My Cold Calling Adventure: Lessons Learned and Tips for Success

Cold Calling – Introduction

By definition, cold-calling is the act of calling a person who might be, like, 10% interested in your product. Your obligation is to schedule an appointment so that another person, mostly your boss, can sell and talk further. That’s the role of a cold caller during a call.

I have experienced both hot or warm calling and cold calling. I must say, cold calling is one of the more difficult things. Both of you are not really aware of each other, and this is the challenge that most virtual assistants are experiencing.

How I Started Cold Calling

It was back in 2016 when I started doing cold calling, and one of the good things was that I worked in an office-based setting with a lot of people around me. So, in a way, there was a crowd and there were people who actually did the same thing. However, in 2022, I started doing cold calling as a home-based virtual assistant, and that was much more different.

I don’t want to sugarcoat it, but it’s very terrifying, especially even though I’ve been a teacher and have been speaking with native English speakers for decades. Still, I have this fear of reaching out and making cold calls, because, for one, you don’t know what’s going to happen, and you don’t know the response and the questions, especially if you’re new.

I could say that it took me 41 days. I have a notebook that documents my struggles, and by the 41st day, I just started to doodle. That was the moment I felt like I got the hang of it.

Cold Calling – Mindset

Well, I could say a lot about maintaining a positive mindset; however, other virtual assistant companies, agencies, and freelancers have probably already shared that with you. What I’m going to suggest is something quite different. Let’s discuss the idea that cold calling is one of the oldest forms of marketing. Not everyone likes it; however, it is one of the most available jobs, especially for beginners. So, when you’re starting out, you have to do this. You can stumble, and you can feel unsure, but if you are just starting, this is a way for you to get to know and experience talking with native speakers.

It’s a way for you to learn how to communicate. It’s not going to be easy; even now, when I’m going to do cold calling, I still feel nervous, even though I have decades of experience. There’s still a bit of fear. But here’s the thing: if you’re scared, if you’re nervous, it means you care about what you do, and that’s a good thing. Eventually, you will hate voicemail. I felt much more accomplished when someone answered the phone.

To be honest, if I managed to talk to 30 people, I would feel very fulfilled. If it was a voicemail, I’d become a bit upset because I felt like I wasn’t able to do my job, and my client at that time would feel like their investment was for nothing. I didn’t like that feeling.

Cold Calling Scripts

There are many good sources of cold-calling scripts available. However, as an ESL teacher myself, I’ve noticed that using those scripted approaches might not always resonate with cold leads. Sometimes, you can come across as insincere, and there’s a risk of being assumed to be a scammer, especially if your accent isn’t a North American accent.

I must admit that I haven’t completely developed a neutral accent yet; there’s still a slight Filipino accent to some degree. What I’ve found effective is a trial-and-error approach. You test a script, and if it works, you stick with it. If it doesn’t, you change it. The process involves gaining experience and conducting numerous cold calls. Remember they might have encountered such calls already. So, you need to ensure that what you say stands out from the rest. Confidence is key—or at least sounding like you know what you’re doing.

Unfortunately, not all virtual assistant cold callers are experts. Some are just learning the ropes. This is something you need to prepare for. Familiarize yourself with common questions and potential objections, as you don’t want to sound like you’re stumbling on the phone.

Cold Calling – Handling Rejections

I’ve lost count of the number of leads that labeled me as a scammer, and each time, it left me feeling upset to the point where I considered giving up. Unfortunately, this is a part of the job. Whether you like it or not, you’ll encounter rejection. The more rejections you face, the easier it becomes to move on. I can’t claim that it’s going to be easy; in the beginning, there were days when I didn’t even want to log in to my dialer because of this. However, this is a job, and given the current economy, it’s better to have a job.

One positive aspect of cold calling is that they can’t see you, and they can only remember your voice. As someone who has received cold calls myself, I’ve rejected many of them, but I don’t dwell on those interactions or remember them. Similarly, you shouldn’t fixate on the rejections. It’s just a simple “no.”

Cold Calling Persona

I’ve learned a lot of tips, but not all of them work for me based on my personality. I’m not the kind of person who naturally comes across as happy or jolly. I lean more towards being transactional, with the right amount of interest when I’m talking to someone. It’s important to be articulate enough to effectively convey what you’re trying to sell.

