10 Common Cold Calling Mistakes and How To Avoid Them?

Have you ever received a call from a salesperson that’s so bad you want to firebomb their office and then tickle the ears of their dog? We assume the answer is yes, so we bring you this blog. In short, the process of cold calling needs to change. 

But first, let’s address the elephant in the room. Does cold calling even work? Is it archaic? 

The average cold calling success rate is between 1 to 3%.

Given the data, cold calling is difficult. However, it isn’t just your calling etiquette. Your cold call list also plays a significant role in success.

Nobody likes cold calling. It’s a necessary evil when selling your product or service to other companies. Unfortunately, it’s also an essential skill for salespeople and telemarketers. While cold calling is easy to learn, it is hard to master. But these cold calling tips can do the work for you!

Have you ever wondered why cold calling works for some people? Let’s see for ourselves. Here is a breakdown of the science and art behind a successful call. We have listed down a couple of things you should avoid to make your calls a great success.

1. Skipping the Research

Cold calling for sales is all about preparation. You cannot expect to pick up the phone and start pitching strangers on whatever you’re trying to sell. Doing so will probably get you hung up on pretty quickly. 

You should know your prospects inside out. But if you are making over 50 calls a day, spending time researching individual prospects is not possible. In that case, put a 5-minute cap on research. During these 5 minutes, go through your sales engagement platform or LinkedIn Sales Navigator to collect relevant information about them. 

Here’s what Nikita Solberg, top-performing SDR at Deel, has to say about this 5-minute research technique:By putting that limitation of 5 minutes on it, it almost treats it like a game. Like, you’re in a game show, you have to get all the relevant information without wasting time.

Prospect Info You Should Collect During the 5-Minute Research

  • Any interesting personal or professional details
  • Their current challenges and the goals they want to achieve
  • Their budget, chief decision-makers, and decision-making timeline

2. Being Too Professional in a Cold Call

Cold calling is all about building that rapport and making prospects trust you enough to book a meeting with you. And if you sound robotic or too professional during a cold call, you are stopping yourself from achieving this.

Tips You Can Follow To Perfect Your Tone

  • Always talk in a downward inflection. According to sales expert Josh Braun, talking in a downward inflection makes you sound confident and calm.
  • Record your voice and see how you sound. Keep practicing if you feel you are talking too fast, slow, or sound like a robot.
  • Don’t be afraid to go off-script. Focus on moving the conversation forward rather than getting done with the sales script.

3. Not Having a Strategy

What are you trying to achieve by the end of this cold call? Do you want to gauge their sales readiness? Are you trying to get them to book a meeting with you? If you don’t have an idea about this, you are just throwing darts in the dark. Once you finalize the outcome you want, prepare a strategy to achieve it. Without a strategy in place, you’ll waste most of your time meandering or asking unnecessary questions.

Plan for a 3-Minute Call

Aamir Sohail, a top-performing SDR from Vevrotech, offers a 3-minute call plan to avoid this and cold call efficiently. Here’s the breakdown:

  • First minute: Introduce yourself by mentioning who you are, what your company does, and its value proposition.
  • Second minute: Ask preliminary questions to qualify your prospect.
  • Third minute: Mention the next touchpoint. Is it a callback, an email, or a product demo?

4. Getting Overwhelmed During Cold Calls

When you start your call and realize that the person on the other end doesn’t seem interested in what you have to say, most people panic. In this case, the worst thing you can do is start talking faster, louder, and more urgently. 

This will only push your prospect further away. So instead, take a deep breath, slow down, and tell yourself that unsuccessful cold calls are part of the game. 

Things You Can Do To Deal With a Bad Cold Call

  • Stop associating your worth with the number of meetings you book. Understand that you are not meant for everyone.
  • Start a Slack channel, the Wrath of Prospects, where your team can vent about bad cold calls and grumpy prospects. This way, you’ll learn not to take rejections personally.
  • Focus on what could have been done differently to make the call successful. This way you’ll learn from your mistakes.

The best way to prepare a salesperson for such complex situations is to impart cold calling training.

5. Not Using a Cold Calling Script

Not using a cold calling script when you are starting out is like wanting to run before you can walk. One reason why cold calls are scary is because of the uncertainty associated with them. You’ll never know what the prospect is going to say or how the cold call is going to turn out. A cold calling script helps you deal with this uncertainty. It saves you from clumsy delivery, awkward pauses, or going blank during a call. It also helps you handle common sales objections and deliver your pitch effectively.

