If You Think Cold Calling is Hard, You Haven’t Tried Starving

Sweaty palms, dry mouth, palpitating heart. I sat there, staring at the phone. Then I sifted through my list of prospects again … probably for the tenth time. Stared out the window, clipped my finger nails, stared out the window again. Screw it! I’d try later, maybe at a better time, maybe tomorrow?

What the hell was my problem. I’d quit a great job in sales management and paid $30,000 to a guy in Baltimore for the privilege of making cold calls from my garage. Now I couldn’t pick up the phone. I must have been crazy, or drunk, or both.

Cold calling is hard for most people. It shouldn’t be. You’re just picking up the phone and reaching out to someone. What’s so tough about that? We do it all the time. We call friends, business associates, all kinds of people. We do it without giving it a second thought.

But, wait. Now we’re talking about a sales call. Something entirely different. Or is it? The difference is in our heads, and therein lies the problem. Suppose you make the call. What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe someone will hang up on you, or maybe they’ll be rude to you. Chances are neither of those will happen. Even if they hang up, so what? It’s not fatal.


“Some will, some won’t, so what? Next!”

OK. That’s all great in theory, but it doesn’t do you a damn bit of good if you’re struggling to pick up the phone. So, what’s the solution? 

You can quit, but if you’re anything like me, you have bills to pay. I’m not ready to apply to Walmart for a greeter’s position. Neither do I want to spend my day saying, “Do you want fries with that?”

There are many reasons for call reluctance. Most have to do with mind set or “head trash.” The four most common reasons are:

  • Fear of Rejection. People don’t like to hear NO. We take it personally and it’s usually not.

  • Reluctance to bother people. We think we’re annoying people who are busy. If everyone kept their distance, there would be no communication.

  • Lack of self-esteem. We don’t feel good enough to approach others as equals. Who made them better than you?

  • A Poor Belief System. This could stem from a myriad of things, all of which get in the way of success.

Your beliefs or blocks may be different. It doesn’t really matter what they are. Your non-supportive beliefs are getting in your way, and until you identify and conquer them, you’ll have a problem making cold calls.

Look, I didn’t like cold calling anymore than the next person. For years I avoided it like the plague, but I got over my fears. I found I didn’t like being broke. I also found I was more afraid of starving than making cold calls. Maybe cold calling is tough, but it’s not nearly as tough as many other ways of making a living.

If you’re in sales, if you make a living selling products or services, and who doesn’t, you must make the calls. That means picking up the telephone or walking in the door. Social media or email doesn’t count. Yeah, it’s OK to soften them up a bit, but it’s not going to get customers for you.

Your ideal customer is not going to call you and say, “Hey Bunkie, I’ve got a million dollars burning a hole in my pocket, and I want to buy your stuff!”  Not going to happen. They won’t come to you. You must reach out and engage them.

I’ve been selling all my life. Over the years I’ve learned a few things that work for me. We’re all a little different but hopefully those tips will help you too.

  • Your attitude is critical. You must want to succeed, and you must deal with any head trash that holds you back.

  • The objective of a cold call is NOT TO SELL something. That’s far too much pressure and you’re setting yourself up to fail. Instead, seek to qualify or disqualify the prospect. Together you decide if there’s a next step. Then you either move forward or you don’t. No big deal!

  • Don’t overthink the call. It’s just a conversation. It may lead to something or it may not. Keep calling until you get it right.

  • Cold calling works. If you do it right, you will succeed. Practice, practice, practice.

  • Have goals and a plan. Know what you want to accomplish, and know what steps you must take to achieve it.

  • Develop a process that works for you. This includes blocking time to make your calls and creating a script you’re comfortable with. Don’t read slavishly from it. Practice until you internalize and own it.

  • You’ll never have to stand in line to make a cold call.

  • You won’t do business with 100% of the people you don’t call.

  • Just do it! Stop thinking about it. Stop getting ready to get ready. Pick up your phone and start calling.

Nothing worth having comes easy. Remind yourself why you’re making the calls. You must believe in yourself and the value you bring to your customers. Look, the only way most people will know you can help them is if you contact them.

Don’t buy into the BS about the death of cold calling. Social media was supposed to replace it. It didn’t, nor will it. Pay attention to experts like Anthony Iannarino at https://thesalesblog.com/ . He’s been writing great common-sense posts about this topic for years.

Cold calling may be hard, but it’s not as hard as you may think. There are many tougher ways to earn a living. You can do this. You have chosen a career in sales. Learn your craft and work at it. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to connect and do business with your dream clients.

I’m Oliver Connolly and I help sales managers create a sales force that consistently makes the numbers.  

Contact me at oliver@streetsmartsalesmanagement.com to talk about your sales management challenges. 

For some FREE STUFF, or more articles, check out my website at https://www.streetsmartsalesmanagement.com 

Oliver Connolly