Warming Up to the Cold Call
Ask if it's a good time to talk
For reasons I have never quite understood, some people answer their cell phones while they're driving only to tell you they can't talk because they are driving. That, and other inopportune moments, can happen. If you get a "no," volunteer to call them back later in the day or tomorrow. If you ask if you may call them back at a more convenient time, you are likely to get rejected sooner than you had planned.
Offer a few details
Are you celebrating an anniversary? Do you have an exciting new program to relate? Perhaps you're about to commence a capital project? Your prospect knows what your organization does as a part of its daily routine, but what new projects are you working on that might excite her? And it doesn't have to be a major project. Maybe it's a milestone in your service (i.e., "We just gave our 25th ballet class to needy children," or, "Our new X-ray machine has really helped us to serve our patients" — you get the idea.)
Learn to spot an opening
Find common ground. And be real. Very often, when I talk about my organization (a university college for several artistic disciplines), the talk turns to children, grandchildren and other topics of a more personal nature. Use these forks in the road of the conversation as opportunities not only to learn more about your prospect, but as a chance for the prospect to learn about you. We are constantly told that fundraising is about relationships, and indeed it is. You can lay the groundwork for a solid relationship even during a cold call.
Ask for an appointment
If I get as far as I hope to get during the initial portion of the conversation, I always ask to meet in person. Location does not matter. What is important is to get "face time," especially if you are prospecting for major gifts and prospect research has borne little fruit. Regarding the latter point, my experience has been that 30 minutes of face time beats 10 pages of research.