darren-nolander-cold-call-featuredCold calling strategies almost always focus on the pitch. What are you going to say? What’s going to set you apart? How are you going to keep their attention? What statement will get them to say yes to you?

These are all important facets of a successful cold call, yes. However, what is often overlooked when dissecting the cold calling conversation is the actual conversation. Last time I checked, a phone call wasn’t a one-way dialogue. That may be the case with voicemails, but not when you have a live person on the other end of that wireless device.

Instead of making the call about you, why you’re so great and why your product is superior, be sure you keep the focus on them. This is done through one strategy, performed two ways. The strategy? Ask questions.


We all know practice makes perfect, but no pitch is one size fits all – nor is a pitch a soliloquy. Instead, aim to create a meaningful back and forth with your prospect. That starts by integrating questions. Open questions allow you to get to know your prospect, their needs and how you can help. They’re the who, what, where, why, when and how facts that are vital in our discover quest.

For example, “who lives with you now?” or “what would you change about your current mortgage?” or “when do you ideally hope to move?” These questions will provide valuable information that can be used to tailor your pitch directly to your prospect.


Once you’ve narrowed down the scope of your prospect’s intentions, it’s time for closed questions. Closed questions tend to start with verbs like “is,” “did,” “will” and “have.” For example, “will you be selecting your ideal neighborhood in the next week?” or “have you considered a VA loan?” or “is your landlord planning to raise your rent when your lease is up?”

These questions provide clarification and agreement as you discover the best direction for your pitch in an attempt to close the deal. Note that these questions are not random. You wouldn’t ask a single woman who has never served in the military about whether she’s ever thought about applying for a VA loan. Nor would you ask a 23-year-old recent college graduate who lives with his parents about whether the landlord will raise his rent.

This is where your homework comes in. Doing a little due diligence ahead of time will ensure you ask the most appropriate leading questions. If that’s not possible, utilize the open questions and customize your closed questions based upon those answers. Naturally, a cold call is not a survey, and it is not an interrogation. However, a few well-placed inquiries can mean the difference between a prospect feeling like you understand them and can meet their needs, or are simply some smarmy salesman who is calling people at random using the same old, tired lines.

The studies don’t lie: people love to talk about themselves. One of the easiest ways to give the people what they want is by actually asking them questions about their favorite topic – their lives! So do yourself and the prospect a favor, and sprinkle a few intentional questions into the conversation to flesh out what they’re lacking and how you can provide that. It’s an easy way to turn an awkward encounter into a friendly exchange, and a stranger into a client!

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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