Whether you’re knocking on doors or picking up the phone, cold calling can be a challenge. But there are ways to make the ordeal less painful and improve your closing rate.

Don’t attempt to sell. You should never attempt to sell during your initial call. Instead, focus on information-gathering and relationship-building. Unless you’re selling something inexpensive that requires little thought, you need to first interview your prospect. Take notes and tell him you will come back after he’s had a chance to think about it.

Chill out. If you’re relaxed, your prospect will be relaxed. The longer your prospect remains relaxed, the more she will open up to you. And the more she opens up to you, the more likely you will be able to convert her into a client somewhere down the line.

Know your prospect’s pressure points. Each prospect perceives a key benefit of your product or service. At the same time, a key fear or doubt will hold a prospect back from buying. Your job is to discover these things so that you can best position your offering.

Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask for the information you need. You might even come out and ask your prospect what would hold him back from buying. If you can pinpoint his concern and help him mitigate it, you’ll remove the roadblocks to a sale. If you’re open and honest and ask your questions out of genuine curiosity and a desire to help, you’ll be amazed by what you learn.

Follow these 4 cold-calling tips to maximize your sales, generate better leads and create long-lasting client relationships.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

5 secrets to successful asking

Cold calling, Part 1: The don’ts

3 cold calling strategies that work

Brian Tracy is the CEO of Brian Tracy International, which specializes in business training, and the author of the best-selling Psychology of Achievement. For more information, go to www.briantracy.com.