Close Close

Life Health > Life Insurance

Cold calling, Part 1: The don’ts

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

Call me crazy, but when a salesperson rings to try to sell me something, I usually don’t hang up. I listen and respond to his inquiry, and then I make suggestions on how he can improve his approach.

For most professionals, cold calling is the prospecting strategy of last resort. Who wants to call someone up to be lied to, cursed at or hung up on? Still, many of my clients are in businesses where some cold calling at some point is a necessity. And most of the others need to be comfortable calling referred prospects.

Do people hate to receive calls at home? Do busy managers and executives hate to be bothered by callers trying to convince them to buy their products? The answer to both of these questions is yes…but also no. At least, not entirely.

“If I were calling you to tell you that you had just inherited a million dollars and I needed to arrange for you to pick up the check — and there weren’t a lie or catch involved,” I ask in my workshops, “would you be angry that I interrupted your dinner?” My attendees always say no.

“If I were calling you at your place of business with a low-cost, truly guaranteed way to make more money while simultaneously reducing your overall expenses for the future,” I ask, “would you be upset that I got past your ‘gatekeeper’ to reach you?” No comes the answer.

“So, then,” I ask, “what is it about your cold-calling approach that you and your prospects actually hate?”

The answer usually comes down to “sounding like a telemarketer or salesman.” There are, of course, successful telemarketers who sound natural and comfortable. But the ones who get on your nerves…

  • Mispronounce your name without apology and without an effort to get it right.
  • Sound like they’re reading directly from a script.
  • Come on strong, forcing a big “sales-y” smile through the telephone.
  • Try to warm up the call by pausing to ask something disingenuous such as “And how are you today?” when you know they don’t care about your well-being in the slightest.
  • Use “sales-y” language such as “This is an exclusive offer.”

If part of your work is making calls to people you don’t know, please try to avoid doing these at all costs.

Next week, we’ll cover the cold-calling do’s.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Sandy Schussel is a speaker, business trainer and coach who helps sales teams develop systems to win clients. He is the author of The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. For more information, go to


© 2023 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.