What is a cold call is a question worth answering because many salespeople can see this sales activity differently. Here is how we define a cold call.


Cold vs. Warm

The first place to start when looking at what is a cold call is comparing warm calling to cold calling.

Cold calling refers to calling a prospect who has zero knowledge of who you are. They may know of your company but they have not reached out to you or to your company, and they most likely do not know who you are.

This differs from warm calling in that warm calling refers to calling someone where there is some existing knowledge or relationship. Here are some example scenarios where a call is warmer and what should be factored into what is a cold call:

  • Calling someone who attended an event (webinar, trade show, etc.)
  • Calling someone who opted in on a website (register for a newsletter, download an ebook, etc.)
  • Calling a current or past client


Sales Process Steps

The other important thing to think about with what is a cold call is where does the cold call fit when it comes to your sales process steps.

We see the cold call sales process step as the first 2 to 5 minutes of a call with a cold prospect. This is worth discussing because there are many scenarios where you cold call a prospect and you talk to them for more than 5 minutes. When this is the case, we feel like you are either still on a cold call and you are letting the call go on too long or that you have progressed to the next step in the sales process.

In most cases, the next step after a cold call will be some sort of appointment or discussion. When you cold call someone and end up talking to them for somewhere between 10 to 15 minutes, we see that as you have progressed to the appointment at the same time as the cold call, and we call this an instant meeting.


Being More Aware of the Cold Call Step

You could just let cold calls go as long as they possibly can and try to get the most out of the time a prospect will give you. But we feel like you can improve your results by being more aware of where the cold call step begins and ends.

When you are more aware of this 2- to 5-minute window that you are operating in, you can not only become more respectful of the prospect’s time and operate more efficiently but also get better at setting appointments with prospects.

When instant meetings occur, they usually happen because the prospect asks a question, or a conversation gets going. This can often represent an opportunity missed where the salesperson could have gone for trying to set an appointment.

Becoming more aware of what is a cold call will help you to improve your control over conversations with prospects and moving them through your sales process.