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The worst cold calling techniques still used todayTwo weeks ago, I received a prospecting call to sell me video marketing services. The call was representative of most cold calls made today.

I don’t know if my interlocutor knew that Prima Resource is a sales consulting firm, but in any case, I’ll use our conversation to deconstruct cold calling the techniques still used. It so happens that I used this conversation as an example, but any other would have revealed the same shortcomings.

Given that decision makers are increasingly difficult to reach, you need to make sure you’re as efficient as possible when you do get the chance to talk to them. Use this deconstruction, as well as the tips on how to change your approach as a way to improve.

1. Having Someone Else Prospect for You

During our conversation, the caller said something like this: “I’m calling from X company. You probably know Ms. Y, she is pretty recognized in the field…”, and a little while later, after a long monologue, “Would you be interested in meeting Ms. Y for your video marketing needs?”

Why Is This a Poor Technique?

  • If you want to get the attention of a decision maker, don’t give them the impression that they are “wasting time” talking to a go-between.
  • This technique sends the wrong message: this call isn’t important enough for Ms. Y to make herself. Is this also how it will be when I’m a client?


  • When prospecting, never give the impression that you are overbooked. No client wants to run after their supplier so who would consider doing business with you if your schedule is already full? 
  • If, like Ms. Y, you need to fill your pipeline with opportunities but don’t have the time, try an inbound marketing strategy that will work to generate leads 24/7. You can then communicate personally with mature leads.

2. Listing Your Services and Giving Sales Arguments During a Prospecting Call

Like most, my interlocutor was eager to present his arguments and show his expertise: “A great way to gain visibility these days is with video marketing. Our approach is specific to this and that, and we offer ABC services.”

Why Is This a Poor Technique?

  • A prospect has no interest in hearing sales arguments during a phone call. They don’t know you and have no incentive to get on board because they don’t see a connection with a possible problem they might have.
  • Stating arguments and showing expertise is centred on the rep and not on the prospect and is typical of salespeople who think that dishing out information is to be in control of a sale.


  • Don’t forget that the purpose of a prospecting call is not to make a sales pitch, but to schedule a meeting. The more you talk, the less the chances are of that happening.
  • To take control of a prospecting call and increase your meeting conversion ratio, help the prospect identify a problem you may be able to resolve.

3. Qualifying Your Interlocutor over the Phone

The caller carried out this step quite directly during the conversation: “Ms. Gleitz, are you the person in charge of marketing?” Because I am, I answered “Yes.”

Why Is This a Poor Technique?

  • If you ask a prospect whether they are the decision maker, they’ll most certainly say, “Yes” even if it’s not the case.
  • You need to do your homework and know who you’re calling. The potential client has no reason to help you go any further if you haven’t done your part of the job.


  • Avoid any form of qualification when prospecting. Don’t confirm your interlocutor’s role or the budget available for a particular type of product. The prospect has no reason to provide you with this information at this time.
  • Make sure to aim as high as possible in the company hierarchy. In the case of an SMB like Prima Resource, for example, it would have been more appropriate to speak with the President, who is also concerned with his company’s visibility and is most probably the actual decision maker.

4. Interrupting Without Permission

Answering the phone is an interruption in itself, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask permission to continue. Once my interlocutor had qualified me, he promptly followed with his presentation of the company and its services.

Why Is This a Poor Technique?

  • You haven’t tried to ease the prospect into hearing you out. It’s possible that your leads are is still reading their emails or thumbing through Facebook while you’re making your sales pitch.
  • You didn’t bother to ask if this was a good time for the prospect.


  • Ask your potential client whether you can interrupt them: “May I tell you why I’m calling, and then you can decide if you’d like to hear more?”
  • Don’t hesitate to leave time for silent pauses to capture your prospect’s attention.

5. Asking “How Are You Doing Today?”

All prospecting calls begin with this magical question once the caller has identified himself. My conversation was no exception to this rule.

Why Is This a Poor Technique?

  • This question serves as an alert signal! Because only reps ask strangers how their day is going, it immediately tells the prospect that the person at the other end wants to sell something.


  • Eliminate this question from your prospecting sequence.
  • Begin your calls with the following sentence: “Hello [Prospect’s first name], this is [Your first and last name],” and stop here. You’ll need practice at first, but you’ll get there. Don’t say anything more until the prospect on the other end says “Yes.”


Standard prospecting techniques do more harm than good and complicate a rep’s job. The behaviours of decision makers, make it necessary to change your practices.

Since phone calls are still an essential part of prospecting, you need to work hard to differentiate yourself during your first conversation. If you don’t sound like a salesperson, it’s a safe bet that potential clients won’t treat you like one! To do this, follow a consultative selling approach like the Baseline Selling method.