Cold Calling Category

Calling Cell Numbers: Part Two

Frustrated CallerSome 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 a cell phone number, 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? (more…)

Calling Cell Numbers: Part One

(Updated June 2017) This article was originally published in 2012. The inspiration for an update is two-fold: (1) The uber-annoyed reaction my nephew and his mom have when they get sales calls on their mobile phone. (2) The angst often displayed in LinkedIn sales group posts over whether to call cell phone numbers. Part one of the update deals with why it’s silly to be annoyed at all, part two covers how to handle such reactions.

Many people are extra-irritated when they get a cold call on their cell phone. How did the caller get that oh-so-special-number!? What kind of evil conspiracy is afoot and how do you report these dastardly callers? Before you dash off an angry email to, um…somebody… you need to know a bit about the history of telephone directories.


The Wrong Way to Warm Calls Up

The most common way people try to warm calls up is by mailing or emailing first. This common effort comes with common errors. This article covers the errors, how to avoid them, and how to successfully blend letters/emails with calling. (more…)

Phone Phobia: Not Just for Old People Anymore

phone phobia(Article updated June 2017) Reports of phone phobia among younger people are still numerous. Is this scourge affecting ‘Millennials’ different from what ails older people? The answer is yes and no. The no part is that the end result is the same: not making calls, or being less successful with calling. However, the reasons behind fear of phone are indeed different for younger people. Resolving those concerns sometimes requires a slightly different approach, too.

Surprise: It’s Not About Attitude

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say everyone born in or after 1985 is “younger.” Everyone else, moi included, is “older.” That younger group includes Millennials, who are often described as having self-centered or entitled attitudes. Describing younger generations as having a poor attitude is a tradition that’s been around for…well, millennia. The presumptions rarely hold true and in this case are also irrelevant. What makes phone phobia different for younger people is what happened in 2003: Do Not Call laws went into effect.


Why B2B and B2C are (not) Different

(Excerpt from book)

My favorite cold calling myth is this one: calling B2B is different from calling B2C. The idea behind this myth is when calling business owners, C-suite, and other executives we need to use a sophisticated approach because these guys are intelligent. We need to get right to the point because these guys are busy (and impatient). If we do not quickly meet their standards they will shut us down.

All of that is absolutely true: these prospects are busy, intelligent, and will not put up with calls that do not show respect. Now… what on earth happens to these people when they go home and become consumers? Are they suddenly less sophisticated or less intelligent? Does their time magically expand to allow for callers to impose on it?

That’s why this myth is so special — it’s just plain silly. Calls to businesses and calls to consumers are the same. The rest of this article highlights two common errors with both “types” of prospects, and how to avoid them. (The book provides details using full script examples.) (more…)

Communicate: Are You Sending the Right Message?

Ah, communication! We want to communicate clearly and effectively…but we can inadvertently send the wrong message. Here are common words and phrases that can trip us up. I’ll start with “just” and “actually” because using them purposely does not cause problems — using them as a verbal habit does.


We use the word “just” to communicate emphasis, as in “I just don’t know about this deal!” We also use it to soften, as in “I’m sorry, we just don’t have any openings right now.” In both of these situations, we use the word purposely to send a specific message.

However, many of us toss “just” in often and without realizing it. If we’ve got this verbal habit and use telemarketing, that tiny word easily undermines success because it communicates a very different message on the phone. In cold calling land, prospects hear the word “just” as meaning “only.” To understand why this creates problems, take a look at this example:

“I’m just calling to thank you for your business.” (more…)

Metrics and the Fading Funnel (excerpt from book)

Back when I was a sales pup, we reps and our managers used an equation to set expectations for performance (now known as “metrics”). The equation started at the top of the proverbial funnel with calling, flowed through several points—response, appointments, qualifying and closing—down to the small end of the funnel and new business. We used the same equation in reverse to set dials goals based on desired units of new business.

That equation is what gave us the expression sales is “a numbers game.” As I taught years ago, the underlying point was not that all we need do is make a bunch of calls and something good would come of it. The key point was we could use numbers (the equation) to guide prospecting efforts.

Alas, data needed to fully feed the equation has not been gathered for many years now. (more…)

Shout Out for Dudley and Goodson

I am careful about using the phrase “call reluctance” and you may need to be, too. Here’s why.

