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Some of you reading this hate cold calling. I know.

There is whole cottage industry that caters to your ill-considered and unproductive feelings towards calling your dream clients, and following their advice will get you nowhere fast. The anti-cold calling charlatans try to justify your hatred by telling you how ineffective cold calling is so they can sell you some plan where you can succeed wildly without cold calling.

The reality is this: If you suck at cold calling, it is horribly unproductive. But real reason you hate cold calling is because you aren’t yet good at it.

If you are moderately competent and work on improving your cold calling, it can be a super-productive way to get in with your dream clients.

How to Suck at Cold Calling

Earlier today, the God’s of sales blogging content smiled upon me and sent me a cold call. The caller began:

“Hi. How are you today?”

That just plain sucks. For both of us.

First, I have no idea who I am talking to. Second, because I don’t recognize the voice, and because our hapless salesperson didn’t identify himself to me, I was certain that it was someone that I don’t know and who doesn’t really care about how I am doing.

This is easy to un-suck. Be polite and tell the person on the other end of the phone who you are. Identify yourself, for God’s sake. Our anti-hero might have said: “Hi Anthony. This is John Smith with XYZ Companies.” I answered my phone with my name, so John Smith knew it was me on the line; he could—and should—have done the same.

Politely, and patiently, I responded: “I am fine. How are you.”

From Bad to Worse

Our salesperson then added insult to what was already injury by asking: “Is now a good time?”

This makes matters exponentially worse. Now, I don’t know who I am talking to, I know that they have no idea how to make a cold call, and now they have confirmed that fact by asking me a question to which neither of us knows the answer.

Was I busy? Absolutely! Was I too busy to take a call from someone with the ability to add massive value to my business? Absolutely not! Was I too busy to take a call from someone who was wholly unprepared to create value? Alas, I am always too busy to waste my time, and so are all of your dream clients.

With a complete absence of either patience or compassion, I asked: “A good time for what? I don’t even know who I am talking to!”

This is pretty easily remedied, too. Tell your dream client who you are, and then very directly tell them why you are on their phone taking their time. This is polite. Not telling the person who you are and what you want is rude, unprofessional, and it sucks.

From Worse to Worse Still

At this point, I gave our friend his opening, and he told me his name, his company’s name, and that they sold insurance to people in my space. Then he suggested that we might get together so he could tell me about his insurance offerings.

I know why he wanted to share his products and services with me: he wanted me to buy something from him. But I have no idea what I was supposed to get out of our time together except the great privilege of buying something from someone who isn’t yet prepared enough to sell professionally.

If you are going to ask your busy dream client for their time and attention, the two biggest constraints that they have to deal with in producing results, you had damn-well better be prepared to tell them what they can expect to get out of it.

Was our caller going to give me greater insurance coverage? Was he going to show me why some people have less insurance than they really need and what it costs them to make that mistake? Was he going to give me greater value at a lower price than I am presently paying? Neither one of us knows the answers.

How Not to Suck at Cold Calling

This isn’t the salesperson’s fault alone. His company should have prepared him better by providing him with a script, great language, and training.

Truth be told, I wasn’t the greatest cold caller in the world. I was, perhaps, the most disciplined. Here are three simple rules to suck less and, by doing so, hate cold calling a lot less.

First, tell the person on the other end of the phone your name and the name of your company.

Second, tell them why you are calling them. If you are calling them to schedule an appointment to explore working together, say so.

Third, tell them what value you are prepared to create for them in exchange for their time and attention.

If you don’t do these three things, you aren’t going to be warmly received by your dream client, and you are going to hate cold calling (not to mention the fact that you will be hated by your dream clients).


Do you hate cold calling because you believe it is unproductive, or do you hate cold calling because you aren’t good enough at it yet to be productive?

I have to ask: Do you have a killer script? Have you memorized it and can you win the academy award for making it seem unrehearsed and natural?

Should a conversation start, do you have the business acumen, the confidence, and the skills to turn it into a commitment for a face-to-face sales call?

If you hate cold calling, why do you hate it? What are the real, deep and uncomfortable reasons? Can you face them?

Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 3, 2011

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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