How to Survive Cold Calling

“It is fortunate for Wall Street as an institution that a small minority of people can trade successfully and that many others think they can.” Ben Graham

Cold calls are when you call a potential client out of the blue to introduce yourself or your firm. Most people, on both sides of the phone, hate them. Cold calls can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And like anything, the more you do it the easier it gets.

Think First

To make a successful cold call, first ask yourself, what is the person at the other end of the phone thinking when I call and disturb them? Yeah, he’s thinking this person is calling me and disturbing me. So you need to approach the call with that attitude in mind and not waste the client’s time.

Generally, your firm will already have a relationship with the client’s firm. Generally, you may be introducing yourself only to the client and the client knows your firm well. This is easier than a call where there is no existing firm to firm relationship.

Before you pick up that phone

Learn all you can about the client and his firm BEFORE you call. Do not call him up and ask stupid common knowledge things like, what kind of money do you run? what kind of stocks do you hold? where is your office? Find out who knows the client at your firm and speak to them first. Get all the basics down in your head so you know to whom you will be talking.

One example of how to do it:

Broker:           Hi, is this Fred?

Client:             Yes. Who’s this?

Broker:           My name is Harry Cox and I’m calling you from Cutthroat Brokers.

(As soon as he hears that the client will be thinking, “God, how do I end this call?”)

Broker:           I don’t know if this is a good time to talk…?

Client:             Yeah, what’s up?

Broker:           I just wanted to briefly introduce myself and firm to you. I wanted to find out how we can service you without getting in the way or wasting your time.

That is a good start. First, you ask if the time is convenient for him. Second, you let him understand you know his time is valuable and you do not want to waste it. By using this approach I have never had a negative response. (I might be tempting fate by saying this though!).


If I am making a cold call and all I get is voicemail I do not leave a message. The only way to start the relationship, in my mind, is to get the client on the phone. Others may disagree but as soon as a client who has 15 voicemails already in his machine hears a new voice on the line that he doesn’t HAVE to listen to, he pushes one button – the delete button. It’s the same with emails. Clients, on average, get 500 emails or more a day.

When they are scanning their Blackberry they are just trying to see which emails they HAVE to read. All other non-essential emails get trashed. There is no other way to survive. Voicemail is important but for cold calls it is a non-starter: you keep calling back until you get the client live. For more on voicemails and how to do them properly, see this post.


Print Friendly

Add a comment

  • Avatars are handled by Gravatar
  • Comments are being moderated

My Daily Grind – the Abnormal Reality | Sex, Violence and Boring Meetings