By Megan Totka

Cold calling prospects is the most intense battlefield in business and just like the military wouldn’t send soldiers into war unprepared, you need to be ready to meet the demands of cold calling.

The military spends a lot of time giving recruits the right attitude and a lot of money giving them the right tools to win. You need both of these for successful sales as well: attitude and tools.

I don’t want to carry my analogy with the military much further, because you don’t want to go into cold calling with the kind of ferocity that battlefield soldiers have. But you do want to have their courage and confidence. Let’s first look three ways to strike the right attitude and outlook.

  1. Be glad to provide a service. The most important attribute for a sales professional is to have a deep appreciation that you are providing a valuable service to your customers and clients. You have something that is going to solve a problem for them or make them more profitable or efficient. If you don’t believe in what you are selling, you need to move on because without this foundational attitude, the next steps are impossible to achieve.
  2. Be happy to talk and to listen. Even if you are cold calling over the phone, your prospects will immediately sense your attitude. If you’re smiling, they’ll “hear” your smile. This means that you must be fully invested in my first point and also sensitive to your own fatigue. If you need a break, take it, regroup and come back in a better frame of mind.
  3. Be encouraged by being first. The first viable vendor to reach a decision maker has a 74 percent chance of making the sale. Cold calling is perhaps the surest way of being first. When you contact prospects at a trade show, for example, you’re merely one seller in a long line of sellers.

Add all of these up and they equal a positive attitude, however don’t dismiss that out of hand as an oversimplification. It is simple to state, but much harder to pull off in the daily grind of real life. That’s where some tools can come in handy. They provide a tangible foundation on which to build your attitude, which by definition is intangible. Here are three tools you can use.

  1. Research. With the right research you can make cold calls less chilling. LinkedIn, in many cases, is your best friend. Discover the various ways you can leverage LinkedIn searches to find the decision makers you need to connect with. You can search by company, by job function and by industry. Further, search results will reveal connections, which you can often use to gain introductions.
  2. Scripts and rehearsal. It’s a good idea to know what you need to say when you make a cold call. Following a script or at least an outline is smart. After all, you don’t want to look back at a failed cold call and realize you never expressed your most important points. However, you need to practice enough that your presentation becomes natural and for some people this is very difficult. Don’t let your pride prevent you from asking an expert to coach you.
  3. Automation. Whether you are cold calling via the phone, or sending out cold emails, the fact is that the vast majority will not lead to closed sales. That’s just the way it is. Every year 50 smart and talented women compete for the title of Miss America and 49 are disappointed. That doesn’t prevent them from entering. Once you have the right attitude and are well prepared, you need to make as many cold calls as you can (without ruining your attitude). Today there are predictive dialing services that will dramatically boost your throughput, which in and of themselves help take some of the pressure off you.

I’ve taken a “macro” look at cold calling here. There are other strategies and tactics you need to learn once you have the fundamentals in place. But before we leave the topic, let me share one more statistic to help you get the right attitude: In a survey of IT executives conducted by DiscoverOrg, 75 percent said they had attended an event or took an appointment after having been contacted via a cold call or email.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan can be reached at and @MeganTotka.