Bonus Content

Why and How to Cold Call

By John Chapin

There continues to be controversy as to whether or not cold calling works and whether or not a salesperson should do it. First, yes, it does still work. Second, yes, salespeople should still do it. Here’s why and here’s how.

Cold calling is the most difficult sales task—and that’s exactly why you should never stop doing it. It’s simple: If you can effectively contact people cold and get results, you’ve conquered the most difficult sales task and you can learn and do any other part of the sales process.

The reason why the vast majority of salespeople fail is because they do not have enough qualified prospects. They don’t have enough qualified prospects because they don’t do enough prospecting. They don’t do enough prospecting because they are scared and uncomfortable doing the hard work of prospecting. This is also the reason why many people say cold calling doesn’t work. They are simply afraid of the hard work of cold calling and they use the “doesn’t-work” excuse to avoid facing their fear. If you can ring tons of phones and knock on tons of doors cold, you’ve conquered the biggest fear in selling.

Staying sharp and staying on top of your game are other reasons you should never stop cold calling. Cold calling is simply the best way to stay on your toes. Cold calling is when you will face the most resistance and the most challenges and it’s when you have to be at your best.

In addition to the above, we all know that changes happen in every business and every industry. Markets change, economies shift, competition changes. And when any of those happen, you’d better be ready to change, adapt, and most important, get back to work. If you’re floating along, riding the wave of a favorable business environment, resting on your laurels, you won’t be ready when the wave crashes and you have to get back to work. But if you’re prepared and sharp, you can go out, create business, and build almost immediately. The most effective way to be prepared to get back to work and get results quickly is to be great at cold-call prospecting.

Another reason to cold call is that unless you have all the prospects you need via referrals and other preferred methods, and very few salespeople do, you need to cold call to fill the gap.

All of the above said, is cold calling the best, most effective way to get prospects? No. Is it the preferred method? No. Yet, even when you are at the top of your game and have tons of business and prospects, you should still do some cold calling from time to time. It will keep you alive, engaged, and in the game.

How to Cold Call

Step 1: Prepare
Who are you calling on and what is important to them? Why should the prospect be interested in listening to what you have to say and why should they be interested in eventually meeting with you? You have to know what the most important benefits are to your audience and design your cold call around those benefits.

Step 2: Get scripted
Once you know what’s important to them and what you want to say, you need to get it down word for word. In addition to a scripted cold call, you also want to have scripted answers to questions, concerns, and anything that might come up during your call. You then need to practice these until you are at the point someone could wake you up at 3 a.m. and these answers would roll off your tongue verbatim.

Step 3: Make the call, get their attention, and ask for the appointment.
Make a big claim centered around the top benefit that will mean most to the prospect and ask for a meeting. Your call might sound like this, “Hi Joe, John Chapin. We’ve been saving companies like yours 56% on auto parts. All I need is 20 minutes to see if we can do the same for you. Will tomorrow morning or afternoon work better?”

Step 4: Warm up the call in any way you can.
Unless you are doing unvarnished cold calling for the point of staying sharp and overcoming fear, you should warm up your cold calls. You can do this by name dropping, mentioning a benefit related to something you got off their website, or by using some other information that lets the prospect know the call has been customized to them.

Step 5: Test the reflex response at least two times.
Most people have a natural “not-interested” response to a cold call. When this happens, test the response to see if it is a true response or pure reflex. For example, after they say they are all set or not interested, you might ask a question centered around the three most important aspects of anything that people buy which are: product, service, and price. For example, “Joe, if I could offer you a better product and better service at a price equal to or better than you’re getting right now, would that be worth investing 20 minutes of your time to investigate?”

Step 6: Be persistent
If you are cold calling for prospects, be prepared to make lots of calls. You’re in a contact sport and never is that more true than with cold calling. Persistence also comes into play if you are targeting a particular account, one or two calls usually won’t do it. You’re going to have to reach out to them nine to 13 times. Do this with a combination of phone calls, mailings, e-mails, and in-person visits.

John Chapin has 24 years of sales, customer service, and management experience and is an award-winning sales speaker, trainer, and coach. He is also a sales rep in three industries and the primary author of the gold-medal-winning “Sales Encyclopedia.” To reach Chapin, find a free white paper on what it takes to be successful in sales, and subscribe to his monthly newsletter, visit


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