The Real Reason You Hate Cold Calling

The Real Reason You Hate Cold Calling

Some of you reading this hate cold calling. I know.

There is whole cottage industry that caters to your ill-considered and unproductive feelings towards calling your dream clients, and following their advice will get you nowhere fast. The anti-cold calling charlatans try to justify your hatred by telling you how ineffective cold calling is so they can sell you some plan where you can succeed wildly without cold calling.

The reality is this: If you suck at cold calling, it is horribly unproductive. But real reason you hate cold calling is because you aren’t yet good at it.

If you are moderately competent and work on improving your cold calling, it can be a super-productive way to get in with your dream clients.

How to Suck at Cold Calling

Earlier today, the God’s of sales blogging content smiled upon me and sent me a cold call. The caller began:

“Hi. How are you today?”

That just plain sucks. For both of us.

First, I have no idea who I am talking to. Second, because I don’t recognize the voice, and because our hapless salesperson didn’t identify himself to me, I was certain that it was someone that I don’t know and who doesn’t really care about how I am doing.

This is easy to un-suck. Be polite and tell the person on the other end of the phone who you are. Identify yourself, for God’s sake. Our anti-hero might have said: “Hi Anthony. This is John Smith with XYZ Companies.” I answered my phone with my name, so John Smith knew it was me on the line; he could—and should—have done the same.

Politely, and patiently, I responded: “I am fine. How are you.”

From Bad to Worse

Our salesperson then added insult to what was already injury by asking: “Is now a good time?”

This makes matters exponentially worse. Now, I don’t know who I am talking to, I know that they have no idea how to make a cold call, and now they have confirmed that fact by asking me a question to which neither of us knows the answer.

Was I busy? Absolutely! Was I too busy to take a call from someone with the ability to add massive value to my business? Absolutely not! Was I too busy to take a call from someone who was wholly unprepared to create value? Alas, I am always too busy to waste my time, and so are all of your dream clients.

With a complete absence of either patience or compassion, I asked: “A good time for what? I don’t even know who I am talking to!”

This is pretty easily remedied, too. Tell your dream client who you are, and then very directly tell them why you are on their phone taking their time. This is polite. Not telling the person who you are and what you want is rude, unprofessional, and it sucks.

From Worse to Worse Still

At this point, I gave our friend his opening, and he told me his name, his company’s name, and that they sold insurance to people in my space. Then he suggested that we might get together so he could tell me about his insurance offerings.

I know why he wanted to share his products and services with me: he wanted me to buy something from him. But I have no idea what I was supposed to get out of our time together except the great privilege of buying something from someone who isn’t yet prepared enough to sell professionally.

If you are going to ask your busy dream client for their time and attention, the two biggest constraints that they have to deal with in producing results, you had damn-well better be prepared to tell them what they can expect to get out of it.

Was our caller going to give me greater insurance coverage? Was he going to show me why some people have less insurance than they really need and what it costs them to make that mistake? Was he going to give me greater protection at a lower cost than I am presently paying? Neither one of us knows the answers.

How Not to Suck at Cold Calling

This isn’t the salesperson’s fault alone. His company should have prepared him better by providing him with a script, great language, and training.

Truth be told, I wasn’t the greatest cold caller in the world. I was, perhaps, the most disciplined. Here are three simple rules to suck less and, by doing so, hate cold calling a lot less.

First, tell the person on the other end of the phone your name and the name of your company.

Second, tell them why you are calling them. If you are calling them to schedule an appointment to explore working together, say so.

Third, tell them what value you are prepared to create for them in exchange for their time and attention.

If you don’t do these three things, you aren’t going to be warmly received by your dream client, and you are going to hate cold calling (not to mention the fact that you will be hated by your dream clients).


Do you hate cold calling because you believe it is unproductive, or do you hate cold calling because you aren’t good enough at it yet to be productive?

I have to ask: Do you have a killer script? Have you memorized it and can you win the academy award for making it seem unrehearsed and natural?

Should a conversation start, do you have the business acumen, the confidence, and the skills to turn it into a commitment for a face-to-face sales call?

If you hate cold calling, why do you hate it? What are the real, deep and uncomfortable reasons? Can you face them?

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  • Dan Collins

    Tony – great post. In this simple guys opinion the reason that people hate cold calling is even more primal. Challenge, difficulty and the unavoidable fact that it takes discipline and professionalism to break through the ‘if it was easy everyone would be doing it’ aspect. Combined with the issue that it takes a lot of drive to work the numbers that tend to be daunting as you learn what works and what doesn’t. So what people do is rather than address that aspect they rationalize not doing it with ‘ it’s not productive’ or ‘there are better and smarter ways of getting things done.’ Cold calling – like any other difficult thing in business and life has many benefits to the person who has the discipline and perseverance to add this skill to his tool box. One – he will do what others can’t or won’t (always a good thing) Two he, or she, will become extremely adept at refining and honing verbal communication skills in a difficult or challenging setting. And Three that person will gain the respect of experienced business people out there who respect others that do the tough things that others can’t or won’t. It’s not an effectiveness argument, in my view, it’s a mastery of difficulty issue.