Moreover, you need to be familiar with how Americans or your potential leads in other English-speaking countries express themselves. One of my earliest mistakes was speaking in Filipino-style American English or British English. It doesn’t quite align. So, you should learn how people in the UK, the US, Canada, or Australia actually converse. Once you can speak to them in a way they’re accustomed to, they can connect with you better. This is why some from other countries face difficulties—because they might have strong accents and use different language patterns, creating a wider gap between them and the leads.

To overcome this, go online and observe how people talk in these regions. Remember, confidence is crucial. It might be a bit of a balancing act, but you should aim to sound like you’re enjoying the conversation while maintaining a transactional tone.

Cold Calling – Quality

I understand that this can be one of the more challenging aspects, and I could say it’s understandable. One of the things that people often fear is listening to their own voice. There are studies that support this discomfort. However, at times, you need to confront this fear and actually listen to your voice. Being your own critic is important. I’ll admit that I’m not always fond of my clients listening to my calls, but it’s a part of the process.

It took me about 40 days to truly get the hang of it. I won’t sugarcoat it—it’s not an easy journey. But once again, you need to address this fear. Listening to your own voice can highlight areas for improvement. When you hear yourself, you’ll gain insight into how others perceive you. This presents an opportunity for you to make adjustments and improve.

Cold Calling: Gatekeeper

When it comes to objections, there are many to handle. First, there’s what we call the gatekeeper. If the person you want to talk to isn’t available at the moment, this person can be a real obstacle. There’s a lot of information available online about handling this, but it really requires personal experience to truly understand. I remember watching a movie called “Boiler Room,” and in it, the character played by Ben Affleck mentioned that every call is a sale. Either you sell your product, or they sell you their excuses. It’s an interesting perspective to consider.

Cold Calling: Time Management

When it comes to time management, this is something you have to be aware of. Data collection is important. Sometimes, when you’re calling from a place like the Philippines, you need to start making calls at 9:00 p.m. This corresponds to 9:00 a.m. in New York. However, I can assure you that no one really answers the phone at 9:00 a.m. because they’re busy at work. It’s hard to imagine trying to sell something to someone at 9:00 in the morning. This is why most cold callers in the Philippines work during the morning shift ( around 08AM Philippines and 08PM in New York ). You have to consider that most people are either on their way home, resting, hanging out with friends, or possibly having a tough day.

This is a delicate balance. Time management involves more than just setting up a schedule to make calls. You need to be aware of time zones. When you’re dealing with leads, ensure that you have the correct time zone. The worst scenario is calling someone at 5 in the morning in California. So, you must be conscious of this. I can assure you that if you call someone early in the morning, they’ll likely never buy anything from you.

Cold Calling to Warm Lead to Sales

I remember the first 500 calls I made, and out of those, I only had 10 successful and heartfelt leads. Among those 10, I managed to secure just one. This is the nature of cold calling—sometimes you have to sift through many calls to find that one opportunity. However, achieving that one chance feels incredibly satisfying. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, knowing you put in hard work.

The concept behind cold calling is that the more calls you make, the more successful interactions you’ll eventually have. And over time, some of those successful leads will indeed become customers who buy your product or service. It’s important to keep this in mind as you navigate the world of cold calling.

Cold Calling: Moving Forward

Even now, I continue to listen to other cold callers, especially as the generation is changing, and new sets of workers are emerging. You have to comprehend where they’re coming from, how they handle gatekeepers, how they interact and empathize, and of course, how they introduce their services or products. This is an ongoing effort that you need to undertake. You can also discuss these insights with your clients. If you’re a freelancer, it might be worthwhile to start doing this. It demonstrates your dedication to your work, and not everyone is adopting this approach at the moment.

Cold Calling – Conclusion

So basically, the essence of cold calling is the skill to connect with a stranger. You need to know how to manage rejection, introduce yourself, choose the best time to discuss your offering and navigate these aspects effectively. It’s important to acknowledge that it’s not an easy task to be a cold caller. However, with the right support, resources, and dedication, you can excel in this role.


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Author: Ian Tanpiuco
Ian Tanpiuco is an ESL and virtual assistant. With a decade of experience, he has become an expert in his field. Dedicated to helping others achieve their goals, Ian works tirelessly in the classroom or as a virtual assistant.