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How to get cold prospects to say 'yes!'

September 15, 2021

Josh Braun can’t hang a TV.

It’s true! He got Tim from TaskRabbit to do it for him.

What Josh can do though is get a completely cold prospect to say “Yes”.

How does he do it?

By remembering that B2B cold calling isn’t all about closing.

Yip, you read that right.

Instead, your focus should be on getting the prospect to lean forward on your cold call.

But what does that mean? And how exactly are you meant to do it?

Well, Cognism’s SDRs put forward questions to uncover Josh’s tips on how to get that “yes”.

Scroll 👇 for top tips to up your sales game!

Creating an opening | Handling objections | The best way to get prospects to engage with you | Listen to the podcast

Creating an opening

When it comes to cold calling prospects, there’s one question that absolutely irks Josh.

“How do you keep someone on the phone and not get hung up on?”

Why does Josh dislike this question so much?

Well, quite simply, because the focus is on what the SDR wants.

It turns into:

“How do I get people to stay on the phone so that I can book a meeting and so that I can make money?”

Josh elaborates on this:

“When you assume that everybody you call is a fit for what you’re selling and is going to drop everything they’re doing and book a meeting with you, you end up saying things that come across as salesy, manipulative, and gross.”

He continues:

“Think of when you’re at the mall and a mall kiosk salesperson says ‘can I ask you a question?’ Your immediate response is to want to say ‘no’ because you know they’re attached to the outcome of making a sale. That’s how the prospect feels on the other end of the line when you have the wrong approach.”

So, how do you ensure you’ve got the right approach?

Do the 2mm shift

Not everybody you call needs what you have.

You’ve got to shift your mindset away from this.

Instead, detach from the outcome, let go of the assumptions, and create an environment where prospects feel comfortable telling you the truth.

The truth is either a “yes” to continue the conversation or a “no” not at this time.

It’s a small change that can bring massive results - hence the 2mm shift!

Here’s why Josh recommends changing your approach:

“When you make this shift, you’ll feel and sound less salesy which is more inviting to people. They’ll open up more and be more motivated to listen to what it is that you have to say.”

Remember prospecting is about conversations

If you approach prospecting like a bull in a china shop, you're unlikely to get far, as Josh emphasises:

“When your intent and your mindset is ‘every conversation is a meeting’, you set forth this behaviour that's very off-putting to prospects.”

He adds: 

“It’s not about getting prospects to stay on the phone, it’s about you helping them to avoid a future disaster. So, you’ve got to shift towards this perspective and realize you’re having a conversation.”

So rather than just booking a meeting, you should seek information to understand your prospect and identify their pain points.

Don’t turn the prospect off

As Josh says, SDRs or AEs tend to get ‘a sniff of the blood in the water’ and immediately want to pitch.

“The salesperson thinks ‘they’ve just admitted something and now I’ve got to go pitch.’ When you do that, you get a recoil effect because you haven’t allowed the prospect to talk before you move the conversation towards talk of a meeting.”

So, how do you keep the prospect engaged?

You’ve got to structure your conversation like this:

  • Open up the call.
  • Do a problem statement.
  • Poke the bear.

And remember, you’re going to stay in that part of the call without pitching.

If you do it well, the prospect will ask “Well, what do you guys do? How do you help?”

Josh shares his techniques on how to do this: Use mirroring with phrases like:

  • “That’s interesting.”
  • “Tell me more.”
  • “That sounds frustrating for you.”

Repeat the last 2 or 3 words that the prospect has just uttered.

But do it with a slight infliction as if to say “Tell me more.”

Now, the prospect is asking you to tell them more, without you pushing your pitch on them.

This is your chance to respond by saying something like:

“Well, this might help because you’re not able to do X and you’re potentially losing out on Y. If you’d like, we can share a different perspective from what companies A and Z are doing, just to see what your options are for the future.”

Using a statement like this means two things:

  1.  You’re taking off the pressure of ‘buy now’ by saying review what your options are.
  2.  You’re giving the prospect the option to bear your company in mind in the future instead of making them move at a pace they’re not ready to move at.

Your primary job as a salesperson on a cold call is to diffuse pressure. The phrases you choose to use are vital to doing this.

Key takeaways are:

Create the opening, have a positive conversation, and don’t pressure the prospect into a meeting.

Remember, you can always book a meeting on a subsequent touch.

Once you’ve got this down, you can think about how you’re going to handle objections on your cold call.

Handling objections 🙅‍♀️

“The first problem with objections is that salespeople think they’re something you’re meant to overcome. In fact, objections are not objections but the prospect’s truth.”

Shift your intentions once again and realise that an objection is not an objection, it’s a statement.

They’re not things to overcome, they’re things to understand.

Every objection you hear in B2B sales has one of two meanings.

Think of the “I’ve already got a vendor for this” objection. The prospect is telling you two things here:

  1. They really do already have a vendor that they just signed a 2-year contract with and they’re not going to switch.
  2. They’re telling you something just to get you off the phone because it’s uncomfortable to tell you the truth.


With this in mind, it’s your job to create an environment where the prospect feels understood and comfortable in telling you the truth.

Do this by practicing responses to the standard objections salespeople face every day.

Approach objection handling in this way: not to get what you want, but rather as a mechanism to get to the truth.

If you can do this, you’ll waste less time chasing.

And, while you’re trying to avoid wasting time, you’ll want to add this to your list 👇

The best way to get prospects to engage with you 🥰

Now that you’ve got all the tips on how to handle your cold call, how do you get your prospect to engage with you on email?

Of course, ignoring a cold email is a lot easier than ignoring a cold call.

So ensuring your outreach is engaging is a must!

To get your prospects to engage with your cold emails, you’ll want to follow Josh’s 4T structure:

  1. Truth statement.
  2. A question that makes someone think.
  3. Third-party validation.
  4. A talk.

It should read like this:


[ I saw that you sell a couple of courses - Poke the Bear, Tongue Tied. ]Truth

[ How do you know that you’re not losing 10-12% of your revenue month-over-month due to failed credit card payments? ] Gets them to think

[ (COMPANY NAME) are using us to recover failed transactions 80% of the time. It involves an outsource recovery team. ] Third-party validation

Is this worth exploring? ] A soft CTA


And with all of that, you should be getting more “Yeses!” from your prospects and closing more deals than ever!

Listen to the podcast 📻

As we’re sure you’re aware, Josh is pretty great at storytelling.

He’s so great, in fact, that you won’t even realise you’re learning some new sales tricks along the way!

Get more of the stories and techniques Josh shared with us on Cognism’s Revenue Champions podcast.

Listen to the full episode here 👇