For Those Who Hate Cold Calling

by Steve The Copywriter 12 replies
When I wander in here from the Copywriting Forum I often see posts on the noble art of cold calling.

Tales ranging from joy to agony.

Many years ago (better make that decades) I sold advertising most of it by cold calling.

And for ages I remembered the “agony” far more than the joy.

Battling away trying to get whoever it was interested in something they patently were not bothered about.

Everything changed when I helped organise a course based on a book by Bill Good “Prospecting Your Way To Sales Success.”

It’s now been updated to “Hot Prospects.”

In essence (disclaimer - you do need to get the full details from the book) –

You start off with a 10 – 20 second pitch and ask something like “would you be interested?

And (this is the best bit)…

If the prospect says “No”

You say, “That’s fine, thanks for your time, I’ll leave you in peace and quiet, good bye”

No pressure, no arguments, no trying to handle endless objections.


Of course what you are really doing is just mining to get the people who do have an interest in your service/product. And simply agreeing with those who don’t.

Most sales managers would have a blue frothy fit if they saw you using this technique (“Traitors and cowards get those objections into the open and f****** deal with them!”).

Although the managers I spoke to who had their people go on the course were delighted that the room was buzzing with calls and sales were being made without any pain and torment.

I can tell you…

It makes cold calling a breeze even a pleasure.

You happily zip through the calls and boom get the sales.

Again many have furiously disagreed with me - “No, No No! You must have missed boatloads of potential sales – you blithering idiot!” (and that may well be true).

But at 5.00pm when I looked around the office. I saw so many exhausted heaps slumped on their desks worn out to a frazzle having desperately tried to persuade the unpersuadable.

Yes of course they did get sales but were knackered. And it seemed to take them so much longer because of the time they spent scrapping away trying to handle all the objections.

So, providing you have enough people to call, you tend to get the sales much faster than the gladiator “fight you to the death” routine.

And here’s the surprising bit. You call back the people who “weren’t interested” about 6 weeks later and would you believe it many are now interested and are happy to buy.

For anyone who has skipped to the end of this post and yes I could have made it a lot shorter and just said…

“When you’re cold calling, and the prospect says “No” just agree.

Keep calling more people until you get all the “Yeses” you need”

And actually enjoy dialling all the numbers.

#offline marketing #calling #cold #hate
Avatar of Unregistered
  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Solid advice. I've read both books by Bill Good. It was years ago though. The approach you describe sounds almost identical to the way I cold called, and taught/teach cold calling. It works well, is almost stressless, and gets you to the small number of people that are highly likely prospects.

    I wonder if the book Prospecting Your Way To Sales Success is where I got the idea in the first place.

    I do remember that the single best cold call I ever received was a guy that just said "I sell long distance for four cents a minute. Do you want to hear more?"

    This was of course years ago, but I said "Yes" and he made a sale. I thought it was a brilliant approach.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11212721].message }}
  • Claude,

    I bet it was "Prospecting Your Way To Sales Success" (subsequently "Hot Prospects" which I must read just to reminisce on the old days).

    I've never seen any other book mentioning the technique.

    When I went on the course based on the book (I had no idea what it was about).

    It certainly was a red letter day when I discovered the principle.

    I haven't cold called for eons but it wouldn't worry me a bit if I did.

    But if I had to slog through a list, phoning prospects and hammer away at any and all the "objections"

    I would probably rip out the phone after an hour.

    Maybe even 15 mins...

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11212774].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sbaker47
    Steve the Copywriter, Thank you for the great cold calling tip.
    I have been toying with the idea for years but I get cold feet every time because I think about all the objections that I probably won't have answers to. I have the "Hot Prospects" book right next to me right now on my bookshelf but I have never cracked it open. I will today.

    At least, now I have a strategy to get on the phone that is bearable.

    Then I see "THE" Claude Whitacare respond. Holy Crap!!

    Claude, I bought 3 or 4 of your books on Amazon earlier this year and read each book completely the day I bought it. You have taught me more about direct response advertising than I knew there was to learn. I am a huge fan.

    I am working on a local B2B startup and I plan to give away a few marketing books a month with your books at the top of my list.

    Gentlemen, thank you so much for the insights. I think there is still hope for me to generate some leads with simple cold calls.

    Shawn Baker

    Indecision is the thief of opportunity

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11212900].message }}
  • Shawn,

    I think you are going to enjoy cold calling x 1079% more than you ever did. And it just keeps getting easier...and very lucrative.

    Certain it is you won't fear, dread, or like I did back in the day (before I read the book) make countless excuses not to do it.

    (my and many others top "excuse" was to go to the coffee shop round the corner, there wasn't a machine in the office, we drank gallons, when we eventually did pick up the phones we were shaking so much you heard "clunk", "clunk" "clunk" as we dropped the receivers - and it was never easy speaking to prospects with your head on the floor).

    Anyway now there really isn't anything to worry about.

    Because you'll be diplomatically saying "goodbye" to everyone who doesn't want your product.

    And a big welcome to all those who do.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11212915].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author umc
    When I was a telemarketer for home improvements this is basically what I did. If they didn't have something that they wanted a free estimate for, I just politely let them go. I was never the top lead generator in the room, but my leads were quality and went through the confirmation process while others that were generating a ton of leads had lots of blow outs. I did learn how to turn it on and push for the estimate and sometimes that worked out. There was always an argument of quality vs quantity in our department, but like you said, I often went home with less burnout than others.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11212921].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Originally Posted by Steve The Copywriter View Post

    “When you’re cold calling, and the prospect says “No” just agree.

    Keep calling more people until you get all the “Yeses” you need”

    Sorry, and no offense but I don't get the cold calling mentality. The way I see it, it's counterproductive.

