The Cold Call Has an Important Place in Sales

The Cold Call Has an Important Place in Sales

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at


What is a cold call anyway? Calling someone you don’t know (for the first time), and trying to gain interest, make an appointment, and/or make a sale. It can take place on the phone or face-to-face.

See if this sounds familiar, “Hello, my name is Jeffrey, and I’m from the Acme Copier Company. I’d to speak to the person in charge of the office equipm… PLEASE DON’T HANG UP!” (Sound of phone slamming)

Or this (walk in the office), “Hello, my name is Jeffrey, and I’m from the Acme Copier Company. I’d like to speak to the person in charge of the office equipment.” The gatekeeper responds with one of the six standards…

1. Do you have an appointment?

2. Can I tell him what this is in reference to?

3. Mr. Jones doesn’t see anyone without an appointment.

4. Just leave your literature and if he’s interested, he’ll call you.

5. Didn’t you see the no soliciting sign on the door?

6. He’s not interested.

Then the salesperson does some feeble verbal dance (that the gatekeeper has heard a million times) to try to pry information, or make an appointment, and usually leaves without anything. This is the way more than 90% of cold calls end up.

The cold call (and its companion, rejection) is the cause of more sales frustration, failure, quitting and reluctance to perform than any other aspect of sales. In the old days, one would say it separates the men from the boys. My feeling is it separates the experienced from the rookie, the savvy from the student, the want to get rejected from the want to make sales. “Let’s see, I get rejected 99 out of 100 times, let’s keep trying that.” Duh.

NOTE: Those salespeople mistakenly dubbed as “call reluctant” are just “unprepared.” They have limited belief, limited training, and limited confidence. Call Reluctant is not a problem it’s a symptom. And most who are “reluctant” will fail.

At best, cold calls are controversial and paradoxical. They are the hardest sale to make, and are given by management as the best way to make sales for the new salesperson the one least capable of making them. Chalk up another managerial victory for The Dilbert Principle. Add to that heap that for the most part, cold calls are rude, and start the salesperson off from a deficit position.

Here’s a better way to view the cold call:  A cold call is not a place to make sales. A cold call is an opportunity to learn to sell.

If you view the cold call as a place to learn, you’ll look at the rejection as a challenge to get better, rather than take it as a personal affront.

For the mature salesperson, my three word definition of a cold call is waste of time. You’re intruding on others. You’re interrupting people from their work pattern. They already have a supplier for what you sell. They can live without you. And if you are successful in getting 10 out of 100 to have an interest, and two appoint you, and one buys, keep in mind that the other 90 are pissed.

If you can understand the principles above, you’re ready to begin the cold call strategy below.

The key to success at the cold call is building a belief system. Belief in yourself, your company, and what you sell. The more belief you have, better stated, the more you believe that what you sell will help others, the easier time you will have making cold calls. Here are the four basic beliefs you must own before you can start the cold call process:

1. I believe my company is the best.

2. I believe my products or services are the best.

3. I believe I am the best.

4. I believe that when my customer buys, they will be better off.

Cold calling will test these beliefs right away. Especially when you begin to get rejected. Let’s look at the real benefit of the cold call. Since all salespeople seek to improve their selling skills, the cold call presents a great opportunity to learn to sell. It is actually a lousy opportunity to make a sale. By the percentages, the lowest. By degree of difficulty, the hardest. By the intelligent ways to sell, the dumbest.

The four secrets to success in a cold call are:

1. Be ready.

2. Be creative.

3. Be fast.

4. Have fun.

If you can be all of those, you have a shot at it. Most salespeople make the fatal mistakes of not being creative and not having enough fun. While you’re struggling to learn sales, be creative and have a blast.

The old “get out there and do it” doesn’t work any more. You must combine training and self-confidence (belief), with the spirit of adventure and the willingness to take “no” for an answer and still try for “yes.”

Been in sales for a few years and still making cold calls? Something’s wrong unless you’re just doing it for fun. The cold call should be gradually eliminated, and replaced with your full pipeline, networking contacts, and referrals.

BUT the “student salesperson” aspect of cold calling cannot be taken lightly. Next week, I’ll share the point-by-point areas of sales knowledge you can master by making lots of cold calls, and experiencing the joy of rejection.


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