5-Step Cold Calling Framework For Simple, Consistent Wins

Another month's gone by. Despite all the cold emails you've sent, the phone still isn't ringing. And now, you're left scrambling to make your quota.

Something's got to change, and you know it.

It's a story all too familiar to sales reps. But, unfortunately, the same ol' tactics just aren't working anymore. And though you've avoided the technique for years, it's finally time for…

Cold calling.

Yes, that dreaded two-word phrase that brings a chill to sales rep spines worldwide. The topic came up in my recent interview with Jason Bay of Blissful Prospecting:

“Cold calling and objection handling are usually the two biggest fears that I hear when we work with sales teams and individual reps.” 

But cold calling doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be intimidating. And it doesn't have to leave you feeling like a sleazy, manipulative conman.

This guide shows how to make cold calling your go-to method for prospecting. Inside, you'll learn expert cold calling tips, proven cold calling scripts, and a 5-point framework to take all the guesswork (and hassle) out of cold calling.

What Is Cold Calling?

First and foremost, let's settle on a cold-calling definition.

What Is Cold Calling?

“Cold calling is the act of reaching out to potential buyers that have not previously interacted with a sales rep.”

 Cold calling usually refers to solicitation by phone. But it may also refer to in-person sales visits.

What Is Cold Calling NOT?

“Cold calling is not reaching out to contacts you met at trade shows. It is not contacting a lead that expressed interest on your website. And it is not following up with a referral that asked you to get in touch. This is what's known as “warm calling.”

By its very nature, cold calling has a lower success rate than warm calling. After all, cold calling recipients haven't expressed any prior interest in what you're selling. Those on the other end of warm calls have.

It's no wonder why so many sales reps avoid cold calling—it's tough to get a “yes.”

In fact, a study from the Harvard Business Review found that 48% of B2B salespeople—nearly half—are afraid of cold calling.

So, with all that fear and anxiety baked into this sales technique for many reps, the question is why do it at all?

Why Cold Call?


Despite it all, cold calling provides a valuable opportunity to bring in new clients that other sales techniques can't offer.

Here's why.

  • Quick Connection – Hopping on a call is the best way to make an immediate connection and start with a sales pitch. Email is static. Sure, you're delivering your message. But buyers have time to mull it over, make excuses for not responding, and forget about it entirely. When you're on the phone, you have much more direct influence over whether they set up a sales meeting or not.
  • Develops Sales Cadence – Successful cold calls are an integral step to setting up a strategic and effective sales cadence. The best sales cadences use a variety of outreach methods when contacting prospects. The more mediums you use to stay in contact with the buyer, the more you stay top of mind—boosting your chances of a callback.
  • Opens the Door to Chatters – Finally, adding cold calling to your sales technique repertoire brings in a swathe of potential buyers. Buyers that may have otherwise been out of reach. HubSpot reports that 57% of C-level buyers actually prefer to be contacted via phone. And if you aren't cold calling, you could be missing out on a valuable opportunity to bring in more sales.

Getting Started: Perfecting Your Mental Game

Before you even start dialing, you need to get in the right headspace.

Prospects can tell when you're uncomfortable. And they don't want to waste their precious time chatting with someone who isn't offering any value.

That's why you have to get comfortable playing two roles when cold calling: The Entertainer and The Expert. Some cold callers do this naturally. Other people on the same sales team will have to practice this new state.

Role 1: The Entertainer

Your task of rapport building begins the instant your prospect picks up the phone. The sooner you can capture their attention, the more likely they'll be to keep on listening.

In fact, Gong found that low-performing salespeople built rapport by around 40% through the call. For top performers, it was about 20% (the earlier, the better).

You need to come across as someone the buyer genuinely wants to speak to. Only then can you show them how you can add value to their lives.

Your sales conversation need to be tight, fun and snappy.

Role 2: The Expert

While charisma can open up the door, not knowing what you're talking about will slam it shut.

