3 Reasons Your Cold Calls Aren't Working

Have you heard? Supposedly, cold calling is dead. No matter how often people repeat that statement, it doesn’t become any more true. In fact, data shows cold calling is twice as effective as email which makes it the most effective prospecting channel out there.

BUT cold calling is one of the hardest sales skills to master.

In this short post, you will learn three reasons your cold calls fail and what you can do differently to master this critical sales skill.

Rather watch vs read? Check out the video instead or continue reading below.

The Wrong Mindset

Most reps go into a list of calls as part of their cadence with the wrong mindset.

First, the focus incorrectly on logging completed activities, not making quality calls. Second, reps fear interrupting someone's day and the surefire rejection that comes shortly thereafter, which means they approach the call with hesitation.

With the wrong mindset you’ll never find success on the phone, and because it's the most effective prospecting channel, you’re going to have a tough go at a successful sales career.

Here are two ways to get into the proper mindset:

  1. While logging activities are important the number of calls is less important than the quality conversations you have. While dials convert to conversations, conversations convert to demo or discovery meetings and it's (usually) meetings we want. Focus on how many quality conversations you have per week and the dials will happen.
  2. Get comfortable interrupting someone’s day. You already know people are conditioned to react rudely to stereotypical sales people. Have confidence in your ability to provide value and be okay interrupting someones day knowing you're trying to help them and their business. Then, do what you can to not sound like the stereotypical sales rep. Use pattern interrupts, different tones, pace, call openers, and talk tracks. This will help you avoid some of the harsh rejection but also help you stand out.

No Defined Call Goal

Most reps rip through their call list without thinking through who they are calling and why.

Start setting a goal for the call by asking yourself, who am I calling and what do I want the outcome to be?

Before dialing, understand who you’re calling by looking at the buyer persona and any specific details about the individual that relates to why you’re reaching out.

The persona of who you’re calling, should provide you with questions or talk tracks that should resonate with them.

Details about the individual should include the lead source, which helps you understand how this lead ended up in your call list. Lead source details will inform the talk tracks or script that you use in your outreach.

Once you know who you’re reaching out to, you need to establish a few goals for the call.

The first goal of every cold call is to make it past the first 30 seconds. Reaching this quick but critical milestone means you will have had time to determine whether or not this is something they are interested in - more on this in the next section.

The second goal of the call should be related to the outcome, what do you want the outcome of the call to be? Are you driving webinar registrations or booking discovery / demo meetings?

Lastly, if you are not able to achieve your primary goal, what’s the next best outcome you’ll try to accomplish?

Establish these before you begin dialing and watch a better conversation unfold.

Not Using a Script

Some of the highest paid professionals in the world, whether actors or athletes show up with pre-written and practiced scripts or plays to acheive optimal performance. The trick here is to use a script, but to not sound scripted.

To avoid sounding scripted, you must have a script flexible enough you can jump around and will support you in a dynamic conversation. The script should have sections you can reference as needed throughout the conversation.

While your script will be specific to your company, there are a few core fundamental rules that apply regardless of where you're at.

Don't go into calls blind without a script, if you don't have one, steal our outline to get started.

Our Script:

Things happen quickly on cold calls, which is why we break them down into 30 second intervals.The first 30 seconds will make or break your success, because if you're not prepared, the call will end. In the first 30 seconds, your script must focus on answering the subconscious questions going through your prospects head:

  • Who is this?
  • Why are you calling?
  • What’s in it for me?

Your script must answer these questions for your prospect or things will go sideways quickly. Include pattern interrupts, for example, in the call opener, remember, you don't want to sound like every other sales person.

If you make it through the first 30 seconds and followed the fundamentals, you've bought yourself 30 more seconds.This is where you unlock a longer conversation by determining whether there is any interest or fit.

Unlock a conversation with a close ended question to uncover potential fit followed by an open ended question to learn more detail.

  • Closed ended question - is your sales team achieving quota this year?
  • Open ended question - what types of things have you tried to address that?

If you unlock a conversation, now it's time to pique their interest. Some people will use a brief elevator pitch, but we advocate for a question. For example, if calling sales leaders about OverQuota, it may sound something like this

If there were a new technology to guide your reps along your proven sales process before, during, and after their sales calls to boost performance and productivity - would that be worth looking into?

Depending how this conversation unfolds, now you have your ask which should align to your goal for the call.

Every script should include an appendix section which has responses to common objections and an elevator pitch - should you need it.

Here is the outline:

Answer your prospects subconscious questions

  • Who is this?
  • Why are you call?
  • What's in it for me?

Unlock a Conversation

  • Closed ended question
  • Open ended question

Pique Interest 

  • Brief elevator pitch
  • Value proposition with an interest based question

Your Ask


  • Common Objections
  • Elevator Pitch


Change your mindset by addressing these common cold call barriers and watch yourself get more comfortable with more success on the phones.