How to hack cold-calling

Published in Feb 25, 2020

Reaching out to a customer can be a tedious job. Reaching out to potential customers can even be more stressful. In most cases, you won’t get their personal information to dial and speak to your future client. This article shows you some – maybe unethical – tricks to connect with your prospects. Note: Before calling make sure, you have got your value proposition and strategy for value-based selling in place.

Calling the headquarters

If you don’t have any direct contact information, calling the headquarters of the company is mostly the only chance you have got. The person at the reception is the gatekeeper for the whole company and decides which calls to put straight through and which not. Sometimes they are trained to put you off, sometimes they don’t care at all.

So, make it simple for them. Don’t ask from someone for department XYZ, but be concrete with who you want to speak to (with first name and last name, as some last names are rather common). You can even play with your tone of voice, and be sure to prepare a story about why you can’t reach the person directly. Maybe you don’t have the correct extension, or you are not sure when to call someone or ask for someone else from the same department even though you have never talked with anyone from the department. Be clever and give the receptionist the feeling that they can help you easily. Be friendly and thank them for helping you.

Use the same language. People like other people that are similar to them. If they have got a regional dialect, use their words but don’t try to imitate them. Try to find a common level to connect with them personally. This will make it easier for you.

Calling marketing/press

An easy way to get a kind of warm personal entry into a company is calling the marketing or press department. There is a high chance, that you will find their direct contact information on any corporate website and they like to talk.

So, if you want to know more about a company and their strategy call them and ask. Let them talk and at some point tell them, that it is highly interesting and that you want to talk with someone from the respective department you want to reach. Mostly, they don’t have a receptionist gatekeeper mindset, so you might have a good chance to get a name and also a direct extension.

Calling the wrong person on purpose

Besides calling the marketing as an intermediary you can also try to reach out to someone, you know is the wrong person, but easy to reach. Good targets are new hires and junior positions. Talk to them, as if you were going to sell the solution to them. They know that they don’t have the position for decision making and will tell you.

You can find them via social media and business networks providing you with the information you need.

Calling a random extension

When you know how many digits the extensions have in the company and you just cannot reach the prospect, just call any number to speak at least to someone. If you know the extension of your prospect use transposed digits or increment the extension’s number by one. When reaching the wrong person, either act surprised and ask for a correct mobile number or email address if you don’t have it and refer to the colleague who gave it to you, when reaching out to the prospect. Or you can speak to the person as if you have reached the right person. This works well for incremented extensions, as the possibility is high, that you reached a person in the same department. See, to what it leads.

If you don’t have the correct extension of your prospect, you could call the marketing as stated above or really call random extensions with the same strategy as above. Try to get the right extension or alternative contact information. Maybe, you even call the right person by accident. Use the same strategy, as when reaching out to the wrong person on purpose.

Fake recommendation

When actually connecting with your prospect on the phone and following your value-based effective call plan, you can use a trust-building strategy by faking a recommendation (sounds ironic, doesn’t it?). This means, you tell your prospect, that they were recommended by another colleague, to give the prospect the feeling, you are actually already in talks with the company and they are now the final authority to decide how to continue. Recommendations help you to be not seen as an intruder. But be careful of who you choose for this fake recommendation. In most corporates, it doesn’t matter, as even departments are too big that everybody knows everyone and even if it’s not so, they mostly talk with so many people, that they would most certainly not recall not to give a recommendation. Faking a recommendation from a higher position than your prospect a two-edged sword, as it can boost the prospects standing in this topic as an authority, because of being recommended. On the other hand, it could lead to downsizing the topic you want to talk about because it isn’t managed at a higher level in the hierarchy. See what works in which companies. In most cases, you already talk with other colleagues before finally reaching the right decision-maker, so always keep track of with who you talked about which topics.

Buying data

If nothing might work out, there are actually people out there selling whole business information with organisational structure, names, positions, e-mail addresses and dial-throughs of your target audiences. Providers are e.g. UpLead or DiscoverOrg, where you can license and/or buy datasets of your precise target audience for a certain amount of time. Sometimes they might be outdated, but in general, they give you essential information about your potential customer like hierarchy, e-mail and phone extension formats.

Be creative

To put it in a nutshell, when working in a startup and try to get traction on your market, you have to be creative and pushy. Especially, when your strategy focusses on cold calling. I hope this article might help you to overcome the first barriers. What is your strategy to reach out to your potential customers on the phone? Send it to so we can update this article.