Revealed: 20 Secret Cold Calling Tips From High-performing Reps

How many times have you Googled “cold calling tips” and left frustrated as you can’t find actionable tips used by actual sales professionals? 

Well, your search for effective cold calling tips ends here. 

As part of Klenty’s SDR X Factor series, we spoke to the best-performing SDRs in SaaS companies from different industries selling to different audiences to get insight into how they sell.

What we discovered was a treasure trove of best practices that quota-exceeding salespeople on how they did their cold email outreach.

All of these strategies put together helped them crush their quotas of meetings booked or pipeline generated, month after month, quarter after quarter. We believe these strategies could prove to be useful to sales teams everywhere.

So, we’ve handpicked the most useful cold calling techniques from these SDRs and curated them for you. Take a gander at these sales tips below!

What Is the Best Approach to Cold Calling? Check Out These 20 Tips:

How do top-performing SDRs cold call? What are the do’s and don’ts of cold calling? What’s the golden hour for cold calling? What are the 5 golden tips to better your cold calling process? We have these and more tips and tricks below, straight from the people who used these to hit more than 100% quota.

i) What’s the Secret to Cold Calling? Great Research

1) Block Only 5 Minutes for Research

If you want to make more successful cold calls, the last thing you want is to fall into rabbit holes while researching prospects.

Nikita Solberg, a top-performing SDR at Deel, says they block only 5 minutes per account for research. Having started a timer for 5 minutes, they skim through whatever details or engagement history is available about the prospect in their sales engagement platform

Next, they quickly dive into the prospect’s important company details like market share or interesting information like funding news via online resources like Crunchbase or

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.

Nikita Solberg

2) Use 10-K Reports of Public Companies

Public companies file a document known as a 10-K report every year with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is also available in the public domain. 

For SDRs, 10-K reports would be an excellent resource to understand the prospect’s company because it tells you about the company’s financial performance, M&As, organizational structure, risk factors, and even the management’s discussion and analysis of its operations—information that’s not usually available in annual reports.

Zinc’s SDR Manager, Alastair Chamberlin, notes 3 crucial details about the company from 10-K reports, which comes in handy for Enterprise SDRs: 

  • What are the goals of the company? 
  • What do they care about? 
  • What is their main focus for the year ahead?

3) Get Only the Essential Details

While researching, many SDRs would find themselves confused as to what to look for. This makes them note down details that have no use in the actual outreach. 

As a rep making 100 sales calls a day, Sam Holeman of Momence can’t afford to spend too much time researching prospects. Having checked the list of prospects in his CRM, he dials the prospect’s number and pulls up only 2 pieces of information: 

  • What software they’re currently using?
  • Who’s the decision-maker? 

As I’m going through my tasks, I hit ‘call’, and I literally just go to their website. I’ve become fast enough that I can get all the information I need by the time they pick it up.”

Sam Holeman

Similarly, Alastair Chamberlin looks into 2 things primarily during research: 

  • The goals of the prospect’s company
  • How your value proposition ties into their goals

Identify some key points where your value prop or your product ties into their company goals, and helps them achieve that. And that’s more powerful than knowing where they went to school or what sport they’d often play.

– Alastair Chamberlin

ii) Opening Lines To Include in Your Cold Calling Scripts

4) Use Permission-based Openers

As cold callers, you can’t assume that the time you call your prospect is the best time for them as well to pick up your phone call. 

To tackle this, Metadata’s SDR Manager Ashley Dees uses permission-based openers. Opening cold calls by asking for permission would give the impression that you’re respectful of the prospect’s time, making them inclined to continue the conversation.

Her permission-based opener would typically go something like this: 

  • “Hey, Kim! Ashley from Metadata. We haven’t spoken before. Do you have a minute to chat?” 

Sometimes, if she hears over the phone that the prospect is in a noisy environment like being stuck in traffic, she’d modify her opener a bit to say:

  • “It sounds like it’s not a great time. Sounds like you’re driving and I don’t want to bother you. Is it okay if I call you back tomorrow afternoon?” 

People take it more as a sign of respect, that you’re making sure it’s okay to continue your pitch when you call them out of the blue.

Ashley Dees

5) Deliver Openers With Full Confidence

Whatever your opener may be, delivering it with the optimum level of confidence would make prospects continue talking to you, according to Sam Holeman.

