Stop Cold Calling: My Advice to Salespeople

Stop Cold Calling: My Advice to Salespeople

Categories: Sales Coaching Tools

The other day I was working with a seller who was a little frustrated with how hard it is to get people on the phone. He told me about a prospect who was furious when she realized she was on the other end of a cold call.

The prospect yelled, “Are you really cold calling me right now? Why would you waste your time and more importantly why would you attempt to waste my time?!”

The seller asked me if I could believe that someone would be so rude and my answer was an emphatic YES! I asked the seller, “What was your answer to the prospect?” There was a bit of a pause, so I interjected, “There is your answer”.

For years, I've listened to salespeople tell me how difficult it is to cold call and how much they dislike it. I always ask them why they do it? Their answers are always something like, “I have to," or "It’s part of my job.” I always respond with pointing out the purpose of the conversation. I told this particular seller, "So you're telling me that your boss wants you to pick up the phone and call someone, whom you don’t know, ask them for time that they don’t have, ask them questions about their company and their role that you don’t understand, and ultimately prove to that person that you have NOTHING in common?”


I remember my own experiences with cold calling from my early days of selling. We actually had specific days of the week where we were to do nothing but dial numbers. I dreaded those days because my results were awful. As I often did back then, I looked to the people around me who were deemed successful in the tasks and skills that I was trying to learn. I noticed that people who were successful on these particular days were not really making true cold calls. When I listened, there were definitely some specific trends. They all followed a similar process, which we call The Three P’s.

The Purpose

Successful warm callers began with  stating the purpose of their call. It made sense because the first thing that I do/think of when an unknown person calls me is, “Why are you calling me?”. I also noticed that the successful callers were using names and experiences that were relevant to the prospect. I heard, things like, “I am calling because (Insert Name) suggested that I call you."

I also noticed that these same sellers were calling people they already knew and asking them for introductions to prospects. These current customers were then sending emails or making introductory phone calls to the prospects. I also noticed that the sellers were using proof points (case studies/testimonials) in their purpose statements which warmed up the prospect. For example, they may say, “I am calling because I noticed that you are implementing this change, which is similar to the change implemented by one of our largest customers.”

The Process

I noticed that the successful sellers all made it very clear what they wanted from the prospect at the start of the call. It was like they were proposing an agenda. “What I would like to do is ask you a few questions to determine…” This made a ton of sense to me as I could relate to being on the other end of the phone and thinking, “Okay, I now know why you are calling me, but what do you want from me?”

The Payoff

The good sellers were all prepared with excellent examples of what good things happened for their customers by working with us. This was called "WIIFM" (What's In It For Me). They used specific examples of measurable results for others who used our products.

The Three P’s are just as powerful for me today as they were when I first started selling. It does not matter if I am picking up the phone, writing an email or beginning a face-to-face meeting. I always practice and prepare The Three P’s. With today’s technology, I rarely pick up my phone for a caller I do not know. If I happen to pick up the phone and realize that I do not know the other person on the other line, I naturally ask myself the same three questions:

  • Why are you calling me? (Your Purpose)
  • What do you want for me? (Your Process)
  • What’s in it for me? (The Payoff)

I am sure that all of you do the same thing!

So how did this play out for the frustrated salesperson that sparked this blog for me? I broke it down into three specific areas:

1. Preparation

I told him to prepare a daily call sheet with a list of the targeted individuals and their respective companies that he was going to call. On this call sheet, he should list the the relevant warm information that he has on the company and the individual. If he does not have any warm information, then he needs to get some before he makes the call. With today’s information age, there is no excuse not to have warm information on a company, even if they're not public. If for some reason you can’t find any information on a company that is private, go to their biggest public competitor and see what is happening with them. There are industry pressures which create company pressures, which then create departmental pressures, which turn into individual pressures. The last thing on the call sheet should be a Purpose, Process and Payoff.

2. Execution

During the execution phase, I suggested to this seller to keep track of the things that work and the things that were less effective. I suggested that he compete with those around him. Have some fun with some of your colleagues and see who can be the most successful. Put some friendly wagers in place. Watch and listen to the people who are successful. Stay away from the people who hang out in the “Excuse Department”. It's not going to help you be more effective. At the end of the day, huddle with your peers and managers and get examples of the most successful strategies to make calls warm.

3. Be Uncommon

I told this seller that everything we just talked about is uncommon. Therefore, the common man or woman will not do it. I also told the seller that when you start to do these things you may, in fact, be ridiculed by some of your peers who like to hang out in the “Excuse Department”. Uncommon people are often ridiculed for doing the hard things that others choose not to do. Stick to your guns and stay focused on being successful. Selling is not a popularity contest among your peers. In many ways, it is the exact opposite.


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