7 Cold Calling Mistakes That Are Killing Your Closing Rates (And How To Fix Them)

7 cold calling mistakes that are killing your closing rates - Fileboard

As a sales rep, you’ve probably grappled with rejection enough times to become numbed to it. But there’s a sales task that can – regardless of your sensitivity to rejection and your experience – make most reps shudder with anxiety: cold calling.

Picking up the phone and getting a cold lead to say “yes” can be hard. In today’s article, we’ll help you get higher closing rates and less hang ups by giving you a list of game-changing cold calling mistakes to avoid.

Avoid These Seven Mistakes To Up Your Closing Rate

Cold Calling Mistake 1: Failing To Physiologically “Warm Up”

Failing to psychiologically warm up - Fileboard

You’ve gulped down some coffee, sucked in some deep breaths, and sat at your desk. You’re nervous, but still feel pumped. Time to get calling, right?

Not so fast.

In the sales world you can’t really control how prospects will react to your efforts. But you can control your own mental state, which directly affects how you perform on a call. The more motivated, confident, and prepared you feel, the higher your chances of success.

Unfortunately, the typical office routine isn’t enough. Drinking coffee and snacking on some donuts for energy won’t push you into a peak performance state. Fortunately, there are some simple mind & body hacks that boost your overall mental state:

Smiling While Dialing

Smile while dialing - Fileboard

We’ve all heard about the uplifting benefits of smiling. But what if there’s no one there to smile at? Can smiling while you talk still improve your cold calling performance?

University of Kansas researchers found that smiling during a stressful situation lowers heart rate, blood pressure and reduces stress sensitivity.

Even more amazing: Smiling impacts the way we speak. Listeners on the other end can even sense your facial expressions and detect the type of smile based on sound alone.

[tweet “Smiling while #coldcalling helps you relax and will make closing the sale easier!”]

Keep A Friendly Picture Close By

Looking at a photo of a loved one carries a ton of health benefits. Not only does it make you feel happier, it can also relieve pain, increase relaxation, and make you less susceptible to anxiety. It’s also a great way to prepare yourself to be more attentive and sympathetic when listening to prospects.

Want more tips to instantly boost your mood? Check out our sales performance boosting hacks article.

Cold Calling Mistake 2: Reciting Facts and Features Instead Of Firing Benefit-Driven Bullets

Most of us are so immersed in and passionate about our products that we become excited by small facts and features. Here’s the problem: your prospect is deeply concerned with one special thing, and one thing only…

What does the product you’re selling do for him?

Listing facts or features fails to answer this question in a way that makes your prospect want to buy. To understand this better, take a look at this description from Wrangler Jeans:


This isn’t just a feature rundown, informing you about every different thing these jeans do.

This benefit list describes how those features will help the prospect you’re selling to. Wrangler does nothing but fire seductive benefits right at their customers. There’s a huge difference between this list of features…

These jeans have slimming side seams, a subtle boot cut, a reverse yoke, proportioned back pockets and a contour waistband.”

The benefit driven description by Wrangler:

These regular rise jeans from Aura from the Women at Wrangler® have slimming side seams and a subtle boot cut to flatter your shape. A reverse yoke lifts the seat. Vertical back pockets are proportioned to make the most of your assets and a contour waistband means these jeans won’t gap in the back

Their description shows women readers exactly how each and every feature of the jeans will benefit their lives by instantly making them sexier, slimmer, and fashionable.

If you actually want to persuade prospects into buying – not just talk at them until they cut you off –  you need to do the same. You need to focus on your prospect’s problems and explain how you solve them.

To ensure you’re doing this, use the “so what?” test.

You probably already have a list of features/facts ready. If you don’t, make one. Now, simply go through your list and ask yourself: “So what?”

Imagine you’re cold calling prospects with the goal of selling a marketing info product. Here’s how these two words can radically transform your cold call:

  • Our marketing course comes with 3 audio CD’s
  • You also get a simple but powerful 10 point checklist
  • A quick 60 page ebook on 7 killer marketing mistakes you must avoid

After answering “so what?” to each point

  • We’ve turned our marketing course into an easy to listen format across 3 audio CD’s, so you can learn on your own time at your convenience.
  • Sometimes you need the answer ASAP. So we’ve included a 10 point checklist to help you quickly plug dangerous ship-sinking holes in your marketing.
  • Marketing isn’t rocket science, but you still need to know what you’re doing. So we’ve included this sharp 60 page ebook to help you hit the ground running and avoid profit slashing hurdles

Huge difference, don’t you think?

The first list simply describes what the products are, the second tells the prospect what they’ll use the products for, and how they’ll help that prospect.

If you haven’t tried the “so what” test already give it a shot.

Jot down all the important facts and features about what you’re selling, then convert them into benefits by asking “so what”. When you’ve got your list, keep it with you so you’re ready to fire at interested prospects.

