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How I Learned to Cold Call

Welcome to the first in a series of posts by Scott Davis, owner of Davis Writing Solutions, documenting his discovery of the power of phone communication. His dedication to his craft – and to embracing phone communication – is inspirational. Enjoy and share! 

I’m terrified of cold calling.

Let me explain. When I first started my business, I tried cold calling. It was a disaster. I bombed on every call. I stumbled through my pitch, I rambled on and on and I didn’t make a single sale. Eventually I gave up. My fear of rejection got the best of me and I was sure that nobody wanted me to call them.

This went on for a year. I was able to scrape by on the business that came in and I eventually got braver and began making warm calls to referrals, but even those calls were difficult and I’d put them off for days. I was still too afraid to make cold calls and my business was suffering as a result. But then something happened that made me change my mind about calling.

I was almost ready to call it quits when a client hired me to save a failing business by restarting their sales program. A cold calling program. One hundred calls a day.

On my first day I made it through 15 cold calls. It was a struggle, but most of the people I called were friendly. I gradually increased my daily call volume until three days later I hit 100 calls. After that my daily call volume varied between 70 and 90 calls per day. After about a week of calling, something began to happen. Customers started coming in to our showroom. It was only a few at first, but they all wanted to buy something.

It went on. Every morning I’d sit with my list and make my calls. Every day, customers would come in. The business began to grow. The client was happy. I was happy. Life was good.

But I got a big surprise. Very few of the customers were people I had called. In fact only one out of every ten or so customers were on my calling list. When we asked a customer how they knew about us they would say, “We heard you were here.”

Here’s the thing…we only did cold calling. We knew the calling was working because we were seeing customers who we’d called, but the majority of our business was from customers who’d just heard of us.

Mary Jane (The Phone Lady) has a great way of describing the nature of selling. Selling, she says, isn’t about getting people to buy things from you. It’s about letting the people you believe need your service know you are available. Under that model, cold calling isn’t just a sales tool. Sure, you could sell to people directly over the phone, but outside of certain industries such sales are rare. Mary Jane says that the real value of cold calling is that it gets your message out to those people who need what you can provide.

This is the key. We sold very little over the phone, but our message reached a lot of people who needed what we were selling. And those people showed up.

I’ve since returned to my own business and I’m running my own cold calling campaign. I’m still scared. I still dread every call. But I’m also succeeding. I make calls every day. I’m hearing from customers I’ve never spoken to. It’s working. Customers are calling me and saying, “We heard you were here.”

That’s how I learned to cold call.

Scott Davis is a Halifax copywriter who tells your story.  What does that mean in practical terms? He tells the story of how your product will make your customers’ lives easier. He writes web copy that converts viewers to prospects, and the elevator pitch that lets you hook those prospects in 20 seconds. All making your business grow. All helping you create your own story.


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Where’s The Phone Lady?

September 17 – Phone Skills for Job Search and On The Job, YWCA, Halifax, NS

September 19 – Telephone Excellence that Book Meetings and Grow Revenue, Desjardins Insurance, National, Webinar

September 26 - Kickstart Your Business Blog, in partnership with Linda Daley of Daley Progress - only 6 spots available. 

October 1 - Phone Skills for Job Search and On The Job, Youth Employability and Learning Lab, Musquodoboit Harbour, NS (Miriam Jobin, Facilitator)

October 1 – Telephone Skills for Today’s Busy Professionals, Desjardins Insurance, National Online Summit

October 1 – Talking to Your Customers, CBDC Hants Kings, Kentville, NS

October 2 – Talking to Your Customers, CEED, Halifax, NS

October 4 – Creating Your Sales Process, CEED, Halifax, NS

October 7 – Talking to Your Customers, CBDC NOBL, Truro, NS

October 9 – Customer Service Excellence, Bayshore HealthCare, Halifax, NS

October 10 - Phone Skills for Job Search and on the Job, Phoenix Youth Programs, Halifax, NS

October 15 – How to Make Sales When You Hate Selling (part of Small Business Week), Halifax Central Library, Halifax, NS

October 17 – Talking to Your Customers, CBDC NOBL, New Glasgow, NS