It’s one of the scariest moments in sales. 

The cold call. In person. 

Walking into a strange building for the first time can be very intimidating. You don’t know what to expect.

The receptionist might be rude. He might kick you out before you get a word in. 

Maybe he will have a flame thrower pointed at you the second you open the door. 

When you eventually work up the courage to open the door, you’re so nervous you can hardly talk so you stumble over your words.

What could you possibly say that would keep you calm and would remove the receptionist's defense system?

Sara Blakely, the founder and CEO of Spanx, has some great advice for cold calling. Blakely developed her cold calling skills by selling fax machines door-to-door for SEVEN years.  

On a recently recorded podcast episode with James Altucher, Blakely mentioned that cold calling wasn’t easy for her. She was regularly escorted out of buildings, and people would rip up her business card IN HER FACE at least once per week!

Her advice?

"If you can make someone laugh or smile in the first 15-30 seconds, you usually get another 15-30 seconds. And the best way to do this is to say something self-deprecating or to show some form of vulnerability.

Showing vulnerability seems to connect people on a more human level, and gives permission to the other person to be kind and compelled to help you.”

Photo Credit: Forbes

Photo Credit: Forbes


How can you show vulnerability? Blakely says you have to be genuine or it won’t work. 

One phrase she would commonly use was, “I’m so uncomfortable right now, and I know you don’t want me in here. But this is my job, and I know I have a fax machine that can really help your business.”

Being vulnerable, open and honest helps connect two complete strangers that don’t know each other from a sack of potatoes.

What is something you can say on your cold calls that would help connect you with the gatekeeper? How can you make a human connection that will get the other person to feel compelled to help you, instead of wanting to throw you out?

What is your go-to opening line on a cold call? if you don't have one, maybe it's time to create one!


Key photo credit: Dell Technologies 

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Brad Telker
Vice President of Commercial Sales at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of Commercial Sales, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys photography, running and spending time with his family.