cold calling

What is cold calling?

Cold calling is the business practice of contacting a potential customer or client who has not expressed previous interest in speaking with a customer service representative or making a purchase.

Contact information for cold calling is usually collected by marketing and sales professionals through nontraditional means, such as searching for and piecing together information from public records. Contact lists for cold calls may also be purchased from data brokers.

Pros and cons of cold calling

The effectiveness of cold calling is often questioned, as the practice is time consuming and 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.

A cold call should not be confused with a warm call, which may be initiated because a prospect has asked a question, visited a website or downloaded online content.

Cold calling techniques

To increase the chances of a successful cold call, sales agents can do the following:

  • 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 include an opening statement, outline potential benefits for the customer and address 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.

Editor's note: This article was written by Laura Fitzgibbons in 2018. TechTarget editors revised it to improve the reader experience.

This was last updated in May 2023

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