The Differences Between “Cold” and “Warm” Sales Calls—And Why it Matters to Your Sales Team

Sean Lund-Brown

Sales calls are still a major part of business for several brands. It’s important to know how to handle them, as well as which types of calls you’re making so that you choose the appropriate approach. There are several types of calls you will make in your career, but the main categories in this field include two groups: warm calls and cold calls. 

For those who don’t know, cold calls are those that are made with no prior contact—if you ever played “Hot or Cold” when you were a kid, you understand the reference. There’s no relationship here, nothing has been established, and you’re just fishing for a lead, hoping it pans out. Warm leads are those that have already been primed or showed interest, such as those who’ve submitted contact forms on your site. 

Understanding each type of call, as well as how to approach them, can help your sales team in several different ways. Here’s what you need to know. 


Cold calling 101


Cold calls have always been a part of business. It’s been decades, and even centuries, that people have been soliciting their products and services to others in various ways. The invention of the telephone suddenly catapulted the sales world into the future, making it even easier for them to reach out to cold leads and generate business with a further reach than ever before. Since then, companies and experts have been working to perfect the art of cold calling.

However, cold calls remain one of the most difficult parts of sales, even for the most experienced professionals. After all, if you’re calling blind, you don’t know whether people even have an interest, and you have no way to connect with them or build a relationship. You can find success with cold calls, but it takes a lot more work. Most cold calls are just the first step in the buying journey and very few result in a completed transaction. 

Today, there are so many different potential points of contact that it’s very rare that cold calls are even needed. Usually, businesses generate enough through their warm leads to keep them fairly busy. This can cause them to forego a strategy, but that’s not a good idea. If you want to cover all your bases, a cold-calling strategy needs to be part of your campaign. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to be the one doing it. There are a lot of different options out there today, including outsourcing to someone who can take and make calls for you. Before you think about ditching cold calling, consider the statistics. 


Cold calls by the numbers


  • It can take an average of 8 cold calls to reach a single prospect
  • 69% of buyers have accepted at least one cold call in the past year
  • Cold calling offers a 2% success rate in converting cold leads to warm ones
  • 82% of buyers will accept a meeting offered in a cold call


Warm calls offer a better chance of success 


The warm call is made to someone who has already expressed interest in your brand, product, or service. They may have done this by subscribing to your newsletter or by requesting a contact directly. There are several other ways you can generate warm leads these days, including social media, business directories, and more. 

Since a warm call is one that’s made to someone who has already made contact with or expressed interest in your company, it may be easier to engage with prospects. They are aware of your name and the products and services that you offer, which allows them to have a better reception when you reach out to them on the phone. Of course, engagement still needs to happen and it’s going to be different than the way you engage people with cold calls. 

Make sure to keep these calls personable and give people the feeling that they are valued and important to your company. Utilize your phone etiquette skills to keep heating things up and turn your warm calls into hot prospects, or better yet, full conversions. Of course, this is still just one part of your overall marketing strategy. 

You can increase the number of warm calls you make (and conversely decrease the cold ones) by utilizing social media, your website, and other resources to build your brand image online and off. Make sure that people know who you are and what you offer, and your list of cold leads will continue to shrink. And when you are following up with warm leads, make sure that you have the best people on the job. 


Warm call stats


  • Warm calls have a 20-30% conversion rate
  • A warm lead can be easily generated by seeking referrals from other connected leads
  • You are 4.2 times more likely to schedule that meeting when there’s an existing personal connection
  • 84% of all B2B decision-makers start their buying journey with referrals
  • The majority of people said “yes” when asked if they would take a meeting from a warm call if it was arranged at a pre-determined date and time


Skip making the calls altogether when you partner with Smith.ai


Warm, cold, or otherwise, calls should actually be the last thing on your to-do list. You’ve got a business to run and there are far better solutions for following up and managing your leads. For starters, the dedicated agents at Smith.ai can offer 24/7 support for an array of business admin and communication needs, along with support for inbound and outbound sales calls and campaigns. 

No matter what you need, our virtual receptionists can deliver solutions for scheduling and intake, outreach for cold and warm leads alike, and even handling your live website chat and after-hours phone calls. Ask us about the custom strategy you’ll get for it all, too. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do as the face of your sales outreach and more. You can also reach out to us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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