Cold Calling 101 - A few Tips

Thread Title:
i'm Kinda Busy, Can You Send Me An Email?
Thread Description:

This thread comes by way of Barry who it seems is talking about something entirely different to the actuall thread - pssst, barry, they're talking about cold calling prospects! Muhahahahah.... :-)

Some get it, some dont...

The thread title being "i'm Kinda Busy, Can You Send Me An Email?" some in the thread really don't get it, but a few do - im not gonna pick holes in individual responses but i will give you a few pointers for making cold calls.

I spent 10 or 12 years doing fairly hardcore sales in both the financial and advertising industries on all manner of deals ranging in ticket price from $10k to $500,000 but i've also done ittty bitty ones at $1000 or less - in the latter half of those years i trained and managed sales folks - just so you know this is from experience rather than opinion...

3 Important Donts for Cold Calling

Here's 3 grade A no-no's when cold calling a prospect - complete with the right way to do it of course..

Im busy, send me an email
You've blown it, move on. This essentially translates to "your boring the shit out of me, get off my line"

Seriously, if your gonna call someone cold then you have a similar amount of time to the old page load thing - you gotta get their attention and their interest in the first 20secs or you're dead in the water. If the guy tells you to send an email, you are being told to fuck right off - and in 99.99% of cases, the last thing on earth he wants is for you to send him an email.

Give my secretary the details
Pitching the secretary was a punishable crime in some of the places i worked - if i caught my boys and girls doing it they'd be out on their ear, simple as that. There is no bigger waste of everybody's time. Newbie sales folks will often rather pitch the secretary than the person with they should be talking to because it's much easier! and the seccy will listen patiently while they rattle off their spiel.

So, you spend half an hour singing like a canary about the virtues of your firm and what you can do for company xyz - here's how the conversation goes the next time you call:

You: "hi, it's so and so, did you give the details to mr X?"

Seccy: "sure, lemme just go see if he's interested"

Seccy: "Mr X, there's a guy on the phone selling search engine stuff do you want to talk to him?"

Mr X: "No, tell him we're not interested"

Seccy: "Mr X says that after giving it due consideration and weighing up the pros and cons he's decided to go right ahead and decline your kind offer but do feel free to call us again in the future as we're always interested in hearing about great new services"

Really, think about it. Unless you're talking to someone with the power to make a decision - a real decision, not to suggest it to someone else you are wasting everybodies time - and should probably be shot.

Don't talk about your company!
Remember, you got 20secs or less. Starting out with "Hi, im john from Acme Inc and we specialize in..." is a waste of time - you'll be told to send an email. It would take some time actually doing it to tell you what would work for me, and i've no plans on selling SEM but it's individual for everyone anyway - you need to grab attention and interest in a way that fits your personality.

Talk about his company ok? He's interested in what his company does and how you can make that better - in that order....

Ok, enough waffling...

That's enough for now. I'd be interested to know how you guys handle both making and taking cold calls, drop a few notes in the comments to add to this eh?


Damn - I Messed Up

Thanks for trying to make it better. Tired... :)

Good advice Nick. The best c

Good advice Nick. The best calls I've received is when the caller knows something about my company and then follows it with a good line. For example, "Hello, I noticed your company is buying google adwords for $5 a click, my company has a special distribution deal and ..." But generally I just screen my calls and send it stright to voicemail.

Great information...

Gotta say, the most important aspect of any cold call that I have found, is to just spen 5 mins looking at the companies site first.

Just like goodroi says, if you know what they like, then it's a lot easier to provide it for them.

I've been on both sides of the fence on this one and can assure you, there is nothing more irritating to someone being asked to buy something, than being asked to buy something that is of absoutley no interest or use...

On a side note, I hate cold calling... ;)


Not bothering to get the company name right is a great one. A couple of times I was simply addressed as "New Company", and a couple of other times they couldn't even be bothered to try and pronounce it right.