Here are some opening lines that Sam uses: 

  • “I was looking around your website, I think you might be interested in this feature that we have. When would you be available to talk more about this?”
  • “Hey, you’re using one of our competitors. I’m curious what you think about this.”
  • “We’ve worked with a lot of people who have used {competitor} in the past and just haven’t been happy with their software or looking for something more modernized. I had this idea for you.” 

People will stay on the phone with someone who’s very confident

Sam Holeman

6) Mention Your Company in the Opener

Nanditha Menon, BDR at G2’s APAC team, says mentioning her company’s name at the beginning of the call will help build credibility, making the prospect more likely to continue having the sales conversation with you.

An example:

  • “​​Hi, I’m trying to talk about your company’s listings on G2.” 

Build that curiosity in them in that very first or second sentence.

Nanditha Menon

iii) Mindset During Cold Calls

7) Educate Instead of Convince

According to Joel Thomas, Enterprise SDR at Almabase, there are 2 kinds of prospects. The first kind of prospects are aware of what the problem is, and they’re not doing anything about it.  And on the other side, there are prospects who are not even aware of the problem, and they don’t know there’s a solution.

Either way, an SDR can’t convince a prospect with your sales pitch, he asserts, because people don’t like to be told what to do. Psychologists term this psychological reactance—the brain perceives being told what to do as a threat to our freedom, which makes people do the opposite.

Rather, explaining the benefits of choosing your solution (what pain points can be addressed, how they can save time and what results will improve) to make them decide for themselves is the best way forward, Joel notes.

You can only tell people ‘This is how it is’ in the best way possible, and let them make a decision.

Joel Thomas

8) Don’t Sound Like a Telemarketer

If you’re going to sound like a telemarketer parroting a sales script while cold calling, you’re bound to hear “Not interested” from most prospects, who’d instantly hang up on you.

Asatta Leggett, a top-performing BDR with Smart 3rd Party, uses these cold calling strategies to sound less like a telemarketer and more like a sales professional:

  • Uses the prospect’s first name during the call
  • Greets them as per the time of the day (“Good morning” or “good afternoon”)
  • States the reason for her call. 
  • Pauses to allow prospects to ask questions.

They’ll usually quickly hang up if they hear “Hi, I’m calling from…” and if it sounds too telemarket-y. So, I want to try to sound more personable than a telemarketer.

Asatta Leggett

9) Don’t Use Your Customer Service Voice

No offense to the awesome customer service folks out there. 

According to Sam Holeman, “customer service voice” just means sounding fake and inauthentic, things that might put prospects off during a call. Being a salesperson is all about connecting with your prospects and understanding how to help them, he stresses. So, be yourself and focus on having a conversation with your prospects.

Just talk to people like you’re human; don’t talk to people like a robot.

Sam Holeman

10) Ask Open-ended Questions

Generic or yes-no questions like “Is it a good time to talk?” and “Can I borrow you for a few seconds?” can hamper the success rate of your cold calls, asserts Nikita Solberg. 

They instead ask open-ended questions that allow prospects to focus on themselves, thereby prolonging the conversations.

Some of the open-ended questions they ask are: 

  • “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?”

iv) Planning for Cold Calls

11) Use 2 Call Blocks

Joel Thomas has 2 call blocks as per the time zones of his customers in the U.S. The first call block is for the customers falling in Eastern Standard Time (EST) time and the other for the Pacific Standard Time (PST) prospects. Across these 2 call blocks, he makes 30 to 40 calls in a day. 

12) Plan for a 3-Minute Call

Aamir Sohail, a sales rep from Vervotech, usually plans for a cold call that lasts about 3 minutes. This works out quite well for him, as he makes between 40 to 50 cold calls in a day, out of which 80% gets some response, while the rest goes to voicemail. Here are the elements of the 3-minute-call goes:

  • First minute: Opener. For prospects who have opened his emails, he would say that the call is regarding a couple of emails that he sent about hotel mapping so that they can recall them immediately. To those who haven’t, he has a straightforward opener: “I’m from Vervotech, a travel technology company, and they help travel businesses such as yours to optimize their hotel mapping.”
  • Second minute: Qualification. He asks some preliminary questions to qualify the prospect
  • Third minute: Next steps. Towards the end of the call, he makes sure to clearly mention the next touchpoint—whether it is a callback, an email, or a product demo.

13) Send Emails Before Calling

To warm up his cold calls, Aamir Sohail usually sends 2 emails about his company to a prospect prior to calling them, so that is some kind of familiarity. A high-intent prospect would have likely interacted a couple of times with the emails, and talking about the emails he sent also allows him to break the ice. 

