Perfect Your Cold Calling Script to Start Hearing ‘Yes’ Instead of ‘No’

Cold calling is a skill. Contacting someone you’ve likely never met before and convincing them to invest their resources in your product or service based on a thirty-second elevator pitch is damn hard.

There aren’t many shortcuts that can be taken while cold calling; the calls have to be made and the rate of return is often low. So why do sales teams still rely on this method to sustain their sales volume?

The answer is twofold, but in summary, because it’s worth it. From a managerial perspective, cold calling is a quick indicator of who is willing to put in the hard work. Someone who gets frustrated after getting hung-up-on after a few calls probably needs some additional training to perfect their pitch or is simply not cut out for sales. But for a salesperson, it is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from colleagues and maximize your earning potential.

Cold calling isn’t just about the person, though, either. Having quality lists and the best technology to streamline the sales process is just as important to generating leads.

Before we get into cold calling best practices, let’s look at a few strategies that we know are ineffective and should be avoided.

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Common cold call mistakes

When making a cold call, the prospect can always tell if you’re reading from a templated script. From the onset, this makes the call feel disingenuous and can sink your sales pitch before it has even begun. There are many common mistakes that people make on cold calls. Examples include: sounding robotic, talking too much and failing to schedule a follow up.

Don’t be a robot

Not tailoring your conversation to the company that you’re talking to makes the caller seem robotic. In some cases, companies even use automated recordings as the first step to cold calling, which is a big no-no. Similarly, using universal scripts can make a call feel rehearsed and unnatural. This will decrease the likelihood of a potential client wanting to work with you. It shows that from the first interaction, the seller does not have the attention to detail necessary to make the prospect feel valued.

Know when to shut up

If you can get the prospect to engage with you, don’t spend your limited time rattling off facts and statistics without letting them speak. Nobody likes to be talked at. Diving headfirst into a pitch without coming up for air can make the relationship seem one-sided and unappealing. Take the time to listen to what they have to say. Chances are they will give you nuggets of valuable information that you can use to further the conversation, build trust, and ultimately get an appointment set.

Make sure to get past the gatekeeper

One of the reasons that companies have receptionists and assistants are to weed out unwanted calls to the decision makers. The trickiest skill in cold calling is getting a gatekeeper to connect you with someone that will say YES. A rejection from the gatekeeper can be hard to overcome since you never even got a chance to speak to the person with buying power. This is the stage where many cold calls turn, well, cold.

Photo Credit: HubSpot Research

Cold calling tips

With an understanding of what not to do on cold calls, consider the following cold calling techniques regarding sales scripts, company research, and how to best use technology to achieve better performance from your sales team.

Perfecting the call script

The key to an effective cold call script is for it to facilitate a free-flowing conversation. While reading directly from a sample script is often helpful during training, or the first few calls, the goal should be for call agents to grow comfortable enough with the concept or philosophy behind the call script so that they can adhere to it while still being conversational.

Start thinking of your script as a guide to ensure that conversations with gatekeepers and decision makers stay on track.

Prepare a script for bypassing gatekeepers

It’s not uncommon that the phone numbers listed for a particular person will actually be answered by a gatekeeper. In a typical firm with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people is involved in most buying decisions. The first goal of a salesperson in this situation is to get patched through to a decision maker. With that in mind, it is important to ensure that you do not overwhelm the gatekeeper with facts and information about your product or service that they have no authority to act on. The gatekeeper could have access to, or even control, the decision maker’s calendar, so establishing a friendly rapport with this person will be vital in securing an appointment.

Also, while getting past the gatekeeper is the goal, by taking the time to converse with this person, rather than reading a script at them verbatim, you will likely obtain helpful information about the decision maker that you’re trying to connect with, which can be used to help close a deal. For the best results, stop viewing gatekeepers as an obstacle to get past, but instead, start seeing them as the valuable resources that they can often be to your success.

A few things to consider:

  1. Get the gatekeeper’s name. Should you need to follow up, you could come in contact with this person again. Addressing them by name is a simple, easy way to build trust and make them feel valuable. Some decision makers decide whether or not to take a sales call based on the gatekeeper’s feedback, like this director who said this to a salesman, “I have people call me all day and you are the first one I’ve allowed to come in to show me your product—because you were so nice to my secretary.”
  2. Ask targeted questions that can assist in future calls. Research will play a pivotal role in what these questions should actually be, but asking about recent news in the company could get the gatekeepers talking. Don’t be afraid to disregard your script and ask follow up questions based on the information that they are providing. The more you know the better.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions specific to the person you want to get an appointment with. Chances are that the gatekeeper works most closely with the decision maker and can give you a leg-up by sharing details regarding their preferred method of contact or times of availability.
  4. Remember your manners. Follow up with a gatekeeper after an initial call to thank them for their time and any information they shared. The gatekeeper is likely the person that can get you an appointment or stop your sale dead in its tracks. Professional courtesy can go a long way.  

