Why don’t you pick up the phone and make cold calls? Is it because you lack the confidence? Is it because you don’t have a planned dialogue? Maybe you procrastinate for some other reason, like the fact that there are more pleasant but less effective activities that you can take. Or maybe you attach way too much meaning to cold calling.

Rejected and Dejected

Some people attach way to much meaning to cold calling. They believe that all of the “no” responses they receive mean that they have been personally rejected. They believe that they aren’t good enough at cold calling to succeed. Neither of these is likely to be true.

First, you are going to get a lot of “no” answers when you make cold calls. It doesn’t mean that you have been personally rejected. Your dream clients are busy, and they can’t tell value creators from time wasters very easily, so they reject every salesperson. The most effective salespeople I know fail on as many as 80% of the connections they make. It’s fortunate that the connections they do make generate millions of dollars in revenue. It’s even more fortunate that they don’t take “no” personally. In fact, they don’t attach any meaning to it at all.

If you are concerned about getting “no” answers, try asking for referrals. If you do great work you’ll get some referrals, but your clients will run out of referrals before you run out of need. Eventually they will tell you “no,” when asked. But that doesn’t mean you were rejected, does it? You’ll get the same “no” asking for appointments on using LinkedIn, email, or whatever other source you believe is better than the phone. What do you believe the answer is when your dream client deletes your email without responding at all?

You might invest cold calling with a negative meaning because you believe you aren’t yet good at making calls. You might be right, too. Maybe you could improve your phone skills and your value creation. Fair enough. But my guess is you are better than you think, and with a little practice you can be effective enough to make cold calling worthwhile. You aren’t going to get better at activity if you don’t invest the time and energy in improving.

More Negative Meaning

Salespeople are getting really, really soft. Some salespeople have even suggested to me that they don’t like cold calling because it is demeaning. It’s beneath them. Others have told me that they don’t want to be perceived as a salesperson. They say things like “I want to be consultative,” or “I want to be a their trusted advisor.” They have attached a negative meaning to cold calling because they have (incorrectly) attached a negative meaning to who salespeople are and what salespeople do.

I’ve written posts in the past to disabuse these “too soft” salespeople of all of the incorrect beliefs and opinions they have about sales and salespeople. They met instead embrace sales. Your dream client knows that you are in sales whether you call them, email them, or are introduced through a referral. They don’t think any less of you, and more still, they have salespeople they now call trusted advisor who opened the relationship through a cold call.

But the final word here is that you’ll never take action and make your calls if you have attached negative meanings to cold calling—or any other form of prospecting. Your prospecting activity must be based on a positive meaning. Try this:

If you are a value creator, go and create value. You aren’t helping anyone by sitting around like an order-taker and waiting for the phone to ring. Your dream clients are waiting for you to start creating value. They are waiting for you to initiate the conversation. They are waiting for you to help them get better business results. What does it mean that you aren’t taking action on their behalf?


What meaning do you attach to cold calling?

Are you really being personally rejected?

What kind of success do you really need to have to make your prospecting efforts worthwhile?

Have you attached negative connotations to cold calling or sales more generally?

Are you really a value creator? If you are, why aren’t you sharing your gifts?

Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 9, 2012
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.