How to NAIL the First 30 Seconds of a Cold Call

Over the course of my career, I have had to cold call a lot. I knocked on over 20,000 doors when I was in college as a door-to-door salesperson. After I finished graduate school, I worked for an enterprise software company selling spam filtering software to large corporate enterprises.

I’ve made tens of thousands of cold calls and I can tell you this, how you open your cold call makes a big difference. Nailing those first 30 seconds is really important.

Most of the sales trainers and scripts that you ever come across are awful. 

I’m gonna walk you through the two most common mistakes that salespeople make while cold calling and give you a three-step process of exactly what to do when you’re making cold calls. 

The Mindset You Need

First of all, let’s talk about the mindset.

The mindset you should have is serving, not selling. 

The mindset isn’t, “How do I trick someone?” Your job as a service-centered salesperson is not to magically turn someone’s  ”no”  into a “yes”, it’s to find all of the people that could genuinely benefit from your product or service. 

But how do you make them listen to you?

The words that come out of your mouth should sound more like you’re talking to a friend and less like you’re giving a formal pitch. And if they say no, they’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting the product you have. Going into a call with that mindset takes a lot of the pressure off of you right up front. In fact, one of the things that we say at Brand Builders Group all the time is, “There is no fear when the mission to serve is clear.”

Mistakes to Avoid

Now, let’s talk about the mistakes. 

Number one is leading with your company name. If you say, “Hey, it’s Rory Vaden from Brand Builders Group,” that is a mistake. 


Because that’s not how friends talk to each other. If your job is to serve them, then you need to stay away from anything that gives into the idea that you’re just another slimy salesperson.
So usually I will stick with first names if I’m cold calling. I’d say, “Hey, is this Lisa? Hey, Lisa, this is Rory.” 


Because that’s how people normally talk to each other. You want to create this sort of friendly, conversational tone, just like you would in real life talking to a friend.

Mistake number two is asking them a question. Now, I’m a fan of questions and great sales are more about being a great questioner than a great talker. But don’t start your conversation with, “Hey Lisa, it’s Rory, do you have a minute?” There’s not a sales call that I’ve ever made where someone was like, “You know what? I was just looking for someone to talk to.”

Asking them if they have time, doesn’t serve them in any way and we wanna shape the conversation to be helpful for them right away. 

And, throwing in  a question is going to create that, that sales resistance right up front, because they go, “Man, I don’t know you,” like, that’s what they’re thinking.

So, don’t lead with your company name, don’t use your last name, and don’t ask them some frivolous question.

3 Steps to Success

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s talk about the three-step process to nail your cold calls. 

Step number one is to use a conversational tone.

Make sure that you say, “Hey Lisa, this is Rory,” not, “This is Rory Vaden,” because you don’t introduce yourself with a last name. The very first thing that you’re gonna do after introducing yourself is to acknowledge the fact that you’ve never met.

Why? Because they’re thinking, “Who the heck are you?” 

You need to take a confident stance of making it clear that you don’t know each other, but maybe you should, but also maybe there’s no reason for you to talk.

That step won’t make you land the sales call, but it’ll give you the window you need to start talking.

Step two, is to use this phrase: “The reason I’m calling you is…” They pay attention because you’re getting to the point straight away. No one wants to waste their time talking to someone they don’t know about something that they don’t know.

Don’t waste time telling people that you’re gonna get to the point, just get to the point by using the “reason” phrase.

Step three is where the magic happens. If you’ve never done this before, this will sound weird to you. Talk about who not what. In other words, don’t talk about what you’re selling or what company you’re from, talk about, who are the kind of people you talk to. We’re gonna do this in two ways. First, start general, and then be specific.

The general part is saying, “The reason I’m calling is that I am talking to all the (job title) in the (geographical region).

When I was knocking on doors, when I was in college, I would say “I’m talking with all the moms with students here in the ______ school district in _____ county.

This is super powerful because nobody does this and this works on all different scales and environments. 

Once you do this you can start being more specific by mentioning the type of industry you’re working in or maybe by narrowing in on the area you’re targeting.

Why? Because once you narrow in on those, it builds more credibility with your target and makes them want to trust you. 

The main goal of sales is getting them to shift their focus away from you as the salesperson and onto them and their situation and their needs. By letting them know who you are, who you’re targeting, and what type of business you’re in, it lets them ease up a bit and think about how you can actually help them. 

quote rory vaden

Another tip is to use the names of people in their community that they can already identify with. For example, saying, “I’m working ___ from __ already.” The key to that, however, is getting those people’s permission first, before using their names.

To recap, here are the three steps to nailing your sales call:

  1. Use a conversational tone.
  2. Get straight to the point.
  3. Talk about who not what.

For more insights and information on the psychology of influence, make sure you check the rest of the articles on my blog & check out some of our FREE offerings in the sidebar!

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