distractions?
Create a better environment that helps you get in the zone.
First, set yourself some personal goals. For example:
Make calls between 9 AM and 11 AM each day
Make 30 calls each session before getting up
Reward yourself with coffee or a quick browse of your social feeds once you’ve hit your number
Of course, you’ll need to achieve your goal a number of times to ensure you meet the quota. But batching these cold calling sessions will help you stay focused.
If necessary, take yourself out of your usual environment altogether. If your workplace has private rooms then use them whenever you can.
4. Cold calling for learning
Just like any sales skill, you’re not going to become a cold calling master overnight. Instead of focusing on the results, prioritize your goals around learning.
Reflect on your call and figure out what you can do better next time.
Everyone has their sticking points. Find yours by looking at your scripts and seeing where most people are objecting or shutting off.
Speaking of scripts, make sure you stick to yours—especially in the early days. Proven cold call example scripts are created based on proven results. Follow a proven script until you feel more comfortable and it begins to flow.
Once you know your sticking point(s), rewrite that particular part of the script. Test a completely new approach:
Try new value propositions
Test new methods of personalization
Use a close that asks for a lower investment (30-minute call vs. in-person meeting)
Follow this process until you can get through your entire script for more than half your cold calls.
Also, analyze the quality of your open-ended questions. The better the question, the more your lead or prospect will talk.
Finally, utilize the power of call recording. Listen back to your calls and watch out for where you can do better. This includes how you say things as well as what you say.
5. Prepare for objections
Objection handling is an accepted part of the sales game. Cold calling, however, can throw you some tough ones.
Which is why you need to prepare for as many objections as possible, and don’t see unfruitful cold calls as a failure on your part.
Get experience: the more calls you make, the more patterns you’ll notice in each objection.
Here are some common objections and how to handle them:
“I don’t have time to talk:” The prospect wants to get you off the phone as soon as possible. Ask them when the best time is for a three minute call. By offering a short amount of time, it sets expectations and provides a low level of investment.
“Let’s talk in a month:” This will happen when a prospect can’t make a decision, often because they need to run things by other senior decision makers. When this happens, ask who will be involved, if you can join in and what you’d need to bring along with you.
“Send an email:” Another classic to get you off the phone. Simply ask them what information to include when you email them. Then, follow up with a series of qualification questions. This will slowly get the prospect invested in the conversation.
Many prospects will ask for more information (like asking for a sales follow-up email). This signals you’re not a priority for them, which means you’ve got to show them you’re worth their time.
You can do this by slowly getting them invested. Start with a simple request (such as their email address). This creates a state of compliance you can ride like a wave.
Once they’ve provided a smaller piece of information, ask a relevant question. For example, you could ask them what their current marketing tech stack looks like (if you’re selling a MarTech solution).
From here, you can try your luck with some follow-up questions based on their response. This requires you to really listen and ask questions to get the conversation going. People love to talk about their jobs and challenges, which can be far more effective than going for a hard sell.
Finally, get to the close. Acknowledge the fact that they’ve said they don’t have time, but aim to get an appointment in the diary. Tie their pain points with your value proposition and show them how you can help them solve it. If they still insist on the email, thank them for their time and send it away.
6. Timing & trigger events
Timing is a massive factor for any sales channel, not just cold calling. But the timing of your cold calls is certainly a huge factor in their success.
The time of day you pick up the phone will determine your pick-up rate (and thus, your success rate).
To help you optimize the time of day you make these calls, it’s good to look at some benchmarks. According to research conducted by InsightSquared, the best time to make cold calls is between 10 AM and 4 PM:
Response rates are optimum at around 10 AM
There’s a clear drop-off in the afternoon
Leads are “less alert” to sales calls after 5 PM
While research like this is useful, each industry will be different.
Which is why it’s important to figure out when your prospects respond to sales calls.
You can track this manually with a sales dashboard, or use your sales technology stack to collect and analyze data.
Then there are “trigger events.” These are events that happen within a target organization or a prospect’s career that provides the best opportunity to call.
Trigger events include:
New enterprise clients: Many companies make the acquisition of large accounts a PR event. Take advantage of this by congratulating your prospect on their big win.
Acquisitions and mergers: Another reason to call and congratulate. Even better, if this happens to an existing customer, it provides an opportunity for introductions up the chain.
New hires: Someone who fits your buyer persona has just joined a target account. They’re going to want to prove their worth and try out new products and solutions.
Funding: Not only can you congratulate them on securing new investment, but it’s an indication of an expanded budget to play with—a budget they can invest in your product or service.
You should also monitor behavioral triggers.
For example, when someone opens your emails a certain amount of times, or when a company has visited your website on numerous occasions. You can use a tool like Leadfeeder to capture this information, which integrates with Pipedrive on our Marketplace.
7. How to crush your cold call
To wrap things up, let’s talk about how to be an effective salesperson on sales calls:
Lead with your goal: Always have your eye on the prize. If your goal is to secure appointments or demos, then keep this in mind. This will help you stay motivated and focused during your calls.
Use open-ended questions: Sales calls should be a conversation, not a one-way dialog. Think “What do you look for in a CRM” instead of “Would you be willing to try a new CRM?”
It’s all about them: Don’t focus on yourself, your product or solution. Get them talking about their interests, their role and their challenges. Not only will this make them feel good, it’ll provide all the insight you need to provide them the right experience.
Include social proof: In order to build trust, you need to prove results. Dropping social proof points shows the prospect that you’ve already helped other people. Do this with case studies, statistics and name-dropping your largest accounts.
Be aware of tonality: Your voice (or the nature of the way you talk) will stay consistent. That’s your personality at play. But you can learn to change your tone according to the situation. If your prospect sounds confused, try to simplify your language and educate. If your prospect sounds rushed, try to be snappy and stick to shorter questions and explanations. Be the conversational chameleon when you cold call.
Learn to listen: Remember, the call is about your prospect, not you. Stop talking at your prospects and listen to what they have to say. Demonstrate that you’re taking an interest by asking specific follow-up questions based on what they say.
Be positive. Objections, getting shot down and dealing with irate prospects, cold calling is enough to challenge anybody’s character. But by keeping a positive outlook, you’re more likely to succeed. Look at each call objectively as a learning experience. Don’t take it personally!
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