Shannon L. Goodson and George W. Dudley are the authors of The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance: Earning What You’re Worth in Sales. This is an appreciation for Dudley in particular, who coined the phrase “call reluctance” maybe as far back as 1943. Call reluctance is a beautiful phrase. It’s also trademarked.

Some years ago, I was asked to observe their training program (delivered by someone else, not Dudley or Goodson) and was given a copy of their book. The goal was to bring me up to speed because I’d deliver my cold calling workshop to the same group the next day. As I sat quietly in the back of the room, I naturally critiqued the training and looked through the book.

I have some education in psychology (completed a BA) and love to rip apart research and its results. I thought the research portions of the book were very well-done and relevant to some concerns people sometimes have about making calls. However, I do not recommend or support the depth of the effects the authors describe, much less the methods presented in training to address the issues. But that’s not the point of this article. (more…)

How (Not) to Raise Funds

Waterbed storeOnce upon a time, our homes were constantly invaded by telemarketers. They were pushy, rude, assumptive and would not take “no” for an answer unless we pronounced it at least three times. This grew from an inconvenience to an invasion so significant laws were passed to quell these calls…almost.

What remains are largely calls from political groups and charities. Most use the same annoying approach that generated Do Not Call laws. If you lead one of these organizations or a fundraising firm, take heed: adapt before you go the way of the waterbed store. And if you are raising funds yourself, don’t copy those calls — apply the tips below. (more…)

Writing: The Joys of Bad Grammar

grammar hound“You’re grammar is not very good.”

Someone recently wrote to say I should work on the grammar in an article. The person contacted me privately instead of posting a comment — sort of like pulling me aside to tell me I had something stuck in my teeth. They meant to be helpful so I did not snarkily reply with a correction of my own. The thing is: using bad grammar can have good effect.

In Scripting

Scripts written using proper grammar often sound overly-scripted. Using these scripts also tends to feel awkward. This means “proper” writing backfires on both ends of the phone line.

Learning to write effective, natural-sounding scripts takes practice. To help people get into the swing of it, many articles in the cold calling section are written the way people talk. This includes purposeful bad grammar and short sentences.

In Manuals and Materials that Teach

Training materials and reference manuals written using proper grammar too often utilize longer sentences which in turn require a good deal more concentration.

The above sentence is written properly, but here is a sentence people will easily absorb: Proper grammar can make training materials and reference manuals harder to understand.

That’s another good reason to toss good grammar out the window.

When it’s on the Internet

People tend to scan stuff on the internet. The same is true of stuff viewed on monitors. If sentences are too long — properly constructed or not — it’s easy to lose track of the point. This is yet another situation when it makes sense to use somewhat lax grammar.

You, too, May Want to Drop Proper Grammar

Next time you’re writing a script or something instructional, try using shorter sentences and grammar that mirrors how people talk. You’ll find the scripts sound (and feel) better, people learn more quickly, and references are easier to use.

You’ll also find there are fewer reasons to argue over correct use of semi-colons; but don’t worry, there will be other minutiae on which to spend meeting time. (See how odd that looks? Proper grammar again.)








Mind Control: Why Some Calls to Action Work and Some Don’t

Mind control“Register”
“Buy Now”
“If you’re interested, call me back.”

Those are examples of a marketing call to action — a term and practice that’s been around for over 100 years. The first two work, the third doesn’t. This article tells you why. (more…)

Why “Just Do It” Just Won’t Work

People who are nervous or uncomfortable when cold calling are often told to “just do it.” Call 30 or 40 times and you’ll get over it — that’s the idea. Though there is a kernel of truth in that, it’s a teeny, tiny kernel. Here are things to know before you decide to grit your teeth and just do it.

30 or 40 Calls Won’t Reach 30 or 40 People

People aren’t always at their desk or home. You’ll get lots of voicemail, which means you mostly get used to leaving voicemail. This also means nervousness about talking with humans in a cold call acquires a layer of “Whew, got their voicemail.”

So how many calls will you need to make to get over feeling nervous? That’s not how it works, so read on. (more…)

How to Leverage Voicemail

There are two schools of thought about voicemail and both are valid.

