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Cold Prospecting 101 for Startups & Small Businesses

Cold Prospecting 101 for Startups & Small Businesses
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Whether you are an experienced small business owner or a first-time entrepreneur, cold prospecting is likely part of your sales process. As most startups start with one person or a small team, the founder is usually the one who is selling. But if your skillset doesn’t include experience with selling to new prospects, how can you learn to connect?

The first step is to understand the definition of cold prospecting: Cold prospecting is the process of reaching out to prospects you don’t know, and who aren’t actively expressing interest in your services, to generate an initial meeting (and hopefully a sale).

Now that you know exactly what cold prospecting entails, let’s dive into how you can start. Two of the most common methods of cold prospecting are cold emailing and cold calling. Each of these techniques have pros and cons. Each, when used correctly, can turn into sales. We’ll explain some of the pros and cons of each, to help inform your decision about whether to use just cold calling, just cold emailing, or a combination of both.

But before you get into the nitty-gritty work of writing emails and dialing numbers, you have to do your research. Ensure you’re targeting the right audience for your product or service, or your phone calls and emails will get little to no responses. No matter what techniques you use, if you’re targeting the wrong audience, your prospecting efforts will not bear any fruit.

Pros and Cons of Cold Calls vs. Cold Emails

So how do you decide between which method of prospecting to pursue for your business? It’s important to understand some of the pros and cons of each approach.

Pros and Cons of Cold Calls


  • You can reach new customers
  • You can actually talk to a live buyer on the phone and make a human connection
  • You get a faster response than email, and you can push harder on prospects
  • You can work on and master your sales pitch


  • They can be annoying and even frustrating - for you and the prospect
  • They are time-consuming and nearly impossible to scale without hiring more people
  • Response rates can be very low

Pros and Cons of Cold Emails


  • You can reach new customers
  • They are efficient and scalable - you can manually send many cold emails per day, and you can even automate the process
  • They are fairly cheap, even if you’re using software to automate them
  • They are visually attractive, and often allow you to communicate your information more clearly than calls
  • They are less frustrating for everyone involved


  • They don’t get you instant responses and feedback
  • Spam filters and other mechanisms can make it hard to actually reach (or know if you reached) your prospect
  • They have a lot of competition - anyone you are reaching out to is probably getting many cold emails from others (including your competitors) every week

    With this information, you should be in a good position to decide which prospecting technique is best for your business. Now, let’s discuss each prospecting approach in detail.

Is Cold Calling Out in 2022?

Last year, research found that 60% of cold calls went right to voicemail. While this statistic may seem discouraging, cold calling can still be an effective way to reach customers. After all, this means that there’s the potential for nearly 1 in 2 cold calls to get answered. If you keep the call short, focus on listening, and have patience when you meet rejection, cold calling can be successful for you.

Cold prospecting over the phone can land you meetings, but to do that, you need to refine your over-the-phone sales techniques. For example, don’t read off a call script word for word.

Cold Calling Sales Tips

  1. If your potential lead doesn’t pick up the phone, learn how to leave a persuasive voicemail. Make sure to keep your message under 20-25 seconds. No one will listen to a long voicemail from a stranger.
  2. If you do get in touch with your prospect and they display interest, make sure to discuss the next steps before they disconnect. Gong.io discovered that the best salespeople spent 53% more time discussing when they were going to connect next than others.
  3. To have the best chance of your lead picking up the phone, try calling at different times of the day throughout the week. Note when you do get a hold of someone so you know what time works best. CallHippo released research that found Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 4:00 and 5:00 PM, as the best weekdays to call a prospect - but your results may vary for your business.

Cold calling, and before that, door-to-door selling, used to be the main methods of finding new leads. However, with the onset of global digitization, founders and salespeople have found a new way to reach out.

The Digital Cold Prospecting Technique: Cold Emailing

With modern caller ID filters creating new struggles for cold calling, many salespeople have shifted to cold emailing. Younger generations often prefer communicating over email, and with so many email addresses available, it can be easier to gather cold prospecting data.

Tips for Cold Emailing

  1. Highlight why you are reaching out to them. Talk about their goals and how you can help them. Help them realize that you care about their issues.
  2. Write your email like a human. If you are using an email template, change the wording or sentences to make sure it reads naturally. Try reading the email outloud before you send it. Are there any awkward phrases that make you pause?
  3. Personalized cold emails are more likely to receive genuine responses. It shows you know their business, their pain points, and are eager to help solve them. Here’s more tips to help you get started on personalizing your cold emails.
  4. Ask your prospect a specific question. An engaging email gets them thinking, and a question is an easy way to start a productive conversation around their needs.
  5. Prove that you know what you’re talking about. If you can mention a mutual connection between you and the prospect, they might be more inclined to respond. Add a data point for them to reference while still keeping the tone light.

Using these three tips and your own research, whether from LinkedIn or elsewhere, you’ll be in a great position to start your cold outreach.

What Will Cold Prospecting Look Like in 2022?

Cold calling and emailing take time; warm prospects don’t appear out of thin air. You have to do the research, find the email addresses to build an Excel or database of prospects, and then verify the information. You often won’t get a reply on the first email, either - that’s why persistence is crucial.

This is all why email lookup tools paired with automation are the future for cold prospecting. They save you time, and give you accurate data to test different cold prospecting formats and styles. Once you have mastered these cold selling basics, try using a web extension to create your list of prospects. Many free email lookup tools can find and verify email addresses to help curate your email list.

Are you tired of spending time on LinkedIn trying to find potential prospects, only to realize you can’t access their contact information? Try using Skrapp.io’s email lookup Chrome extension, and with the click of a button you can find your next lead’s contact information.