Business Strategy

How You Can “Heat Up” Your Cold Calls

cold call

Cold calling, or contacting a stranger unsolicited, is often a very less effective means of making a sale, getting a job, finding an investor, or any other goal that involves creating a relationship with a person you haven’t previously met.

But here’s the problem – how else do you go about making a relationship with a stranger?  Isn’t “cold contacting” to some extent necessary?

The answer is yes, and no.  At some point, yes, you do have to make contact with a stranger – regardless of your goals.  Your personal network isn’t likely big enough to earn your dream commission, secure your perfect job, or land that investment your business desperately needs.

However, there are strategies that you can employ that will “heat up” the coldness of the first contact.  These are very important.  Trust is essential in relationship building, and without establishing a bridge of trust with a new contact, you might easily, and quickly, find yourself at the abrupt end of a rejection.  This may lead to discouragement and frustration.

So next time you are in a cold calling situation, use these five simple steps to heat up your contact, and make it more likely that you will establish a bridge of trust:

  1. If you’re going to use email, read this first

Contacting a stranger via email is rarely an effective method.  People just get inundated with email these days, and many people have filters that prevent them from even seeing your email.  If you have to use a digital means of contact, LinkedIn’s InMail can be more effective, but if you use it incorrectly (or too much) it can lead to negative consequences to your LinkedIn profile.  Ultimately, your subject line is most important.  If it isn’t compelling, or if it seems like spam, you are dead in the water.  You want to be brief, concise, have a clear value proposition and call to action, and try to move the conversation to a phone, in-person, or online meeting (Skype) if you can. Make sure you spell and grammar check first because nothing blows credibility like a poorly drafted email.

  1. Make yourself familiar

Let’s say you get a meeting from your email, or you are cold calling someone for the first time.  You need to establish a bridge of familiarity as quickly as possible.  If you can mention a person, organization or institution, that you have in common with the person, you will convey credibility.  This will break the ice and give you something to talk about.  You’ll have to do some research on this point – tapping your network of friends, family or associates to identify that familiar bridge.

  1. Quickly get to your value proposition

If you are looking for an unadvertised job, and you are contacting a decision maker, you’ve got to establish your value proposition as quickly as you can.  What value can you add to their organization? The same goes for sales, or if you’re an entrepreneur looking for investment capital.  How does your product solve their existing problem?  Why would the investor want to get involved in this (other than a vague hope about it making lots of money).  The more homework you do on your prospect the more correctly you can covey your value proposition.

  1. Be clear and concise

Be clear and concise about what you are offering (your value proposition) but also what you want to happen next.  Don’t say “we should get together for coffee sometime to discuss” – this is vague.  It puts pressure on the new contact to have to come up with a time and place.  You just came into their life.  Be specific.  State the time and place, and don’t ask for a lot of time.  Make it as convenient for them as possible. Don’t talk too much or waste time talking about the game last night.  You contacted them unsolicited, and you don’t know what is on their plate right now. So get in, show value, be specific, set up a follow up, and get out.

  1. Have a second option 

Dr. Robert Cialdini in his best selling book The Psychology of Persuasion talks in detail about the persuasive power of compromise or offering multiple options. In giving concessions, you facilitate a feeling of social obligation to the other person.  So have a back up for what you are asking.  If you ask for a job, and the answer is no, ask for an unpaid internship to get experience.  Have multiple sales pitches or investment options.

About the Author

Ryan Clements is a business consultant, sales trainer, speaker and writer. He consults to companies and entrepreneurs on marketing and sales strategy, and is a frequent speaker and trainer in the areas of sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, productivity, leadership and motivation.  He also writes widely on these subjects and has published a book and given a TEDx talk on career fulfillment, a topic which he speaks often to schools and students about.  For speaking, consulting or training requests please visit his website at