Agency Channel: Do You Turn Cold Calls Into One-Call Closes?

Posted: 05/2000

Do You Turn Cold Calls Into One-Call Closes?
By Marilyn Dooley

So, when was the last time you made a cold call and turned it into a one-call

I asked myself that question the other day and, well, … if truth were told, the answer was not what it should be. Nor did the answer reflect what I thought my capabilities are. How about you? When is the last time you made a cold call? When is the last time you turned that cold call into a one-call close?

If you are in sales, or as I like to say, you “sing for your supper,” I hope you answered in the affirmative. If you didn’t, you need to discover the reasons why not.

a regional sales manager for a well-known CLEC. I work with direct sales
representatives as well as agents. I guide them, mentor them, go out on calls
with them and recruit new agents. I love the product and the company.
Truthfully, it’s a joy to sell. Everyone needs local dial tone. Everyone needs
to save money. Everyone needs reliability.

So, why doesn’t everyone buy? And, why doesn’t everyone buy the first time I walk through the door? Or better stated, why don’t at least some prospects buy the first time I walk through the door?

I’m pretty good at cold calls. They always result in sales, eventually. But, until recently, I couldn’t remember the last time I made a one-call close.

One of my agents recently gave me a reality check. This individual, whom I believe is a champion in this arena, on a good day can sell several accounts slam, bam. I called her to get some pointers. Her bottom line was that it is all a state of mind!

Remembering that I came out of the long-distance trenches, I took methods I used for that worn-out, commodity-driven market with me to the fresh CLEC business. It was like closing deals with methods that are as outdated as the slide rule.

When you sell dial tone, people want to talk to you. They are interested in what you have to say and sell. If they understand your sense of urgency, you don’t have a moment to waste–perhaps one-call closes are possible. Perhaps they’ll buy today, not tomorrow. What an interesting concept–one I had to put to the test.

The next day I conducted a training seminar for some new agents. Afterward, I told my master dealer we were going on some cold calls. This dealer is a master distributor. Honestly, it had been a long while since he made a cold call; his last one-call close probably came when he sold dialers along with the deal.

the Streets

Nevertheless, armed with my newly enlightened state of mind, we were off.

I chose a suburb a little off the beaten path. I didn’t go into an office complex. Rather, I chose to go down a major highway that had plenty of aging strip centers, used car lots, insurance agencies, etc.

I told my dealer we were out to write business. We didn’t have the time to make follow-up call after follow-up call. In other words, we’d better write the business today. I was prepared. My portfolio contained sales aids and order forms. I was dressed as a well-healed professional. Most important, I made a concerted effort to make my body language convey my sense of urgency.

Guess what? It worked!

After four hours, I closed two accounts and made several contacts that I’m sure will result in sales. We also sold long distance to the two accounts that closed. (Go figure!)

My dealer was blown away, and I have a whole new perspective.

Call Review

Let’s recap what I believe are the highlights of high-powered cold calling.

  • First, recognize you don’t have a moment to waste. You don’t have the time
    to make return trips. Recognize that you have a product they need, and it
    doesn’t make good sense not to buy, today. The old adage of "take the
    money and run" applies to the client in this case. They need to save
    money, and they need to save money now.
  • Put some pep in your step. Walk fast and talk fast. Let your prospect feel
    your sense of urgency and your intensity. They will take you seriously. Be
    friendly but be intense. Get right down to business. I found saying, "I
    need to speak to the person who handles your local service," works much
    better than, "May I speak to the person … ?" Subtle difference,
    but important.
  • Focus, Focus, Focus! Take it in on first glance. I noticed one prospect
    (who turned into a sale) had Girl Scout cookies tucked away in the corner. I
    knew he was in the bag as soon as I saw that.
  • Pick a pretty day. It’s hard to cold call when you are shivering or
    dodging raindrops. Pretty weather makes people happy. If you’re happy, your
    prospect’s guard falls away, instantly.
  • Cold call a little off the beaten track. Don’t go to an office your
    competition has hit. Go where people don’t usually get cold calls. One
    prospect actually said, "Gee, I’ve been waiting for someone to come in
    here with that."
  • Ask to see the bill the prospect is getting. (Ask to see the long-distance
    agreement while they’re at it.) Show them right then and there how you can
    save them money. Smile. Tell your prospect how much you enjoy helping
  • Assume you will make the sale. After you’ve shown the prospects how much
    money you can save them, start filling out the paperwork. Put that X by the
    signature line and offer your pen.
  • Finally, as long as you’re on a roll, ask for a referral. Since you have
    just shown them all the money you’re going to save them, surely they know
    someone who could also use your help.

These methods work.

The key is your state of mind and your level of expectation. Now, get in the field and put it to the test.

Oh, one more thing, have fun!

Dooley is regional sales manager for AccessOne/Omnicall, Inc. (
She has written and published numerous articles concerning sales techniques and
agent marketing. She can be reached at

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