Two Cold Call Case Studies: Why Your Cold Calls Aren’t Working

I believe that cold calls are quite important as part of an overall sales strategy. How they are done, however, determines their success. If the goal of the call is to gather data, share product information, start a conversation, or make an appointment, the odds are that the outcomes will be less than successful: sellers claim over 90% failure on their attempts.

If, however, a seller can enter the call with a goal to create the means for buyers to discover their path to excellence in the area of the seller’s solution, to figure out who they should assemble to begin a change process that leads them to excellence (and possibly a purchase), and create a win/win collaboration with the seller that engages buyers and prospects to continue communicating, then it’s a win.

Using current cold calling techniques, cold callers don’t recognize that the call is meant for them to get their own needs met. Sellers enter the call as if the buyer:

  • were sitting and waiting to hear from them with nothing else to do,
  • needs the solution regardless of their status quo,
  • should respond fully and honestly to a stranger asking probing, rude questions.

And worse of all, there are a large percentage of real buyers who won’t take the call because they either don’t want to speak to a stranger who wants to take their time, don’t like the prying questions or the information push, or aren’t at the stage in their decision path that would enlist a solution or sales person. Using other means of cold calling, these folks could easily be brought on board for appointments with all of the decision makers, or for continued calls of discovery and collaboration.

Here are two lousy cold calls I got recently. I took one of them and created a ‘good call’ using my Buying Facilitation® model to show you the difference between playing a numbers game, and serving buyers to facilitate excellence. Read them all, and decide which is better.

Case Study Number 1

C: Hello, Sharon? Joe from Mimeo calling. How you doin’ today? [I assume he was attempting to be intimate, not knowing that anyone intimate with me would never call me ‘Sharon.’]

SDM: Do you know if that’s my correct name?

C: I do know. It’s your name.

SDM: Really? Are you absolutely certain?

C: I am.

SDM: How can you be so certain?

C: Wait. Aren’t you Sharon? Is Sharon there?

Seriously. That call happened. Word for word.

Case Study Number 2

E: Hi. I’m calling from Ecsell. Is this Sharon?

SDM: Is this a cold call?

E: No. It might be a partnership call and I might be able to hire you as a speaker.

SDM: Cool. You should know, then, that my first name is Sharon Drew.

E: OK. I didn’t know that. But I know you’re a sales company and want to tell you about our coaching products. [And the reason she doesn’t want to collaboratively figure out if our solutions would blend is….? And the reason she tried to trick me into speaking by lying to me is…?]

SDM: Do you know who I am and what I do?

E: You’re the President of Morgen Facilitations. What else should I know? (She’s asking ME?)

SDM: So you didn’t do your homework. I’m a sales visionary, and for decades have been teaching a buy-in model I invented and teach to sales folks and coaches to give them the tools to help buyers make the change management decisions necessary to be ready to buy.

E: That’s no reason you wouldn’t be able to use our products also, or tell your clients to use our products.

SDM: Wow. You’re still pushing without listening to what I said.

E: Oh yeah?? I’m not pushing. Just educating .(So she’s assuming that I need education, that what she has to say is more important and better than who I am, what I do, what I might need, and – worse of all – she’s missing a potential win/win collaboration by lying to ‘get in’ just to educate me.’) After I hung up on her, she called me back three times to leave me messages!

These calls really happened. You can see the lose/lose here, the disrespect, and the lost opportunity. Do you know how your sales folks are making their cold calls? Have you ever considered adding new skills that would facilitate a real collaboration?

This is what a sales call would look like if I use Buying Facilitation® in call #2.

E: Hello. My name is Ellen from Ecsell, and I’m selling coaching products. This is a cold call. Is this a good time to speak?

SDM: Yes, I have a few moments, but I’m not in the market for coaching products. I sell some myself, and use a unique coaching model I developed that probably wouldn’t work with a more mainstream coaching solution.

E: Interesting. I wonder if you ever partner with other companies for those times you find groups with other innovative solutions.

SDM: I would be very interested. What do I need to do to find out if there is a partnership possibility here? It goes beyond whether or not I like your solution, as there are generally criteria on both sides that need to be met. What do you suggest?

E: Well, we could start with introducing each other to our solutions on this call, and if we both like what the other has, then I would set up a conference call with one of our principles. And a good question for us both to answer might be: What would we each need to see from the other to know if we have the content and the integrity to consider a partnership of some kind? If it makes sense, we can go from there. Does that work for you?

See how easy? Collaboration. Win/win. Trust. Respect. And we expanded what might be possible, added in a bit of integrity, and everyone brought their beset game – all on a cold call.

If you ever want your cold calls

  • to enable a collaborative dialogue that’s win-win,
  • to facilitate decision making change, buying and integrity,
  • to make appointments that include the necessary decision makers,
  • to teach your buyers how to consider working with you on the first call,

consider adding Buying Facilitation® to your sales model (it works with all sales models). It uses unique questions and listening that opens discussions that enable change, collaboration, and potentially buying.

About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the NYTimes Business BestsellerSelling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method ( in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]

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