Steps to Structure Your Cold Call Script

  • Step 1: Start with a strong cold call opener
  • Step 2: Tell them why you are calling
  • Step 3: Ask qualifying questions to know their buying intent
  • Step 4: Move towards the next step based on their sales readiness

6. Having a Poor Follow-up Strategy

The biggest mistake you can make in the cold calling process is letting your leads slip through the cracks. This is often because of poor follow-up practices. You may have a great script and an extensive list, but if you don’t stay on top of your leads, you’re going to miss out on many opportunities.

The key to successful cold calling is persistence. This may seem like an odd tip, but many people give up too quickly when they don’t get the response they expect. 

4 Tips to Amp up Your Follow-up Strategy

  • If you don’t hear back from prospects within the time frame given by them, call them again.
  • Send them a follow up email if they aren’t picking your calls.
  • Try reaching them out through multiple channels like email, LinkedIn, etc.
  • If all of these aren’t working, refine your lead list or change your pitch.

7. Not Analyzing Your Cold Calls

They say, make more cold calls to get better. But is that enough? The answer is no. No matter the number of calls you make, you won’t improve if you aren’t analyzing your cold calls. Cold call analyzing is about revisiting the cold calls you made to identify why the calls were successful or unsuccessful.

Question To Ask While Analyzing a Cold Call

  • How did the prospect react to your cold call opener?
  • How did I handle the objections raised by the prospect?
  • What would I do differently if I get a second chance?

8. Not Asking Open-Ended Questions

Close questions like “Did you get the email I sent you?” or “Is this a bad time to talk?” affects the success rates of your cold calls. It gives prospects an easy way out of your cold call. A quick no from their end, and you are back to square one.

Open-ended questions, on the other hand, cannot be easily dispensed off with a no. And since they are more specific and focused on the prospect, they are more open to discussing their business problems with you.

Open-Ended Questions To Ask Your Prospects From Nikita Solberg, Deel.

  • “What are some of the things that have been eating up your time lately?”
  • “What are some of the unnecessary tasks you’ve had to do instead of some of the things you’d rather be working on?”

9. Slinging Mud on Your Competitors

Nobody likes being told that they are wrong. And you are doing exactly that when you badmouth your competitors in an attempt to talk your prospect out of considering them. Also, criticism of your competitors can backfire, especially when you make baseless accusations.

Ways to Influence Your Prospects Without Bad-Mouthing Your Competitors

  • If they already use your competitor, then you ask them how happy you are with the current tool. 

For instance, start by asking, “Just a quick question, how would you rate ‘competitor’ on a scale of 10? Once they give you a number, you can ask follow-up questions to uncover any pain points you can solve better for them.

10. Not Adopting a Multi-Channel Outreach Strategy

Let’s face the fact, the success rate of cold calling is less than 3%. That means, for every 100 cold calls you make, only 3 get converted. Does that mean cold calling is dead? No, it only means one thing – traditional cold calling is dead, and now is the time for cold calling 2.0.

Cold calling 2.0 is a concept introduced by Aaron Ross in the book Predictable Revenue. It means warming up your prospects through other channels like emails before calling them. 

When you adopt a multi-channel outreach strategy, you stay on top of your prospects’ minds, and so when you finally call them, they’ll know you well enough (hence not a cold call anymore!).

Multi-Channel Sales Sequence To Convert Your Prospects

  1. Send a cold email stressing your value proposition
  2. Request a connection on LinkedIn 
  3. Send a follow-up email with value
  4. Make a call/drop a voicemail
  5. Send another follow-up email
  6. Send a LinkedIn Inmail
  7. Make another call
  8. Send a breakup email
Visual representation of multi-sales sequence


Cold calling is a numbers game, and if you’re not willing to dial thousands of numbers, you’ll never be successful. But more importantly, it is a tools game too. The key to getting the most out of your calls is leveraging the right cold calling tools.

It is crucial to have reliable tools at your disposal to be effective with cold calling. In addition to having a solid business phone system with built-in recording capabilities and intelligent features, it is vital to have something that allows you to track who you called and how they responded.

In the end, remember, your goal is a conversation, not a presentation. This is important because it will change the way you approach your call. You’re not there to sell anything or even give a sales pitch. Instead, you want to get in touch with someone and talk about what they do and how your business could help them. So go out of your way to make it clear that this is about starting a conversation, not finishing one.


Why does cold calling fail?

Cold calling fails because of various reasons. Here are some of them:
1. Not targeting the right prospects
2. Not asking open-ended questions
3. Not adopting a multi-channel outreach approach

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