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Marketing Tip of the Week
"Hi, I'm Calling to Interrupt Your Dinner with a Totally Irrelevant Sales Pitch"
(How to Open a Cold Call, If You Must)

As I'm known mainly for my opposition to cold calling, I was surprised to get an email recently that asked me to give advice about cold calling. My correspondent wrote, "I'm getting a lot of hang-ups. I need a script."

Here's my answer. My techniques for getting rid of cold calling involve a marketing technique called "lead generation" - the idea is, people call you rather than you calling them.

As for cold calling techniques themselves, I don't believe any of them work (think of the lame scripts people read to you at dinnertime) because the chances of you being interested in talking to a complete stranger at that moment about the thing they want to talk to you about is practically nil. The odds are so poor, if you're good at sales, why wouldn't you want to spend your time selling to
qualified prospects. And if you're bad at selling, why attempt it in the most difficult situation there is?

If you must cold call because of company policy or because you donít have 10 cents to spend on advertising, the thing I would do is immediately distinguish yourself from the army of cold callers battering down your prospects' doors every day.

Think about your prospects: what's on their minds? Who else has tried to sell to them this week? Why on earth would they talk to you at this moment? Now, if you have to cold call, what's the first thing you could say to lower their defenses?

Certainly not a canned script with a rhetorical question, like, "You want to save money on your long distance telephone service, do you?" Nor an insincere question, "Hello, my name is Howard Jacobson. How are you today?"

Depending on what you're selling and who's answering the phone, you need to come up with a genuine statement that respects their time and their intelligence and makes not talking to you as OK as talking to you.

How about, "Hi, this is Howard Jacobson from xyz. This is a cold call about abc. Is now a good time to talk?" By identifying yourself and your motives up front, you take away some of their suspicion. By asking about their time, you show respect. How would you respond to a sincere voice asking that on the phone?

Or when dealing with a gatekeeper, "Hi, this is Howard Jacobson from xyz, calling for Big Boss about improving her abc. She doesn't have the vaguest clue who I am - can you help me see if this is something she'd be interested in right now?" You donít try to blast past the gatekeeper, but help him do him job - protecting his boss's time from clueless cold callers.

Resources for Cold Callers

First, I'd look at a book called "Selling with Integrity," by Sharon Drew Morgen. Many of my cold calling suggestions (which, thankfully, I'm totally rusty at) are inspired by her brilliant analysis of the selling process. Get it by clicking here.

Second, I'd become familiar with direct response marketing. My own product, Leads into Gold, can help with cold calling, even though its express purpose is to eliminate the need for cold calling entirely. If you must cold call, the marketing techniques (especially the toolkit
section on "Getting Down with Your Market") will prepare you to hone in on what's really important to your prospects, and at least have a chance to make your pitch.  And if you'd like to beat the cold calling addiction, you can do that too! Download two chapters for free at Leads into Gold.

Let it shine!


To find out how I can help you stop cold calling forever, email me at  Or call me at home during dinnertime - I'M JUST KIDDING!

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