The Definition of Cold Calling

Learn what cold calling is and how you can become better at it.

Jeb Blount
3-minute read

It seems that no one knows exactly how to define a cold call--not the experts, not sales professionals, not sales managers.  Even training companies that teach cold calling techniques stumble when asked to provide a solid definition of a cold call. I find this troubling; and it certainly can be confusing to sales professionals who depend on cold calling to keep their sales pipelines full.

Do You Know What Cold Calling Is?

Think about it. How can you learn to do something well if no one can actually tell you what the thing is? So we end up with dozens of monikers for what is essentially the same thing:

  • cold calls

  • warm calls

  • hot leads

  • referrals

  • drop-ins

  • knocking on doors

  • warming up the cold call

The list goes on. And because there are so many different ideas about what a cold call actually is, there are just as many ideas on how to go about cold calling. Unfortunately, many sales professionals who don’t really understand what cold calling is waste money on books, tapes, and trainings full of empty promises that they will “never have to cold call again.”

What Exactly Is Cold Calling?

The reality is that in most sales jobs if you don’t cold call, you will fail. Most experts, trainers, and sales managers can agree on that fact. Another fact: Cold calling is not this big scary complicated thing. It is actually quite simple.

You see a cold call simply means that you are interrupting a prospect’s day with an unscheduled call or visit.  When you pick up the phone or walk in the door and interrupt the day of someone not currently in your sales pipeline, it is a cold call. You can argue the degrees--warm, hot, cold, or whatever. But the simple fact remains, you are interrupting their day to talk about something you want them to do or buy.