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The Best Ways to Start a Cold Call

We’re terrified of cold calls.  Can we admit that?

Cold Call

There’s nothing that strikes fear in the hearts of men and women quite like the icy grip of the COLD CALL.  Even the name sounds like a bad B-movie: “You never know who’s on the end… of a COLD CALL!” (Cue terrifying shriek, bad music)  “Rated “R” for Run Toward Another Job Right Away.”

The reason we hate them so much is because we know how we feel when we RECEIVE them!

Think about your feelings when someone calls or visits you out of the blue looking for you to buy something.  You’re thinking about all the negative words that people use to describe salespeople, and don’t want to be thrown into that same category.  Right?

So here’s the secret… Don’t sound like a salesperson!

Ask yourself: What do salespeople say, do, and act like that turns you off?  Jot down a few of those things.  Then decide that you’re not going to do those things!

What can you do instead?  Here are a few ideas specifically for sports ticket sales reps.  Use these as idea-starters, inspiration, or read them right from the sheet (you ARE going to print this out, aren’t you?), but make sure you understand the intent, and when you customize them, keep the intent intact:

–       “Hi… Sales department, please.”  (This is an indication that you’re a revenue-producing call, and the receptionist is almost always instructed to route MONEY calls to the sales department.  Be prepared to answer questions as to what you’re interested in ‘buying’, so the person can route you to the right desk!)

–       “I have the weirdest question you’ve had all day.”  (Choose your weird question from the several below, or make up your own)

  • If sales are down at your place, who’s the one that usually gets the most angry?   That’s who I need to talk to.
  • Who’s the biggest baseball (or your sport) fan in your office?  That’s who I need to talk to.  (When you reach that person, say: “If you thought Season Tickets would be a good idea for your company, who would you have to convince in order to get them?”)
  • When was the last time your company went out and did something FUN as a group?
  • Who’s in charge of smiles at your place?  The one who’s got to keep morale up, and keep employees happy.  Would that be you?

–       “Could you help out a starving salesperson today?”  (gets receptionist/gatekeeper smiling and on your side!)

–       “I have called all over, and I hope you finally have the answer I’m looking for.  Do you know who would handle (sales incentives/group outings/etc.) at your place?”

–       “Is the boss around?”  (informal, non-threatening, familiar tone)

–       “Hi… who’s in charge today?”  (wait for response)  “Good!  Is he/she nearby?”


There are plenty more non-traditional ways to start a conversation, which I train in my 3-day Sales Dominance program for sports ticket sales teams.  These should get you going in the right direction.

Always remember that cold calling is a game – a serious, results-oriented kind of game — and if you inject more FUN into it, your voice will reflect that fun, and you’ll be more successful as a result.


How do you currently tackle cold calls as a salesperson?  Leave your comments below!

Picture Credits: Count 5Blackberry

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11 Responses to The Best Ways to Start a Cold Call

  1. Tim Evans August 9, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    Hey Bill – great post … I tend to use the more laid back tone/approach, the kind when you ask for someone, it sounds as though you’re just calling to talk to your buddy. I’ve found that works best.

    Question for you … when the reception wants to take a message, what type of message are you leaving?

  2. Chris August 10, 2009 at 10:42 am #

    Love those examples, Bill. I may incorporate a few…

    Here’s one (below) I’ve used over the years that’s put me face-to-face with key decision-makers:

    “I’ve got an idea for [insert brand here] that I think you’re going to love. And you could save a ton of money!”

    People love good ideas. And they love saving money. The key is to make sure you have a killer idea. And if you can’t come up with a killer idea, you’re probably in the wrong business.

  3. Debra Russell August 11, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    My favorite – do you have a minute, is this a good time to talk?

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