You need to come off as an expert—someone who knows what the hell they're talking about. But, do you understand your buyer's industry? Their most significant pain points? Your competition? And, of course, your product?

If you don't come across as an expert, the prospect might as well hang up the phone and Google their problem rather than speak to you.

How to Play Both Roles

The problem, however, is that cold calling gives you so little time to flex your charm muscles. To demonstrate your deep, deep knowledge of the industry.

So how are you supposed to play The Entertainer and The Expert in a call that only lasts a few minutes?

By displaying these key four traits:

  • Assertive – You don't wait for things to “just happen.” And you're happy to ask appropriate but tough questions because you know that that's the only way to get to the heart of the problem and deliver the most value possible.
  • Extroverted – You don't shy away from a conversation. You're energized by interacting with others. You do find your buyers interesting. And as a result, you build rapport quickly and maintain contacts for years.
  • Optimistic – No one likes hearing a pitch from a sad sack. And equally importantly, no buyer believes the product their seller is so unenthusiastic about will solve their problems. You also have to exude the optimism that this call will be the next winner. The buyer on the other end can sense it if not.
  • Confident – And of course, you need to be confident in your product, your company, and yourself. You need to be resilient in the face of rejection (which, let's face it, will happen with cold calling). And you need to know that you're good enough and a “no” isn't personal.

These traits are part of the 12 SalesCode traits I cover in the Selling Made Simple Academy. And inside, you'll learn how to quickly and effectively display these traits to hook cold calling prospects more straightforward than ever.

Let's Start the Show: The Bulletproof Cold Calling Framework

Now that you're in the right headspace, it's time to dive into The Bulletproof Cold Calling Framework. It's composed of five simple steps:

  1. Confirm
  2. Break
  3. Value
  4. Tie-In
  5. Close

This framework is simple, effective, and adaptable in any situation. Plus, it's short enough to fit into the tiny window of time you have to hook a prospect when cold calling.

Let's take a closer look at what these steps entail, along with some cold-calling scripts for each.

Cold Calling Tip:

It's important to remember that your goal here is NOT to sell your product on this call. If you're selling anything of reasonable value, you should know that that's impossible in a single five-minute conversation. 

Instead, your end goal is to set up a later sales meeting. Only then will you spend the time pitching your product and trying to close the sale. If you do try a full-on pitch during a cold call, you're likely going to fail. And fail hard. 

Step 1: Confirm

The first and maybe most essential step is to confirm you're speaking with the right person—the decision-maker.

This may be the head of the department, the tech guy, or even the President of Marketing. It depends entirely on your industry and your product.

But whoever it is, it's ideal that you're talking to the person who decides whether or not to buy. Otherwise, you'll have to sell to a gatekeeper who then has to go back and sell to their boss. And your product's actual value is bound to be diluted along the way (think of the kids game, Telephone).

So immediately when someone's picked up the call, make sure you're talking to a decision-maker.

Cold Calling Script: 

  • “Hi, Will Barron from Salesman.org. Who's in charge of [X – the area of business your product will help the most. We'll use sales for these examples]?”
  • Scenario 1: “That's me.” — Now you can move on to the next step
  • Scenario 2: “That's Barry.” — Now we need to get in touch with Barry.
  • “Ok thanks. Could you connect me with him? Can I tell them that you referred me?” — Move to next step with Barry. Make sure not to skip the referral aspect here. Noting a referral creates an instant boost in rapport. 

Step 2: Break

Now that you've confirmed you're speaking to the right person, it's time to jump into the specifics.

Ask them how they're currently solving the problem that your product solves. You'll find that most people aren't 100% happy with their current solution. It can always be faster. It can always be cheaper. And it can always be more effective.

Your goal here is to open up the buyer's mind to the potential of a better solution. You're breaking them out of the pattern of thinking their current solution can't be changed.

