Sales and marketing

3 Smart Cold Calling Strategies to Reach Prospects

A reader recently asked me about the value of cold calling. It was phrased this way:

"I’ve read a lot of articles that say cold calling is dead. I believe it’s still a valuable prospecting tool to find new opportunities in addition to other approaches.  What are your thoughts on this?"

I get asked this question frequently, especially since the subtitle of my book The Sales Magnet is “How to Get More Customers Without Cold Calling.” Does this mean you should stop cold calling? Is cold calling an ancient sales technique to be left behind with the 20th century like the door-to-door encyclopedia salespeople?

Is cold calling dead? My answer is a resounding NO. Cold calling isn’t dead.

The Art and Science of Cold Calling

Salespeople still have to pick up the phone, we just want to do it in a smart way. It’s an art that can be mastered with some science behind it. Here’s the science:

1. Find your focus: Figure out what niche you are targeting and the contact within that niche. Really make it a niche. A niche allows you to have a similar prospecting conversation with every person you speak to. You’ll know the issues they’re having in their business, what ideas prospects respond to, and the objections they’ll bring up when you ask for a meeting.

Your niche isn’t every medical practice in your state. It isn’t even every company with 20-100 employees within a 75-mile radius of your office. Your niche is a subset of your target market where you can talk with people who have similar titles about similar business issues.

2. Get your grabber: Once you’ve identified your niche, have a message that focuses on something of importance to your prospect. I recommend focusing on the top priorities for the key contact in your niche. If you attended the recent Coffee with Kendra about how to improve your prospecting emails, I talked about how to use the Value Curve to choose a topic based on executives’ priorities. The more your message is about your prospect, the more likely they are to read it.

Unfortunately, too often salespeople resort to talking about their products. When they do, their voice mails and emails are quickly deleted. That’s why the average connection rate for cold calling is only 12%.

3. Connect your efforts: While I believe strongly in cold calling, if you only use one approach to a prospecting, you’re easily ignored. Mix cold calling with email prospecting and social media in case your prospect isn’t paying attention.

It takes 9 or more attempts to gain access to a new prospect. If they don’t know your company, or you personally, you’ll need all nine attempts. Mix up how you contact prospects so they hear from you in different ways. Maybe they get too many emails, which one prospect lamented to me today. In that case, maybe a call will get their attention. Or, maybe they peruse LinkedIn in the evening and your InMail will grab them. Connect your prospecting efforts and don’t give up.

Cold Calling & Key Performance Indicators

Finally, as you use smarter ways to cold call, keep in mind these cold calling metrics. Based on research with our own clients, the average connection rate when you are cold calling is 12%. Of those 12%, roughly 25% will convert to qualified opportunities when you are calling within a niche with a grabber message.

I’ll take those cold calling odds.

If you know that you’ll set an appointment with one out of every four people you speak with, make the calls! Perfect your strategy to reach a person. Perfect your message. As you perfect both, you’ll increase your appointment-setting rate.

So, is cold calling dead? It is not. Keep prospecting, but do it in a smart way. You’ll break through. I promise.

Author: Kendra Lee

Kendra Lee is president of KLA Group, which works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Read more blogs from Kendra here.


Kendra Lee

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the award winning books “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal”, and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.