10 Ideas for Questions to Ask During Cold Calling

Whenever you get a "no"... take it as feedback. ‘No’ tells you to change your approach, create more value, or try again later.

During a cold call, you are reaching out to someone who doesn’t know you and interrupting their day so you can tell them about your products and services. No one is going to be enthusiastic about having their day interrupted by a stranger.

Therefore, for your cold call to be successful, you need to make a good impression on your prospect right from the start. If you don’t do this, you are setting yourself up to fail even before you mention the product or service you are trying to sell.

Unfortunately, this is what happens to a lot of sales people. Without realizing – they sabotage their sales calls by asking the wrong questions.

DISCLAIMER: I have never done cold calls in my life.

However, when I asked what topics you want me to cover – ‘B2B cold calling’ came back again and again.

So, I spoke to a couple of sales experts and compiled their tips for you.

Here are their 10 ideas for questions to ask during cold calling:

1. When do you suppose your company will need…?

If your prospect mentions they may consider it in the future, you can mark that for future follow-up. You can also ask indirect questions about your prospect’s business priorities, challenges, problems, budget and current suppliers.

2. Would you be interested in a demo meeting…?

In most cases, you’ll find out your prospects haven’t heard about your product or service. So they probably don’t know how it works. A demonstration will show your product/service in action. This helps your prospects understand better its value or how it can solve their problem.

3. Is there any reason for us not to move forward with…?

If you realize you are losing the lead, make a point to know why the prospect is objecting to your offer. Don’t be pushy. Keep it casual and respectful, which can bring the prospect back on track. Another strategy for understanding their “no” is to ask about their ideal solution, such as “What kinds of terms would you prefer?”

4. Who else should we involve in this call?

You should ask this question when you notice you’re talking to the wrong person. Of course, a little bit of research in advance could avoid getting there. But in case it does, ask this question to help you connect with a decision-maker or other stakeholders.

5. Did you know that XX% of companies in your industry…?

If you had done your research about the business and their industry, you could use some valuable information. Share an insight that relates to their business and has a connection with what you are offering. This may get them interested, especially if it’s something they are not aware of. A question such as “did you know that XX% of companies in your industry changed to remote or hybrid meetings?”

6. Our customers report…, have you experienced something similar?
You already know from your research that your target customer has a special need, but you don’t want to sound like a desperate salesperson. Mentioning a pain point may help them give you the information you want. For example, “Our customers report experiencing such and such problem, have you experienced something similar?”

7. Has … affected your business?
Before focusing on what you can do for them, discuss something that is happening in the industry/world/economy and ask how this affected them. For example, “Because of COVID many businesses moved to work from home. Has this affected your business?”

8. What about this product isn’t working for your needs?
If your prospect is already using (or used in the past) a similar product/service – use this question to get more information about what your competitors are offering. And how to leverage their weaknesses to strengthen your pitch. Ask what they like the most about their current system. Is there anything they dislike? If they had a chance, would they want to change the product? Is the product they’re using working for them?

9. Is it alright if I send over some more information?

A prospect may not remember much of what you are offering after your cold call. It would be good to send over more information.

10. When can I call back to continue our discussion?

You may make a call when the prospect doesn’t have the time to have a discussion. Use the chance to ask what time would be best to call to share what you were offering. 

Now It’s YOUR Turn

For five minutes… come up with as many ideas as you can… what questions have YOU asked in the past (or should have asked) during more or less cold calling?

Let's Brainstorm

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Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.

Live fully, stay awesome,

Nisandeh Neta

Let's Brainstorm

00:
Days
00:
Hrs
00:
Mins
00
Secs
.000
00:00:00:00

Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.

Live fully, stay awesome,

Nisandeh Neta

  1. I have b2c business. It is therefore unlikely that I will use cold calling. When I call someone, client or private, I ask most of the time if it is convenient that I call. If not, what would be a could time to call? That would probably my first question. When I think back to some of those cold call conversations from services like energy, phone companies and the like is that they hardly listen to what you are saying. Listening is more important then telling your story. It might get you a follow up.

  2. In the light of "pick your battles" and use your time as efficiënt as possible, I never do or did Cold calling. There are no benefits for me. I recognize what is said in the other comments. I stay away. HOWEVER, I van Imagine that Cold calling is a very good trainings excercise for people that want to move on in sales or find it hard to have " sales conversations". This and door-to-door are excellent ways to develop yourself and your skills. Then the above 10 tips can help you out very well in where to start and how to do IT 😉

    1. Wonderful idea Frans, Nisandeh taught us purpose stacking and this would be a fantastic purpose to stack on top of the obvious ones such as eh... selling:)

  3. I have not much experience in 'cold calling'. I avoid phonecalls as much as possible, because I miss feedback in face expression. Sometimes I am irritated by all the unannounced phonecalls about all kind of services around insurance, energy, charities etc. I do have online one-to-one meetings, more or less caused by COVID.
    What I try to do now, is to ask followers of my business page if they are interested in more explanation about my service.
    I also let my email-list grow, and even more important, keep it up-to-date.
    Warm contacts can become cold contacts and the other way round.

