Why I Love Cold Calling Companies

I was at a sales leader networking event tonight.  During happy hour everyone was shocked when I said that I love cold calling companies.  Their shock surprised me.  I know it’s not a popular activity but you had to think some of these people would at least have some fond memories of cold calling.  All I got was strange looks and people taking a step back.  You’d think I was talking about the plague.

This caused me to reflect on a simple idea. Why do I love cold calling?

The answer is not what you probably think.  It has nothing to do with the ability to generate opportunities, the money, or beating yourself on the chest for being awesome.  As an aside I hate that metaphor for salespeople.  Most of us don’t act like cavemen.

Here’s why I love cold calling companies:

  1. I like to think about the person and where they are located based on the area code / country code and researching their background. I form a mental picture of what they are like.  This gives me the opportunity to use my imagination in a different way than I do in the rest of my life.  I make up these stories about the people that are on my calling list.  It makes my prospects familiar like I know them.  After all the entire point of cold calling companies is that you will eventually know them.  Some of my best friendships started via cold calls (Bob Perkins).  Cold calling gives me the opportunity to escape time and space.  When I dial into these different places I mentally travel there.  No other jobs I know of allow you this freedom.
  2. I have absolutely no business talking to 99% of the people I connect with when I cold call. There is no other profession on the planet that allows you to interact with so many people that are outside of your social class, intelligent level, academic level, or income level.  When I first started cold calling I would take two hour “executive lunches.”  David Stillman and I would get the prefix McCormick & Schmick’s lunch special for 20 bucks and a shoe shine.  I told my boss Brighid O’Donnell at CEB (now Gartner), “If you want to sell to executives you have to act like an executive.”  Of course the example is ridiculous but there is some truth in the statement.  If you believe you are a peer, you are a peer.  The illusion becomes reality.
  3. Cold calling lead generation is the most incredible puzzle you ever have to solve. It’s a game.  It’s a treasure hunt.  There are gatekeepers who block you that you have to outsmart.  There are cell phone numbers to collect from people who say things like, “I shouldn’t be giving this to you but…”  There are other people cold calling the same executive selling similar stuff that you need to out-maneuver.  There’s an amazing amount of strategy as well as tactics.  In short, it’s fun.
  4. The learning curve is steep but the time to move up it can be very short if you will yourself to do it.  When I first started cold calling I had no talent and almost got fired. Rather than giving up, I got to work.  At the time I had $60,000 in student loans to pay off.  I rolled up my sleeves and shadowed all of the best people to learn their secrets.  I copied them.  Before long I was #1 of 100 people doing the sales development job at CEB.  Paradoxically my success had absolutely nothing to do with me.  I was just a conduit for channeling the best thinking of 100 other people.  I documented everything they did in my little notebook and used it in my own prospecting.  If anything call me a parrot.  Why don’t more people learn from each other on how to be great at cold calling lead generation?  Seems like an obvious thing to do.
  5. It doesn’t matter who you are when you cold call companies.  All that matters is how well you play the game. It’s a great equalizer.  I know people who were previously down on their luck – down to their last dime – and they became very successful cold calling.  My friend Chris Corcoran describes cold calling lead generation as ‘the best kept secret for recent college graduates to discover.’  Who knew that you could earn a good living without being a doctor or lawyer just by learning how to pick up the phone and talk to people?  It’s a profession that people stumble upon from all different walks of life. Cold calling finds you; you don’t find it.  I love anything that is completely democratic and absolutely entrepreneurial.  Cold calling doesn’t care what you look like, your gender, where you came from, who your parents are, or what religion you are.  Cold calling doesn’t care what you sound like, what you act like, what sort of mistakes you made in your life up until that point.  All it cares about is if you’re smart enough, stubborn enough, clever enough, hungry enough, resourceful enough, and persistent enough to crack the code.

The vast majority of people don’t ever crack the cold calling code.

But for the rare person who does become successful and enjoys cold calling lead generation, I salute you.  I’ll buy you a cocktail next time I see you and we can talk about how much we love cold calling companies.

Why do you love cold calling?  Write a quick comment below if you love (even a little bit) making cold calls.

Also, check out our free, monthly sales coaching webinar where we break down real sales calls (cold calls too!) and discuss the tactics that really work.

Comments 23

  1. I made a cold call today -a physical cold call -to drop off some promotional material and I had brief fonversation with the CEO. Granted this was a medium sized business contractor and this happens one in a thousand times but it was fun.

  2. Cold calling is probably the best way to get prospects into my pipeline. I love it because I love meeting new people. It gives me a chance to make someone I don’t know laugh a little. Great post!

