Cold Calling Best Practices

At EBQ, we use this framework to guide our sales development efforts. Simply put, you call a company and have 30 seconds to fight for 3 minutes with a decision maker, to ultimately set an appointment with sales for 30 minutes. We’ve put together a list of our ten proven best practices, which we call EBQ Closing, to help your team become more effective SDRs.

10 Best Practices for Cold Calling

1. Be Comfortable

Making your initial cold calls can be very stressful. It’s easy, and natural, to be nervous when cold calling. Even experienced SDRs can have some stage fright before making that dial. The longer you put it off, the more anxious you can become. Don’t wait, start calling.

When cold calling, you need to cut distractions to get in the zone, maintain a clear head and focus on the call.

Understanding how your company’s closing process works and visualizing how you’re going to set the appointment beforehand will help you navigate a call with a stranger.

Part of being comfortable is understanding your persona and how to speak in their language. Always work towards learning more about your specific industry and the value of your offering.

2. Make a Call, Not a Dial

Getting something out of every call is important. It’s easy to say “I made 100 dials today,” but what did you actually accomplish? You need to have back and forth communication with prospects, not just dial in and read a script. Extract value from every call, because you always want to be moving forward.

A dial is only a touch. A call is in pursuit of a goal.

When applying a touch to a contact, we’re essentially leaving a fingerprint. Even leaving an email, a voicemail, or having a conversation with an administrative assistant will increase your chances of setting an appointment.

A word of warning though, don’t become complacent with just leaving fingerprints. You need to make sure that you actually speak with them in the future.

3. Always Be Closing

With every dial, always be in pursuit of your goal and actively work towards it. If the prospect wants you to send some information, try to get them to agree to an appointment.

With every stage in the sales pipeline, you want to be moving your leads further downstream. But remember, sales development isn’t sales. You’re not trying to sell them the offering. You’re trying to nurture them and move them to the next step so your salespeople can do what they do best, close the deal.

This mindset ties in with professional persistence. One rule of thumb we abide by at EBQ is the 3-No’s Rule. Don’t stop investigating until you hear three professional “no’s.” After hearing three “No’s” you can be confident in relegating that contact and move onto your next lead.

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Cold Calling Best Practices Checklist

4. Be a Human, Not a Robot

Building trust is incredibly vital in the cutthroat SDR world. The market is oversaturated with script-reading telemarketers who don’t give enough care and attention that’s needed to maintain a natural and valuable conversation. You wouldn’t call your friends and family reading a script word for word. Why would you treat a prospect any different? Interact with the prospect like you would anyone else.

Match the emotional level of the person with whom you’re speaking. For example, if the person answering the phone was very dry and to the point, you’re not going to want to come in acting bubbly.

Sales Pro Tip: Some companies take the easy road when it comes to sales development and go with sales tools such as Sales 2.0 or autodialers. We have found those automatic tools take a critical piece out of appointment setting: human interaction.

Before choosing these tools, remember there will be a trade off of quality interactions. SDRs are far more effective at securing appointments due to their nurturing and investigation skills. We especially advise against going down this path for products with a higher average selling price.

5. Listen to the Conversation You are Having

Reading your cold calling scripts verbatim is a poor use of your time. Unless you have superior acting skills, you’ll sound like you are speaking at them, instead of with them. Maintain a natural and fluid conversation that develops a connection with the person on the other side of the call.

Another thing to consider is how you handle the conversation. You may have questions you want to ask, to feed to your sales team, but don’t dominate the conversation to get your questions answered. If you aren’t able to get your questions answered but can set up a meeting, your sales team will be able to fill in the gaps further downstream.

6. Understand the Prospect’s Pain Points and Drivers

Different positions at a company have different values. For example, low-level contacts would likely appreciate the technical aspects of your offering whereas someone in C suite or a VP will usually be more concerned with the value to the business and how it will contribute to their bottom-line. Moreover, because their values are different, so will their pain points.

Consider it like you were fishing, different fish need different lures to catch. Regularly highlight their relevant pain points throughout the call, remind them why this call is important to them. If a certain pain point isn’t resonating, swap lures and cast again.

7. Outline the Offering as a Solution

It’s not about what features your offering has; it’s about what it solves. You shouldn’t get caught up in the bells and whistles when they’re looking for utility. When explaining your offering to a prospect, frame it as a solution to their problem, a cure for their ails. Understand how your offering deals with various pain points, and show how it can help solve the problem.

8. Let the Prospect Ask Questions

It can be distressing to entertain the prospect’s questions because you may feel like you’re losing control over the conversation. This is fine, remember to be comfortable and listen to the questions they’re asking.

If the prospect is asking questions, that’s already a step in the right direction. Think of it this way, letting the prospect speak and ask questions shows some level of interest on behalf of the prospect, helps you understand what they really need, and whether they are a fit for your offering. Learn something from every call.

9. Breathe and Stay on the Phone

Even if you’ve already set an appointment, don’t leave the call. Take the time to work through your remaining discovery questions and verify if the lead is a good or bad fit. If someone can satisfy all your discovery questions, they may be a good lead. If you’re asking questions and they don’t know the answers to those questions, they may be a bad fit.

10. Cross-Pollinate

If your company sells a variety of products, here’s an opportunity to cross-sell other offerings. Depending on the quality of your database, many of the prospects you call will not be the right fit for your solution. But, they may be a fit for your company’s offerings that are handled by other SDRs. If that’s the case, it’s best practice to not pitch them the product, figure out what they’re looking for, and forward it to the relevant SDR.

For example, If you’re speaking with the Director of HR about time tracking software, but you learn what he really needs is payroll software. However, you’re not the rep who handles the payroll software. You’ll want to find out what he needs by asking some discovery questions and naturally back out of the call and connect that contact to the relevant rep. You can then send that lead’s information to the right SDR and they can touch them while the prospect is still warm.


If you follow these ten cold calling practices, you can be sure to see higher quality interactions with your prospects and set more appointments with your salespeople.

We’ve used the EBQ Closing framework to drive efficient sales pipeline growth for hundreds of clients. We’ve been able to qualify leads with a high ROI for many companies across a variety of industries.

To learn more about sales development, be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to B2B Appointment Setting. If you’re interested in outsourcing your sales development efforts, contact EBQ!

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