Brutal honesty wins every time....

Unless they hit me with a great insight in that first 20 secs I actually say to people "thanks for the call, I appreciate you have to make sales calls but I'm really not interested so I won't waste your time or mine"

I never really understood why people make excuses and tell people to send them info as an out - I only ask for an email if it actually is interesting (otherwise the little gits always call you back anyway).

... fuck right off

hahaha say it like you see it Nick!

The scripts are so predictable that I don't even bother listening past the "hello my name's..." just hit the button. Let's have

try really learning what ya gotta say and I mean make it real natural
call centre back ground babble = bye bye – cause it says you don’t give a fuck
Ohh and some back ground knowledge on what you’re meant to be talking about is actually quite useful.

And lastly don’t call me

Was just thinking of this yesterday...

after another bloody cold call. I'm finding more and more that they try and make out they're looking for your services - just to get past the gatekeeper and onto the decision maker. I really hate that.

Another tip or 2

Based on what Sanity and a few others have said, here's a couple more:

Never Lie
Not even to get to the DM, it'll kill your pitch in the end, would you do biz with someone that was dishonest with you? I wouldn't.

Good Salespeople are a pleasure
If you don't think so, you haven't met one yet :) The best sales guys make you feel as if you're lucky they called you, without being dicks about it and talk to you on a level as with an equal - you'll never hear a good salesguy say "sir" to anyone - and guess what? They'll probably know that what they have isn't for you before you do - and they will politely break the call and move on.

Sales is a numbers game, and good folks dont waste their time trying to convince people a product or service isn't suitable for, they move onto the next number...

Ringing Long Distance...

Best ones we get are the cold calls from the UK. I usually listen patiently for a while then ask if they actually know where they are calling to. Once they hear it is about 700 km north of Moscow they usually wrap things up politely and put the phone down. :)

Did have one who then went off to ask her boss if they did international deliveries...

Cold-call proof...

Unless you're talking to someone with the power to make a decision - a real decision, not to suggest it to someone else you are wasting everybodies time

That's what's great about my company... The boss has to make the decision, but I'm the "internet person" so the salespeople get shunted to me, I explain that I need to talk to my boss, and then I ask them to email me the details.

It's hopeless on their end... especially the ones who don't even understand the material their script is about. As soon as the "SEO company represetative" starts telling me about "thousands of site submissions" and meta tags, I'm done.

Ive tried it

I started out in a sales company for a very brief amount of time during which I realised that it was going to be a seriously stressful career. Most of what everyones said here is what I was taught throuh my training - never pitch gatekeeper, its all about the decision maker etc. They hadnt got it totally right though, the whole scripted conversation thing is total bol*$cks, actually listening to what the person is saying and reacting accordingly works best imho.

The guys who did best where I was were the ones that were basically bollocking the potential clients for being stupid enough not to have bought the service in the first place! - makin them feel like they lost out.


Has anyone here actually taken up a product/service due to a cold call - recently. Heck in the last few years. You know I can't remember one time that I did.

they're gone

I never listen to a cold call. As soon as I figure out it is one the only thing they hear is 'would you please remove this number form your list'.
I've never had to repeat it more than 4 times.

I've been getting a lot that seem to be using VOIP to outsource the call centres to 3rd world countries - its the only way I can explain the peculiar sound of the speaker. Almost robotic, but clearly a real person. Strange. They could at least use a decent codec.

Great thread Nick

As we've never done a single cold-call (for SEM services) but plan to slightly venture into a sort of luke-warm call initiative this will be a good read for people here.

The worst thing EVER is a bunch of background noise. Boiler room.

Having sales people who can catch onto when exactly they've won or lost the interest of the callee is imperative to them understanding how to improve their pitch.


nuevojefe, just make sure you invest in good equipment - you can (or used to be able to anyway) get phones with very good features for this type of thing. You can get them where the mouthpiece only picks up sound from a very close distance for instance and that goes a long way to eliminating the problem of background noise...

worth spending the $$$'s on


Thanks Nick, fortunately we don't really have that problem, I was more referring to others calling us with that problem.

