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Cold Calling: 17 Skills You Can Master

5 min readDecember 5, 2019

Cold calling is arguably one of the hardest sales activities, as there are so many different factors that contribute to a reps’ success or failure at it. When it comes to making successful cold calls, a solid skill set significantly contributes to success. Fortunately, anyone can acquire the skills necessary to be successful at cold calls. Here are 17 skills you can master in order to improve cold call performance.


Cold calling is hard. Plain and simple. Believe it or not, there are actually some sales reps who love cold calls but for most, it is one of the hardest tasks to complete. Making cold calls practically guarantees you will get hung up on, receive some rude responses, hit many voicemail inboxes, and just get frustrated in general. However, scoring a meeting from a cold call is an incredible feeling and a big win. To be successful at cold calling, you must be persistent and cannot succumb to rejection.


If persistence is the key to getting through cold calls, then positivity is absolutely essential to being successful at them. If you just had the worst cold call of your life, your next dial needs to be like it never happened. If you are discouraged, it will be immediately apparent in your tone of voice, and your prospects will sense that and they will be turned off.


Excellent research skills will significantly increase your cold call effectiveness. The more you know about the person your calling, the better your conversation will be. At a minimum find your prospect’s job title, how long they’ve been with the company, what the company does, and if they have interacted with your company before. Then use the information to identify what problems they are currently looking to solve, why they are interested in your company, and what needs they have.


Not all cold calls are served on a silver platter. Many times, you must find the right person to contact, their contact information, or just what companies to call. Great prospecting skills will help you target the right companies and individuals to talk to, and put you on the phone with them. Without great prospecting skills, you won’t even be able to place a cold call.

Ability to stay calm

Cold calling can involve a lot of pressure. You may deal with difficult gatekeepers, get subjected to an interrogation by your prospect, or maybe even suddenly get in touch with your ideal buyer. No matter what, you must remain calm and clear-headed so you can best decide what to say and what to do in order to capitalize on your situation.

Gatekeeper navigation

Cold calling, especially when dialing into the director level and above, involves a lot of gatekeepers. Whether it be a secretary, office manager, or receptionist, you will have to work your way around them to ensure your message is delivered.

Quick thinking

When you’re on the phone, it’s a live conversation and you do not have the luxury of time like you would have via an email or other messages. On a cold call, you will not have the ability to think about the best response or proper thing to say. Therefore, the ability to think quickly on your feet and decide on the best course of action is essential to cold call success.

Can generate huge interest

If you look at people like Jordan Belfort, they have an uncanny ability to pique someone’s interest and get them excited about what they have. With only a few minutes to capitalize on someone’s attention during a cold call, sales reps should be able to generate interest and excitement for their company or products as well.


People buy from people that they trust. In order to win a stranger’s trust, you must relate to them and create a relationship. To be great at cold calls, you should be able to show that you care about their success, understand the challenges they face, see the needs they have, and want to genuinely solve them. You also want to attempt to understand your prospect as a person and establish a mutual rapport.


Especially if your company has no prior contact with the person you are cold calling, you’re going to need to be excellent at questioning. In order to make the next call even better, you need to understand exactly what your prospect is doing and how you can help them. Use open-ended questions and a-typical sales questions in order to get a true understanding of your prospect’s needs.

Value delivery

The most important thing in sales is to deliver actual value to your prospects. You should never leave a cold call without providing some sort of value to the person on the other end. It may be as simple as answering a question, providing some advice, or sending a piece of content. It is a true skill to sense what would make your prospect happy and provide them with it.


Cold calling and objections go hand-in-hand. However, if someone stays on the phone long enough to consistently object to your statements, you have a chance of converting them. Common objections include the use of competitors, belief that they don’t have a need, or lack of budget. If you have excellent objection handling skills, you’ll be able to overcome these rejections and hit your goals.

Competitor knowledge

Especially in a more established and therefore more saturated market, reps making cold calls absolutely must have excellent competitor knowledge. There is a good chance that the person you are cold calling is either using or considering one of your competitors. Reps need to know their competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they stack up so they can properly address competitors as soon as they arise.


What’s the point of excellent objection handling, questioning, and value delivery if you can’t remember what happened on the call? Great note-taking skills are essential for reps making cold calls. The information gained on initial calls is crucial for a successful sales process, and both SDRs and AEs will rely on notes in order to have valuable conversations. The problem is reps have to devote their time to both taking notes and the conversation itself, which may lead to missed opportunities. Solutions like call note template and call recording allow reps to focus on their conversation.

Appointment setting

The most common objective of a cold call is to set a follow-up appointment for a discovery call or to continue the conversation. Therefore, if you are making cold calls, you need to be excellent at finding a reason for a second call and creating a commitment to the appointment.


If you have all 15 of the previous cold calling skills, they are all completely useless without follow-through. If you put in all the work to find a prospect, learn about them, make a cold call, get through the gatekeeper, face their objections, and schedule a meeting, you must book the meeting, save your notes, prepare all essential information, and generally set yourself up for success on the next call.

Organizational skills

Many times, cold calls, and their outcomes involve multiple sales reps, different calendars, lots of information, follow-up and coordination. Sales reps making cold calls must be organized in order to coordinate schedules and information.