Should You EVER Make Small Talk On A Cold Call?

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

young woman in office talking on phoneSmall talk: That warm up is always a good thing in a face-to-face sales interaction.

It’s that short period of time you have to create some rapport and chitchat a bit to ease into the sales presentation.

However, should you ever attempt to initiate such a warm up in a cold call?

While there are some very different, if not, vastly opposing views on this among sales people, I don’t think there really is a controversy.

In fact, on this subject, I believe that EVERYONE is right.

Here is why…

NO! No Chit-Chit At All!

Some sales professionals admittedly believe that you should never attempt to make the slightest bit of small talk when cold calling.

They feel that even to say something as natural as, “How are you?” is a terrible thing.

To extend any type of pleasantry at the onset of a cold call is artificial and even phony.

Get right onto business, no matter what the situation.

YES! Warm Up, Chat!

On the other hand, some feel strongly that you must make some connection with the prospect before getting into business.

They feel that it is only natural and human to extend rudimentary pleasantries that you would offer in a normal telephone call.

They feel it makes the call more natural and real.

Which is Best?

This is what I mean when I say everyone is right: What we all need to understand is that a cold call, a warm call, indeed, any type of sales call, should be an individual and customised inter-relational experience; hence, and INTERACTION.

While you should have a PLANNED talk, you should not have a CANNED pitch.

How Are YOU Doing?

First, you should never say anything that is uncomfortable for you to say.

If it makes you uncomfortable to ask, “How are you?” then you should not ask.

If you do not honestly have an interest in how the person is, then it IS phoney.

In that case, you are right; don’t do it.

Alternately, if you feel natural and comfortable asking such a question; then do so.

Many sales people actually have a genuine interest in how the person who answers the phone is doing at the time of the call.

Many sales people would really like to know if the prospect is in the right state of mind to listen, or is having such a bad day, that any conversation would be a disaster.

So the first thing to think about is how are YOU—the sales person doing?

Do what comes natural to YOU and makes you comfortable.

EVERY Call is Different

Finally, you should be able to adapt slightly to the mood and personality of the prospect.

You should not have such a word-for-word script that you say the exact same thing to everyone.

You may feel that you should never get into the small talk, but what do you do when you get that prospect on the telephone, who obviously likes the small talk?

Alternately, you may be the sales person who likes to chitchat a bit, then meets the prospect who is strictly business and will get thoroughly insulted by your asking, “How are you?”


In addition to being yourself and not doing what is too uncomfortable for you to do; let the prospect tell you which way you should go.

Instead of….
“Hi Steve, this is Sarah Smyth with ABC Technologies. The reason I’m calling is that we help independent business owners with…”

“Hi Steve? (Pause) Sarah Smyth, ABC Technologies?” (Pause)

Make your introduction a question or questions, and pause—shut up.

Don’t be afraid to let the prospect respond.

Let the prospect tell YOU what will work with their mental disposition and personality.

Sales Person with Prospect #1

Sales Person
“Hi Steve?


Sales Person
“Sarah Smyth, ABC Technologies?” (Pause)

Prospect 1

Sales Person
“Steve, the reason I’m calling is recently we help independent business owners with…”

The prospect made it clear…get to business.

On the other hand…

Sales Person with Prospect #2

Sales Person
“Hi Steve?

Prospect 2
“You got him!”

Sales Person
“Sarah Smyth, ABC Technologies…how are you?” (Pause)

Prospect 2
“Doing pretty well. How about yourself?”

This is simple.

Just remember that every prospect you call, is an individual, a real person.

In addition, keep in mind that you are an individual as well.

Treat both prospect and sales person like unique individuals, and you can’t go wrong.

Happy Selling!

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 2 October, 2017

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