Master Your Cold Calling with Amber Penrose

Welcome to the first-ever edition of our Co-Created Limitless Learning newsletter.

We’ve been wanting to switch up our newsletter for some time now, and give you elevated content from some of the best in the business.

This edition is all about cold calling: love it or hate it, it’s a core part of any recruiter's day-to-day. 

Whether you’re someone who is an expert in cold-calling, or you still have an aversion to it, we’ve put together a great edition this week to give you some key insights that you may find useful.

Our Co-Creator for this edition is Amber Penrose, Founder of Moxee Search. With 6 years of experience within the Life Sciences recruitment sector, Amber has (pretty much) seen it all when it comes to cold calling, business development, and recruiting in a tough sector. 

Since founding Moxee, she had to go back to her cold-calling roots and start fresh with building her ‘little black book’ of clients. 

We thought she was perfectly placed for this edition, and we hope that you enjoy her seeds of knowledge!

We’re going to hand it over to Amber now…

How do I prep myself for a cold calling session?

With a really strong coffee.

Coffee aside, I jump onto SourceWhale because that’s where the majority of all of my preparation for cold calling comes from. 

I’ll check to see who has opened my emails in the past 24 hours, as then I know who I’m top of mind for. 

I’ll then add jobs that I’ve seen to a “relevance spreadsheet” - which, again, allows me to see clearly what my low-hanging fruit could be. 

This means that my BD has a purpose, instead of calling a random list of people and hoping for the best.

Cold calling session checklist:

  • SourceWhale (or equivalent) with the relevant contacts

  • Notepad and pen 

  • Prompt questions/opener (especially if you’re prone to forgetting)

  • Availability laid out clearly to ensure next steps can be booked in


Next, I get myself in the zone

If you’re not an anxious mess like me, then more power to you!

However, for the vast majority of us, cold calling can feel pretty daunting regardless of how much experience you’ve got. 

I’ll stand up and get a good playlist on, to get me in the zone for cold calling. When I sit down, I find I become more nervous, whereas standing, I can project my voice more and speak with confidence. 

The next thing I’ll do is A/B testing with my openers, what doesn’t work one week may work the next - don’t give up too easily!


Let’s talk openers…

I recommend figuring out the two different types of openers that you could use. 

For me, it’s one that is super relevance-based and then one that is slightly more direct, depending on who I end up getting through to.

Relevance Based:

“Hi {first name}, I’m calling about all the hiring it looks like you’re doing in San Jose right now. Oh, by the way, it’s Amber with Moxee. Was hoping I could have 30 seconds to explain why I’m calling?”


“Hi {first name}, it’s Amber. You're going to HATE me, because this is a Friday morning cold call. Wondered if you had literally 30 seconds so I can explain why I’m calling”

For example, I love doing business development on a Friday afternoon. You might think I’m insane for saying that, but it really allows me to use an informal approach. 

People are in a better mood on a Friday afternoon. I can get away with calling them and making a joke out of the fact I’m trying to pick up a job from them at the end of the working week. 

Obviously, this isn’t going to work for every single client. 

There are some clients out there who want the facts about your agency and don’t want a light-hearted approach, it’s about using your intuition and finding what works for you.


Where do recruiters often go wrong with cold calling?


Pitching is a crucial part of any cold call, but where I see a lot of recruiters getting it wrong is that they’re too caught up in talking about themselves. 

The opener is always super strong, and then the hook leaves the client feeling disengaged if all they’re talking about is the agency they represent or the roles they cover. 

Although this is pretty important to talk about - it’s about the structure of your pitch that matters the most.

Once you’ve introduced yourself, you need to figure out what the client's struggles are.

If you haven’t got any insight on that already, then you can start to pitch against that. 

This is what it might sound like in practice:

“Whilst recruiting for a <enter niche> last week, before using Moxee, they found that:

1) Their LinkedIn applications are up, but due to performance-based layoffs – the quality is not. 

2) It was taking the hiring manager weeks to even review all of the resumes, let alone interview relevant candidates. 

Does that sound like your world at all?


Objection handling

Objections are a natural part of the cold-calling process, and knowing how to handle them can be tricky.

Of course, there are going to be times when your objection will simply be… someone hanging the phone up, and that’s OK. 

However, my advice for handling objections (that may throw you off guard) are as follows:

  1. Listen: Listen to what the client has said.

  2. Acknowledge: Don’t gloss over the objection - validate what they’re saying to show that you’re listening and you hear their concern(s)

  3. Ask a question: Continue the conversation by re-engaging the client

For example:

“I think that your rates are too high, so I’m not interested.”

“I completely understand what you’re saying - hearing agency rates can cause a shock factor, especially if you’ve been used to lower rates in the past. What was the quality of your last service like in comparison to what you paid?”


Part 2 of the cold call: getting a meeting

It’s essential that once you’ve got the client engaged, and you know their requirements, you’re able to understand what they’re trying to achieve and also be able to highlight the problems that they’ll be faced with. 

This enables you to be consultative toward their issues whilst subliminally talking about the value you can provide as a recruiter. 

Again, some clients may just want a standard elevator pitch at this point in the cold call and a meeting secured for the next steps. However, generally, most people want a solutions-focused approach

What this might sound like on a call:

The close should ALWAYS be – Summarize the points + weave in a customer story 

Recruiter: “Great, so what I’m hearing is that you’re getting applicants, 

but they aren’t selling to the correct drug discovery domains. Your current recruiters don’t help to ease your workload by sending over any old candidate With minimal pre-screening notes. This is exactly what we hear from other start-ups like Ultima who’ve had a more personalized experience since working with small, specific, recruitment agencies.”

Then... they typically agree.


How do you close cold calls?

Naturally, you want to secure a meeting!

A cold call can sometimes feel pointless if you have no follow-up action from it. 

Getting a meeting in the diary gets you further along in the business development and relationship-building process. 

Some things I like to do are as follows:

  • Get them to accept the invite on the call so you know it’s secured

  • Ask them who else needs to be in the meeting so you can have more key people involved

  • Schedule a specific time and ensure you don’t sound “too available” - they want to feel as though you’re in demand!

What this might sound like on a call:

Recruiter: “Do you have your calendar to hand? The next step is meeting [x], who can show you how we can help with these challenges, and the types of candidates we have in our network.  

Are you free at either 2PM, or 4pm tomorrow?”

Last steps of the call not to forget that I have found to be super effective:

“Is there anyone else that would see value in attending this meeting with us?” 

This enables you to have multiple touchpoints within that organisation.

Ask for their email, so you can send the calendar invite plus the agenda for the call. 


My one ULTIMATE tip:

Finally, make sure that cold calling is a core part of your working week.

I commit to three days a week for a block of cold calling to hold myself accountable and also for consistency purposes. 

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