Cold Calling Script: 

  • “OK great, how are you training your sales reps right now?”
  • “We are using [competitor].”
  • “Got it. And how is your sales training working for you right now?”
  • Scenario 1: “Not great. We're having a problem with [current problem].”
  • Scenario 2: “Fine. I think we're all set, thanks.”

Cold Calling Tip:

When you ask how their current solution is doing now, pause and shut up. Don't say anything. They'll feel compelled to speak. And from there, you can either learn that they're looking for a better solution or force them to bring up an objection which you can touch on later. 

Step 3: Value

The next step is to explain the big problem you solve, your value. Again, it's important to hit this step regardless of whether they are happy or unhappy with their current solution.

Be succinct here. There is no need to get into the weeds and take up more time than necessary.

Just hit the most prominent problem solver and the most significant selling point you have.

Cold Calling Tip:

Be sure to move on to this step regardless of the objection they offer. 

If they say, “We're happy with our current solution,” push through. They may be more open to new solutions than they seem. If they say, “I don't really have time for this right now,” you only have three more sentences to get through (15 seconds max). 

The end goal is to get to a closing point and to ask for a meeting. 

Cold Calling Script: 

  • “We help salespeople close more sales in the next 28 days or your money back.”

Step 4: Tie-In

Next up, you need to tie-in that value to the prospect.

How is your big solution going to help them? What kinds of benefits can they expect to see from working with you?

Essentially, why should they care?

Again, be quick and to the point here. Make the connection, but don't dilly dally because we need to get to the next and most crucial step.

Cold Calling Script: 

  • Scenario 1: “It seems like you're not happy with your current sales training solution. Would it make sense to see if we can solve this problem for you?”
  • Scenario 2: “Would it make sense to see if we can turbocharge your current solution so you can train more effective sales reps more quickly?”

Step 5: Close

Last and certainly not least, you'll want to close the call by setting up a sales meeting.

Again, the point here is to book a formal meeting, not to close the sale.

That being said, it's not as if you can't still learn some valuable information from this cold call. For instance, you may get an idea of the buyer's significant concerns with their current solution. You're also likely to learn about what their current solution is.

Both of these points can be exceptionally valuable when figuring out how to structure your pitch for maximum effectiveness.

As best-selling sales author Jeffrey Gitomer told me in our interview:

“Cold calling is a lousy place to make a sale. But it happens to be a great place to learn how to sell.”

Cold Calling Script:

  • “Ok Great, it looks like we might be able to help. Does it make sense to jump on a quick 10-minute call tomorrow to discuss?”

Cold Calling Tip:

Unfortunately, a “no” here is likely. Cold calling involves a lot of rejection. But there are a few things you can do to still make this a win. 

First, give them your contact info and tell them if they change their mind; they're always welcome to reach out. 

Second, get their contact info too. Some buyers will take longer to pique their interest. And with their email info on hand, you can continually send them educational content and turn them from “not interested” to “I'm listening…”

Voicemail: What to Say & How to Say It

The Bulletproof Cold Calling Framework is a fantastic way to engage prospects quickly, demonstrate value, and nudge potential buyers to set up a good, follow-up sales call.

But what happens if your call goes to voicemail?

This can end up being tricky. You can't play off of the buyer's answers to your questions. And you've got to get them especially interested in what you have to say so they don't hit that delete button.

There are a few things you can do here to boost your callback chances.

  1. Keep it short, under 30 seconds if you can.
  2. Follow the 70/30 rule: 70% info and value, 30% personalization, and social proof.
  3. Be particularly clear with your contact details.

Cold Calling Script: 

  • “Hey Sarah, Will Barron from Salesman.org 111.222.3333 (repeat your number slower) – I'm calling because I was reading your LinkedIn profile and noticed you're [insert role detail]. I wanted to tell you about a product relevant to your work there. We have helped [X company] drive a [quantifiable outcome] in under [time frame] by [very short explanation of how your product works]. Again, Will Barron from Salesman.org 111.222.3333 (repeat your number slower), I'll follow up with a quick email.”

