Cold calling is really very simple. Primal. Pick up the phone and reach someone.

Of course, to do it well, there’s far more nuance and skill required than that. Before your next cold call (whether you’re dialing once or a few dozen times today), follow these four steps:

1. Do your homework
Who is it that you’re calling? What do they care about? What are they thinking about right now, and what have they done recently? What clues can you gather – quickly – that can not only tell you that the prospect has an immediate problem you can solve, but also that can customize your message, pitch and angle so that you’re directly aligned with what they care about right now? Much of this kind of research can be done with tools like Gist and InsideView.

Take a moment or two to find out what you may have in common with the prospect, as well as who you may have in common. Check their social profiles for interests, and look them up on LinkedIn to see which connections you may have in common one or two degrees away (check out IntroRocket for a great way to do this within your own organization too).

2. Prepare
Have your key messages handy (but don’t read from them – you should know them well enough to sound natural). Use a headset. Make sure you have good energy. The prospect can hear whether you’re smiling or not. Take a deep breath. Much of this is physical preparation, but it’s extremely important (even though they can’t see you).

3. Have an offer
What’s in it for them? Are you asking prospects to sleep with you on the first date, or do you have something more compelling to offer at this early stage that’s enough to pique their interest and earn the right to share more? If you’re calling to get demos vs. calling with something of inherent, independent value, your conversion rates will suffer commensurately.

4. Be ready to leave a voicemail
The vast majority of cold-callers “wing it” in their voicemails. I’m not a fan of using call scripts once you have someone live, but voicemails are the exception. Here are some tips for how to craft a better voicemail that generates more interest and response.

  • http://twitter.com/insideview InsideView

    Matt, don’t know how this missed the radar. First, thank you for including insideView to the post. We’ll give this some link love.

    When it comes to sales research, over 10 hrs a week is spent by sales people trying to learn more about their prospects and its very inefficient. Leveraging technology to get the intelligence on a prospect accelerates the process and in many cases can give you valuable insights to the immediate needs of your prospect. 

    • http://www.heinzmarketing.com Matt Heinz

      It’s interesting to me that so many sales & marketing teams view technology and selling tools as a cost center, when in reality the right tools can measurably increase your ability to more efficiently drive sales and revenue.  Technology is the new media…