How to find phone numbers for effective cold calling

Most salespeople ignore the importance of research when it comes to finding phone numbers for call lists. Here are 10 smart ways you can avoid that mistake.
Picture of Antonio Gabrić
Antonio Gabrić
Reading time: 7 minutes

When it comes to outbound lead generation, people try all sorts of new ways to stand out. They might get some quick wins with these, but it’s the tried and tested ways that bring substantial results. 

Take, for example, cold calling—a simple strategy that is still preferred by 57% of C-level and VP buyers. For big-ticket clients, cold calling works like charm, provided you do your research and follow strategies. 

But in the age of social media, text messages, and spammers, cold callers find it difficult to cut through the noise.

In this article, we’ll discuss one of the pertinent problems salespeople face today: how to find phone numbers for cold calling. We’ll discuss the smart ways you can acquire active phone numbers of prospects and improve your cold calling KPIs.


10 Ways to Get Phone Numbers for More Effective Cold Calling

Keeping a healthy sales pipeline is one of the biggest challenges salespeople face today. The tips we discuss require a bit of online sleuthing, but mostly they rely on how much you understand your target users and the way you make decisions from raw data.

1. Look for Personal Sites/Online Resumes

The easiest way you can find a lead’s phone number is by assuming they have it on full display because in most cases, they do.

Search for company press releases and fill up contact forms to get hold of relevant phone numbers. Executives who call the shots often have their contact details attached to their company profile on the “about us” page.

If not, you’ll at least find their name, designation, and a couple of personal details.

Use the data to search for the lead’s personal website—online portfolio and personal blogs may contain the elusive phone number you’re after.

Another way you can find phone numbers for cold calls is by finding online resumes.

Employees often put up their resumes in online databases to get in front of hiring managers and you can use that opportunity to find your lead’s resume that might contain a phone number.

Indeed Resume, MightyRecruiter, Flexjobs, Monster Power Resume Search, PostJobFree, JobSpider, Ladders, and even Behance can help you find the resume (and phone number) you’re looking for.

2. Ask Your Network

All good salespeople know the importance of building a professional network. Like-minded people within your industry can help you at odd times; like sharing elusive contacts of important leads.

But leveraging your network can get tricky if all you do is ask favors. Focus on adding value to your message and try helping them out whenever you can.

Start by complimenting them on a recent milestone, follow it by asking them nicely, and finish it up with a value-added CTA. Think of good karma as the currency of your network and it might nudge you to the right source.

Apart from reaching your network directly, you can also post on LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, or Slack to get more attention from your network.

3. Search Online Phone Directories

Online phone directories work surprisingly well for business phone numbers if you know where to look.

The first one you should check out is Whitepages. It has been collecting and curating contact data for over 25 years and it has a business directory as well. You can search a person’s name and use location filters to narrow down your results or search one of 25 million businesses. Most SMBs have business contact details attached to the decision maker.

If you find inaccurate data or are not willing to pay for Whitepages, you can try out TruePeopleSearch, BeenVerified, PeopleFinders, and Pipl.

With TruePeopleSearch, you get most of the services for free, while BeenVerified and PeopleFinders will hide some portions of data behind a paywall. Pipl is a pay-to-access platform but it solely focuses on business contacts.

We recommend you be careful using online phone directories as sometimes the phone numbers of these people can be placed by hackers who stole this data from protected sources.

Before searching a specific phone directory, make sure they operate based on the public open data, or at least the “targets” gave their consent for the phone numbers to be placed there.

4. Google Search Operators

If you don’t find any data in company pages or phone directories, that doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent. A smart Google search can get you the specific contact details of your leads.

Start by searching the name, and location and add “phone number” to get results. Now you can use strings of characters to narrow your searches. If you’re looking for a very common name, add the company name to the search string and use -keyword to remove unnecessary results. After: {date} and before: {date} allows you to find results from specific periods.

Here’s a comprehensive list of Google search operators you can check out.

The best part of search operators is that you can mix and match your queries to get multiple pieces of information that you can string together to find the complete phone number. 

For instance, googling the name, location, and company name can lead to the last four digits of a phone number which you can add to the search query to find a website that might contain the complete information.

5. Send An Email To Your Cold-Call Contact

To get a lead’s phone number, you may have to first email them. Here’s why: a lot of business email signatures have phone numbers included—if you can get a reply from the recipient, you can also get their phone number.

