My Most Memorable Cold-Call

Whether they are an accurate depiction or not – movies like “Boiler Room” and “The Wolf of Wallstreet” always have one scene that showcases the pure adrenaline of being in sales. Those scenes take place on the phone, where the superstar salesperson closes the deal in one magnificent conversation.

Sure, it’s Hollywood, it never actually happens like that and some folks argue that these movies do more damage to the reputation of sales professionals rather than help it. Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard to deny the excitement of watching someone call up a complete stranger, grab their attention, convey a message of value and close a sale. There’s a reason that these situations make for great movie scenes.

For me, I have had very few stereotypical sales “scenes” like the ones in the movies in my career. For the most part, I have found that truly successful salespeople are rarely flashy, over persuasive salesperson depicted in the movies. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had memorable moments where my adrenaline was pumping and high fives were given all around the room once the phone hung up.

One cold call, in particular, stands out to me. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a newly minted Inside Sales Manager, and we were just beginning to roll out a line of products aimed at car dealerships. To kick things off in a big way, we decided to target a large number of independently owned dealerships during an all-day cold calling “blitz”. What made the stakes higher than normal that day was our goal of getting a “one call close”. We weren’t setting appointments…we were hunting for orders!

The reps on my team had their leads, and I had mine. I was going to sit with them all day and make calls until I closed a deal.

Around 4pm, after a long day of calling through my lead list, I was starting to feel the pressure to make something happen. Two of my reps had locked in their orders, and the spotlight was on me to close a deal. By this point- I had been hung up on at least ten times. The owners of the independent dealerships I was calling on were busy folks, and they weren’t shy about letting me know that as they slammed the phone down in the middle of my sentence.

Then I called Steve. Steve answered my call after the second ring with an abrupt “Hello?”

I went right into my pitch. After a long day of making these calls, my pitch had been worn down to just a few key questions. It was a bare bones, “I’ve got quality products for a damn good price and they can be in your hands in less than 48 hours” pitch at this point. I was clear about the value I was offering and most importantly- I had an extreme sense of urgency in the tone of my voice. I made Steve pay attention to what I was saying. I was certain that I could help him, and didn’t see a reason to wait.

“Well damn, you don’t waste time do you?” Steve laughed. “I know you’ve got a million things going on and the reason for my call is to…” I could hear Steve lean back from the phone and yell at someone in the background “Hey Bill! We’re still out of the blue stickers, right? I’ve got a guy on the phone that has ‘em for a good price…” I shut up and listened. “Okay, James…I’m not worried about the price. Sure, your price is cheaper but what I REALLY care about is that I get them when you say I will get them. I’ve been waiting for a week for my regular guy to come restock them.”

I started to smile and alerted my team. I knew that if Steve’s concern wasn’t pricing, and what he truly cared about was reliable shipping times- this was a win-win situation for both of us. I let Steve know that we had distribution centers near him and that getting him his product in 48 hours wouldn’t be a problem.

“So with the worry about shipping times off the table, let’s get these on their way to you, Steve.” I could feel my face getting red as I waited for Steve’s answer, as well as the eyes of every person I stupidly just called over to my desk.

“….ok James. What do you need from me?”

The deal was done. My first “one call close” was a DONE DEAL! I high fived my team, and even our VP of Sales heard us celebrating. It was by far the closest I have ever gotten to feeling like a sales guy in the movies. What amazed me the most was how energized I felt after the call, when in reality I was at the end of a really long, brutal day on the phones. All it took was one great call to completely charge my battery up and keep me dialing.

Cold calls like this are why we stay in sales. We love the rush. The excitement of winning a new customer. The satisfaction of knowing that you brought real value to your client and solved a problem for them. As an SDR, these types of calls don’t happen all the time ( did I mention this is the ONLY time I closed a customer in one call?)- but the possibility of opening a new door with every cold call offers the kind of excitement that keeps us coming back for more.

-James Bawden-

James is a sales professional and frontline salesforce advocate with a decade of experience across industries, spanning from wireless retail sales to complex B2B sales. His unique mixture of full cycle sales, sales development, enablement and leadership experience has resulted in real-world views on what works for sales teams. He is fiercely passionate about all things sales, especially providing a voice for salespeople who are just beginning their careers.

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One thought on “My Most Memorable Cold-Call

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  1. I think these are experiences are ghost of the past. With relationship selling addressing the evolution of Internet in purchasing We won’t be seeing this anymore

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