3 Cold Call Mistakes and How Sellers Can Avoid Them

cold calls

How do you feel about making a cold call? The topic of cold calls is a polarizing one: Some swear that cold calls are dead while others still rely on them to generate new business. SalesFuel research found that cold calls are definitely not dead. While buyers say email is the most preferred way to first reach them, phone calls come in a close second, according to our Voice of the Buyer study.  

Cold call mistakes that you must avoid

While still preferred by buyers, it doesn’t mean that they want the same tired cold calls coming their way. Successful sellers leverage cold calls by avoiding common mistakes and making sure their process aligns with modern buyers. HubSpot recently shared common cold call mistakes that reps should avoid and how to avoid them. Jay Fuchs discusses these mistakes, which include:

  1. Getting demoralized
  2. Ignoring enablement resources
  3. Not preparing

Getting demoralized

For most reps, cold calls are dreaded, or at least, not enjoyed. From not having calls answered to receiving multiple rejections, cold calling is certainly a challenge. It’s, according to Fuchs, “enough to take the wind out of even the most willing, eager, motivated sales rep…” But he goes on to add that “letting the tougher parts of the process get to you is one of the bigger mistakes you can make while cold calling.”

To overcome this common mistake, fuel your fire to keep going by boosting your resilience. Fuchs acknowledges that rejection is uncomfortable; there’s no way around it. But reps can work internally to ensure that they aren’t completely derailed each time a cold call is rejected. It’s important to recognize that hearing “no” or dealing with a rude voice on the other line is not a reflection of you. Rejection is simply a part of being a seller, and even the most successful ones don’t have a perfect conversion rate.

"Everyone is busy," says Director of AdMall Sales Denise Gibson. "Everyone’s e‑mail/​voice mail is full. Sometimes they read it and sometimes they don’t. You must keep trying because you never know when your help will be perfect timing for their need.  It will happen.  You just have to stay at it.  It isn’t personal."

SalesFuel has multiple articles that can help you work on overcoming this common cold call mistake. From working on your own confidence level and mindset to reframing rejections into opportunities to learn, we can help you work on building resiliency.

Ignoring enablement resources

Cold calls require structure and direction. No matter how much buyers evolve, they still don’t want a cold call that is meandering and lacks clear purpose and value. While buyers may not want a stiff, impersonal formal call, they also don’t want to feel like their time is being wasted. In fact, our research found that “being respectful of me and my time” is an important attribute of a seller.

Avoid this mistake by taking advantage of enablement resources. “Sales enablement resources for cold calls help you follow standards for your sales org's messaging, give you reference points for the key conversational elements you need to address, and help you set a call straight if your prospect goes too far off the rails,” Fuchs writes.

Not preparing for a cold call

This mistake goes hand-​in-​hand with the previous one. The preparation that you do before a cold call will always have an impact. SalesFuel’s 2022 Voice of the Sales Rep study revealed that a shockingly low number of reps engage in important pre-​call activities. For example, only 21.5% prepare discovery questions based on pre-​call research. But only 14% say preparation/​pre-​call research is a top selling weakness of theirs. This disconnect is likely hindering the success of reps’ cold calls.

Without having knowledge of a prospect and their business, a cold call won’t succeed. The Voice of the Buyer study found top attributes buyers seek in sellers are:

  1. Knowing their products and how to use them to solve my business problem/​achieve my goal
  2. Providing relevant insight and ideas to help my business
  3. Knowing my company/​line of business
  4. Knowing my customers

It’s clear that buyers don’t want to hear from a seller who isn’t prepared. As Fuchs explains, “You need to have some picture of who's on the other side of the call if you want your conversations to be productive… take the time to develop a solid picture of the challenges similar businesses generally face — along with some baseline intel on the organization itself.”

To avoid this mistake, check out our entire collection of tips devoted to call preparation. Also, download the free e‑book, “The 7 C’s of Pre-​Call Intelligence,” written by SalesFuel CEO C. Lee Smith.

With all of these resources, you can boost your confidence, credibility and conversion rates when making cold calls. By being proactive, you will position yourself for success now and the future.

Photo by Antoni Shkraba

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision-​makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.