How to Ask Better Cold Call Questions

BY Jessica Helinski
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How are you doing?” If you are opening a cold call this way, you may think that the question seems harmless. But in actuality, that introductory question is making your prospective customers cringe. This fallback phrase is among the most overused cold call questions sales reps rely on. It is so overused that it has gotten to the point that its sentiment is lost on most. Even if you do truly care how the prospect is doing when you call, he or she will likely still think your inquiry is insincere. After all, it is how most sales reps break the ice during sales calls. The reps do not care about the prospect's answer as long as it gets a sales conversation started.

As sales trainer John Barrows blogged, “I understand what we’re trying to do by using this approach: We’re trying to build some type of rapport upfront. Unfortunately, this is a false way to build rapport …”

Instead of Using Overused Cold Call Questions, Try This Instead

If you want to stand out from other callers, you need a strong introduction that does not include your standard cold call questions. And, if you want to build rapport with the prospective customer, you need to get to the point of why you are calling quickly. When answering the phone, your prospective customers will want to know two things things about you. They will want to know who you are and if they have met you before. They will also want to know why you are calling them. You can immediately satisfy both questions with a strong introduction. Barrows recommends using one of the following introductory phrases:

  • Thanks for taking my call.
  • Do you have a few moments?
  • The reason for my call today is…
  • Can you help me?

Power Introductions

Barrows encourages reps to be “power” introductions because they respectfully get to the reason for your call in a speedy manner. Plus, these introductions do not employ a tired phrase or cold call questions that every other sales rep out there is using. A refreshingly honest and different sales call introduction can do wonders for your sales pipeline. “My recommendation is to use this for every single phone call you make,” Barrows writes. “If you do, I promise your calls will be more direct, you’ll get people’s attention, and they’ll be engaged in the conversation far more often.”

And when you use the 'reason for my call' introduction, you can mention a recent development in the prospect's industry. If they don't know about this development, you'll have their attention. And you'll also have shown yourself to be a credible resource. Instead of immediately trying to sell something, you are offering knowledge. Interested prospects will want to hear more.