What is Warm Calling?

Definition & Examples of Warm Calling

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Warm calling is getting in touch with a sales prospect you have a connection with.

Learn more about warm calling and how it works.

What Is Warm Calling?

Warm calling means you're calling a prospect with whom you've had some prior contact. The stronger the connection between yourself and the prospect, the warmer the call is.

For example, if you meet a prospect at an industry event and they ask you to give them a call so that you can set up an appointment, that would be an extremely warm call. On the other hand, if you send a letter or an email to a prospect and then follow up with a phone call, that would be more of a lukewarm call.

How Warm Calling Works

To make warm calls, you need to have systems in place to establish a connection with potential customers. For example, you might attend networking events so you connect with either potential clients or business professionals in other industries who could refer clients to you.

You can also use email to create connections by establishing an email list or newsletter and sending out informative articles and other resources. If potential customers view or download the resources you send, that's an indication that it's a warm prospect. Even just opening the emails shows some level of interest.

Social media also creates opportunities for connection. Post content that resonates and take the time to respond to comments.

Making the Call

Once you have a connection, it's time to make the call. The purpose of a warm call is to set up an appointment. Selling should take place during your appointment, not in a brief phone call. The exception is inside salespeople who only sell over the phone. For everyone else, selling should take place either face-to-face or during a virtual meeting.

When making a warm call, first introduce yourself and then immediately bring up your pre-existing connection with the prospect. Their response will tell you whether this is actually a warm call or if the connection isn't truly established.

If they say they don't remember you or otherwise respond unenthusiastically, shift gears and treat them as a cold lead. You may want to take a step back and re-establish the connection. If they do acknowledge the connection, you can move forward with confidence.

Types of Warm Calling

There are a few types of warm calls. For example, a prospect who's been referred to you is a warm call even though you haven't directly been in contact with that prospect. The fact that the referrer is recommending you to the prospect creates an indirect connection.

Another type of warm call occurs when a prospect has reached out to you for more information. For example, a prospect might fill out a form on your website requesting a callback or call a general number in response to a TV commercial. These prospects are usually intrigued enough to go to the effort of reaching out to you, but they don't actually know anything about you personally. These warm leads are certainly easier to work with than cold leads, but will still need some rapport building on your part.

Warm Calls vs. Cold Calls

Warm Calls Cold Calls
Based on an established relationship Prospect doesn't know who you are
Lower risk of rejection High risk of rejection
Takes time to establish a relationship Can be done with a minimal time investment

Cold calls are what many people associate with sales. It's someone calling out of the blue, with no idea of who you are or whether you'll be interested. Cold calling lists are usually developed using demographic information, so the salesperson might know that the person they're calling is the right age or has the right sized business, but that's it.

Cold calls are time-intensive, as you need to make a lot of calls to make appointments. They also result in a high level of rejection. Even if you're successful in making the appointment, there's no guarantee that the potential customer will show up.

Cold calls can be done relatively quickly, though. You do some initial research and then make phone calls. Establishing the connections required to make warm calls takes time.

Warm calls are much easier to convert to appointments than cold calls. Your previous contact or connection with the prospect means that you already have a bit of trust between you. As a result, the prospect will be more willing to invest some time in hearing what you have to say.

Many salespeople make it a goal to do only warm calling since they're more productive and less likely to result in rejection, which makes them far more pleasant.

If you're going to cold call a business, do as much research as you can before reaching out. That shows prospects that even though they didn't initiate contact, you did enough work to know that your product or service could be a good fit.

Key Takeaways

  • Warm calling means you're calling a prospect with whom you've had some prior contact.
  • To make warm calls, you need to have systems in place for establishing a connection with potential customers.
  • Warm calls can be referrals, prospects who have reached out to you for information, or direct contacts you make through networking. 
  • Cold calls are unsolicited and have a high rate of rejection. Warm calls take more time but result in fewer rejections.