Creative cold calling: make your prospect smile by changing your intent

Posted December 19, 2018

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By Joe Vignolo

Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach

What if I told you that you could engage your prospects in meaningful conversations on the phone—nay, even make them smile—by changing your techniques in a few simple ways?

You heard that right. The much-maligned cold call can bring cheer to a total stranger. Cold calls can inform buyers, engage gatekeepers, close deals, identify decision makers, and...


So yes, cold calling can still make a difference. And yes, you can tickle your prospect’s funny bone—but only if you approach cold calls with a new mindset.

How do you do it?

Make a good first impression

It takes mere seconds for a prospect to choose whether to stay on or bail out of a cold call. If you sound like hundreds of other SDRs, following the same playbook and babbling out the same script, can you really blame a prospect for politely (or even rudely) cutting the call?

Everyone needs a break from hearing the same tune over and over again.

The prospect’s first impression of you carries over to your brand and the product you are offering. A good impression goes a long way, but a bad one is difficult to undo down the line.

Does that mean you should stay on the safe side? 

Not at all. If you do that, you’ll sound (or read, in the case of cold email) like everybody else, which greatly diminishes your mindshare with the prospect. 

Only when you stand out in a good way will you be able to capture enough mindshare to move the conversation forward. You can do so by doing your homework (i.e. in-depth prospect research) and being creative. Instead of trite, run-of-the-mill cold emails, try sending direct mail, for example, with funny or cute but highly relevant items that you can use as launchpads for subsequent touch points.  

The Flower and the Fireball

To orchestrate a more memorable connection with prospects, SDRs should change their intent.

Sales practitioners have become quite comfortable with the idea that cold calls should deliver an expected outcome: booking a meeting. They do their thing on the sales floor focusing on this outcome, often to the point of forcing the issue until prospects feel too pressured to want to continue the conversation. If you move much faster than prospects, they’ll just fall by the wayside as lost opportunities.

Changing your intent by detaching your efforts from the outcome leads to more sustainable conversations. Instead of focusing on yourself and your product, shift your attention to the prospect. Let your curiosity take you on a trip of discovery and empathy. 

In your mind, answer these three questions most prospects deals with:

  • Should I pay attention to you?
  • Does this (your solution) make me happier/more awesome?
  • Do I like/trust you?

Consider SalesDNA co-founder and CEO Josh Braun’s Mario Brothers analogy. In the video game, Mario snags a fire flower to gain the power to throw fireballs. Think about it: what is more important to you, the flower or the fireballs? The solution or the outcome?

To drive better cold calling results, Josh recommends that you reframe your messaging to focus less on the flower (the product or service you’re selling) and more on the fireball (the stuff that makes prospects more awesome or happier, like increased revenue or saving time).


Sales and business people are turning to improv techniques to help them with their communication skills. That’s because fun and humor warm up our connections and make it easier to build rapport, trust, and relationships. But you don’t need to be a stand-up comic to be successful. You just need to change your intent, make a memorable first impression, and imagine how your product can make the prospect happier.


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