The Sunday Times

Lessons I learned from Cold-Calling

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Dialing for Sundays. That is how I remember my first job. Sitting in a poorly lit office in Southampton, PA with a rotary phone and working from lists of potential Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper prospects. The job was challenging in that it was just about the numbers. How many phone numbers could I call during a 4 hour shift. How many people answered the phone. How many people owned the budget and could say yes. How many people were longing for someone to call and sell them the Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Signing someone up for delivery of the Sunday times was a nice commission. I must not fail!

This was not the job for just anyone. Nor was it the job for everyone. Cold calling is tough. I felt I was qualified, especially when my dad told me I had no choice but to take this job or he would start charging me rent. 

Today, I saw a homeless man panhandling on a major highway in Philadelphia. There were about 20 cars ahead of me at the traffic light. The man approached every car but no one gave him any money. It dawned on me that even he was cold calling. Eventually, someone would give him money but he had to put in the time. 

I have been in sales my entire career. There are certain rules of engagement that do not change regardless of what it is I am selling. The first is that I must believe in what I am selling. The second is that I am solving a client’s business issue. The third is that the reward must be commensurate with the effort. Back to the dialing for Sundays:

I remember how downtrodden I felt when all I heard was a big “NO!”. Over and over and over again. I kept thinking that my dad was going to freak out if I came home without a paycheck. Finally, I spoke with a gentleman who said “YES!”. I was so surprised that I didn’t speak for a few seconds. Looking back on it, I had started to question my capabilities and skills. Almost 40 years later, yes 40, I realize that not much has changed from those days and my first job. Sales as a profession has been talked about in a negative way. However, we are all selling something. Think about it; we pretty much are asking for someone to give their time or their money for something. 

Someone recently told me that sales is like baseball. You can make it to the Hall of Fame hitting singles and doubles. You don’t need to hit grand slams. Life is like this too. One step at a time. One day at a time. One change at a time. Acknowledge where you are today. Plan for where you want to be tomorrow. Announce it to others. Write it down. Share your commitment. Start chipping away at your plan one task at a time. Take the old phone book, those white pages, and cross off one phone number at a time. Life is a big phone book of opportunity. You may be one dial short of getting that home run. If you give up too soon, you will never know, will you? #keepongoing #nevergiveup #believeinyourself #firstjob #philadelphia #cherryhill #philadelphiainquirer #turnanointoayes

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