The 7 Worst Cold-Calling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Cold calling has survived technological advances and changing buyer patterns to remain a powerful lead generation tool in sales prospecting. Because it involves calling unsuspecting people who may or may not be interested in your product or service, it is perceived as intrusive.  Most sales reps admit to struggling with this part of the job.

According to, when done right, however, cold calling can be an effective addition to your sales strategy. If you discover that your sales reps are getting more rejections and hang-ups than usual, then there could be something wrong with your strategy.

Here are 7 of the worst cold calling mistakes you could be making and how to avoid them:

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1. Making a ‘truly’ cold call

This may sound confusing, but one of the most common cold calling mistakes is making a truly cold call. This is a call that is not preceded by any research, meaning that you are essentially calling a prospect blindly. This means that you don’t know the right person to speak to, their position, and most importantly, whether they are a decision-maker. Similarly, you have not researched the business, understood the challenges they may be having, and the solutions they need. By doing this, you end up reading from the same script for all prospects, sounding like every other cold caller out there.

To avoid this mistake, conduct as much research as you can about the prospect. This can be done by looking at the company website, blog, related news, or social media accounts such as LinkedIn. These sources will give you details on who to approach, their position, and interests. You will also learn valuable information about their company and its pain points and easily script your pitch as the solution they need. As a sales rep, you should also be ready to answer any questions a prospect may have regarding your company or the product/service.

2. Trying to sell on the first call

Most prospects are already wary of sales calls, immediately sending them directly to voicemail or blocking them.  When you finally get a person to pick up your call, the biggest mistake you can make is to start selling them something. You may go on and on about how useful your product is, and even if it is, the prospect might hang up or politely dismiss you.

Instead of trying to sell on the very first call, engage the prospect by focusing on them. Listen to their challenges and pain points, and show them what value the product/service would give them. When you sound like you are genuinely interested in solving the customer’s problem, you may have better results in booking a meeting.

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3. Not using a cold calling script

Cold calling is daunting, even for seasoned sales reps. Calling a stranger, interrupting what they were doing, and trying to get them interested in a product can be nerve-wracking. Now imagine doing this without any kind of guide on what to say, what to ask, or how to move the conversation along.

Some salespeople find that using a script can sound robotic, impersonal, and rehearsed. Scripts can also be one way, denying the prospect a chance to talk. These issues can, however, be solved by having the right script.

The right script acts as a conversation guide rather than a checklist of things to say. It should be written in natural language as opposed to salesy terminology. Similarly, such a script will allow the prospect time to share their feelings on the question at hand. Most importantly, do not be afraid to tweak the script based on the feedback you get from prospects. Click here to learn how to do B2B cold calling the right way.

4. Calling at the wrong time

Imagine you have just sat down for an important meeting or are in the middle of analyzing a particularly thick report. The phone goes off, and the person on the other end is trying to sell you something. The chances are high that you will hang up, annoyed. Another significant mistake that cold callers make is to ignore the issue of timing.

According to one study, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days of the week to make cold calls. Similarly, you are likely to have more luck if you call between 11 am-12 pm. Even with this guide, it may not be possible to pinpoint a perfect time to make cold calls. However, a salesperson can study the patterns emerging from calls to identify when they get the most responses and come up with a workable timetable.

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5. Failure to incorporate technology

If you are still making cold calls the old way, you are probably slowing down your progress and losing out on making the process more efficient. Manual dialing can be time-consuming, and failing to keep prospect records or notes can sabotage your progress.

By investing in proper calling equipment, you will be able to autodial, send pre-recorded voicemails, and take notes on a client as you speak to them. The right cold calling software will also enable you to record calls, useful for quality analysis, training new members, or verifying customer information. Most systems will have calendar integration which will allow you to set appointments on the spot.

6. Talking over the prospect/ Not listening

It is understandable that when you finally get a prospect on the other side of the phone, you want to deliver your pitch as fast as possible. Although there is plenty of advice saying that you should get right to the point, being aggressive and controlling the conversation does not augur well with prospects. Talking too much can deny your prospect a chance to air their grievance or pain point. If you don’t know this, you are unlikely to solve their problem.

Aim to ask the prospect open-ended questions that will force them to share more information. Then, allow them time to talk and explain themselves. This will give the impression that you genuinely care about their problem, and they might give you a chance to solve it.

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7. Failing to set the next steps

You might have a perfect conversation with a prospect, the kind that has you cheering from the inside at how well it’s going. This progress can quickly disintegrate if you don’t set clear next steps and confirm these with the prospect.

For instance, if you agree on a meeting, clarify when and where, and what time. Do not stop there, but go ahead and send a calendar invite for the same. When it comes to setting the next steps, avoid vague statements like ‘let’s talk soon’ or ‘I will drop by your office.’ It is important to strike while the iron is still hot. While you have them on the phone, solidify on actual dates, times, and actions.