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What is a Cold Call?

A cold call occurs when a sales rep calls a lead who has had little to no prior contact with the company or person placing the call. The recipient of a cold call may have briefly interacted with the company in the past, may be a member of a list obtained via the attendance of an event, or is an employee of a company that the salesperson is targeted as a client.

A sales rep makes a cold call in order to establish initial contact with a lead, make an introduction, follow up on a prior interaction, or pitch their products or services.

The true definition of a cold call is often misunderstood, as many believe that the salesperson performing them is blindly dialing numbers with the hope that someone will answer so that they can pitch them. Instead, cold calling is a specific type of outreach where sales teams work to contact leads within their company’s database who are not actively reaching out to, or are in contact with them.

Most of the time, the rep who places the call only has access to basic information about the lead, such as name, company, and job title, which makes establishing true value during the call exceptionally difficult. However, sales reps can leverage company research and buyer personas in order to understand the problems the lead is facing or their specific concerns before ever actually placing the call.

Today, cold calls are far more common in sales environments that use predictive dialers, or that demand reps to make extremely high volumes of calls each day. Cold calls are also not as effective as other, less obtrusive, or more “warm” methods of the initial outreach. Still, reps can improve their cold calling strategy by gleaning insights from these top sales books.

Reps can increase the likelihood of a successful cold call by establishing recognition with the lead beforehand. They can use social media sites like LinkedIn or Twitter to send messages, leave comments and likes, and gather information that they can mention during the conversation. There are also sales tools that display contextual information about the company, as well as any lead history before each call, so reps can gain an understanding and create familiarity without extra work that harms their sales productivity.