  3. Great article! I especially relate to 1&2 and loved calling in to places I either lived, had visited or knew something about the area/sports teams/etc. because I knew I could speak with anyone who answered on a different level and relate to them in a way some guy/girl calling out of the blue could not. It’s amazing how much information you can get from an ‘angry’ gatekeeper in the San Francisco Bay Area when you start talking about the marine layer in the summer and hoping it burns off in time for her son’s soccer game that evening, then to get her boss’ personal info or a direct transfer in…LOVE IT! Thank you! John Henderson

  4. Good article! I love cold calling to, for many of the same reasons you mentioned. I think I get the biggest kick out of just connecting with diverse people from all walks of life. I like to know their stories, even outside of the reason for my call. And, I love when they end the call with ‘call me anytime, I enjoyed talking’. To connect with someone you have never met and within minutes connect is a great feeling.

  5. Good article! I love cold calling too, for many of the same reasons you mentioned. I think I get the biggest kick out of just connecting with diverse people from all walks of life. I like to know their stories, even outside of the reason for my call. And, I love when they end the call with ‘call me anytime, I enjoyed talking’. To connect with someone you have never met and within minutes connect is a great feeling. The cherry on the top is when you can help them accomplish something by what your business is offering.

  6. I salute you for such a positive attitude. Call calling is VERY hard and I have tremendous respect for people who keep on improving. There is no doubt that you can make good money with it, but I also find that It is the best sales teaining you will ever get. All the best sales people I know started with cold calling. So I don’t even need to wish you continued success, you’re already there. Kudos to you!

  7. I like Cold Calling… It’s FREE! It’s something I can do to make my company money and it costs nothing. No fancy online marketing , no pretty envelope to mail, no trade show expense!

  8. I love cold calling because it is a constant challenge. The thrill that the next call could be the start of the next big deal.

  9. Loved the article! I wouldn’t say I love cold-calling (feel the fear and do it anyway), but I do love what it’s done for me and I’d have to agree with everything you said in this article – especially #2 & #4.

  10. Love cold calling to build connections and real relationships. To listen and learn about another person’s career goals and help direct them on that path.

  11. It’s like hunting, it’s a game that if you keep playing and keep learning you will figure out how to win!

  12. Fascinating read…thanks for putting your thoughts down and riffing about your sales beliefs. I love it when fellow sales professionals within our craft talk “inside baseball” thoughts and struggles. Jokingly, I think there should be a support group for fellow sales professionals who also love cold calling. It’s as if we have to cautiously share our enjoyment of cold calling in hushed tones as the disbelieving world shakes its head and goes about their business. Of all the reasons you provide, the learning curve in reason four is my personal favorite. To have the ability to speak in a clear and non-needy tone and deliver a compelling, challenging pitch to a first time prospect and (occasionally) reach agreement on a sale is one of the most empowering things someone can do. It is science, art, and a mental puzzle all at the same time. It’s addicting and delivers a downstream reciprocal effect to many other areas of your life; If you can successfully sell and being to make a living via cold calling, you’ll find it creates even more confidence and fortitude within you. Cold calling isn’t an activity for the weak, it’s a mental “cross fit” regimen for the “soon-to-be-strong.”

  13. Cold calling is the only way you stay on top of your game. Complacency is the beginning of going out of business. When you stop cold calling and only “work on referrals” you lose the competitive edge. For a while you might feel as though your business is growing but your really maintaining. The few new clients that actually come from referrals tend to offset the ones your losing due to attrition.
    Cold calling ensures new growth, and keeps you in your community. It’s amazing to see someone you met cold calling at your local grocery store. It bring a community together.

  14. Hi ?,
    I am sorry call me thick or what but I cannot find your name? Just to say I thought your post was great. I am now retired from sales just doing a part time job at Costco in Leeds so I now concentrate on giving fabulous customer service to our members so it’s a little bit like cold calling talking to people you don’t know. Keep up the great work.
    Best regards

  15. I love it because it’s an immediate learning/success/Beautiful failure thing. I’ve grown as a person cold calling. I’ve made amazing friends, gotten great jobs and honestly only met little resistance doing it. Plus it means I can work from ANYWHERE, in my pajamas if I want. Cold calling is freedom.

  16. My #1 value from cold calling is that it makes me a better person. Doing what everyone else fears, makes me more confident, bold, strong, determined. If every person in America, made 10 cold calls a day, we would be a radically stronger country. These calls don’t even have to be to sell anything, most people could just randomly dial numbers and try to talk to the person. Just that action would make them stronger, bolder, more resilient. Yet their fear stops them. Their fear of what a stranger [whom they will never meet] might think of them. I feel bad for that person. I choose bold and daring.

  17. Loved my days of selling advertising in daily and weekly newspapers! Great article.. thanks for jogging the memories.

  18. I LOVE cold calling and prospecting! When I mentioned the latter at our bootcamp, I was the only one who raised her hand! That shocked me in a room full of salespeople!

    I am with you on cold calling, I love it and will be sharing your post! 🙂

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