Cold Calling Tip:

I know every sales guru in the land tells you to save your name and number for the end. Do the opposite

This is what's known as “pattern interrupt.” There are 6 MILLION AEs and 600k SDRs in tech right now. And guess what? They all save their name and number for the end. So do the opposite

And remember to be assertive, confident, and direct. Yes, you're selling them a product. But it's a product that can help. And it's their job to help make their business better, so they should actually want to listen. 

The Follow Up

An essential part of the voicemail is the email follow-up.

Yes, yes—you already reached out to them on the phone.

And yes, your email follow-up is essentially saying the same thing you covered in the voicemail.

But the point here is to hit them on a variety of mediums. A voicemail is easy to forget. And it's a snap to delete accidentally.

You're making a bigger imprint on the buyer's consciousness with an added email follow-up. And you're also giving them something they can refer back to later to learn more about your product.


Cold Calling Script (for Your Follow-Up Email):

Hi Sarah, 

This is Will Barron from Salesman.org. I'm following up on a voicemail message I left on your machine earlier today. 

I'm getting in touch because I was reading your LinkedIn profile and noticed you're [insert role detail]. I wanted to tell you about a product relevant to your work there. 

We have helped [X company] drive a [quantifiable outcome] in under [time frame] by [concise explanation of how your product works]. 

Does it make sense for us to connect?

If so, you can reach me at 111.222.3333 or shoot me a quick email. 



Consistency & Persistence: Learn to Play the Numbers

An essential aspect of your cold calling success is that you learn to play the numbers.

Many factors go into making or breaking a sale, such as building rapport, researching prospects, playing to pain points, using a value-based sales approach, etc.

But when it comes down to packing your pipeline full of leads, you must use a numbers-based approach when cold calling.

How many deals do you need to close a month? How many leads do you need to pitch to in order to bring in those deals? And how many calls do you need to make a week to bring in those leads?

Selling by the numbers lets you set goals and be strategic about your cold calling process.

There are a few things, in particular, you can do to make your cold calling more effective.

A) Track Successes & Failures

When you sell by the numbers, you're not just developing clear, actionable goals. And you aren't just breaking down your quotas into bite-size pieces.

You're also giving yourself the framework you need to more effectively track your successes, failures, and progress towards achieving your ultimate goal.

For instance, let's say you need to close 15 more sales this month. If you're selling by the numbers, you know that means you have to make at least 80 more cold calls according to your current close rates. And with that information, you can determine how many calls you need to make each week.

If you weren't selling by the numbers, you wouldn't have any idea how much you should be cold calling to hit your quota. And likelier than not, you'll only find out how far behind you are when it's much too late.

B) Stick With It!

On the one hand, effective cold calling is a skill that takes about 2 to 3 months to develop. That may seem like a long time right now. But when you get the process down to a science, you're going to start hitting your goals (or even exceeding them) more often than ever.

Even when you do develop those skills, though, successful cold calling takes work. And it takes resilience.

Michael Hanson of Growth Genie pointed out the low connect rate for cold calls in my recent interview. And that means you have to stick with the plan to start seeing results.

“Typically the connect rate for a cold call, and I think this data comes from a company called ConnectAndSell who've analyzed millions of calls through their dialer, is I think on average, about 4%. So that means literally you need to call someone over 20 times to get them to pick up once.”

So you must develop the resilience to stick with the plan. The best way to keep your motivation up and blow past your quotas is to use The Selling By the Numbers Framework.

Wrapping Up

Cold calling can be intimidating at first. And if you've been hesitant to use this sales technique till now, you're not alone in the world of sales. Plenty of reps avoid it.

But when you know how to do it effectively, it can open up the door to a wealth of potential buyers. And it can connect you with leads on a level that no other sales avenue can.

This framework was designed to be simple, effective, and flexible. And once you implement it into your sales processes (and put in the effort to see it through), you're bound to start seeing fantastic results.

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