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The dialing for dollars game


Let's face it.  Most businesses in your target market are not currently looking to buy your products or services.  They don't know they need you. If they did, they'd be contacting you.  Therefore, there is no reason to approach cold calling with the mentality that you must close a sale over the phone. Or on the first dial. This thinking is simply a study in frustration.

As a pre-sales professional, you have cold calling as your main source of interest generation.  It's a numbers game. Yet many sales people find picking up that phone intimidating or a necessary evil at best. But this needn't be so.

Cold calling is a process of elimination. A no, and a no, and a no, eventually leads to a yes. But approaching your call this way can result in losing valuable market information as you work. Turn your thoughts around and you can achieve more success. When you become an investigative marketer, the value of each of your calls goes up.  You help clean your company's marketing database, and you unearth opportunities with the dials you make.

So let's take marketing and sales leaders at their word and turn cold calling into the game everyone calls it: Dialing For Dollars.  Here's how:


Most C-level people see each step of the sales process as a yes or a no. They are focused on getting to yes as quickly as possible, and that focus can accidentally spill over into pre-sales. But as a cold calling specialist you have a different objective.

Your goal, should you choose to accept it, is to have the cleanest marketing database in your industry. You will do this by disqualifying, temporarily disqualifying, or passing along leads to product specialists in sales.  


Each player on your pre-sales team should be given the following:

  • A list of prospective buyers (even if they have to generate it themselves)
  • A telephone (preferably with a headset for hands free operation)
  • A notebook or other tool with which to take notes

Smart players will arm themselves with extra tools like product and industry knowledge and a script of open ended questions, for when they get through to their targets. These questions will start with the following:

  • Who . . .?
  • What . . .?
  • When . . .?
  • Where . . .?
  • Why . . .?
  • How . . .?


  1. Pick up the phone! You can't win if you don't play. Picking up the phone for the first time each day is the hardest part of this game. But if you spend a few moments of pre-game self-prep talk, you can do this.  Give yourself extra points for setting and achieving a daily dial quota.
  2. Smile! We're playing a game here and games are fun. Know that you're unburying a treasure trove of information with every dial you make, and by looking at "no's" as the valuable pieces of information they are, puts you ahead of the game.
  3. Ask for a specific person. You need to do this in order to get past that nasty ol' Gatekeeper. If you get trapped or put off by the Gatekeeper, you can end up in Database Abyss and it will take that much longer to get to your next dial.
  4. Ask open-ended questions of everyone. This is more a strategy than a rule, but those who will only engage with the contact on their list have lost much information.
  5. Sort your prospects! The key here is to have three buckets for your list:
    1. Permanently Disqualified prospect – someone or some company that you feel will never buy from your team.  This is an unanswered phone after several attempts to dial in, a company that's gone out of business, or the exact words, "I'm not interested."
    2. Temporarily Disqualified prospect – These are organizations where you receive positive feedback on your call, but there is no current budget for your offering, or the company only recently bought a similar product or service.  These temporarily disqualified prospects should remain in the marketing pool of regular communication, but no solicitation for a while.
    3. Qualified! Whoo Hoo! We all get excited for the qualified prospect, even though they represent only one sale at a time. With the qualified prospect hand them off to sales as quickly and effectively as possible. Do not fumble the hand-off! Make appointments and introductions before moving on. Yes, you lose valuable dial-time, but that's the price of opportunity.


At the end of each pay period, you can tally up your winnings and celebrate as either an individual or as a team.  Here's how to score:

  • Meet your dialing goals 90 percent of the time or better – 100 points
  • Accurately profile the dialing list you were given or generated – 50 points
  • Each permanent disqualified prospect – 15 points
  • Each temporarily disqualified prospect – 25 points
  • Each new sales opportunity qualified – 15 points

Now tally up your points. Did you beat last pay period's numbers? You're a winner!

Once you engage with Dialing for Dollars by using open-ended questions and approaching your work with the idea that each dial has value, you will continue to build your cold calling success. Remember, cold calling isn't just a numbers game or process of elimination, it is a lifestyle of discovery.

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Sam Dobbins

Sam Dobbins is the founder and president of the Cold Call King, A Sales Development Consulting Firm, formed in 2004.  Learn more at www.coldcallking.com. And reach the Cold Call King at sam@coldcallking.com or (303) 954-8553.

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