Using psychology in business cold calling to get the best results

Last Updated September 15, 2022
Hold music tweet

Can you imagine how the conversation would have gone after?

It’s a classic example of the use of psychology in business cold calling.

Businesses keep their ‘on hold’ music entertaining or soothing to put their prospects in a better mood. It makes the prospects more receptive to the conversation that follows.

Using psychology in cold calling can help you understand customer behavior. It gives you insights into the best ways to grab their attention and provide better service. This, in-turn, can help you increase the impact of your interactions. 

In this article, we’ll go over a few cold calling tips to use psychology for customizing your calling script.  

By the end of it, you will know how to classify prospects into different DISC personas with just two questions into your script. 

Following that, we’ll go over how to use this psychology in business cold calling to get the best results.

Using psychology in business: Understanding DISC personalities

Dr. William Moulton created the DISC psychology theory to identify predictable traits in people. The theory centers on four personality traits which are:

  1. Dominance (D)
  2. Influence (I)
  3. Steadiness (S)
  4. Compliance (C)

Identifying the DISC personality of the prospect gives you an insight into their behavior. With these insights, you can understand the specific objections each of these personalities may raise. 

This clarity allows you to navigate business conversations through these objections and towards conversion. 

Say you are selling an electric car to a prospect, and they are not too convinced. You can get them on board by talking about either the high resale value or the splendor of the car.

But how will you know which of these points would appeal to the prospect?

Knowing the prospects’ personality type can help you make that choice. If they are a High D, you’ll know talking about the long term benefits (the resale value) is more practical.

Let us look at how each of these personalities is in detail:

Common traits of the four DISC types

1. Dominance (High D)

Direct, decisive, problem-solver, and self-starter are a few characteristics that define a high D. They have an argumentative attitude and tend to focus on the bigger picture rather than temporary goals.

Dominant profiles speak in shorthand, and it can be difficult for a salesperson to get them to talk. However, you can grab their attention by positioning your solution/business as a key aspect of their vision in the initial part of the conversation.  

2. Influence (High I)

Influencers are enthusiastic, talkative, emotional, and persuasive. They are typically inattentive to detail and tend to listen only when it’s convenient. Praise and acceptance motivate influencers. 

Agents will find it easy to get high I profiles talking. While cold calling High I’s for sales, ensure to ask them about how they feel about the product/solution. This is when they will start voicing their objections. When you start talking about your solution with respect to these objections, it’s only then will they listen to what you have to say. 

3. Steadiness (High S)

High S profiles are good listeners, understanding, and friendly. Recognition for loyalty, safety, and no sudden changes to procedures motivate them. They resist change and have difficulty prioritizing. 

Steadiness profiles try to divert the conversation and listen rather than talk. While salespeople may find this convenient, it’s not all good news. High S can be put off really easily with generic and factual information. To convert them, a cold caller will have to showcase the benefits of the solution specifically for their needs or business. 

4. Compliance (High C)

People belonging to the high C profile are analytical, fact-finders, and are systematic. High quality and limited social interaction motivate them. They are keen on gathering, testing, and criticizing information. 

Salespeople may find High C’s similar to High D’s in terms of talking, but they are less dominant. It’s important to know that converting them in the first interaction is nearly impossible. For high C’s, give them time to do their research on your solution and put in more effort (answer their questions) in the follow-up interactions. 

using psychology in business - DISC profiles
Source: Financially Simple

Understanding DISC personalities has a direct impact on business. A 70-year-old agricultural cooperative trained its employees in DISC profiling. 

After the training, they reported that their salespeople became more effective and efficient in cold calling for sales. Continuing with the same strategy, today, the cooperative generates almost $150 million in sales annually. 

To achieve the same kind of success for your organization, you first have to train your agents to use this psychology in business cold calling. Here is how you can do so.

Identifying DISC personalities over call

When leveraging psychology in cold calling for sales, the first 20-30 seconds are extremely crucial. This is when you execute the two steps to identify a prospect’s Disc profile: 

  1. Starting the conversation with the right questions
  2. Assessing the answers to identify the personality

The results of these interactions will inform your script. In a nutshell, this is how you can plan your scripts:

Cold calling tips - cheat sheet
Psychology in business cold calling – cheat sheet

1. Starting the conversation with the right questions

The first step of using psychology in business is asking the right questions. These questions make prospects feel comfortable, build a rapport with them, and ease them into the conversation. It also gets them to share their thoughts quite easily. 

In the context of DISC profiling, the ‘right questions’ do all that, and more. They also help you profile the prospect.

A few great questions to spark the conversation are:

a) “Hi, am I speaking to #prospectname?

This question is perfect for the first cold call to the prospect. It helps callers to:

  • Confirm if they are talking to the right person and validate the information. 
  • Personalize the conversation and stand out from the usual sales call. 

b) “Hi #prospectname, how are you doing today?”

Whether it’s the first call or a follow-up, this question is perfect to: 

  • Break the call from sounding like a typical sales pitch
  • Get the prospect to open up and start a conversation.

c) “What’s it like in #location this time of year?”

