The Best Way to Lose a Prospect’s Interest When Cold Calling

salespeople cold calling and prospecting mean differentiationA few weeks ago I received an email from a first time salesperson struggling to make appointments. Her problems are many, starting with the fact that she has no sales training and no sales manager. Her question was on how to get better, and I recommended two of my favorite sales books. She had read one, and she bought the other.

She sent me a follow up email to better describe the real problem she was confronting, which she described as having trouble “introducing herself” and her company’s “consulting services.”

There is no doubt that making the statement “I’d like to come by and introduce myself and my company’s service to you,” is sometimes effective. But that sometimes is very, very rare.

Here is why that opening’s call to action isn’t effective and what to do about it.

Your Call to Action Is Self Centered

If you were on the other side of this salesperson’s request for an appointment, what might you suspect you would spend your time talking about on a sales call should one be given? This statement makes the prospect absolutely certain that you are going to spend your time talking about you and what you do.

“But wait,” you say. “That isn’t at all what I hoped to accomplish on the first call” But that is what you said, and that is what your dream client now believes.

Your Call is Undifferentiated

Truth is, there are a lot of people using this very same opening (it works sometimes, especially with smaller, transactional clients). Your prospects and dream clients are subjected to this request over and over again. In the past, they have agreed to meet with some nice-sounding salespeople and they have found them all to be pretty much the same—not value creators!

By using the exact same approach with the exact same language choices, you have confirmed that you are no different than those who have come before you—and the many who will call using the same line in the future.

Your Call Provides No Value and Confirms No Future Value

By making your request both about yourself and undifferentiated, you confirm for your prospect or dream client that you lack the ability to be valuable to them—this is true, even when you really can be of value.

By making even your request about you, you demonstrate that the focus of this call is about creating value for you and not your dream client. By not making your call different, the dream client has not choice but to believe that you have no new value-creating ideas worth her time and her attention.

The first assessment that your dream client makes is whether or not you are someone worth spending time with—what are they going to get out of the call. The best they can hope for, based on your request, is that they might get to visit with a really nice salesperson with nothing very valuable to offer.

Your Call Confirms That You Lack Business Acumen

Your dream clients have business issues, business problems, business challenges, and business opportunities for which they require outside help. Your call does nothing to indicate that you have the business acumen, the experience, or the resourcefulness to help them overcome their problems or to take advantage of their opportunities.

How to Remedy This Problem

The way to remedy this problem is to write better scripts, scripts that don’t violate the above principles. Better language will be customer-focused, it will differentiate you from your competitors, it will demonstrate that your intention to create value, and it will confirm that you have the business acumen and the resourcefulness to really help them with their business.


The first step in gaining appointments when cold calling is to capture your dream client’s interest. In 9 out of 10 cases, offering to talk about yourself isn’t interesting and it isn’t compelling. Effectiveness in cold calling and appointment setting is built on differentiating yourself and your offering and by proving you can and will help your dream clients produce better business results.


1. What does your script suggest about your intentions for the first appointment with your dream client?

2. How does your script differentiate you in a crowded marketplace? Does it confirm that you are no different and that you have nothing new to say?

3. Do your scripts and your language choices suggest that you are a professional in your field and that you possess the business acumen to make a difference for your clients?

4. Do your scripts and your language choices confirm your ability to create value for your dream client, even on the very first call? Why would they believe that meeting with you would benefit them now and in the future?

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