The Worst Kind of Cold Call Sales Pitch


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The successful cold call is one of those super hero sales hunter myths.  It sounds fantastic doesn’t it.  The 800lb gorilla with silver tongue and rhinoceros hide just picks up the phone, or stops somebody in the street and walks away with a lead, an appointment, or even an order. It makes mere mortals feel inferior – it’s meant to.  But it’s still a myth.

Cold calling is very hard work.  Like banging your head against the wall, it’s a pleasure when you stop doing it.  It’s made infinitely worse by the idiots who write the scripts.  That’s where the worst kind of sales pitch comes from.  A value proposition based on an incorrect assumption.  Successful prospecting requires a conversation driven by questions, not assertions based on assumptions.

Any sales pitch is a risk, either starting a conversation or firmly slamming the door shut.  But the sales pitch which makes assumptions and assertions based on them is particularly stupid, because it undoes all the investment in establishing the contact.

These days it might take a hundred calls to find one person willing to answer the phone.  For every ten people answering the phone, maybe only one will be a decision maker.  And maybe only only one in every ten of those will open to listening for 15 seconds before ending the call.

That’s 10,000 calls to get a 15 second opportunity which is immediately blown by a crass opening statement – an assertion based on a assumption.  Here are two examples.

Case Study 1

“Good afternoon Mr. Reeves.  This is Jim from AcmePCsoftwareservicessecurity.  Are you the person responsible for computers in your household.  Mr. Reeves it’s come to our attention at least one of your computers has a serious virus in the operating system.  For a modest fee we can clean it all up for you, on-line.  You’ll be secure and stop passing this virus on to your contacts.”
“That’s very interesting.  Can you tell me which operating system I have a problem with?”
“Mr. Reeves, this has come to our attention through a very reliable source?”
“That’s very interesting. Can you tell me which operating system I have a problem with?”
“Mr. Reeves we know this is a computer based at your address?”
“I heard that, but which operating system do I have a problem with?”

“Ummm, well Microsoft XPVista7 of course!”

At which point do you think this guy loses the conversation?  We have Osx 10.4 and 10.6 and Android 2.4 in our house, but no Microsoft.

Case Study 2

“Good morning can I speak to Mr Reeves please?  Good morning Mr. Reeves I’m calling on behalf of MBNAAEXCAPITALBANK with information regarding your credit card. Can I ask you some security questions before I explain the reason for the call?”

“Thank you Mr. Reeves, now we’ve cleared security I can tell you of a very special offer I’m authorised to make.  This morning, as a special offer, I can transfer all the balances from your credit cards to your account with us at an interest rate of 0% for the next year.  How much would you like to transfer this morning?”


“Mr. Reeves, do you understand your other card providers charge as much as 18%.  You could save a fortune taking up this exceptional offer.  How much would you like to transfer this morning?  This offer will not be available after today.”


“Mr. Reeves, maybe I could help you decide to accept our offer by calculating just how much you could save.  How much do you have outstanding on your other credit cards?”


 Case study 1 is probably(?) a ripoff originating in murky depths of the Internet. The call seems to come from a call centre in the sub-continent.  However,  I often get similar calls, from creditable businesses, adopting the same approach.

Case study 2 is an everyday occurrence for most people.  How much more acceptable, and successful would the call be if it started with “would you be interested in a 0% balance transfer?”.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Reeves
Consultant, author, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes. Blogger at Successful Sales Management. Head cook and bottle washer at Front Office Box.


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