  • Charles H. Green


    Really well done. You make nicely the link between “I hate” and “I suck at it.” Then you describe my recurring nightmare. Then you tell me how, simply, to fix it.

    Gold stuff, many thanks,

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Charlie! You have the whole package to pick up the phone and call anybody: serious subject matter expertise, deep situational knowledges, the ability and the desire to truly help your clients . . . but even with all that it’s more difficult for consultants than salespeople.

      It’s analogous to a world class olympic swimmer who spent his summers as a life guard happening upon someone drowning. Does the person who is drowning actually have to know that you have the ability to save them and call out for help? Or, are you allowed to offer your help without first being asked?


  • Ryan Hanley


    I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now and I have a huge amount of respect for the articles that you produce. I must tell you that this is by far one of your best…

    The content is so simple, yet extremely useful…. I added a link to this article in my newsletter going out today to expose my readers to your work.

    Thank you!

  • Brett

    I have a lot of mediocre material prepared – from scripts to value propositions. Like your caller, I sell insurance. It’s normally the value proposition that gets me: I have no clue where I will be able to add value in a given situation: price? maybe. more thorough coverage? maybe. Better service? maybe. My winning personality? Hells yes. Seriously, though, I got wrapped around the axle trying to predict and then construct what becomes a long script. Then I just toss it and start dialing. Not sure my question in this, but I do like the article and am following a few rabbit trails (the script link and the ‘disciplined’ link). The key for me is to build it into each day so I don’t have to acclimate myself to the deal every time.

  • Sterlingmcmannis

    I love cold calling because I’m pretty good at it. The people around me think I’m a freak because I see it as a challenge to be met rather than an area to avoid. An approach I find affective is:

    Me: Hi Bob, My name is Sterling with Saligent. Did I catch you at a good time?
    Bob: Maybe, what’s this about?
    Me: I was hoping to speak with you about what we do and see if it might be a good fit for your business.
    Bob: Okay

    I couldn’t care less about how somebody is doing because if they’re having a bad day, my job is to put them in a good mood with a smile on my face (it puts a smile in my voice). Also, I want them to think that they are expected to buy something from me, my company, or a client’s company (I’m a lead generator). It sets the tone for the call and it means I don’t have to “weasel” may way to the close.

    Just to throw a wrench in this whole thing: My conversion rate increases with lead softening through marketing touches

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  • Tim

    I really needed to say this. I work for a company making cold calls and I am damn good at it but it makes me want to kill myself, I am selling a product I know people can get cheaper, or that they really dont want at all. Also I am on the phone from 9am till 6pm every damn day, I go home and am asked “what did you do today?” and if I answer honestly it’s ‘padded the bank account abit’ while having no time to enjoy it and knowing I’ll be doing the same thing tomorrow.

    Every night walking home I think, well I have a couple of hours to think before I have to sleep and do that again. When you are stuck with cold calling targets all you do is call, you cant think you just spew the same crap down a line for 9 hours. Oh and you wonderful call center managers, ” you had too breaks today, you need to cut that out” forgetting the fact that I meet targets and need those breaks to go bash my head against a wall.

    So does cold calling work? Yes. Should it? No. If you need to cold call your product is not good enough to stand on it’s own, when I finally have enough money in the bank I’m striking out on my own to do something worth while.

    • Slappy White

      Just because you need to cold call, that doesn’t mean your product “is not good enough to stand on its own”.
      Nobody would know a product is available just because it is occupying physical space in this universe. They have to discover it somehow. Advertising, referral, retail store, etc. I’m sure there are some great business Saas products that would make my business better and I’d be happy to buy…but just haven’t heard of them. You have to start somewhere and cold calling is one starting point; a relatively low-cost starting point.
      Though admittedly I am one of those people who would never buy anything because someone tried to sell it to me over the phone. I’d rather research it online, learn about it for myself. I hate salespeople. I just want the information about their product, I don’t want a sales pitch. Most salespeople I encounter just turn me off from the product completely. It’s like they’re standing in the way of me and their product. I want to learn about the product, not hear their spin. I wish they’d just get the hell out of the way and let me learn for myself. As such, I far prefer marketing over sales. And if I were you, I would escape that job ASAP.

  • vlad

    I disagree with introducing your company first. Why? Because when you do that you automatically get there cold calling shields up. Instead I wait until they ask me what company I am with. I start the call by saying hi I’m x, I have this business matter I’d like to speak to with x can you transfer me? A lot of times the front desk people won’t get you to the decision makers because they’ve been trained not to and some of those same business people would say yes to your service. I feel that introducing my company makes it about me and not their problem, which my company can solve. Let me know what you think, I find your perspective interesting too.

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