Cold Calling: an interview

Doing the rounds in North London Choices Magazine caught up with Sean Lydon. We talked business, drank coffee and picked up some gems from a master business sales trainer who teaches proactive selling and is a master in the art of cold calling.
Take 5 minutes and join our conversation…


At Choices we come across so many small business owners who are totally averse to selling, much less cold calling; they employ numerous tactics, attempting to achieve sales without actually selling; what are they doing wrong?


For many businesses, especially those selling to other businesses, no amount of mail-shots, email-shots or Google ad words, or indeed any form of advertising, will generate sufficient business enquiries. And no website, no matter how professional its design or content, will generate enquiries unless one’s target market is actively looking and it comes up on the first page of their Google search.

Which means there’s often no substitute for contacting your prospective customers directly yourself, i.e. cold calling.


The thought of cold calling a prospective client can strike terror into an entrepreneur; you’re the expert so come on, spill the beans; give us some practical techniques that our readers can use immediately to help quell that initial apprehension?


Ok; first thing, our fear of how others might react to us is largely in our own heads. In reality most people are perfectly polite and will respond in kind, just as in any interpersonal situation.

The fatal error that many cold callers make is that they give themselves away too easily, i.e. they launch into a sales pitch or they’re overly familiar. Both of which project neediness. And while people are ordinarily polite to those they don’t know, once they sense weakness or neediness they can easily turn nasty, hence all the malicious jokes about how to deal with cold callers.


Oh dear; but how can you call someone to sell something, without them becoming aware of your intentions and putting up defences?

The reality is that no one knows who you are or why you’re calling them other than through what you say. For all they know when they first answer the phone you could be a new customer calling to place a massive order, so it’s critical that you take advantage of that initial apprehension on their part.



Merely by speaking very slowly and with authority as if you were a customer placing an order. If you project enough authority and indifference through your tone, by the time you’ve got to the actual purpose of the call they’ve effectively forgotten you’re a cold caller.


Does that really work?

Yes, the idea of a cold call is framed by their initial perception, which is entirely determined by your tone. If you merely state your name slowly and with utter conviction, as if you really believe that what you have to say is of value, most people will take you at your own estimation regardless of whether or not what you actually do is of any interest to their business.
And of course they haven’t a clue about what that is until you actually tell them.


That’s true.

Besides, if you don’t believe that what you say is of value then you shouldn’t be in business in the first place. So that conviction in your own, and by extension your business’s value, must be a given. That’s really all that’s required to make anyone receptive to what you have to say; your own conviction of your value. Which is another way of saying confidence or absence of self-doubt. Which in a sales context of course hinges on your belief in the value of your product/service.


That sounds so simple; so why do so many entrepreneurs struggle with such a simple process?

What happens in practice is that we fill our own heads with anticipated objections to our offering and that hesitation communicates itself. *That’s* what people are reacting to. Not the actual substantive content of the call.
Of course they still may not be interested in doing business with you. But people generally like being approached by a confident and polite person and will even apologise if they don’t wish to take things further, and also give their reasons. Of course, one still needs to be able to convey one’s value proposition succinctly. But if the introduction isn’t properly framed the call can be lost before you’ve even got to its actual business content.


So speak slowly, with authority and get the objections out of your head and you’ve got a fighting chance?

If you’re confident in yourself and your value proposition this will communicate itself. If you’re overly friendly, needy, or give things away too easily, the unavoidable perception will be that your product or services can’t be of that much value and that you personally are not to be taken seriously in a business context.

Don’t be shy about your business motives; the people you’re speaking to are out to get value for their business. They will respect you when they see you are doing the same for yours.

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