The Perils of Cold Calling

The very first cold call I ever made, the lucky recipient accused me of reading from a script before hanging up in my face. I was 19 years old. I was reading from a script, and a damn good one. It was the delivery that killed me. But I called him right back and told him that I didn’t need the script to ask him for an appointment, and my audacity won him over (he might have been my first client).

A few years later, my territory was the entire city of Los Angeles. I decided to target Century City because there were great targets there. One was Carnival Cruise Lines, but that story is one for another day.

The big building where President Ronald Reagan kept his post-Presidency office was there, but the security was pretty tight. I fell in with a group of guys coming back into the building after lunch and pretended I was with them. I skated right past security. Then I started cold calling offices within the building. Apparently that wasn’t allowed. The security guards that received complaints about my sales efforts didn’t have a great sense of humor about me cold calling in the building and told me I was lucky I didn’t get to Reagan’s floor. I am certain the Secret Service would have been even more humorless.

As a sales manager, I’ve had prospects call me to tell me to stop my salespeople from calling on them. I would get one or two calls a year when an overzealous rep rubbed a sensitive prospect the wrong way.

Here’s the thing, if you’re not rubbing a person the wrong way occasionally, you’re not prospecting. It’s not that you have to be super aggressive or pushy or intolerable when you are prospecting (even though you do have to push for appointments). You aren’t intentionally trying to make people unhappy or damage relationships. It’s that you’re not running into people who are sensitive or not calling the same people frequently enough to get a single complaint. You’re not trying hard enough.

If you’ve got the chops to defuse the occasional unhappy recipient of your unexpected call, then it isn’t a problem. If you do happen to rub someone the wrong way, apologize, shrug it off, and make the next call.

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Filed under: Sales

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