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Cold Calling


Disciplines > Sales > Prospecting > Cold Calling

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



The cold canvas method is the simplest, oldest and most ineffective method there is. It relies solely on finding and talking to people who you have no idea whether or not will buy from you.

Be personal (but not too personal)

Acknowledge that they are human and also show that you are human too. Use their name, but not too much. Tell them your name. Reveal a little about yourself, but again not too much.

Be respectful

As well as being personal, always show respect to the person. You have entered their territory uninvited and must show that you are worthy of their time.

Go for yes

As with the Yes-set Close, getting agreement sets a pattern whereby they are more likely to agree. Ask them questions with which they can only agree.

Ask for time

If you ask them for a few minutes and they say yes, they will feel obliged to give you that time. Do stick to the time too.

Get to benefits quickly

After getting early permission to talk (or maybe before), you need to sustain their attention by creating an interest, which often means addressing the 'what's in it for me' question by telling them something of the benefits they can gain from conversing with you further.


It's a powerful little thing, to wonder something aloud. Just try wondering if they will do what you want them to do. When you wonder if they will do something, you are suggesting that they do it without commanding directly.

Get to base 2

Success in cold calling often means getting permission to continue the conversation at a future time. It may be that you send them some information, but much better than this is for you to call or visit at a future date and time.

Make them feel good

Whether you succeed or not in moving the to the next base, do try to make them feel good. Thank them. Tell them they sound or look good. Be impressed with them and what they do.

Even if they reject you (and especially if they reject you) leave them on a positive note.


Is that Mr. Elwyn Jones? ... You are the IT Director? ... Good, good. Mr. Jones, I wonder if you can give me two minutes in which I can show you something that will save you days.

Ms Bleddyn, are you busy today? .. Would you like more time? ... you know I work with busy people to give them more time.

Well, thank you anyway, Mr. Evans. You're doing important work there and I wish you well.


Cold calling is probably one of the most frustrating and unrewarding jobs, as you may have to deal with hundreds of rejections -- and some of these may be quite unpleasant. Attributes of successful cold-callers include robust optimism, strong self-belief and a resilience that lets you bounce back fresh every time.

People who are called cold may be annoyed at this and project their anger onto you. To justify their feelings, they may well frame you as a bad person and act accordingly. You can use this by being unremittingly nice. This may lead to them feeling guilty about their unpleasantness and hence relenting and listening to you.

Asking people for something whereby they agree, for example for a little of their time, makes it difficult for them to pull out. This is due to the consistency principle, where people seek to align what they say with with what they do.

Note that if you ask for or take too much, you may get a  betrayal response as they feel that you are taking advantage of them.

Leaving them on a positive note can create remarkable turnarounds. They typically will feel a little guilty about rejecting you and expect some coldness in return. But if you reply with warmth, it can cause a last-minute reprieve or a later call-back as they change their mind about you.

The cold call is also known as a cold canvas.

See also

Consistency principle

The language of love, learning and cold calling


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