Ok guys, we’ve all done it.   You see that gorgeous girl on the other side of the room and you start trying to devise a game plan to catch her attention.  You’ve been watching – suitor after suitor buys her a drink and strikes out minutes later.   In your mind you are thinking, “Man, I better come up with something good because I want to make a better impression than those guys.”

Eventually, you build up the courage and make your move.   You push through the crowd and position yourself beside her on the bar, leaning on your elbow trying to look suave.  You catch her attention, she gives you the “I’m guarded but exceptionally cute” over the shoulder look, and you say something to the effect of…

“You must be tired because you’ve been running through my head all night” or “it must have hurt when you fell from heaven” or any lame pick up line like these.

As most guys have learned, that approach will send any self-respecting girl running to the hills.   This approach is just too forward and awkward to make a good impression.

Potential clients will respond in similar fashion if you try to “hook” them with a similar forward approach in a cold call.

Cold calling has a bad reputation.  Hey, I know it’s hard to pick up the phone and call someone you don’t know and risk rejection.  It’s not any different than trying to spark a conversation with an attractive stranger at the bar.   But you can generate positive results in both situations if you execute the right approach.

Cold calling works when you relax, ditch the pick-up lines and learn to just be yourself. In my opinion, you have to develop and refine five fundamental characteristics in order to be good at cold calling:

  • Charisma: Don’t act like a cheesy car salesman or game show host.   Don’t do all the talking.  Ask questions, have a sense of humor and “realness” about you. Smile while you’re talking – it will show through, trust me.  If you are calling on the right people, then you’re talking to decision makers with some sales experience who understand the plight of cold calling and, as a result, will more often than not “let you in.”  Remember that someone had the confidence in you to make these calls, so have that same confidence in yourself.  Just take a deep breath and relax.
  • Intuition: At the same time, you have to be able to read people and understand the type of person with whom you’re speaking.  Whether you’re trying to pick up a girl or engage a prospect, you have to approach them in a way that makes them feel comfortable enough to open up to you about their problems, or “pains.”   If you are feeling negative vibes, push through it, but don’t be pushy.  Ask questions to get at why they’re holding back from you.
  • Transparency: Everybody has an internal “BS” detector, including your prospects.  (And theirs is probably raised during the call.)   Hell, if you don’t believe me, read the book about it: Graham Edmonds’ “The Business of Bullshit.” Don’t disrespect them by trying to be smooth.   Be both candid and respectful, and approach the conversation with a smile.   You’ll be shocked with how you sound, and the results you generate, if you are positive and honest.
  • Persistence: As a life-long baseball player, I was well conditioned to deal with denial/failure (look no further than my sub .200 career batting average in college).  This has been the key to my success.   Having the ability to brush off failure and move on to the next one is vital.  Most of the time you won’t even know why the prospect’s just not that into you, but you can’t let it bother you.  Move on and don’t take it personally.
  • Sense of humor: You have to find a way to make this fun.  Introducing yourself to complete strangers is frightening for sure, but don’t let it paralyze you.   You don’t have to be a natural comedian, but don’t take yourself, or the conversation, too seriously.  Everyone enjoys a good laugh and, if you are indeed intuitive, you will know how and when to be funny.

So, next time you pick up the phone or make your move at the bar, be confident, direct, and upbeat.   Do your best to knock the prospect of his/her feet by being different than those other jokers who shoot from the hip and ask “do you come here often.”  And, seriously, if your prospect falls for those lines they will most likely end up on the “clients you don’t want to work with” list anyway.

Just keep stepping up to the plate and execute the game plan – you’re bound to catch fire NBA Jam-style and go on a winning streak.