Real Estate Marketing

5 Cold Calling Techniques That Really Work

Expertise: Commercial Real Estate, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing, Business Management, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary, Mortgages & Creative Financing
233 Articles Written

Yes, cold calling still works. And it can be one of the best and most affordable tools at your disposal as a real estate investor—depending on how you do it.

Want more articles like this?

Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up for free

There are plenty of fancy digital marketing tools and creative funnels designed to generate real estate leads today. Yet, simply picking up the phone can be one of the most effective, efficient, and profitable ways to connect with new prospects.

In fact, because everyone is distracted by alternative techniques and going down all of these other rabbit holes, cold calling can work even better today than it has in a long time.

However, some investors are really averse to picking up the phone at first, which is understandable. Others have trouble getting over rejection on the calls or getting into a good rhythm. So, what cold calling techniques and approaches actually work and can help you get more of the results you really want?

5 Effective Cold Calling Techniques

  1. Appointment Setting

You can absolutely close deals over the phone. If you get the right seller at the right time and convey the right message, you can close them.

But many might find it is much easier to use those initial calls to lead to the next step, where you can build trust and do business in person. This could mean asking for a meeting at their office, your office, a local coffee shop, or an event to educate distressed owners. Or it could even be something like an invite to a webinar.

Related: No. 1 Most Effective Way to Master the Art of Cold Calling

  1. “What If?”

If you just ask if they want to sell or try to throw out a low offer price, you’ll probably get a lot of noes from the start.

It’s not that they aren’t interested or won’t sell. It’s that they don’t trust you yet. You’re a complete stranger, who called them out of the blue. So, ask “what if…?” questions instead.

“What if I can buy your property for a price that works for you?” Or, “What if I can get this burden off your hands, give you more money than Zillow says it is worth, and do it while saving you a lot in taxes and thousands in Realtor commissions?”

From my experience, you want to come off as not only interested during the conversation but also interesting. So, get the seller talking, too.  

  1. Keep Everything Positive

Distressed property owners have enough negativity and tough guys in their life already. Many have arrived at this point because they have been getting nowhere with rude customer service reps who don’t care and are trying to play hardball for no reason.

These owners are encountering negativity in their mailbox, on their bank statements, in their email inbox, and from other callers. They can save more pain and get one millisecond of pleasure and control by hanging up on you.

Try to keep everything positive—even when they’re being negative. For this reason, the first five seconds on the call are very important. 

Related: How to Start Investing in Real Estate Doing the Things Nobody Else Wants to Do

  1. Call to Listen & Learn

Everyone wants to be heard. Facebook and Instagram have created multi-billion dollar businesses just by giving people a platform to potentially be heard (even though they don’t usually find it there).

Go into a cold call with the mindset you’ll authentically listen and learn. What are their problems? How did they get in this situation? What is holding them back? What are their hopes, fears, and needs?

You’re only going to really nail a deal when you have this information. If you ask questions and actually listen the right way, they’ll sell themselves on using you.

How about simply being honest and saying, “I’ve been calling other property owners nearby with properties like yours, because I really want to buy one. But even though people look like they need help, I’m not getting very far. I was wondering if you could help. Why do you think your neighbors aren’t selling? What is it they are looking for in someone to buy their property?”

Just listen, and they might share everything you need to check all the boxes and close the deal.

  1. Focus on Building Rapport

Instead of just pitching and selling, work on building rapport. They may not be ready to sell this property today, but by building a relationship, you can make sure you are their first choice when they do need to sell. This could be in a couple weeks, months, or even years. Follow-up is key.

Look for warm ways to start the conversation and build connection right away. Then, be willing to stay on the phone as long as possible. Call length has proven to be just as important a metric in call centers as the number of calls made.

You don’t have to go to the length of Zappos and stay on the call for eight or 10 hours. [1] Yet, just being willing to converse for a long period of time can build that know you/like you/trust you trifecta in a single call and can make all the difference in standing out from the competition.

To remain on the line longer, talk about real estate, robots taking over their job, your favorite funny cat videos on YouTube, how much you hate cold calling but really want to help people, and anything else that comes up—just to keep the conversation going. Worst case scenario, you’ll have made a new friend by the end of the call.

The Bottom Line

Cold calling still works. It is my preferred way of generating real estate leads today. In fact, it is the way I found my first multi-family deal.

It may be intimidating at first, but with a little practice trying out these cold calling techniques, you might find it to be the most effective and profitable way to do more real estate deals.



Have you ever given cold calling a try? How did it go? If not, what’s holding you back?

Let’s talk in the comment section below!


Sterling is an multifamily investor specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling w...
Read more
    Shawn T Sawyer from Muskogee, OK
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Thank you Sterling, for your advice. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of cold calling. I’m typically an outgoing type with no fear of meeting new people but when I’m wanting something from them, for some reason I’m all thumbs verbally. I don’t know how to get past this.
    Amber Bennett Realtor from Saint Petersburg, FL
    Replied over 1 year ago
    “Everyone wants to be heard. Facebook and Instagram have created multi-billion dollar businesses just by giving people a platform to potentially be heard”…this pretty much explains everything you need to know about life since MySpace lol. Thank you! I think one hangup I have with cold calling is I’ve never bought or subscribed for something because a stranger called me. But plenty of people do and its still working for some and I have gotten a couple listings that way!
    Marvin Hernandez Realtor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Great post Sterling! In my experience I do attest to cold calling and door knocking for that matter for 2 big reasons, 1) You get to them quicker than say the people that are using mailers, and 2) The rapport you are able to build with them on the phone and then in person. Every business is a people business, yeah you are going to get a bunch of no's, but it gets you closer to that yes. What I found that help me and you hit in the nail in your post, is that it is about them not you, therfore, you need to ask strong questions and be really interested in solving their problem, in my opinion you will get further in this business with this approach.
    Cameron Davis Investor from Austin, TX
    Replied 10 months ago
    How do you differentiate between "cold calling" and "illegal telemarketing"?
    Bernadeau C. Rental Property Investor from Orlando, FL
    Replied 8 months ago
    What would you say is the best way to get the numbers to call? I am excited to try this for my next deal
    Account Closed Realtor from Orlando, FL
    Replied about 1 month ago
    skip trace the deals online to find phone numbers for the owners