5 Triggers to Warm Up Your Cold Calls

Ice on fire

The colder the call, the taller the wall.

Prospects are constantly overwhelmed by sellers trying to start conversations, which has forced many buyers to numb themselves to sales outreach and avoid strangers with a brand to pitch.

After hundreds of repetitions being interrupted by cold prospecting, it’s inevitable that buyers are reacting by raising the bar and demanding better experiences from sales organizations.

How can a sales development rep ease the awkwardness of a cold conversation and generate better outcomes with their sales touches?

Relevance is about context: buyers expect salespeople to understand their world and do enough research to personalize activities to their specific situation.

With the right information beforehand, SDRs can break down the barriers of defensive prospects, build rapport, and create curiosity more effectively than with purely cold outreach.

Trigger 1: Opened an Email or Direct Message

Today’s digital channels often allow reps to receive a read receipt, which is a real-time notification that timestamps or certifies the moment another person has opened a message.

Real-time is the keyword here: SDRs can instantly identify prospects that were online, browsed a specific inbox, and then recently made the decision to open a message the rep sent.

The moment a prospect interacts with a sales touch is important because it increases the chances they will recognize the brand, recall the message, or remember the SDR.

Rather than calling a cold list for the first time, send an introduction email or direct message and then follow-up with a warm phone call in real-time for the prospects that decide to open it.

Not everyone opened the intro? That’s okay. Send a second message on a different channel to generate additional engagement or give them a call anyway mentioning the introduction.

Trigger 2: Shown Online a Social Network

An unpreventable outcome of cold prospecting is the unreachable buyer.

Prospects are people, after all. They get busy, leave the office, change priorities, get sick, and have to manage their personal life the same as everyone else in the world.

When a rep calls a number on their list, nothing guarantees the person on the other end of the line will be available to answer. In fact, it’s hard to guarantee that number will even be correct.

What is a more reliable way for SDRs to identify when buyers are actively engaged or, at the very least, paying attention?

Enter the power of social networks. Like the read receipt, most social networks provide a real-time notification about when a person is live on the platform right now.

SDRs can use this invaluable information to plan their plays based on when the prospect appears online.

For example, a rep might get to voicemail on a cold call earlier at the beginning of the day, but notice later on that the prospect is online on LinkedIn. As soon as they see the prospect go online, they could call again knowing that the prospect is active.

Trigger 3: Posted a Social Post or Comment

Public social posts or comments are not easy actions to take.

A person has to find a topic or post, understand the people and context involved in the conversation, and then formulate content that they’re confident tying to their personal brand.

When a prospect publishes a post or makes a comment, they’re showing salespeople exactly what they care about, why it matters to them, and how they think on the topic.

Not only do social posts or comments give SDRs a place to interact with the buyer on social, it’s also powerful ammo that can be used as context to start a phone conversation.

Rapport is much easier to build when a rep acknowledges the hard work of a prospect sharing their thoughts publicly and finds ways to align with them on those topics.

Trigger 4: Appeared as a Guest on a Podcast, Event, or Webinar

When people are busy, they usually don’t engage with sellers.

Even worse, they often go off a salesperson’s radar completely while they’re heads-down in the grind: no social activity, no email opens, sometimes not even a mention from colleagues!

However, there are also activities that indicate a prospect is focused on accelerating their career, building their personal brand, and growing their professional network.

One of these activities is guest podcasts, live shows, webinars, events, or other media content.

When a buyer joins in an interview as a guest on another brand’s content, it immediately indicates that they have enough time to interact with external partners at the very least.

It also indicates that the prospect finds networking and personal branding a priority in their career, rather than focusing on internal operations or keeping their team afloat.

Similar to a social post or comment, SDRs can leverage the buyer’s guest appearance as a compelling event worth mentioning and use the interview to transition into a conversation.

Trigger 5: Team Members Recently Hired or Fired

Whether it’s pain or progress, changes on a team impact everyone involved.

Prospects don’t do their job alone. They rely on leaders or advisors to guide them, peers to share the burden, and individual contributors to execute on a daily basis.

When a new person is hired or an existing team member is let go, the inner workings of that team must adapt, adjust, and align to the changes that take place.

For larger organizations, a single hire or fire might not affect much. For smaller companies, this decision can create massive change that opens up opportunities for SDRs to get involved.

What does it mean for the prospect when a new team member is hired? What’s the impact of an existing team member leaving?

With a little research, reps can use hires or fires to start a relevant conversation about the prospect’s future in light of the recent changes that just took place.

Not only does this position the SDR’s outreach to be well-timed with a compelling event, but it immediately shows the buyer that the rep is well-informed and aligned with their situation.


Buyers are just people, each with their own priorities, fears, goals, and experiences.

As cold prospecting has evolved, the search for scale has pushed brands over time to forget about the human element of starting sales conversations.

Rather than always starting conversations with a cold list, SDRs can leverage the context that’s naturally built through observing events and activities within a buyer’s world.

With the right information driving their outreach, sales development reps can stick out from the crowd of other sellers and create memorable experiences that buyers won’t forget.