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Pushing for a Sale on a Cold Call is All Wrong

On a cold call, the moment you begin pushing for a sales, you are finished. Therefore, the key to engaging prospects on cold calls in asking a good opening question that pulls them in.

Imagine you walk into a store you’ve never been in before. As soon as you walk in the door, you’re approached by someone with a huge, insincere smile and a name tag.

“Welcome to THE STORE. Will this be cash or charge?”

Startled, you manage to stammer “I-I’m just looking, thanks.”

“Great! That’s just great! Want me to hold onto your credit card for you while you shop?”

You’d figure out really quick what matters to people at THE STORE, wouldn’t you? It’s not about you; it’s all about the money. Closing the sale.

Your first qualification question should be the least intrusive question that you ask. Why? Your relationship with the decision maker is brand new and you don’t want to appear pushy…instead, you want to appear to be consultative and helpful.

Asking a question like “Are you in the market for a new system?” without first developing a relationship is a total turn-off and will result in a quick objection. You come across a a stereotypical, pushy salesperson who cares only about making a sale.

Engage Prospects on Cold Calls with Opening Questions and Statements

On cold calls, you will increase your chances of engaging your prospect, gathering qualifying information, and setting an appointment by slowing down and focusing on the relationship first.

The fastest way to shift from selling to relationship building on cold calls is to ask a good opening question:

I noticed you are a Microsoft Solutions Partner. Does that help you open doors with new sales opportunities?

I noticed that you are using bar-coding in your warehouse; has that been working out?

You can also grab attention with an opening statement that is all about them.

I read recently that you just won Toyota Manufacturing as a new account. Congratulations. That must be huge! 

Cold Calling is Not Selling

Cold calling is NOT sales. It is for qualifying and opening opportunities to set an appointment.

It doesn’t matter whether they are in the market for what you sell or not. Your objective is to identify a future buying window so that you’ll be there at the right time when they are in the market.

To be successful, you need to leave your sales hat at the door. You aren’t trying to sell anyone anything. You’re trying to find out whether or not there is a way you can help this person. In order to know that, that person has to tell you what sort of help he or she needs. And before he or she tells you that, they have to trust you first.

This is exactly the opening question is the key to engaging prospects on cold calls.

Forget your product for a minute and focus first on the person on the other end of the line. If they feel like you are interested in their best interests, they’ll engage and give you the information you need to turn them into a solid lead.


Sequencing is how top sales professionals are able to get so many qualified opportunities into their pipelines. Learn their secrets in our FREE prospecting guide: 7 Steps to Building Effective Prospecting Sequences

About the author

Al Davidson

Al Davidson

Al Davidson is the President and Owner of SSM Strategic Sales & Marketing, Inc.,…

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