Ultimately, conversing with gatekeepers is an exercise in trial and error. Some will patch you through immediately when you ask for a particular person. That’s easy. Others, however, want to know about what you offer, so jumping directly into your value proposition can be most effective. Some gatekeepers just want to feel valued, so in those cases, a little small talk can be all you need. This is why it is important to allow for flexibility in your call script. Every gatekeeper is different and will likely require a unique approach. Don’t be afraid to try these different methods, take notes, and apply the one(s) that works best for each situation.

Prepare a script for decision makers

Once you make it to the decision maker, the script should evolve to focus more on your value proposition. These are the people that can approve you to move on to the next step in your sales cycle, so this is the stage where your script should really dive into details about how the product or service you are pitching can solve for their specific pain points. Effectively utilize the information that has been provided to you by the gatekeeper as it is likely that they relayed the substance of their conversation with you to the decision maker.

Tailoring your script can demonstrate attention to detail and allow you to maximize your time with a decision maker. Instead of rehashing information shared by a gatekeeper, you can jump right into your sales pitch and start closing the deal.

A few things to consider:

  1. Have a basic understanding of the prospect’s company and how your product will help them achieve their goals. Use your cold calling script as a cheat sheet with company goals and pain points. This will ensure your pitch always ties back to their main priorities and concerns.
  2. Ask questions to find out areas where the decision maker sees some potential for improvement. Gaps in processes or technology can be entry points. Finding specific examples of the prospect’s shortcomings can help increase the likelihood of being able to accurately portray how your product or service can fill those voids.
  3. Save some of your resources for the formal sales appointment. If possible, try to use only as much information as needed to secure a meeting. Introduce how you can build a demo or presentation to solve a particular issue. This allows you to pique their interest and give yourself an opportunity to continue the conversation.

While seeking an appointment is the goal of any sales call, almost just as important is quickly identifying unqualified leads. The time spent talking with an unqualified lead could be better used navigating the phone lines to a qualified one. The faster you can identify that someone doesn’t need your product, the better. Don’t be afraid to move on if the decision maker you are speaking with is not a good sales prospect.

Outsourcing cold calls

In some cases, cold calling may not be the best use of your sales team’s time. That does not mean it should fall by the wayside. According to DiscoverOrg, 60% of IT executives have reported taking an appointment or attending an event as a result of receiving a cold call. So clearly, this is an important practice to maintain. One popular option for companies is to outsource cold calling to businesses such as DemandZEN and

Outsourcing cold calling can benefit your company by freeing up time, increasing lead generation efficiency, reducing overall costs, expanding your sales team, and ensuring a consistent and reliable user experience.

Photo Credit: PYMNTS

Technology and cold calls

In today’s world of technology, cold calling does not have to be the slow and inefficient process it once was. From automated dialing systems to document management platforms, technology can significantly boost your cold calling efficiency and results. If you haven’t already, consider upgrading your technology in the following areas.

  1. CRM (customer relationship management) systems like Salesforce, Oracle, SAP, and Eloqua have infrastructures designed to manage the process between prospects and customers. Many companies operate in spreadsheets which, while accessible and free, lack the sophistication of CRM systems and can slow down the efficiency of prospecting.
  2. Automated dialer systems like RingCentral, Five9, and PowerDialer allow for call center managers to better maintain lists and oversee call center agents. These systems drastically boost call efficiency by dialing the next number on the list as soon as the previous call is completed. More calls mean more opportunities to make sales.
  3. Having a centralized storage location of presentation templates, pamphlets, or one-sheets on systems like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive can be helpful for quickly sending prospects information. Sending a prospect further information while still on the phone with them, allows for agents to not only confirm that the documents were received, but it also opens the door for a follow up call to review the information later.

Building your prospect list with Crunchbase Pro

The prospect lists that sales teams are given impacts the quality and volume of leads they are able to capture. Surveying online databases like D&B,, or Yelp can result in outdated or incomplete information, which makes compiling a useful list of prospects much more difficult. Worse yet, providing sales teams with a poor list not only wastes their time but can result in lost opportunities. 

Crunchbase Pro allows users to perform advanced searches that will unearth those prospects that meet any specific sales criteria. Crunchbase Pro also makes it easy to rank prospects based on a variety of factors like company size, valuation, and most recently completed round of funding. Users will be confident in any list compiled using Crunchbase Pro. Our database is updated in real-time based on information that is sourced directly from our partners on-the-ground. Continuously fine-tune your prospect list by adding layers of additional data with our trusted third-party marketplace apps.

  • Originally published November 8, 2018, updated April 26, 2023