cold-calling is difficult and has an inherently low success rate. The less "cold" the higher your chances of success. "success" depends on a number of factors:
1. who you are calling on,
2. what you are selling,
3. your value proposition.
4. how well you have done your homework.
If you choose to use cold calling and you want to maximize success then DO YOUR HOMEWORK. There is nothing more frustrating than interrupting your day to listen to someone who has no clue about how to make your job easier, faster, more profitable, etc. Put yourself in their shoes - ask yourself "why would i take any time out of my crazy schedule to spend x seconds on the phone with a stranger?" The answer is probably something like "if i could tell within the first x seconds that this person knew my business/job and the pains i live with daily, then i might keep listening or at least be open to additional information." So your job is to know their business, know the individual (via linkedIn, FB, trade groups, etc.) and know their pain. This means your typical sale needs to be worth the time you will spend on homework. If a sale is worth $500,000 and you want to cold call someone in the 'C' suite then take a day or 2 or 3 to learn all you can. If a sale is worth $5,000 then you can't justify much time and your success rate will be less. The other key is they have to like you - that's tough in just a few seconds. So in something less than 30 seconds you need to pique their interest, prove you know their pain and prove that you are likable.
Tactically, remember that execs are likely to have gate keepers, an assistant who screens calls, emails, etc. It many cases it makes sense to call on the gate keeper first. This is not a substitute for homework however. Also, you would be surprised how, relatively speaking, easy it is to cold call a CEO or chairman of the board. Most sales people put them on such a high pedestal they rarely attempt to call. Many CEO's like a sales person with the guts to call on them, but you had better have your homework done. Also, if you can't get to your intended prospect, try calling on a sales person or VP of sales in the company. They walk in your shoes all day themselves and if you can show that you have done your homework they will often help you. Just ask them "if you had to sell to your company how would you do it"? One avenue to understanding a company and the pain an individual employee is feeling look for public reviews of the company and/or products. A company that show repeated complaints about product quality or customer services or shipping or order accuracy, or a competitor is rapidly taking market share is a company ripe for a solution to make those public problems go away. figure out how you can help.