Cold Calling Mistake 3: Trying to cram everything into one sales call

Your prospect has probably never heard of your company, has no idea of what service/product you offer, and doesn’t know who you are. On top of this, they also have 101 things to do, just like you.

Expect them to be distracted when you call. After all, you likely interrupted them. Furthermore, studies show the brain can only process 20-30 seconds of information at any given time.

Don't try to cram everything into one sales call - Fileboard

This means you need to slash any “fluff” information in your pitch, and deliver it 1-3 sentences at a time to let your prospect digest your words. Gauge your prospect’s interest level to decide when to deliver more. Some common cues are when:

  • They start asking questions
  • They start talking about their problems
  • They talk about what they want

Cold Calling Mistake 4: Making Claims Without Proof

There’s a great way to dilute the power and credibility behind your pitch… and that is to expect prospects to believe and trust every claim you make.

Newsflash: they don’t, and they won’t.

Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck. They leave no impression whatever.” (Claude Hopkins)

People are always going to remain skeptical because they’re constantly being sold to, day in, and day out.

Can you imagine the state of someone who didn’t treat advertisements and sales pitches with caution? Their bank account wouldn’t be too healthy.

The solution? Fight skepticism with social proof.

TV shows often use a laugh track when a punchline is delivered. And even though the audience knows it’s a recording…it doesn’t stop them from laughing along with it.

Social proof is powerful sales tool because:

People might be skeptical about what you say about your product; however when told how your company slashed the monthly phone bills by 50% for 3 local businesses, they’re likely to pay attention.

Cold Calling Mistake 5: Sounding Like A Robot

[tweet “#coldcalling tip: Nobody wants to hear bland facts spewed out by a corporate robot.”]

Imagine that you’re at a car showroom looking for a new car. You’ve been browsing a while and you’re approached by two different salesmen…

The first has a polished air about him, his suit is pristine, his hair impeccable, but he maintains a poker-faced expression while talking to you.

The second guy seems average. He approaches with a smile and asks how you’re doing, he answers your questions honestly, shares his personal opinion, cracks some jokes, and talks with passion.

Which salesman are you most likely to trust and listen to? Chances are it is the second one; simply because he’s more likeable, relatable and human.

The same applies to your cold calling.

Nobody wants to feel like they’re listening to bland facts spewed out by a corporate robot. Create a stronger rapport by:

  • Fluctuating the tone of your voice. A monotonous tone will bore your prospect.
  • Varying your pace.
  • Asking questions. Questions make your call feel like a two-way conversation, and keep people engaged.
  • Pausing for effect. It’s done in theater all the time because it works, so try it out on prospects!

Cold Calling Mistake 6: Forgetting To Qualify The Prospect

Consider the following: A sales rep cold calls a company, after getting a decision maker on the phone he says, “Hi, I’m Jaden Smith with Klean Supply, a company that offers maintenance supplies. I’d like talk about becoming a vendor for you. So, what exactly does your company do?

This may sound really dumb, but cold calls like this do occur. Mostly by unprepared salespeople who are spraying and praying with their cold calls. They’re killing their closing rates because they know nothing about who they’re selling to.

Here’s a strong cold call opening from a rep who knows his stuff…

Hi John, I’m Edward Stevens with SEO.net. Hope you enjoyed your wine tasting vacation. After following your marketing blog and speaking to your most popular readers, I understand that you are looking to gain more traffic from search engines with better content.

 We’ve helped over 20 companies build new blogs that attracted $15,000 dollars of business in the first 10 months. I’d like to ask a few questions to see if I could give you some information.”

See the difference doing a little sleuthing behind the scenes can make? Don’t be afraid to put on your sales detective hat. The more info you have about your prospects, the stronger and more targeted your pitches will be.

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Cold Calling Mistake 7: Using These “Insta-hang up” Statements

You’ve only got a few precious seconds to hook a prospect’s attention and cause them to think, “Hey, this sounds interesting.” Unfortunately, some cold callers use openers that immediately build a thick wall of resistance that makes prospects instantly hang up.

To prevent this from happening, avoid the following types of statements:

  • Mentioning of products or services right off the bat. “Hi, I’m with The ER home protection agency”. The prospect can just say they’re happy with their home security, and hang up.
  • Asking or hinting at a decision. “Hello, I’d like to talk to you about becoming your supplier.” Again, it’s easier for them to say no and cut you off.
  • Immediately trying to offer something. “Hi are you interested in buying a new bed?”. This is the worst. Not only is it rude, there’s also no existing rapport, or established problem that needs solving. This is a big no.

To improve your openings:

  • Script your opening statement, then test and track it. Overtime you’ll find the best opener that works for your specific product/service.
  • Focus on getting them to listen. When opening, your goal is not to sell, it’s not to build a connection, and it’s not to inform. Your opening goal is to snag attention and get your prospect to listen. The rest comes later.
  • If you were referred by someone, mention it. This will quickly “warm” up your call.


Avoid these mistakes to level up your cold calling skills and close more leads. What do you think is the number one mistake when cold calling?

Tell us in the comments below!