Cold Calling in Sales: the fine line between pushy and totally obnoxious

Cold Calling in Sales: the fine line between pushy and totally obnoxious

For the past fifteen years I have been an independent sales rep. I sell cool stuff: women’s stuff. Jewelry, handbags, really fun reading glasses. I love my job. For fifteen years I have loved my job actually. Sure, there are moments when I get frustrated just like anyone else but I freaking love what I do. Even if a huge percentage of it is cold calling which some people equate to being in Michael Myer’s house for a halloween party. It’s that scary.

But for me, it’s exciting and it is necessary. If I don’t make the calls, I don’t get the sales. That terrified me at first. In the beginning I would find a hundred other things to do than pick up that phone. But after awhile, I got used to it. I am selling things that interest store owners. A lot of them anyway. Enough for them to listen so it’s not that bad.

But I have always made a point to know when it’s time to say goodbye. This unfortunately is something many sales people have not learned. And why I feel like I’m going to bust a blood vessel in my brain when someone hasn’t. Like today. Today when I was calmly cooking dinner and my cell phone rang at 6:30.

The girl was smart at first, she used my name like we were old high school buds and caught me off guard. She told me how happy she was I got to see the Nutcracker last year and was so excited to sell me tickets for this year’s one of 30 performances. Truth be told, I had already looked at tickets and dates. I loved that flipping ballet so much last year I couldn’t wait to see it again. But something about pending surgery….

I told the young lady that I would love to buy tickets but that I had surgery scheduled for December 3rd. Until I knew how I would be feeling, I just would take my chances getting tickets later. At this point in a cold call conversation the seller has a couple of choices. She could wish me well and say thank you and good bye. She could maybe try to sell me one more thing and give up. But no, this girl was going in for the kill. Something I never, ever do.

When I try to cold call a client, I explain who I am, what I have and try to determine if there is a need. If they are non responsive, I thank them for their time and move on. I don’t push to the point of irritation. I don’t want the person at the other end of the line to slam the phone down and scream. Kinda like I did today.

The girl went on to tell me about this great two for one deal. I tried to explain to her that I had no way of knowing if I would be able to see the ballet. Now, the ballet company is world renowned yes. But I’m not a typical ballet gal. I see the Nutcracker every twenty years or so if that. It was that good last year that I wanted to go again. But I don’t want to see another ballet. And boy did she want me to.

She persisted and pushed and pushed and persisted. I kept saying no thank you. I finally told her I couldn’t afford the tickets due to medical bills. I resorted. I lied. Wow, after all that Yom Kippur repentance I was forced to lie. I had the choice to hang up on her but since I essentially do the same thing as she does I try to give respect. Then she did the unthinkable.

I had just told her I could not afford to buy tickets. And who knows, by the time I have surgery I may not have the mortgage to take out to buy those tickets. And then she asked me, since I love the ballet so much if I would make a donation to the ballet company. Twenty five dollars? Would you be willing?

And that is when pushy became totally obnoxious. I had already said I had something medical and bills that went with it. I had tried to be nice and she just kept pushing. And in the end she didn’t even give a crap if I saw the show, she just wanted my money. So take this as a lesson.

You’ll get much further  and sell more by being nice and backing away; and less likely to have a hit man sent out on you.

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