Emails also warm up the lead which makes the first phone call a much easier challenge.

Cold emailing to leads is a cost-effective and ROI-driven lead gen strategy but senders often get so many things wrong about it. If you don’t have the lead’s email address, you can use an email finder tool to find the right address. If you already have the address, you need to verify it.

Email verification allows you to keep your email list lean and active, which improves engagement and deliverability. If you keep emailing to inaccurate and inactive addresses, your bounce and spam rate will go up.

Once you’ve found and verified the lead’s email address, you have to write a cold email that’ll fetch a response.

High-performing cold emails blend personalization with relevance to create a draft the recipient wants to read. 

Use a recent event as an icebreaker to show you’ve done your research, follow it up with your business proposal, and end the email with a single CTA. Keep the body short, and precise, and use short paragraphs to drive home the value you provide. 

Once they reply, you can get the phone number from the email signature and push it into your CRM. 

6. Call the Company Switchboard

Another straightforward but oft-ignored method to get phone numbers is contacting the company switchboard. The switchboard is the core of a multi-line phone system where callers are redirected to recipients based on departments, roles, and the nature of the call. Most people can recognize this from the toll-free number on company pages. You can narrow your target by googling the company’s specific branch and the department of the lead. With some luck, you might get a more relevant phone number that can refer you to the right person.

When you’re using a company switchboard, it’s important to do your research and at least know the name of the lead. Many companies have a “no name policy” where callers have to mention the person they’re reaching and the purpose of the call to keep spammers away.

7. Check Official Social Media

A lead’s social media presence doesn’t just work as a sales profiling tool, it can also help you get the phone number you’re looking after.

For example, decision-makers often share their phone numbers on LinkedIn and if you search enough, you can also find their Discord or Slack profile with a phone number attached to it.

Salespeople can also get lucky by checking out Facebook business accounts and using Twitter’s advanced search feature to see if the leads ever tweeted their contacts.

8. Use Sales Prospecting Tools

If you’re in sales, chances are you’re already using a sales prospecting or lead enrichment tool. Sales databases and prospecting tools expedite the sales pipeline by helping salespeople build sales lists, verify and qualify leads, and close deals. 

B2B databases such as Zoominfo and Uplead give you access to millions of new leads, along with recommending potential new ones. 

By using prospecting tools such as Leadfeeder, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Crunchbase, and AngelList, you can build and nurture your list with better efficiency.

9. Utilize Phone Number Finder Tools

Unlike phone directories that contain large datasets, phone number finder tools fetch the contact details in real time based on the webpage you’re viewing.

For instance, Swordfish AI has a Google Chrome extension that connects with over 200 network data providers to pick up up-to-date contact details from websites including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Stack Overflow, Dribble, and GitHub. RevDriver from SalesIntel is another Google Chrome extension that discovers contact details as you browse through LinkedIn or company pages. Free users can get 100 phone numbers a month while premium users get access to unlimited contact points.

While these types of tools depend on the user to visit web pages that hide phone numbers, they can consume a lot of time. If you have strong inbound marketing to attract leads to your website, you can use Novocall’s click-to-call widget to quickly turn a visitor into a prospect.

10. Ask Directly For a Number

If nothing works, you can just walk up to the person and ask them for a phone number.

Social events, trade shows, and seminars are wonderful opportunities for salespeople to strike up meaningful conversations and find new leads. You can swap cards, ask them to direct you to the decision-maker in the company or even ask for recommendations. 

Salespeople with great conversation skills exude the confidence and trust prospects look for in the companies they want to pay to.

Final Words

Cold calling has an image problem and salespeople have to go out of their way to build a highly engaging call list. It might sound easier to buy a call list than manually find phone numbers, but you risk using outdated, irrelevant, and “do not call” numbers. 

Instead, focus on the lead’s online behaviors, build a social profile and use the above tactics to find the phone numbers. By the time you call, you already have adequate data to reach your sales goals.

Picture of Antonio Gabrić
Antonio Gabrić

Antonio is an outreach manager at Hunter. He is passionate about testing different outreach tactics and sharing results with the community. In his free time, you can find him on his motorbike exploring off-the-beaten paths around the world.

Subscribe to our blog

Get insights & actionable advice read by thousands of professionals every week.

Start driving better conversations.
Novocall will be your new favorite business phone system.