Starting from Scratch: How to Approach Cold Calling for New Businesses

Have you ever considered the wisdom of initially going after prospects who have little chance of being interested in your product?

learn more about Danny Wong

By Danny Wong


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Any new business owner is full of doubts, if not about the financial situation of the company, then at least its long-term success. When you start out facing an empty client roster, there's a lot to be said just for mustering sheer determination.

Related: How I Made $24,000 in 4 Weeks of Cold Calling

Teaching every rep that a thousand negative answers is worth that single positive one you get is a lesson that can spur people on even during their most vulnerable times. After all, every successful business at one point had absolutely zero clients.

But there are also techniques you can use to give yourself a competitive edge for cold calling prospective buyers. And you'll likely need all the help you can get there, considering how saturated the U.S. market has become, with more start-ups than ever.

Talking numbers

In a perfect world, you develop the perfect approach prior to your first call, and you're calling only those prospects who have signalled that they are expressly and undeniably interested in your product or service.

That will cut down the number of contacts you'll need to plow through to make a deal.

The problem is that when you're first introducing a business, you need a while to find out exactly who your ideal customer is. Furthermore, it may take time to discover exactly how to formulate your pitch so it that best showcases your product.

Tip: At the very beginning, you may want to actually go after prospects who have little chance of being interested in your product. This way, you won't grieve over their rejections, and you'll have the opportunity to work out the kinks as quickly as possible.

Casting the net

How wide your net will be obviously depends upon the type of business you have, but you should always be thinking about the possible consequences for those you choose to contact.

As mentioned, you can certainly cast the net fairly wide at first, to start narrowing down the choices to the perfect customer. But there's a caveat to consider before you start targeting everyone under the sun.

In short, offering rambling or otherwise badly worded sales pitches to people who have no use for the product can potentially blacklist your entire company forever. Since buyers have various affiliations and partnerships, you may be playing a dangerous game at the very beginning.

Tip: You'll always want to be mindful of preserving your brand image and integrity. If you choose your prospects carefully, you'll improve your odds dramatically. Just make sure you're using caution both in terms of those practice rounds and the moment when you know you're ready to go after the big fish.

Related: 7 Tips for Cold-Calling Success

Practicing persistence

Your reps have to be comfortable on the phone; of course, practice makes perfect. It can take up to 18 dials before you are able to speak to a single buyer. Considering that statistically speaking, the best days to cold call are Wednesday and Thursday, this could mean months devoted to trying to meet someone. That's a major commitment to make in connecting with someone who may ultimately reject your proposal.

The best thing to do is to continue preaching to reps that there is no such thing as wasted time if someone learned something from the encounter. With each new defeat, reps need to be working on how they view the business, the clients, what they say and how they say it.

Proof and success

With each achievement should come celebration -- especially at the beginning. Some pundits have said that managing reps in a harsh environment lights the right kind of fires and becomes a catalyst for global takeover. However, fomenting a harsh environment can also be a recipe for burnout.

Tip: Instead, praise early reps' successes to encourage ongoing achievement. Do this, and you may even see your team's momentum snowball, which will set an uplifting tone that could also positively impact your company culture.

Optimizing the approach

The bottom line is that new businesses need to be able to learn on their feet as they go. Even with the contacts and practice, the business world changes too quickly for anyone to ever feel entirely comfortable.

New connections emerge, partnerships dissolve and products become repurposed, opening up or closing off whole sections and categories of clients. Without a way to customize the words and the facts their reps give when cold calling, fledgling businesses have trouble gaining a foothold, let alone achieving the massive success that was envisioned.

Related: Why Do You Need to Cold Call?

Tip: Every sales rep should be able to boil down his or her particular strategy into two sentences at the most, which isn't necessarily easy to do when working new angles for different businesses. While those sentences won't provide every detail, they should certainly entice everyone from receptionists to CEOs to find out more.

Danny Wong

Entrepreneur, marketer and writer.

Danny Wong is an entrepreneur, marketer and writer. He is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company, and leads marketing for Receiptful, a platform to supercharge all customer interactions for eCommerce stores, and Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. 

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.


6 Ways to Wring All the Value from Your Earned Media Coverage

Press coverage can help your brand gain visibility and increase credibility — but not if no one sees it. What can you do to get more value from the media placements you've worked so hard to earn?


Improving Yourself Takes 9.6 Minutes of Work Each Day

Micro-habits are the antidote to a chaotic world, offering a pathway to sustainable change.