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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Here’s how to make an effective cold call pitch

The cold call pitch isn’t dead, but it does have to be done the right way to get the best results.

Here’s how to make an effective cold call pitch
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

Cold calling can be awkward at times. You only have so many minutes to get the strongest points about your product across, and you’re always at risk of your prospective client hanging up.

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But in the modern digital era, calls shouldn’t ever be “cold.” Connections are easier to make when you start with common ground, and that can be easy to establish with a quick Google search of your target client.

Below, a panel of Fast Company Executive Board members shares the best ways to warm up a cold call and make your pitch successful.

1. RESEARCH THE INDIVIDUAL FIRST.

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I rarely do true “cold calls,” but if we can provide value to their company, the team will do all the background research on the individual and their company. I’ll then determine what industry conferences or events they may attend and try to meet up with them in person. As a rule of thumb, just like in athletics, never go in cold. Be patient, do the warm-up work and provide value. – Dean Calhoun, Affygility Solutions

2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

Find out all you can about your target’s business, staff, objectives, and more so that your account-based marketing approach can be tailored just for them. Find some jewel from your research to mention in your text, email, or phone call. Say something like, “You are very interesting and important to me, and I’ve been doing research to learn more about your business. Do you have a few minutes for a quick discussion?” – Lisa Bichsel, Bichsel Medical Marketing Group

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3. BUILD RAPPORT BEFORE BUSINESS TALK

Conduct deep prospect research with customized, respectful reach outs. Build a rapport before having an ask. Optimally, network with a pay-it-forward approach. Establish a meaningful connection. – Britton Bloch, Navy Federal

4. WARM UP YOUR COLD CALL

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Do your homework before the call. Don’t just find the number and contact and call ice cold. Warm-up your approach and take a look at the prospect on LinkedIn and see if there are any personal facts or info that you can gain to create more of a bond or common ground that you can use to create rapport. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

5. SET UP MANY TOUCH POINTS

Don’t make it entirely cold. It’s always better if the person on the other end already knows who you are and what you do. One of the best strategies is to combine several channels and make it a multiple-touch experience. You can reach out to people on social media, comment on their posts, shoot them a quick DM with something valuable (not salesy) and only then reach out to them on the phone. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

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6. BE AUTHENTIC

In today’s world, there should be no reason that you would “cold call” a person. We live in a society, especially after the pandemic, that is focusing more on relationships and authenticity. What works for us at MOFI is to live by the principle of radical relationships. Focus on purpose and not task. This is a different mindset, but a winning one! – Shawn Nason, MOFI

7. INTRODUCE YOURSELF THROUGH VIDEO

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I make short “Money Phone” videos that introduce myself with optimistic energy and enthusiasm and give the contact a clear vision of a future collaboration. Nothing beats a positive message that shows you know who they are, understand their needs and provide value. I include a vision of our deliverables, how we work together, and a relevant case study in less than four minutes. – Mike Koenigs, The Superpower Accelerator

8. STICK TO THE BASICS

In business, transparency is always key. Cold calling is, at its heart, sort of awkward. The good news is that the person you’re cold calling has likely been in the same position before. During a cold call, you only have so much time to get your message across. Stick to the basics, tell the story of your company and convey how you can help the person you’re calling. – Brandon Pena, BrandON Media Group

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9. GET A SOFT INTRODUCTION

In today’s world of accessible information, no phone call should ever truly be “cold.” Research a prospect and find someone within your extended network that can make a soft introduction. In the age of robo-dialers and spam, the effectiveness of cold-calling has reached a low heretofore unimagined. A sales team needs to think outside the box before spending a lot of time on cold outreach. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

10. CONSULT, DON’T SELL

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Taking a consultative approach rather than a push approach always works. Most people hate being sold to, so when that approach is taken, they instantly cut the call or disengage. Whereas, when you act as a consultant, you are their friend and trusted source. The last time I called up a prospect, I read about them, knew what social media agency they use, and rather than selling, I asked probing questions. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Agency, Inc

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