One school of thought says not to leave voicemails — just keep calling until you reach a person. There are positives about this approach but one common negative: frustration. If you begin to think of reaching a prospect’s voicemail as a “bad” call that frustration will snowball. So pay attention to how you’re feeling and change tactics to before it’s too late: apply the other school of thought, which says heck yes leave voicemails! Here are some tips.

RadioVoicemail: Part Radio Ad, Part Verbal Postcard

Your voicemail messages have a lot in common with two other marketing tools: Radio ads and postcards.

Voicemail messages are part radio ad because they help increase name recognition. Voicemail also makes it easy to add some style, personality and ad-worthy information.

Voicemail is part verbal postcard because of message brevity and because the response rate for voicemail is about the same as the response rate for traditional mail.


How to Turn Gatekeepers Into Allies

GatekeeperLet’s start this article by defining “gatekeeper.” It’s anyone who picks up the phone who is not your direct prospect. That includes the prospects’ co-workers, staff, operators, receptionists, administrative assistants, and secretaries. And I’m now going to tell you absolutely everything you need to turn these gatekeepers into people who help you. That’s right: everything. You ready? Here we go…

Treat them nicely. Treat them with respect. Treat them the same way you treat your direct prospects. Read on for examples of how to do this, and a brief lecture on why schmoozing, manipulation and lying are not just wrong — they’re not worth it. (more…)

Why Making Calls in Class Does Not Work

Someone recently asked me why Savage and Greene cold calling training does not include torturing students by forcing them to make cold calls in front of all of their peers. Well…I slightly edited their question but you get the idea.

The short answer: Making calls does not have the desired effect (not even close) and wastes a ton of time better-spent on things that will help students succeed. The longer answer is shown below, including a bit of fascinating history. (more…)

How to Shop for Lists

Where Lists Come From

The types of data available is absolutely mind-boggling. We’re talking anything from what kinds of soup people in Oregon buy, to web-traffic habits of male executives who buy soup, to all soup can manufacturers in Ohio with between 501 and 723 employees.

There is tons of data, but there are only a handful of organizations that gather and compile data. (Dun and Bradstreet is one compiler you might have heard of.) Compilers organize the data in lists; anything from generic lists, to lists based on very specific requests.

Some Lists Are Like Beer

You need to know that in many cases you don’t buy lists, you rent access to the data on them. Keep your ears and eyes open for the phrases “single use” and “multiple use.”  Single-use means you get to use it once. Multiple-use means you can use it as often as you want over a period of time (e.g., a year).

Marketing pros will tell you that you usually need to market more than once for best results. So single-use is cheaper but also a big gamble. Now, I can hear the wheels turning…how will they know if you use it more than once? Well, the list-compilers salt the lists so they know when you use the data more than once. Remember that the data-compilers own the data. They have the right to bill you for multiple-use and they will. (more…)

Recording Calls in Training

“Instead of having participants make calls, we’re interested in having two or three calls made and recording them so they can be analyzed and discussed in training.”

That seems like a reasonable compromise but the bottom line is an even stronger “no” because recording involves the issue of consent.


Prospects’ reaction, and motivation

Tania asked:

I get motivated when I feel I am making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. I think this could hurt me because of how I perceive negative reactions on the phone. Any suggestions for people like me to remain motivated when cold calling? (more…)

New Phone Problems for Old Pros?

Dear Shawn:

Ever heard of anyone who has been in sales forever suddenly catching call reluctance? I used to make hundreds of cold calls each week, but that was years ago. Now I’m struggling to pick up the phone.

Shawn says:

Yes, I have heard of successful, experienced sales reps suddenly experiencing a strong desire to do anything but cold call. In fact, there are two ways that experienced reps can have even more trouble than rookies. (more…)

Not Enough Appointments

Dear Shawn:

After reading your book (great book, by the way), I have been cold calling every day and tracking results. I’m not getting the appointments I need. I’m calling homes during the day. My best day, I called 87 people and connected with 16 and got 2 appointments. But on the other days I made almost 150 calls and only connected with maybe 35 people, and got only one appointment. I don’t want to call during the evening. Am I doing something wrong?

Shawn says: (more…)