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Increase your success rate when 'Cold' calling


New business generation is all about making new contacts and connections. Frustratingly we find that cold callers are not getting traction and enough opportunities to build relationships before they are cut off. In order to overcome and succeed, we should understand more how our brains work and how to connect with our customers. So how do you increase the success rate when cold calling?

Why cold calling gets a bad rap?

Cold calling is still an important aspect of sales, but has always been a hot topic amongst sales professionals. It is both an art and a science, but when used well creates hot leads and new business opportunities.

Unfortunately it has not been used well by many cold callers and as such customers have become attuned to spotting a cold call and are rejecting the sales person long before the caller gets to their ‘value proposition’

 Triggering flight response

When an unknown call is made the customer has heighten their fight or flight response (evolutionarily a mechanism to rapidly respond to threats against survival). Now that may sound a bit dramatic, but the truth is that we are naturally suspicious of strangers (unconscious behaviour) and especially people who we feel might take, or try to take, advantage of us - e.g. sales people!

So when we get a cold call, in matter of moments we realise that we don’t know this person and they are selling us something, we want to finish the call as quickly as possible as a protection mechanism.

To overcome this fight or flight we need to consider the following psychological rules: 

  1. Your tone and energy can change the customers mood
  2. You must be instantly credible
  3. The call must be for the customer - not for you!

 These 3 points seem easy, but are not. Here are some rules to help get there!


Rule 1: Choose your Tone for the Phone!

Laura Sicola talks about creating Vocal Executive Presence, where by understanding your audience you can determine what type of person they would be most open to receiving the message from, and then you can figure out what that person would sound like. 

Consider vocal elements like Pace, Pitch, Tone and Volume. A deeper voice that slightly quieter is more authoritative than a louder fast paced version. Watch Laura’s video below for more hints and tips on intonation and sounding authoritative through inflection in your speech.


Rule 2: Know what problems your features solve!

Product knowledge is key to sales, but only if you know what problems your features solve. Product training often spends time showing what it does and how it works, but not ‘Why’ it is built like that.

This will provide you great insight into the product and be able to demonstrate benefits not features.


Rule 3: Make the call about the customer not you!

Those initial few moments of the call must start to add value to the customer and therefore the most critical in cold calling. If your calls are not working, ask yourself who are your calls for - for you or for the buyer?

Typical bad cold calls tend to be both seller and product centric. If your call starts with “I’m just calling to find out how you currently do xyz…’ , it is unlikely that the customer is even listening to you - the call is all about you!

Here is a video from our Sales Mastery programme sharing a little about IPS's - Initial Positioning Statements


Rule 4: Demonstrate credibility through a laser focused question

Generic open questions do not engage the customer into the conversation or demonstrate your credibility. Remember that the customer probably feels they are already good at most of the things you are selling.

The more specific the question you ask the customer about a certain part of their business (implied problem which your feature can solve) the greater response you will get from the customer and engage them into the conversation.

Asking the question in itself informs the customer that you have a solution for it. You don’t need to tell them about it, just ask the question. The human brain will join up the dots.

Here is an extract from Keenan, author of Gap Selling, sharing the power of the laser focused question: 


Emotional Engagement first - how do I feel!

Remember when the call first comes in the customer responds to you in a subconscious way - not rational thought to begin with.

These questions will come to them when the call comes in:

  • Do I feel that I want or need to talk with you?
  • Do I feel that you have information that I would be interested in?
  • Do I feel comfortable in sharing information with you? 

We are all busy people and we don’t want to waste time with people that we are not connected with or who don’t add any value to us.



1: Choose your tone for the phone - Vocal Executive Presence

2: Know what problems your features solve

3: Make the call about the customer - not you

4: Demonstrate credibility through laser questions


If you would like some help developing your Cold Calling, or would be interested in discussing your needs, call one of our Salecologists today or drop us an email at 

We will also be covering opening new calls on our Sales Mastery programmes.