Some people become irate over prospecting calls on their cell phone. How dare someone call this very special o-so-private number! In part one I explained why that’s kinda silly. This article covers how to handle it. But first let’s deal with the risk of calling cell numbers.

The Risk in Calling Cell Phones

Part of what inspired this article are the posts in LinkedIn sales groups asking whether it’s okay to call cell numbers. There are no regulations prohibiting you from calling cell phone numbers simply because it’s a cell phone. However…

Unless your situation meets the exceptions, you may not call consumers on a number listed on the Do Not Call list, whether that’s attached to a cell phone, landline, voIP, etc..

In addition: Some people erroneously believe calling cell numbers is prohibited, and may react badly. Some people do not understand the exceptions to Do Not Call, and may react badly. Some people don’t differentiate B2C from B2B and may react badly. Some people believe it’s rude or unprofessional to call their cell phone numbe, and may react badly. Some people simply do not like receiving phone calls and may react badly. All people are sometimes illogical, moody, unreasonable, rude, dismissive, impatient…and may react badly to your call.

So the question is this: Are lots of people likely to react badly if you call their cell phone? Nope.

A few will. A few will react badly because it’s a cell phone, because their number’s on Do Not Call, because their number is unlisted, because it’s the third call they’ve gotten this week, or just because… (Gosh darn those humans.) It’s been that way since I was a young sales pup, making phone calls while walking through knee-deep snow wearing a skirt and high heels. Uphill both ways, of course.

What Not to Do

When people react badly to your call, do not treat that like an objection. Do not try to educate them on the nuances of Do Not Call. Do not argue with them. Do not insult them by saying they will be missing out. Do not act as if once they know all about your product or service they will surely change their mind.

How to Handle an Irate Response

With some small adjustments these examples work well with almost any kind of irate response. But let’s focus on a prospect angrily saying, “This is my cell phone!”

If that’s the only number you have:

“I’m sorry. It’s the only number I have. Is it okay for now if we continue this call?”  (This may sound more like, “Oh, I’m sorry. Hmm… it’s the only number I have. Is it okay for now if we continue?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was your cell phone and it’s the only number I have. May I try again at a later date on a different number?” (Get that other number before you close the call.)

If you have more than one number for the prospect:

“I’m sorry. We have a couple numbers and I picked the wrong one. I’ll update our records. Is it okay if we continue this call?”

If you have more than one number and you know you called the cell phone: fib and use the same response above.

Things to Notice

When prospects say, “This is my cell phone” we can interpret that to mean they don’t like us calling that number. Whether the prospect speaks calmly or not, it’s appropriate to start with an apology, just as we would if we had stepped on someone’s foot. Make it sincere, whether you say you’re sorry or “whoops” or something similar.

We have options from there:

  • One option is to then ask permission to continue the call.
  • Another option is to ask if you can call later using a different number.

Either work well most of the time, so you can choose which feels better to you and it’s okay to base that on the prospect’s tone or your mood.

You’ll find many prospects continue the call. You will also find the number of prospects who tell you it’s okay to again call their cell number is about equal to those who prefer a different number.

The keys to success are to apologize, ask permission to keep going or call again — and not to simply give up on these prospects. However, giving up is the third and sometimes best option.


Someone who does not want to talk with you is not a good challenge, they are NAP: Not a Prospect. This applies whether they’re mad that you called their cell phone, work number, home phone, it’s Monday, it’s 4:45 pm, etc.. You could apologize, close the call…and take your chances in a few months. Instead, I recommend you offer this:

“I’m sorry. Would you like to be added to our internal do not call list?”

Many prospects will decline the offer. Stopping calls to those that accept it frees your time and energy for other prospects.

When You Get More Than a Few

When one or two or three people react badly, that is not usually a sign you are doing something wrong – even when that happens several times in a row. Though even one difficult call may stand out, do not use that as a basis for making changes.

If more than a few people react badly, you may need to make some changes. Feel free to contact me for help.

When You Want People to Stop Calling Your Number

This article would not be complete without tips for the other side of the phone line:

  • Add all your numbers to the Do Not Call registry. These have to be renewed periodically, so re-registering can be important.
  • Many callers are under pressure and work under strict rules. Do not yell at them. Do not simply tell them not to call again. Calmly say this specific phrase: “Add this number to your internal do not call list.”
  • The internal do not call rules apply to charities, and to businesses of which you are or were recently a customer. Ethically, companies making B2B calls should also maintain an internal do not call list.