Despite many claims about the “death” of cold calling, 92% of customer interactions still take place over the phone. Initial sales calls usually last for 30-40 seconds. In this limited time, your team should be able to make a fantastic impression on your prospects.

Here are a few proven techniques that can help your team improve the average 2% cold calling conversion rate to perhaps 5% or higher.

1. Do Your Homework

Many sales reps equate making a large number of calls to more absolute conversions. This is a mistake.

On average, only a small percentage of these calls actually reach a decision-maker who is relevant to your business. Therefore, it is important to do your homework to find out who are the right people to connect with within the organization and what do they care about. The right decision-makers should be willing to listen to your cold calls since your solution or offer is relevant to their organization. You can create a list of prospects and decision-makers by:

  •          Obtaining industry contacts
  •          Focusing on your competitors’ targets
  •          Researching local businesses through Google
  •          Finding companies through Twitter, LinkedIn

According to Kirsten Boileau, Head of Regional Engagement and Social Selling, SAP:  “Going through social media accounts of the key decision-makers of a company will help you understand what matters to them – professionally and personally.”  

While conducting this research, note any similar interests that you have in common with the prospect. Weave these subjects into your conversation to make a connection at a personal level. Understanding your prospect helps you leave a memorable first impression and improves the likelihood of a future conversion.

2. Build Team of Cold Calling Experts 

58 percent of buyers report that sales representatives are unable to answer their questions efficiently. To avoid creating buyer frustration, create a detailed document for your sales representatives that highlights key selling points and information about your products/services. Your employees can integrate this information with the cold calling script to create a comprehensive reference guide.

Encourage your employees to create a list of answers to frequently asked prospect queries. The team can also create a shared knowledge bank that can be used to tackle difficult buyer questions.

Your team should access the knowledge bank every week to have a better understanding of the product and/or service.

3. Avoid Trying to Sell

The goal of the first call is to build trust and get an appointment with the potential client. A common mistake that some salespeople make is to launch into the sales pitch immediately. This can often annoy the prospect as he or she has no idea about you, your product, and how it relates to his or her business. Moreover, prospects are busy, and it’s unlikely that you would have someone’s full attention on that first call. Therefore, your goal should be to get an appointment, in person, or via a call, or to schedule a demo.

To make sure your team can persuade the prospect to set an appointment, they should personalize each call.

4. Be Persistent to Get Your Chance at a First Impression  

You must be persistent to get the chance to make a first impression. Rarely is one call attempt enough to get a prospect on the phone. Examine your level of persistence. An average salesperson gives up after two failed call attempts. That’s a mistake. It can take up to eight attempts to reach a prospect.

Not only does it take multiple attempts to reach a single contact; it takes numerous tries to reach the right prospects. In any medium-to-large company of approximately 100-500 employees, an average of seven people is responsible for most buying decisions. Therefore, don’t give up after one rejection. Try to contact other decision-makers before moving on to the next company. After all, you want to make a great first impression with the right contact.

Don’t forget that making a live connection isn’t the only chance that counts when it comes to first impressions. Work on your voicemail message skills, too. A brief, interesting voicemail can be the deciding factor as to whether or not a prospect takes your next call or calls you back.


The first impression will determine whether or not your prospect is going to take you and your company seriously and move forward in the sales process. If you know about the prospect’s business and can answer all of his or her questions, you will have a far better chance of making a great impression during cold calls. With 78 percent of decision-makers taking appointments or attending meetings as a result of a cold call or email, that first impression can really make or break success rates.