13 Cold Calling Tips to Live By: The Dos and Don’ts of Cold Calling

Unfortunately for all you SDRs and Account Executives who hate cold calling, cold calling is not dead. Here are the best cold calling tips to make the process a little less painful and make you and your company a lot more revenue.

13 Tips on Cold Calling To Live By

The 4 Biggest Don’ts of Cold Calling

1. “How are you doing today?”
2. “Is now a good time?”
3. Excusing yourself
4. Saying you’re just “touching base” or “checking in”

The 9 Biggest Dos of Cold Calling

1. Master your 15-second pitch
2. Address the set-up
3. Ask questions
4. Smile when you talk
5. Speak only one or two sentences at a time
6. Have a “no” goal
7. Pique curiosity in voicemails
8. Organize your cold calling time
9. Call at the strategic times


Cold Calling Tips: The Don’ts of Cold Calling

#1: Don’t Ask “How Are You Doing Today?”

“Terrible, thanks for asking.”

This is a classic and overused filler. When you start your calls with this, not only do you sound disingenuous right off the bat, but you’re also setting yourself up for potential failure if they respond with anything other than “fine” as John Barrows explains.

Instead, politely jump to the point and say, “Thanks for taking my call.”


#2: Don’t Ask “Is Now a Good time?”

Honestly, no it’s probably not a good time. It’s never a good time, especially when you get a call from an unknown number.

If it is, in fact, a bad time for your caller, let them tell you, don’t give them an out right away, explains Ian Johnson.


#3: Don’t Excuse Yourself

To those of you particularly fond of apologizing, this goes to you. Do not apologize! Do not say “I’m sorry for bothering you” or anything of the like. Address your cold calling guilt another way.

You’re telling the caller “you’re going to be annoying even before the call gets started” when you excuse yourself (JBarrows).

Replace an apology with, “Can you help me?” This cold calling tip works particularly great with administrative assistants and gatekeepers.

Cold Calling Tips: Replace an Apology with "Can You Help Me?"

#4: Don’t Say You’re Just “Touching Base” or “Checking In”

Replace these fluffy reasons for calling with the actual reason for cold calling. This respects your prospect’s time and addresses the biggest don’t: not having a reason for your call, the most important of our cold calling tips according to Morgan Ingram of JBarrows.

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Cold Calling Tips: Follow These Must-Dos

#5: Do Master Your 15-Second Pitch

We all know nothing is sold in 15 seconds, but having a pitch ready can make or break your deal. One of the most notable cold calling tips is to explain your company’s core competencies quickly to keep the person on the other line engaged.

Cover what your company does and who you’ve done it for or who you’ve worked within their area or industry (Ian Johnson).

Hone in on the value that you bring to customers, choose a specific product or service that is completely unique to your company. A possible script could read:

“I am [name] from [company name], and we’ve done a lot of work for companies in [industry]. We’re in this [industry], and we’ve done a couple of things pertaining to [value to your customer].

Also, make sure you know who you are talking to before you dial. “Make sure you look at someone’s LinkedIn profile before jumping on a call. Know how your product relates back to the person on the call,” explains Morgan Ingram.


#6: Do Address the Set-Up

Another one of our cold calling tips is to note where your product fits and stands out in the competitive space and sets itself apart.

For example, you may sit in an industry with two products (A and C). Product A has some inaccuracies, but it’s inexpensive, while Product C is accurate but too expensive for most businesses to justify.

A script may look like this:

“We have a product that solves [problem/value prop] in your industry and it’s not Product A or Product C.” Then pause.

Once you’ve established the set-up, state you are proposing option B. Pause one last time to wait for questions and interest on their end.


#7: Do Ask Questions

A great cold calling tip is to know that questions are the way to a prospects’ heart. Questions engage the prospect and keep your deal’s momentum going.

Morgan Ingram explains, “The number one tip is to ask the right questions. Make sure your prospect’s interest doesn’t end along with the call by asking the right questions to keep the conversation and the deal moving forward.”

Cold Calling Tips: Ask the Right Questions

#8: Do Smile When You Talk

Yes, we’re taking “smiling and dialing” quite literally. One of the best great cold calling tips is to add notes to remember to smile into your cold calling script.

Sure, you may look like a typical sales stock photo on the call, but smiling affects how we speak. Smiling when you talk not only builds rapport, but it also reduces your own stress level which is why it has made it on our list of most important cold calling tips.

Additionally, research has shown a strong correlation between smiling and positive business outcomes. Prospects are able to discern your smile over the phone, making you seem more friendly and approachable, ultimately improving your chances of closing that deal.


#9: Do Speak Only One or Two Sentences at a Time

Just like you need to master sales prospecting techniques, a good salesperson will master being short and concise with their words. Keep your conversation over the phone short and to the point. Yesware explains how “studies show that the brain can only hang onto 20-30 seconds of information at any given time. By that measure, your prospect will likely only retain 30 seconds of a fifteen-minute conversation.”

One of the most valuable cold calling tips is to speak clearly and articulately to ensure your prospect is staying interested.


#10: Do Have a “No” Goal

This cold calling tip makes rejection your goal and takes the fear out of hearing “no.” 

Rather than waiting for the “yes,” make sure you hit a goal of “no’s.” Per consultant Robert D. Smith, counting “no’s” is a great strategy to gamify rejection and allows you to increase your sales pipeline velocity and generate more sales leads.

Cold Calling Tips: Make Rejection the Goal



#11: Do Pique Curiosity In Voicemails

With 97% of calls now going to voicemail, another one of the important cold calling tips is to know that it’s crucial to master the art of leaving voicemails that invoke curiosity.

To do this, state your name last. Morgan Ingram of JBarrows goes through his typical voicemail sales script with us:


Hello [name]. I’ve talked to a lot of [job title] regarding [your company’s value prop]. If this resonates with you in any way please reply to the email I [just sent or will send after this call]. My name is [name] from [company]. Again my name is [name] from [company]. Thanks!


#12: Do Organize Your Cold Calling Time

Additionally, strategically organize your cold calling time into two parts: prospecting to find the right person, and call blitzing to get that person on the phone, according to Steve Richard of Harvard Business Review. This is one of the best cold calling tips to maximize your time and energy.


#13: Do Call at the Strategic Times

Maximize your time and qualify prospects during normal business hours (10 to 11:30 am) when administrative assistants are in the office. Then call blitz during “call windows.” Call windows are typically before 8:30 am and after 5:30 pm once the administrative assistants are gone.

Richard also recommends cold calling, “five minutes before the top of the hour, catching the executives before their next conference call meetings, and holidays like President’s Day, when executives are likely to be in the office and other business may be slow.”

Cold Calling Tips and Tricks: Key Takeaway

Using a little psychology and practice, these cold calling tips can be a great way to boost your pipeline and sales. Any tips you think we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @crunchbase.

Additional reading: The Ultimate Sales Prospecting Guide

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  • Originally published June 22, 2018, updated June 27, 2024