Nikita Solberg, who also sends emails before cold calling a prospect, says that asking about the emails captures the prospect’s attention immediately, because it tells them this is not the first time that this sales rep has reached out.

The opener Nikita uses would be something like: 

  • “Hey, I’m following up on the email I sent your way. Have you had a chance to review it?” 

14) Send Content That’s Useful to Prospects

Instead of trying to sell your solution in the first cold call, Ashley Dees recommends SDRs ask prospects during the first call whether you could share any sales enablement content that’s relevant to them.

For instance, if the prospect is a digital marketer, she would ask:

  • “Hey, we just published this cool report for marketers. It’s got all these neat KPIs on LinkedIn ads and Facebook ads. I was hoping I can send that to you. Would that be okay?”

This way, you’ll get to warm the prospects up a bit, and it’ll be much easier to get them to say yes during the second call.

v) Best Time to Cold Call

15) Call Prospects Post-lunch on Weekdays

In Nanditha Menon’s experience, prospects are most likely to attend calls post-lunch in the second half of the day. 

As most prospects could be busy with internal meetings and other work in the first half, SDRs can prioritize getting their outbound prospecting done in the first half of the day, which could also boost productivity, she recommends.

16) On Fridays, Call Before Lunch

One possible exception to the previous tip is Fridays, according to Asatta Leggett, where cold calling on Fridays before lunch could give good results. 

The prospects generally tend to be in a good mood ahead of the weekend and could be more open to having conversations with reps. This also applies to gatekeepers, as they might be more willing to transfer the call to the decision maker on Fridays, according to her.

vi) Dealing With Bad Cold Calls

Not all cold calls are bound to go well. Here are a few tips that quota-crushers follow to get over a bad cold call, and how to stop it from affecting you.

17) Take a Break After a Bad Call

If the prospect ends up being quite hostile during the call, Ashley Dees recommends not doing the next call immediately and taking a quick break for 10-15 minutes. 

Spending time with your pets or taking a walk during this break will help you clear your mind and move on to the next call.

I will go pet my cats for 10 minutes, 15 minutes. I’ll go take a walk or just do something that I enjoy until I get back to normal, and then I can go back to my calls.

Ashley Dees

18) Use Humor To Navigate Tense Situations

Handling sales objections can be quite stressful for any SDR, especially if the prospect is not in a good mood and their tone of voice turns a bit heated. To ease the tension in such situations, Asatta Leggett uses humor by usually saying something unexpected, in a playful tone of voice.

For example, if a prospect says “I’m not interested” during a cold call before Asatta finishes a sentence, she will retort with a laugh: 

  • “Well, how do you know you’re not interested? You don’t even know what we do!”

I just joke with them sometimes. Just to keep it light, maybe just to break the tension, because it does get a little awkward when someone’s going off on you.

Asatta Leggett

CAUTION: Tone of voice—yours and prospect’s—is crucial here. If the prospect sounds busy or annoyed, avoid using humor. If you’re being funny, make sure it’s obvious in the way you’re saying it, or you’ll come off as passive-aggressive. Handle humor with care.

19) Follow-up With an Email After a Disconnected Call

If some prospects end up being a bit hostile and disconnect the call, Nikita Solberg suggests to follow up through an email that defuses the tension a bit. The email could be along the lines of: 

  • “It seems like we were disconnected. The reason I’m reaching out is {reason}. Maybe now wasn’t a great time to talk. We’d love to see if something else can happen.”

I don’t think you should focus on one person because, at the end of the day, you’re trying to focus on the account. You’re not always going to get those yeses from certain people, but being able to move on from that is going to be able to help you in the long run.

Nikita Solberg

20) Show up Every Day To Get Better

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a successful SDR. Like all things in life, being a top-performing rep takes practice and persistence, so don’t let a bad cold call shatter your confidence in any manner.

To motivate you, here’s what 2 quota-crushing reps have to say about getting better one day at a time:

People are in different moods across the day, you can probably get some at a really happy time on a Friday or a really bad time. It doesn’t really matter. It’s just that you show up consistently, make that call and then just roll the dice and see what happens. Just keep showing up and be consistent.

Joel Thomas

Something I learned with my music work is, you just have to keep doing it. There’s no way you’re going to get better if you don’t practice. You learn more of what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with. And being comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable.

Nikita Solberg

Interviewed and written by: Akileish R.

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