  4. I did cold "calling" when I was travelling through Australia when I was 18... I tried to sell some sort of plastic isolation / fake wood to put on your house instead of the real wood since: did you know that most of the accidents happen outside while painting the wall of the house? I was trained by a real good sales person but I didn't like it. I learned a lot and then I tried though, but since then I never enjoyed doing it.

    But: You need to find out about the pain points, and let the other person talk. Ask questions, and then try to find out if some one is left brain (more details and facts) or right brain (more the story and emotions). There is even an AI made by Cheri Tree about 4 different ways of approaching people on LinkedIn. You get the facts of the person beforehand so it will be easier (I never used this but a friend uses it all the time).

  5. Before a cold call…
    Find out which person of the enterprise to talk to. Developer or man at the top?
    Never try to sell!!!
    Ask about their product or service.
    Know the weak spot of this product or service of which you have the solution ( which you can offer).
    Be an active listener and let them know /feel in the conversation your knowledge.
    Acknowledge you had the same problem ask if they know the solution.
    Tell that you or your company has found a way to solve this problem, to which benefits your solution reaches, what it can accomplish.
    And offer your help.
    When you get a no interest…..

    I never say yes to someone who calls me with a cold call.

    I say no, because my brain is busy with other things, but a good cold call , with a person who was an active listener will keep trigger my mind. And without follow-up contact info I can’t do anything with it.

    So after this NO ask the contact information of the person, promise to send more information per email. Send it the same day. Give a small preview of the solution and give information where to reach you.

    If your offer is really this great they contact you no doubt.

  6. Isn't cold calling a very old fashioned sales strategy? In my opinion, and I'm agreeing with @Gerdy, it's better to make the person you want to talk to warm first. Which is not that hard since we have social media.

    Anyway, I replayed the sales calls I recently had (I was the victim here).

    1. Do your homework - It's disrespectful when the sales man doesn't know who you are (or your company)

    2. Do not talk like a sales person - When I detect sales jargon, I end the conversation immediately.

    3. Start the conversation with a short and appealing story - When it's a good story, I have your attention

    4. Give genuine compliments about your victim or his/her company - Yes, you have to be well informed if you want to do that!

    5. Send an email first - When I agreed to the sales conversation, I'm prepared and accommodating

    6. Make a script in advance and practice - That's what I would do when I was a sales p.

    1. I agree @Ine - it feels as if "cold calling" is an old fashion marketing tactics, especially now when you can find practically any business person online and first get to know them...

    2. Isn't cold calling a very old fashioned sales strategy?

      I don't think anything should be judged by how "old fashioned" or "hip and trendy" it is.
      We should evaluate every strategy and tactic based on the results it brings us.

      I (as I mentioned in the disclaimer) have no experience with cold calling.
      However, if you use cold calling and it works for you - you should do it all day long.
      If cold calling works for you, but not as effective as you'd like it to - then give these tips above a chance. They're being used by people that do get results from cold calling all day long.

      Just my 2 cents...

  7. Yay! A topic where I can really attribute:)

    First of all- try to avoid cold calls as much as possible. If there is someone you want to talk to, go on LinkedIn, type in their name and you probably know someone who knows them. Ask for an introduction. This saves the world.

    Other question:
    What frustrates you the most when it comes to…? People love talking about themselves, and someone who is really listening- they take the time for it.

    Then ask: how can I help you best?

    I sell services. I ask them: if you could get me a day for free how would you make the best use of my time?

    Let THEM come up with the solution. It also shows if they are the right. Client for you.

    At then end ask: what is the next step in this process? They will tell you how they would like to proceed. Always make it concrete. So if they want to be called back in 3 months, just make an appointment. Make sure you keep in charge.

  8. I must admit that just like Nisandeh I have never done cold calling. THis list is full of valuable information that it makes me rethink whether I should do cold calling

    Question to this knowledgeable and wise community - does every business need to do "cold calling" - what is the advantage of doing it?

    1. No. I don’t think so. Even the big sales people I talked to said you shouldn’t have to- if someone is cold make them warm first. It’s all about building up a relationship.

      1. Thanks @Gerdy for this clarification... I then wonder why do people still do "cold calling"? Isn't it a waste of time, energy and resources?

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