Over the bank holiday weekend I was coaching my daughter to make some business calls and I was reminded just how many sane, sensible, intelligent people out there hate making business phone calls, particularly if they are “cold calls”.

In this short article I thought I’d summarise some simple yet powerful tips that I have learned and tested out over the years. Try them out and I guarantee that you will start having more success on the phone.

  1. Before you pick up the phone, make sure you are clear about the purpose of your call!
    Sound like common sense? Of course it is but how many of us pick up the phone, dial the number, and then, just as it is picked up at the other end, ask ourselves – Now what was I phoning about? Having a clear purpose BEFORE you dial will make a huge difference to your telephone effectiveness. So ask yourself – Why am I making this call? What do I want to have happen as a result of the call?
  2. Set a positive expectation for the call.
    One thing that all the people who have problems making work calls seem to have in common is that they expect the worst. Either the person they are calling won’t be available or they’ll be too busy to talk or they’ll be unfriendly or unhelpful or they’ll be rude or … Get the picture? Imagine the effect that all this negativity has on your own state? How will you sound to the caller? Will you be “attractive”?

    On the other hand, consider the people who do well on the phone. They expect completely the opposite scenario. They expect to get through, they expect to speak to nice people who will enjoy talking with them etc… etc…

    But, I hear you say, what if I have to call somebody who I’ve spoken to before and I know that they are unfriendly, unhelpful & rude. Well, the above solution still holds true. Expect the best and remember that there might have been a good reason why they were curt last time you spoke. Perhaps you called at a bad time? Perhaps their last caller had been abusive or pushy? Perhaps they had had an argument with their partner or their kids? There could be all sorts of reasons which had nothing to do with you.

    So don’t take it personally, expect a better conversation this time around, send some love down the line then pick up the phone and dial.

  3. Prepare your message in advance.
    I am not a believer in scripted calls as these sound stilted and robotic however I do believe in planning out your general thrust and in particular your opening few words. Doing this builds confidence and fluency because you know what you are going to say before you have to say it.
  4. Prepare your voicemail message BEFORE you call.
    People often report that they get all psyched up to speak to the client and then they find themselves diverted to voicemail and they don’t know what to say. Well here again the answer is so obvious yet we forget to do it. Leaving a clear succinct message with the relevant contact details is vital if you want them to call you back so you better prepare it in advance.
  5. Make business calls fun!
    No I haven’t gone mad, it’s true. Even the most experienced telephone users will get jaded or disheartened from time to time but the best have learned the secret of making a game out of the exercise.

    Imagine that you created a list of call rated tasks and allocated each a points value. E.g. Every time you pick up the phone you score 1 point. Every time you dial a phone number you score 2 points. Every time to leave an voicemail message with your callback details you score 3 points. Every time you speak to someone on the end of the phone you score 5 points. Every time you get as far as speaking to the person you want to, you get 10 points! Every time you Succeed in making an appointment to meet that person (assuming that is the objective of your call) you Score 20 points!

    Now set yourself a daily target. How many points would you like to score today? Start with an east target – say 5 points and then see how many points you actually score. If you easily beet 5 then tomorrow you can set a more challenging target. Oh and don’t forget to reward yourself for beating your target. It could be a food related reward or perhaps more healthily it could be a quick walk or allow yourself 5 minutes to do personal emails or some other pleasurable task. Try this out and you’ll be amazed at the number of successful calls you make and how much fun you have in the process!

  6. Do it standing up if you want to be more assertive or authoritative!
    I know it sounds daft but it is true. If you change your physiology, you automatically change your mental state too. Standing up straight when making a call will help you to sound and feel more confident and assertive. Don’t take my word for it – try it out and see for yourself.

So there you have it, six success secrets that really do work – I know because I use them all myself. Now it’s up to you – Put them into action today and I guarantee that you will have more success with less hassle. What have you got to lose?


  1. Eddy Azar on 04/06/2012 at 22:52

    This was a lifesaver post Gavin. You know it’s quality when it’s still making waves three years later.
    That idea of turning it into a game, great! And realizing that, odds are, people are going to be positive with you and when they’re not there are other factors besides you affecting it…it’s refreshing.

    • Gavin Meikle on 05/06/2012 at 08:56

      Thanks for the post and the feedback Eddy. I appreciate your support and I am delighted that the tips in this blog post worked for you. Please feel free to share it with your own network via Linkedin, Facebook or Google+. Gavin

  2. The Confidence Coach on 03/05/2007 at 00:18

    Thanks Don, you are certainly not alone in disliking sales calls but you are certainly ahead of the game by using the techniques and tools you describe. Thanks for sharing and good luck. Please comment again

  3. Don on 11/04/2007 at 02:38

    Right on! I like your process for getting the cold calling done. It is the least favorite part of selling for me but after 30 years of doing it I’ve found making a game out of it is fun. To be sure I get my prospecting quota in each week I schedule the time on the calendar as: New Opportunity Search Time.
    When you keep score of how many times you dial the phone, how many decision makers you talk with and how many sales call appointments you get, over time you’ll see the best times of the week for you to make the calls. For me I know that on average I’ll have to dial the phone 10 times to talk with the person of interest.
    I’ve also learned when calling folks I don’t know leaving a message is worthless. Better to call back again, that way when you finally do get through they won’t recognize you as “that sales person who left me 10 voicemails”.

    Good Selling, Don from Marketing Idea Shop

Leave a Comment