This question is generally suitable for follow-up business calls. It helps salespeople by giving them an opportunity to:

  • Build rapport with the customer
  • Recognize their opinion thereby assuring them that they are heard 

When starting a conversation, ensure you ask open-ended questions. Avoid yes or no questions like:

  • “Have you heard of us?”
  • “Is this a good time to talk?” 
  • “Are you the decision-maker at your company?” 

These questions give prospects (especially High D’s and C’s)  the opportunity to end the conversation immediately (by answering no even if it may be a yes). 

After you’re done with talking, the next order of business is using your active listening skills.  

2. Analyzing the responses

Every DISC personality will respond to each of these questions differently. Here are a few responses you can expect:

a) How will a high D profile respond?

Dominant personalities are direct and concise. They speak in shorthand and sound confident and demanding. They prefer taking control of the conversation and get to the point immediately.

Their responses to the questions above are usually on the line of:

  • Hi, am I speaking to #prospectname? – 
    • “Yes”; 
    • “Yes, speaking”; 
    • “Hmm” (sounds unusual but very common)
  • Hi #prospectname, how are you doing today?- 
    • “Good/Fine”; 
    • “Good. Any particular reason for this call?” (when they try to take control of the conversation)
    • “Good. Who is this?” (typical during first-time calls)
  • What’s it like in #location this time of year?
    • “It’s fine/good.”
    • “Chilly/Hot” (or anything that ends this part of the conversation)

b) How will a high I profile respond?

Influencer profiles speak rapidly and emotively on the phone. High I’s also talk with a wide range of vocal inflection and intonation. They are generally very conversational and can be easy to talk to. 

Responses from Influencers will be on the line of:

  • “Hi, am I speaking to #prospectname?
    • “Yes, this is #prospectname speaking.”
    • “Yes, that’s me. Can I help you?”
  • “Hi #prospectname, how are you doing today?”
    • “Well it was quite a day, but I’m good now” (they try to extend the conversation sometimes to get an opportunity to talk more)
    • “I’m doing good. Hope you’re doing the same too?”
    • “I’m doing great. Is there something I can help you with?”
  • “What’s it like in #location this time of year?”
    • “Well, it’s quite nice if you like the sun. Otherwise, it might not be for you.”
    • “It’s great during this time of the year. There’s a lot that you can do.”
    • “It’s chilly, and I’m not a big fan of it. But it gets better.”

c) How will a high S profile respond?

People in the Steadiness profile are friendly and good listeners. On the phone, they speak with equal vocal intonations and may have slower than standard speech patterns. They often tend to shift the conversation to listen more rather than talk.

Responses from High S’s are something like this: 

  • “Hi, am I speaking to #prospectname?
    • “Yes, that’s me. How can I help you? Who is this?”
    • “Yes, this is #prospectname speaking. Can I help you?”
  • “Hi #prospectname, how are you doing today?”
    • “I’m good/fine. And you?”
    • “I’m doing good. How can I help you?/Who is this?”
  • “What’s it like in #location this time of year?”
    • “Well, it is sunny. Do you like sun/hot weather?”
    • “It’s fine. What do you prefer?”

d) How will a high C profile respond?

Compliant people are very cautious and analytical. They speak very formally and are not open to offering personal information quickly. Similar to high D’s, they too talk in shorthand but without a dominating tone. 

Typical High C responses are something like that:

  • “Hi, am I speaking to #prospectname?
    • “Yes, that is me.”
    • “Yes, I’m #prospectname speaking.”
  • “Hi #prospectname, how are you doing today?”
    • “I’m doing fine, thank you.”
    • “I’m good, thank you. And you?” 
  • “What’s it like in #location this time of year?”
    • “It’s quite nice.”
    • “It isn’t that great, too hot/chilly.”

Unclear Cases

Sometimes the responses may not be clear enough to distinguish between personalities. For example, it would be hard to qualify the following responses: 

  • Hi #prospectname, how are you doing today?
    • I’m not comfortable sharing that with you. 
  • Hi, am I speaking to #prospectname?
    • Who is asking?

This uncertainty often occurs when the prospect is in a situation that may lower the intensity of their dominant trait. 

For example, a high D personality’s need for asserting dominance reduces when they are around friends. If you call them at that point, they may not be as direct and dominating. 

In such cases, there are some generic ways to use psychology in business cold calling (highlighted in the next section). These methods cater to all personality types in a general sense. 

They may not be as effective in converting prospects than scripts specific to DISC profiles. However, they will be more fruitful for business than a general sales pitch. 

Cold calling tips for converting DISC personalities

Once you identify the prospect’s DISC profile, you can use this psychology in business cold calling to get the best results. 

Cold calling tips for high D profiles

1. Use testimonials from industry experts/authorities.

People with higher authority or power strongly influence dominant profiles. Being in a position of authority motivates High Ds. Hence, they tend to take inspiration from people already in those positions. 

