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The ingredients of effective cold call conversations

5 min readFebruary 21, 2020

There are many methods of communication in a sales rep’s toolkit. There are emails, texts, LinkedIn messages, and more, but nothing works quite like a phone call. Phone conversations the best way to engage with a prospect and elicit immediate results. Emails, texts, and so on are far too easily put-off, saved for later, ignored, or just forgotten. While these channels all serve an important purpose, it’s the phone call that accelerates the sales process the most.

Unfortunately, this incredibly powerful sales communication method does not face the same optimization scrutiny that other channels do. According to Bridge Group, development reps make 45 calls on average, but only create 5.1 “quality calls” per rep. A quality call is where the rep learns at least one piece of qualifying or disqualifying information. To increase the number of quality calls, reps need to know exactly what to say and how to say it. Otherwise, they end up running through their lists with minimal results, burning up quality sales contacts and valuable time. So, what should reps say during a cold call sales conversation for successful outcomes?

Start with an Introduction

The second a prospect answers a rep’s phone call, they meet that rep with resistance. Sales reps can demonstrate empathy and build trust to disarm the opposition and continue the call in a productive manner. Therefore, the beginning of the call is critical. Sales reps need to start with a simple introduction. They should ensure it is not too wordy. Ideally, it should be short and sweet, not too formal, or too casual. Finding that balance makes the person on the line more comfortable. Proceed with confidence and start by saying something like, “Hello ( first name). This is (rep name) at (company).” Then there should be a pause. This allows the prospect to register what was said and who is calling.

Ask Permission

Keep your small talk to a minimum, while it is nice to ask how they are, people are busy. In fact, they were probably in the middle of something when you called, or they were expecting someone else to call them.

Best respectful of their time. You can ask, “Have I caught you at a bad time?” It displays empathy and prompts buy-in to proceed with the conversation. If the response is “No,” it’s okay to proceed. If the response is “Yes,” the prospect may volunteer a better time to call them back. In this case, another call should be scheduled.

Provide the Reason for the Call

After getting the go-ahead, provide the prospect with the reason for your call. You could say, “The reason I’m calling is because we’re helping X (prospect title type, company type, etc) in (prospect’s company’s industry) with (benefits of your product), and I thought you might be interested too.” Once this has been said, the rep should stop talking and wait.

This should be spoken clearly and in an upbeat manner. It provides just enough information to create interest without launching into a sales pitch or drowning the prospect in facts and figures. This sentence shows that you have done some homework and know something about the prospect. It also gets straight to the point. Which, again, demonstrates professionalism and consideration for the other person’s time.

The statement also is more consultative than a sales pitch, which makes you come across like you are genuinely interested in helping, rather than peddling your application. The silence at the end will cause the prospect to respond. It’s sort of like the old expression “the person who speaks first loses,” so don’t speak until after the customer has spoken. Otherwise, there’s a risk of unintentionally talking the prospect out of proceeding.


Once you cover who you are, why you are calling, and created some interest, it’s time to qualify the prospect. If they’re interested, then it’s appropriate to proceed with the usual qualification questions. The key is to create value with your questions, rather than making it all about you.

If you run into objections, it’s appropriate to learn the source of their complaints. Demonstrate that you have a genuine interest in your prospect’s success and help them work through the objections. If it’s a timing issue, schedule a call for another time that works for them. That way they’ll be able to give their full attention to the discussion. If it’s something else, be prepared with responses to their objections or complaints. If they end up being interested after this exchange, proceed with qualifying questions.

Closing the Call

If you deem the prospect to be “qualified,” the goal is then to schedule a discovery call. Proceed by saying, “I’d love to speak with you and learn more about what you do, are you free sometime next week? Preferably X or Y (day of week with morning or afternoon specified) if that suits you?” Of course, the options offered will depend on the rep’s availability. Just be sure to choose the soonest possible calendar slots.

The reason that the word “love” is being used here is to emphasize the level of interest in learning more about the prospect. The goal for the entire sales process is to help the potential customer solve their challenges and attain their desired end state. Offering two options makes scheduling much easier than simply saying, “What’s your availability?” That leaves too many options and makes the scheduling process more complicated. If they aren’t available during the offered times, try some additional choices until a date is scheduled.

The “script” discussed here is an example and should be a good starting point when formulating one that can be effectively used. Remember, a script is just a framework. With practice, it becomes natural and effortless. The goal is to know what to say, how to say it and when. This makes it easier to focus on the actual conversation and to actively listen to the prospect. The end result will be more engaging cold call conversations and a higher percentage converted to leads.