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Six Principles for Cold Calling

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
June 16, 2010

You Are Going to Hear No. Don’t Believe It Means Anything.

Your dream clients and prospects get hundreds of calls from salespeople. Your dream client has no way to know who is worth spending time with and who is not worth spending their time with. When faced with this dilemma, they make the easiest choice: they say no.

They don’t just tell you no. They don’t just give you an objection. They give almost everyone the same no and the same objection because it works. The objection prevents them from having to spend their time with salespeople who are wholly unprepared to create any value for them.

Those that are great at cold calling and telemarketing do not attach any meaning to the word no or to the objection that they receive. They do not feel as if they have been rejected. They don’t believe that the word no or the dream client’s objection is some insurmountable obstacle to making an appointment. They don’t believe that it means that they have failed. They attach no meaning to it at all.

To succeed at cold calling you have to know that your first answer to a request is going to be no and that it doesn’t mean anything about you, about their need for you or your service, or about your prospect of gaining an appointment. It is simply part of the dance.

Your Dream Client Receives Lots of Calls. You Have to Differentiate Yourself.

Your dream client cannot tell from a telemarketing cold call who is worth seeing and who isn’t worth seeing. In order to gain their attention, you have to differentiate yourself from your many competitors.

A lot of companies treat all of their providers and partners as commodities, which means one of us is as good as the next—even when this is not true!

During your call, you only have two tools that you can use to differentiate yourself from your competitors: the language choices that you make and what you personally bring to the call.

If your language choices are the same as all of your competitors, you are not going to be perceived as being different. If the way you say what you say makes you sound like you are not passionate, like you are not excited, like you are not interesting, and like you do not have the ability to make a difference, you will not differentiate yourself.

Your competitors are trying to sound professional. You need to sound different. Being real, being conversational, and being authentic will help you differentiate yourself.

If you do not sound like you are passionate about meeting with them and helping them, how do you expect them to be passionate about meeting with you and giving you their time?

You still need to have the business acumen to talk about your dream client’s challenges in a meaningful way, but authenticity and professionalism are not mutually exclusive.

Authenticity is enabled by confidence. Be yourself (and be a confident you).

You Have to Prove You Are a Value Creator. Not a Time Waster.

Your dream client has allowed her time to be wasted by salespeople in the past. Your call is already suspect; your dream client believes that you will waste their time and that you are not a value creator.

You have one chance to make a first impression, and you have to say something that proves that you know that it is your job to help them achieve a better outcome than they are presently getting. You have to say something that indicates that you know that you own that better outcome.

If you say: “I’d like to stop by and introduce myself and my service,” you have said nothing that indicates that you intend to create value. If instead you say: “I’d like to sit down with you for fifteen minutes to see how we might be able to help reduce your overall cost of _________ and improve your __________ results,” you sound like a value creator.

You Are Already Using a Script. Write a Better One.

Even if you don’t use a written script, chances are, you are saying about the same thing on every call that you make. Improving your script improves your results.

It is tremendously helpful to go through the act of writing down what you intend to say before you say it. It helps build the language into your nervous system; it makes the language part of you.

Writing down what you intend to say also prevents you from having to read it from a piece of paper. By writing your script, utilizing it in practice, discerning what works and what doesn’t, and then re-writing your script, you build greater confidence and competency.

You should also write down all of the common objections and concerns you hear from your dream clients so that you can have prepared, effective language choices.

Your Goal Is an Appointment. Nothing Else.

Your goal is not a conversation. Your goal is not a needs-analysis. Your goal is not a presentation. Your goal is simply an appointment, nothing else.

All questions that would lead to a conversation need to be responded to in a way that instead leads to an appointment.

You hear: “What makes you different?”

You say: “We have six fundamental things that make us different and that make a difference for our clients, including a couple of proprietary service offerings that only we have. I’ll make sure I am prepared to show you how we put these six ideas to work for our clients. What does next Thursday afternoon at 2:00 PM look like?”

If you answer the questions without leading the conversation towards committing to an appointment, you are arming your dream client with the information they need to say no. You are giving them enough to say that your answer isn’t enough for them to want to change right now.

You cannot sell without first understanding your client’s needs and their dissatisfaction. However, the cold call is not the place to conduct that needs analysis. The more questions you ask, and the deeper you get into a conversation, the less it becomes necessary for your dream client to meet with you.

In B2B sales, always be closing is problematic; especially when not enough time, trust, or value has been created to deserve the close. But when it comes to cold calling, always be closing is the rule. In order to create an opportunity, you have to first get in.

You Are Going to Have to Push if You Want an Appointment

It will not be often that you reach the contact you need on your first call.

It will not be often that you get an appointment the first time you reach your decision-maker or decision-influencer.

It will not be often that you get an appointment the first time you ask for one.

If you really want the appointment, you are going to have to push. You are going to have to call more frequently than feels comfortable to you. You are going to have to ask for the appointment more times than feels comfortable to you.

You are going to have to be persistent and resilient. Persistence means that you don’t accept no for an answer and you keep trying. Resilient means that you bounce back from the no to try again, without allowing the answer no to discourage you in any way.

You are going to have to push. You are going to have to ask for the appointment more than once each time you connect with your decision-maker or decision-influencer. If you really want the appointment, you have to behave as if you really want the appointment.


Lots of salespeople are challenged by having to make cold calls. But there are some principles that, if taken to heart and adopted into your practice, can make your cold calling a lot more effective.


    1. What meaning do you attach the word no? What could it mean?


    1. How do you differentiate your call from the hundreds or more calls your dream client receives every year?


    1. What do you say to ensure that the recipient of your call knows for certain that you are a value creator and not a time waster?


    1. Could you cold calling be improved by taking the time to choose more effective language? Could it made more effective if you spent, say, two hours writing out what you really want to convey?


    1. Are your cold calls really long conversations that would be more powerful if held face to face? Are you trying to create the value of a needs analysis on the telephone instead of scheduling an appointment?


  1. Are you willing to push in order to get the appointment that you need? Is a quarterly phone message really indicative of your strong desire to perform for your dream client?


For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4279.

Read my interview with Tom Peters (Part One and Part Two).


Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 16, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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