Confronting My Fears Of Cold-Calling

I hate cold-calling. I tried a job as a teenager cold-calling people for my insurance agent. After an hour, I quit. I just could not stomach phoning strangers and asking them about their car insurance.

A few years later, I tried another job for my radio station cold-calling strangers and asking them about their listening patterns. I hated it.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been offering free Alexander Technique lessons to people such as doctors and psycho-therapists who might send me referrals.

Last night, I picked up my phone and called a series of shrinks, trusting that I would only encounter answer machines. Alas, I spoke to two doctors live.

And it was not so bad. One said he was not interested and one said I could email him more information.

I’ve crossed the Rubicon. I’ve become a mighty warrior for my new profession, overcoming my natural reticence.

Joe* emails: Luke,

I’m a former phone pro.

Let me share a couple of cold calling tips.

Whenever possible, send an email a day or two prior to dialing your
contact. If you do not hear back from the contact make your call. This
makes it a lot easier on you since you’re not truly ‘cold calling’ but
rather simply following-up.

Write a simple, casual script in your own words (not canned). Memorize it but also keep it in front of you and use it as a reference.

Breathe and speak slowly. When most people cold call they get so
nervous/excited/overwhelmed that they begin to rush their words. Be
patient and take your time.

Listen. The most important thing. The more the person talks, the more
comfortable they become with you.

Ask questions. Do this for the same reasons mentioned above.

BORNYO EMAILS: Cold calling is absolutely my least favorite thing to do related to my job. You received some excellent advice though. I often email a “target” ahead of time and tell them I’ll be calling them I include a link to our company website or something I’ve done related to their business and they will usually look at it and by the time I call them we at least have a starting point.

You could email them your website with AT results highlighted, then when you call them ask “did you have a chance to look at the AT information I sent and if so, I wondered if you had any questions about it I could clear up?”. Then, the sooner you can ask them questions that interest them, such as about their practices or what they find makes them successful in their careers they will open up. If you don’t get any business out of it you might at least learn something and possibly establish a friendship. Then, close by telling them you’d like to call them back in three or four weeks to follow up. If they don’t object then schedule yourself a reminder in Outlook or something similar and do it. This serves many purposes- they may have changed their minds, they may be more receptive this time or may be having a better day. The bonus to you is that it will mix in a few familiar people in with your cold calls and if you do this and make them recurring it will be encouraging to talk someone somewhat familiar mixed in with the new calls.

I’ve established “friendships” with some of these potential customers on the phone to the point that when I call them, even if they don’t need my services at that time, they will refer me to other business and people who they’ve heard might need me. You can’t do any better than having others selling for you.

It’s hard to do, but if you work yourself into a system that rewards you it will become easier.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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