You can craft your script to include the testimonial at the beginning of the pitch subtly. Here’s an example of the script:

Dominant profile -script with  testimonial

2. Focus on highlighting the long-term benefits

Dominant profiles focus on the bigger picture. They take action only if it gets them closer to their vision. Make sure your agents understand that vision and showcase the benefits of your solution accordingly. 

For example, assume that you are pitching a CRM service to a prospect. Rather than focusing on how it makes database management seamless, highlight how it will affect overall business and revenue. That would be far more appealing to dominant profiles than immediate benefits. 

Cold calling tips for high I profiles

1. Focus on how they feel about the solution

Influencers like expressing their emotions and ideas. Getting them to talk about it is a great way to appeal to them. Apart from that, it also gives you insights into exactly what they are looking for, thereby allowing you to position your business accordingly. 

To implement this psychology in cold calling high I’s, here’s how you can navigate your conversation: 

script for high I profile

2. Throw-in some praise for them during the conversation

While this may sound unusual, it works well. Praises and compliments motivate influencers. Adding some genuine compliments within the conversation is a great way to peak a high I’s mood and make them more interested in the product. 

Here’s an example of a conversation to give you an idea.

using complimenting psychology in business

Cold calling tips for high S profiles

1. Show them that you value the relationship with them

People with high S personalities are empathetic and understanding. But to win this empathy, your business has to reflect the same. 

Showing them that you value them as a person is the best way to do it. Rather than your solution/product, focus on your relationship with them. Don’t let your sales pitch feel too transactional.

A simple way showcase that you put the relationship first is as follows:

Building rapport - High S profile

2. Highlight that no change is required

High S profiles are highly resistant to sudden change. Even if you convince them to buy the product, they see it through if it involves changing things drastically.

Therefore, making the process seamless and highlighting this fact in your interactions is crucial. The earlier you point this out in the conversation, the better.

Here’s an example of how you can build cold calling scripts for the same:

Cold calling tips for high S

Cold calling tips for high C profiles

1. Send a follow-up text/email with all the details

Compliant profiles are analytical and take very calculated decisions. They prefer doing their homework on your offering before converting. Hence, you must enable them to do so for their satisfaction.

After a cold call, send them a follow-up text or email with your pitch and relevant resources. By allowing them to fact-check the information themselves, you increase the likelihood of conversion in subsequent follow-up calls.

Note: Texts have a 98% open rate. Hence, sending a follow-up text through the call center software with the transcript and links to other resources is recommended over sending an email. 

2. Highlight your guarantees (or refund policies) 

High C profiles are cautious and are not big on taking risks. Making the wrong decision is a significant concern for them, which could make it difficult to convince them at first. 

While allowing them to do their research on your offering is excellent, often it is not enough. Safeguarding the high C’s business decision with a guarantee or a refund is the perfect way to put them at ease. 

Here’s an example of how you can highlight it when making cold calls for sales to high C’s: 

Safeguarding High C decision

Tips for unclear cases

In case agents are unsure of the customer’s personality type, here are some general ways to use psychology in business cold calling to guide the conversation. 

1. Provide social proof

A common psychology fact is that people are more likely to take action if others are doing the same thing. When calling people, stressing on a competitor’s name (who is a client of yours) makes prospects instantly curious. 

Social proof is especially useful if the competitor is doing better than the prospect’s business. 

Apart from competitor names, vanity metrics are also quite useful. For example, WordPress powers 35% of the websites on the internet. 

wordpress market share
Source: Anthemes

They actively market this fact to gather attention. By leveraging this psychology in business, WordPress drives people to prioritize it as their first choice of CMS. 

Wordpress social proof psychology in business
Source: WordPress

2. Scarcity

The psychology of scarcity states that, when there’s less of something, prospects are more likely to take action to get it.

The likelihood of conversion increases if you induce a sense of urgency. 

To leverage this psychology in cold calling, have agents ask questions highlighting the importance of the prospect’s time. Putting a timer on their decision-making process is a great way to ratchet up that urgency. 

A few questions you can include in your scripts are: 

cold calling tips - create urgency

3. Likeability

Prospects are more likely to “yes” to people they connect with. The psychology tips given above allow you to establish that connection with specific personalities. 

However, when you’re not able to follow those, being honest and genuine is your best bet. 

A few ways you can boost your cold calling success rate using that is by role-playing, training, and generally being comfortable with the script. 

If your agents are not comfortable with the script, it will show –  as their voice will take on a robotic quality that prospects can immediately recognize. Not only will it trigger a negative response, but it will also lack the genuineness you are aiming for, which is bad for business. 


Often salespeople tend to sell in a way that feels natural to them. However, it’s important to note that the personality of the caller is not always compatible with the prospects. 

That is why most sales cold calls tend to have inconsistent results.

But, you can eliminate this inconsistency with the use of psychology in business cold calling. Crafting scripts specific to DISC profiles will improve the quality of your interactions and ultimately boost your sales. 

Wouldn’t that be something you want?