But regardless that is smart as others feel more confident they have your attention and privacy as well.

My Pet Hate

I used to get 4 or 5 cold calls a day usually from agencies trying to sell programmers, or cleaning firms looking to clean the office, or some firm in the US trying to get me to invest in some money making scheme! Jesus, if its so fuckin good, get your Mum or your best friend to invest in it! What am I? Some kind of idiot?

Sorry, but personally, I think cold calling sucks, and I pity the poor people who have to do it for a living too.

Hi its Dave...

my site is www. blah blah blah .com

we are #1 for the terms "their keywords" and I have 3 options for you..

1) i can sell you the traffic on a ppc basis, but i have seen the logs and that could get real expensive

2) you can make me an offer for the site, but remember option one the site could be expensive

3) we can direct the traffic to you for free while we seo your site ...

anyway I going away for a few days you can speak to one of my sales guys on tel_nuumber or drop me an email at



Kill 'em with...

enthusiasm there, DaveN ;-)

Good three option plan though, pretty cut and dry.

The Economics of Telesales

One of the things it might be interesting for some to understand, when talking about getting pissed off with telesales calls, is a little of the economics of a UK telesales company.

Generally you have two main types:

The Call Center
Professional call centers, as opposed to setting up a few phones in your office, with maybe 100+ employees usually work on contracts from other firms and are provided with leads, semi-warm to stone cold prospects gathered by any manner of a variety of means.

These guys are annoying for sure, this is typically where you get "read a script". The sales guys are generally students, mums who have older kids and no qualifications, out of work actors - er.. Actors.. and transient folks. They generally have little interest in whether you buy or not becuase they do get a basic, if miniscule hourly pay and are pretty much just waiting to clock off.

If they do get some kind of commision, it's token at best, but then they dont get to sell real stuff, they're usually setting up appointments for face to faces, gathering info or getting you to upgrade or perhaps subscribe to something.

The Commission only Boiler Rooms
These places generally pay no wage at all, or the most token of "to keep you goin" amounts in cash at the end of the week for the poor sods that didnt do a deal.

Generally higher ticket items such as advertising, financial, double glazing and other home improvement things and (at least some years back) timeshare etc.

IMO they get it wrong, they will typically allow anyone that can speak english to have a go, as it's purely a numbers game and it's the closers job to monitor their conversations and then take over the call if there's a spark or interest from the DM and try to close it.

It's all about doing the deal in one call - If you sell ads for a tv co, or an esablished mag or paper then that's different, but the real hardcore shops work on events and other "one off's" and they always have just one package left! or have just received a last minute cancellation! so you must do it now! - great fun if you're good at it and lots of money to be earned as they typically pay upwards of 15-20% per deal.

The problem is that as i mentioned, they will hire just about anyone, and this is who you'll almost certainly get on your phone unless your a know big player. In that case, you'll prolly get assigned to me, or someone like me, that will stand a better chance of doing the job.

Dealing with Unwanted calls
Never tell them to fuck off, or otherwise be rude. We would pass those number not only around the office, but as sales of certain kinds are inherently incestous, around other offices as well - the best way is just to say, NO

Sounds simple eh? Its amazing how many people find that a difficult thing to do...

just say no

yeah why can't people do that? we get all these sales calls in and I end up actually accepting them because we get

person who answered phone "theres some guy on the phone selling walrus cleaning kits"
me "tell him thank you but we don't have a walrus"
pwap (into phone) "sorry she's tied up at the moment can you call back tomorrow?"

after 3 weeks of the poor guy phoning daily he gets me picking up the phone and saying no anyway.

Drives me absolutely mad. It does seem to be mostly the men who can't say no.....

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