Cold Calling as a startup prospecting channel

*Cold Calling for startups is a crucial part of the “How to set up your Startup B2B Sales Process in 3 weeks” series.


First things first, when building your outbound sales process we must insist on using at least 2 channels otherwise you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Using the phone isn’t for anybody who’s unwilling to break some boundaries. With that being said it’s not that anyone can’t make cold calls to people who don’t know them… anyone can do it! However, first, you need to break some walls in your head. For example:

  • Often people are afraid to pick up the phone because they don’t want others to scream at them or bother people. The truth is that almost everyone you talk with on the phone wouldn’t be as harsh as you imagine it to be! Read that last sentence one more time.
  • Next… you need to think about cold calling as helping people. Don’t ever pick up the phone and call someone thinking they know more than you and that you cannot add value to them. The reason you’re calling is that your company is specialized in solving problems they cannot solve themselves as quickly, as well, or as cheap as you can. You’re an expert… act like it.


Here are some tips and tricks for cold calling for startups

Cold Calling for startups is not different from any other cold calling. You need to do your homework before you get started in order to ensure better results.


Research your prospects before you pick up the phone.

Look at their company information – any recent news or announcements, what do they write in there about us section, what kind of people are they looking for, do you have any customers that are their customers as well, what makes them more competitive?

Look at your prospect – Check their LinkedIn, Professional background, Mutual connections, What are their goals and responsibilities, Any recent activities, opinions or interests, education, and organizations they’re members of?


1. Write down 30 seconds or less cold call script

The purpose of the script is not to read it word for word (you risk sounding like a robot), it’s rather to help you stick to your message, communicate your value clearly and confidently. Your goal is to get a meeting or commit to the next step you’ve outlined in your sales process. When it comes to cold calling for startups, don’t forget about the insights you came to when writing your value hypothesis.


2. Schedule your cold calling during the best time of the day.

Every industry has some specifics but if you don’t know when the best time to call is, try Tuesdays or Thursdays in the late afternoon. Data suggests that the majority of calls occur between 3 PM and 5 PM on Thursdays and Tuesdays.

Make sure you book time for “calling sprints” of at least 1-2 hours of uninterrupted cold calling without other activities. Clear your schedule, mute your notifications, and call!


3. Use trigger events

You can consider setting up google alerts for your prospects or monitoring them on sales navigator.

Look for anything relevant – Do they have new funding, or mergers & acquisitions, have they signed a new customer or hired new people, do they read your emails? Cold Calling for startups is really situation-dependent. The more you know the better you can outplay each scenario.


4. Keep it positive and don’t talk too fast or too slow.

Whenever you’re doing cold calls people can feel your smile and they smile back. So be energetic, positive, and smile!

Try to speak at an ordinary pace just as if you’re in a cafe with a friend. Talking too fast or too slow can be a surefire for disaster. Prospects will not follow you and you’ll lose them in the first 30 seconds!

Studies suggest that only 7% of communication is spoken words, the other is 38% voice and tone, and 55% are body language. Since you’re on a call and people cannot really see your body language the focus comes on your voice and tone.


5. Ask open-ended questions

Don’t lead your prospects as if you’re trying to make them agree or confirm your opinion. Instead ask questions like How, Why, What. The goal here is to make them speak to you and if you ask close-ended questions they can answer only with a Yes OR No then you’ll not learn anything for them and their business and not build any relationship. What would be your chances of getting them to dedicate 30-40 minutes of their time to meet with you?


6. Make sure you talk less than your prospects during a call.

The books say keep it 80/20. 80% of the time they speak, 20% you speak. In reality, the balance is more of a 60/40 but never more than that!


7. Whenever you can’t reach your prospect and you can leave a voicemail do it!

This is just like an email but with voice! You can transfer some emotion, build another channel and show your prospect that you’re really authentic.

Keep your VM short and to the point. 20-30 seconds max. Answer the questions “why you’re calling them”, tell them how you can be relevant to them, give them a metric and social proof, ask for a callback!


IMPORTANT: For the past 5 years I’ve done a lot of cold calling, tested multiple different approaches and angels. I’ve found that honesty, directness, and relevancy can go a long way. Don’t be sketchy, misleading, or afraid to call! Happy hunting!


Read the previous chapter of our Sales Acceleration series to learn more about Linkedin Sales as a sales channel for startups. In the next part, we talk about the dos and don’ts of SMS for startup sales.

sms for starup salesLinkedin as a sales channel for startups
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