In the August 2000 issue of Inc. magazine, senior writer Susan Greco introduced us to Pat Cavanaugh, CEO of Cavanaugh Promotions. For Cavanaugh, a former college basketball standout, cold calling is an extreme sport. He opened 100 new accounts in the first quarter of 2000 and can make 200 calls a day when he does "nothing but get on the phone."

You'll find Cavanaugh's story, tips, and strategies in the August 2000 issue. Then when you're ready to turn cold calls into slam dunks, check out this guide. It's a compilation of links to more great cold-calling tips and techniques, from Inc magazine and other sources. It also includes profiles of entrepreneurial sellers and reviews of books on building sales skills.

Starting Out

Do You Have Any Tips on Developing Cold-Calling Skills?
Pat Cavanaugh offers resources and these suggestions:
  • Warm up prospects with an inexpensive promotional item.
  • Ask for an appointment at a certain time, rather than "Tuesday."
  • Respect the other person's time.
A Little Research Goes a Long Way
Do your homework on the person you are calling before you pick up the phone. Here's a helpful tip on using a personalized approach.
What Warming Up to Cold Calls
Why it's time to rethink one of the most derided marketing tactics. Plus, a sample cold calling script.
What Advice Do You Have for a Cold Caller Who Sells Services?
Don't waste an appointment collecting information on your prospects. Make the appointment once you've got a match -- that's when you're ready to start the selling process. Our sales guru offers tips for collecting info and getting the appointment.
I Never Know How to Start a Cold Call.
A business owner shares her straight-from-the-hip technique for starting a cold call.

Timing Is Everything

The Word Is Out
Sometimes timing's a fluke. Perhaps you timed it right and you didn't even know it. That was the experience this entrepreneur had when her cold call led to a serendipitous publicity blitz.

Next Steps

Leave a Message after the Beep
You've done your research, you've timed the call, the phone is ringing—and you get voice mail. Don't fret: The right message can get your call returned.
Follow Up
You've sent the prospect info, and now it's time for the first phone call. Here are tips on how to turn a literature follow-up call into an appointment.
When Should I Give Up on a Sales Prospect?
Here's practical advice on how to determine whether it's time to move on -- plus ideas on reaching your target market.
Hot Tip
Your company has grown. Does that mean you've outgrown sales calls? No way! The CEO of a $3.5 million company extols the value of keeping up the calls.

Selling in a Sluggish Economy

How Should I Address my Staff's Concern Regarding the Impact of the Economic Downturn?
Pat Cavanaugh believes that your management and staff must have faith in their products and services, and be able to convey that faith to your customers.

Additional Reading

Let's face it—cold calls are hard. The following titles will motivate the salesperson within and help you hone your skills:

Starting from "No": 10 Strategies to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection and Succeed in Business
Is fear of rejection derailing your career? Starting from "No": 10 Strategies to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection and Succeed in Business, by Azriela Jaffe, addresses how to conquer those fears.
The Big Book of Sales Games
Need to motivate your salespeople and reinforce their skills? The Big Book of Sales Games offers more than 50 activities to do just that.
How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling
From the pages of Inc. magazine, a review of a classic book on sales calls.


If you're still having trouble getting started, here's some classic inspiration, from the Inc. archives, about the importance of cold calls:

"Portrait of the CEO as Salesman"
Jim Koch, founder and CEO of The Boston Beer Co., makes the case against 'marketing.'
48 Hours with the King of Cold Calls
A salesman par excellence talks about the rewards of cold calls.
The Ultimate Sales Force
How Peter Groop took HP's, GE's, and IBM's leftover products and built one of the hottest teams in America to sell them.
A Sales Force of One
What company owner hasn't suspected that all would be right with the world if his or her salespeople weren't so damn lazy? Scott Rosen had those suspicions and decided to do something about it. He fired his entire sales staff, figuring he could do better all by himself.