    Calling more irrelevant people gets you nowhere. It's not a numbers game when the numbers are useless.

    If I cold call someone selling carpet cleaning (example) and the person answering the phone has all hardwood floors, is that a good use of my time? No, it's a waste of time.

    A better use of my time would be buying a list of carpet buyers from a local carpet installer. These are warm leads, I know for a fact the person on the other end of the phone owns carpet and six months to a year down the road can make the sales pitch for the prospect to protect their investment by having their carpet cleaned.

    IMO, cold calling is as lazy as it gets and the person making the calls isn't thinking clearly or using their head to create a logical game plan.

    Do this, write down on paper the sales flow you're using, an algorithm so you can visualize your funnel. Does it really make sense? Be honest with yourself.

    Be your best self. - Darryl Philbin
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11212956].message }}
  • (Steve? that may have been an objection or "I'm not interested" - so thanks for your comments, I'll leave you in peace and quiet and move on...)

    But I should have clarified that whatever you are selling you must be aiming at the people most likely to buy.

    Cold calling does need a targeted list or yes it will all be in vain (if it's random with no direction you might get lucky and stumble across a few "buyers" but it could take a heck of a time).

    I was talking about the "pitch" technique.

    But you are absolutely correct calling the right people is paramount.

    Thankfully you can usually get acres of lists of whoever your target customers are fairly easily.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11212991].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
    pretty well the same for tappin doors. good post.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11213011].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sbaker47

    Thank you for the kind words of inspiration and the funny coffee shop story.

    Many years ago, I used to sell timeshare resales almost completely by cold calling prospects.

    I and 2 others were new hires, along with 3 veterans who averaged 10 sales a week for an easy 50K a year sitting in a chair and drinking coffee. I was lucky enough to have a sale my first day and I was learning the value of scripts. But the more I learned about the sales tactics that they were using ( like closing a sale while the prospect was in a hospital bed ) or the garbage product I came to find out that we were selling, the more disillusioned I became.

    Within 2 weeks, I left because ethically I could not promote a useless product ( timeshare appraisals) that was extracting so much money from people who needed the money so badly.

    Steve, I also agree with you that you need to have a target market or a customer avatar that you are trying reach. In no way did I think that you meant that we were calling out of the phone book. I assumed that was a given.

    But as "Yukon" did to call cold calling lazy. IMHO, that is anything but the truth. If he read your post carefully, he would realize that there is no flowchart needed for the method you explained.

    In fact, I disagree with his premise on several levels. First, in his carpet analogy, just because someone has a carpet and you sell carpet cleaning does not make them a warm lead. IMO, that makes them a qualified lead but you would have to get a personal referral from the carpet installer or they would have to initiate contact about a free report or service that you offer for them to be a "warm" lead and a likely future customer.

    Second, just because you or I have been uncomfortable doing a valuable lead-generating task doesn't require that the task itself be criticized.
    Just about every Fortune 500 company (if not every) have huge teams of out-bound callers to generate leads, upgrade sales or to collect funds that are owed to them. Most of those are warm customer calls but they still generate huge amounts for their companies.

    Cold calling is anything but lazy. Cold calling is fast, cheap, direct and effective if you have a qualified and targeted list and a good script.

    Steve gave me the new script, and I am going to run with it. I am still thinking of outsourcing more calls as I grow my business but for now, I don't think there is a faster and cheaper way for me to create awareness for my new company. Until now, my struggle has always been mustering up the courage to reach out and consistently make the calls.

    It is not a matter of if it works. Webinars are just telephone calls with slides and they sell 100's of millions annually. It is a matter of blocking out the time in the schedule, sitting down, and picking up the phone. Of course, this is only my opinion.

    Shawn Baker

    Indecision is the thief of opportunity

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11213079].message }}
  • Shawn,

    Great points.

    The one that resonates the most is - sell stuff you believe in - (I think we all agree the product or service must be legal, ethical, honest and truthful).

    But even more than that if we were the prospect it has to be something we would buy ourselves.

    I think I'm right on this - when the late, great Zig Ziglar was selling very expensive pots and pans door to door (the customers made their money back because they used less heat) he had already bought a set.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11213265].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Back in the day, I was selling long distance along with a biz-opp (yes, it was mlm).

    Some of the "sales" tactics taught made my skin crawl. One trainer liked to tell a story about accompanying a rep on a sales call to the rep's mother. She regaled the trainees with her story of badgering the woman until she gave up and signed the forms.

    If she had talked to my mother like that, her fat ass would have bounced when it hit the curb.

    Our organization did much better, especially on the opportunity side, when we shifted focus from "selling" to "sifting and sorting." We focused on finding the right people, and taught them an approach very similar to what Steve describes. It was a good way to avoid the MLM version of the NFL - No Friends Left.

    I've used this, and variations of it, for years - not necessarily for cold calling, but even for things like opt-ins and cold email approaches.

    One side benefit I've noticed is that when they say 'not interested' and you simply say 'okay' it sometimes acts almost like a takeaway. I've had people come back with 'wait, that's it? You didn't even tell me if it does XYZ...' and it was off to the races.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11214323].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

      Back in the day, I was selling long distance along with a biz-opp (yes, it was mlm).

      Some of the "sales" tactics taught made my skin crawl. One trainer liked to tell a story about accompanying a rep on a sales call to the rep's mother. She regaled the trainees with her story of badgering the woman until she gave up and signed the forms.

      If she had talked to my mother like that, her fat ass would have bounced when it hit the curb.
      Most MLM and direct sales people have no idea what selling is. Badgering,, arguing, and making nonsensical claims are what most of them see as selling.

      The good news is that these "reps" don't last very long.
      The bad news is that they are replaced by the same kind of people.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11214352].message }}
Avatar of Unregistered

Trending Topics