Definition

cold calling

Contributor(s): Laura Fitzgibbons

Cold calling is the business practice of reaching out to a potential customer or client who has not opted into a contact list with the desire to secure support or make a sale. This technique is traditionally done over the phone and is sometimes considered a controversial practice, that lead to the creation of the do not call list. Cold calls, a form of telemarketing, are used widely in some industries and geographic locations, while banned in others. It is a form of lead generation used to build networks, generate interest in projects and boost sales.

Contact information for cold calling is usually collected by marketing and sales professionals through non-traditional means such as searching for and piecing together contact profiles from publically available information or repurposing contact lists of people among similar demographics to the customers of a product. This is opposite of a warm call, which is when a prospect fills out an initial contact form or expresses interest prior to receiving a sales call.

The effectiveness of cold calling is often questioned, as negative responses typically outweigh successful ones. However, benefits of cold calling include immediate feedback response, personal connection, a lower likelihood of being ignored and accessibility. For newer companies, it is a relatively cheap way to inform potential customers and generate contacts.

Cold calling techniques

  • Conduct research on the prospect and market before making the call.
  • Use social media to improve approachability and chances to make a connection.
  • Prepare scripts for each call that focuses on an opening statement, outlines potential benefits for the customer and addresses possible concerns.
  • Determine the best time to reach the decision maker directly, typically in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Focus on the end goal by being persistent and securing a follow-up.
This was last updated in October 2018

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