Return to the Cold (Call)

Most people dislike nothing more than the cold call that arrives at suppertime, or any other time for that matter. Often you will hear a computer generated voice asking you to wait, or a human who speaks so fast that you cannot understand a word that is being said.  The urge to slam the phone down can be overwhelming, though not really recommended with the tiny cell phones most of us use these days. However, having once earned my living doing cold calls as a Real Estate professional, I do try to be courteous, at least to the people. You could ask, why would anyone even bother these days?

I can’t speak to those that make cold calls directly to homes to sell a product or service, or collect for a charity, although the person who calls and makes as if they are my best buddy does annoy me! But there are other situations where calling someone that you don’t know may still be a viable option. The questions to answer are:

Why are you calling?

Who are you calling?

What are you going to say?

Why are you calling comes first. If you don’t know why you are calling someone, don’t pick up the phone! I say that half in jest; you generally have an idea of why you are calling someone, but have you really articulated the purpose of your call beyond a fuzzy idea? In particular, are you ready to talk to that person?

I almost always pick up the phone and I am often greeted by silence followed by a frenzy of words. When you are making calls, don’t get too comfortable with voice mail. Those of you who make the calls know what I mean; you sit there counting the rings praying for voice mail, and then someone answers! Tongue tied gibberish often is all that will come out of your mouth.

Who are you calling is determined by why you are calling. If you are unemployed, you may be calling someone that you were referred to or a person you have seen on LinkedIn that you feel might be able to help you, ore even a hiring manager. If you are a business person, you may be calling to make connections for your business, or better yet, to sell your product or service.

Finally, consider what you are going to say. You will have roughly 15 to 30 seconds to introduce yourself and state the purpose of your call! If you cannot do that clearly, you will most likely get the dreaded question “What’s the purpose of this call?” (title of a previous Blog posting. In order to express yourself clearly, I recommend having a printed list of bulleted words or short expression, no more than 3 or 4, to guide your opening phrases. Below that could be another series of bulleted words or phrases for the rest of your phone presentation.

Two things will increase the probabilities of success when you need to make cold calls; first, proper preparation and secondly, the knowledge that you are among the few who are actually trying!

6 thoughts on “Return to the Cold (Call)

  1. Great info – you are touching on a subject that has to do with rolling up the sleeves and doing the heavy lifting. For many of us in this amazing country things have been easy for a long time. Now’s the time to get back to the fundamentals – they always work! Keep em coming.

    • Kevin R Callahan

      Interesting perspective, and you are right. If you are willing to do the haevy lifting, even lifting the phone to talk, your chances of success increase.

  2. Kevin, practical advice, thanks.

    There are two specific tactics that I’ve found to be effective in getting results (a meeting, or other advancement in the sale process):

    1. Research the prospect
    2. Quickly stating the reason for the call, within the first 5 – 10 seconds.

    The research accomplishes two things: Pre-qualification of the prospect, and credibility for the caller. Use Google /Google Alerts to find “inside” information to qualify the prospect, and weave into your cold-call conversation. Done right, this is a fast and efficient way to make your calls more effective and productive.

    Stating “The reason I’m calling…” immediately after introducing yourself, and without pausing, will pre-empt the “dreaded question” you reference, and make the caller appear more professional and confident.

    And never ask the prospect, “How are you, today?” because the answer is always going to be “None of your business – you don’t even know me!” or “Lousy – I’m getting a Cold Call!”


  3. Kevin R Callahan


    Thanks for the useful tips!


  4. For ongoing insight on telephone selling, I highly recommend subscribing to Art Sobczak’s sales tip of the week. Here is a link to sample his archives

  5. Fantastic advice! Now if only we could do the same for call screening. I swear, if I don’t know the number, answering my phone is nearly impossible! I have to listen to the voicemail first to prepare for calling the person back – ha!

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