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How to be confident and successful in making sales cold calls

Salespeople who are required to make phone calls often experience trepidation. If you are required to make outbound calls for appointments, you may experience a common problem. At some point in your career, you may feel like you cannot make one more call. Perhaps you feel as if what you’re doing is not working, which leads to what is often referred to as “call reluctance.” Or your most recent bout of calls did not result in success, so you feel defeated before you even begin dialing the following Monday morning. If that describes you, then here are some simple things you can do to overcome this challenge.


Do know it’s not about you

First, take an index card and write, in bold black marker “Their “no” is not about me.” Keep the card in front of you where you dial. That will help a lot.

Do choose a role model for your phone personality

Pick a strong famous personality and put their picture in front of you. A good role model might be Glenn Close, for example. Especially for her role in the tv show “Damages”, but also because she seems fiercely elegant all the time. She seems like someone who doesn’t lose her cool and certainly doesn’t take stuff personally. Picking someone who you look up to as having a strong and confident personality is essential to boosting your confidence on the phone.

Do prepare what you are going to say and practice it

Roleplaying is the best way to get good at your script and to personalize it. Memorization doesn’t always work that well because if you forget a word or phrase at any time, you will definitely get off your game quickly. Rather, you should learn your script, but only keep a bulleted version of it in front of you. Reading a script that is written in literary form will be harder than a list of the key phrases, in order, in a list. You will speak your script with more of your personality if you do it this way.

Do role play with a manager, mentor or peer

Athletes and singers warm up. But for some silly reason, salespeople just pick up the phone and start dialing. It is worth your time to seriously role play what you plan to say to your prospects and get feedback from your peers or mentors. Role play in a realistic way - i.e. call the other person from your desk to theirs. Tell them what type of prospect they are to “act like” and then go all the way to responses. Take their honest feedback seriously. If you are talking too fast, then slow down. If your script doesn’t make sense, rewrite it. It’s always better to make mistakes in a role playing situation than a real phone call to a prospect.


Do not rush

The biggest crime people who have to make phone calls commit is rushing to dial when they are truly not ready. Having a script doesn’t mean you’re ready. Reading it out loud and role playing it (even with yourself) means you’re ready. Practice makes perfect.

Do not forget that it’s not always your fault

Taking blame is an important part of being a grown up at work, but sometimes it’s not about you. There are unreasonable people at the other end of the phone at times and you need to be able to tell the difference. Over-personalizing everyone’s response to your call is a great way to go nuts pretty quickly.

Do not give up too soon

Many people in sales have a “three strikes and you’re out” attitude. There are many prospects that need to be called, and spoken to, more than three times. Keep this philosophy in the ballpark and not the sales room.

Do not waste time with “How are you?”

Most Americans do not appreciate being asked “How are you?” from someone they don’t know. If you are calling customers, prospects you’ve never met, even clients of your company you don’t know then the rule of thumb is don’t say “How are you?” Since they other party doesn’t believe you genuinely care about their answer, it will save you time. A good substitute is just “I know you’re busy, so I’ll be brief,” and keep going!

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Sales people need to find a way to make outbound phone calls so they are productive, professional, and result in appointments. Having a systematic way of learning a script, practicing it, and implementing it will give you the confidence you need when confronted by a “no” or an abrupt prospect.

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Gail B. GoodmanPresident

Gail B. Goodman is the recognized national expert on telephone skills training. Gail has developed a structured analysis of the appointment setting phone call so that all direct sales people can master this critical skill. Being a great sales pe...

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