Proven strategies to help you avoid those cold-call brushoffs
  • sales
  • Blog post

Proven strategies to help you avoid those cold-call brushoffs

Nearly everyone you talk to hates cold calls. Gatekeepers don’t like them. Decision makers try to avoid them. Salespeople don’t like making them. The recruiting ad you answered probably promised “no cold calling.”

And now there’s a whole industry trend called Sales 2.0 that relies on technologies like e-mail to get prospects calling you – to avoid cold calling.

But guess what? At some point you still have pick up the phone and call a total stranger, no matter how “warm” they’ve become as part of the front-end marketing or research that’s gone on.

So it is important to be prepared for the oh-so-common brushoffs that you are likely to run into time and time again. Here are the three most common dodges, and strategies you can use to get past them.

‘We’re already working with someone on that’
Unless your offering is truly brand new in the market, it’s best to assume that your prospect is already working with a competitor.

As an outsider, what you need to learn is how they feel about their existing situation. Are they happy? Frustrated? Or somewhere in the middle?

Your goal is to get them to move away from the status quo. But first, deal with the “other company” objection head on. To do that, bring it up before the buyer does – by adapting language like this: “Joe, I’m sure a company your size is already working with another firm to handle your _________ needs.”

Then quickly share the business purpose of your call, and the value they could get from switching. Two options:

  • Refer to a trigger event. “The reason I contacted you is because I read about your (trigger event). Based on my experience, when (trigger event) happens, it usually creates problems with ____________.”
  • Use a case study. “In our work with other healthcare firms, we’ve found some gaps in how things were handled – and those gaps were costing them opportunities. Here’s a specific example…”

At this point you don’t launch into what you are selling or an overview of your solutions. The key to successfully getting past this objection, as before, is to assume it will be coming and bring it up yourself instead of waiting for it. Which means being prepared ahead of time with what you are going to say.

‘Let me think about it….’
A prospect who says this may or may not be speaking the truth. Some may actually need time to consider their options or absorb what you have given them to think about. For others, it’s just a polite way of getting rid of you.

The problem is, unless you get absolute clarity about which it is, you can waste a lot of time on follow-up phone calls, e-mails or other contacts. Here are three ways to address this objection:

1. Keep your mouth shut. Most people are uncomfortable with even a few seconds of silence. So the prospect often fill in the dead air with insight useful to you. They’ll expand by explaining they have to speak to someone else (a partner or superior for example), or that they are looking at other proposals.

2. Propose a time limit. Say something like, “I understand, Mr. Prospect; let’s set a time when I can get back to you on this. How about Monday at 9:45?” Prospects who actually need more time will value your understanding that; if they cannot commit to a date/time, however, they are giving you the brush-off and you may want to move on.

3. Test for legitimacy. As before, empathize and then question to see if they’re being sincere. For example, ask something like, “Is there something that still worries you about this?” or “What’s keeping you from moving ahead?” or “Are there unanswered questions we should address?” Probing helps you smoke out the real objections.

‘Just e-mail me more info and I’ll look at it…’
This is a popular response with “information collectors” who are not ready to buy (yet), and from the kind of leads that marketing generates using e-mail campaigns, direct mail, trade shows and such.

Those leads could be legit, and you don’t want to leave business on the table. But at the same time, it’s important to test for validity. Here’s one way:

“I’ll be happy to get this out to you in the next few minutes, Mr. Prospect. But let’s take a minute now to see if we can actually help you and if there’s a real need on your end. How are you currently handling___________? And if I could show you how to (insert your benefit here), would you be willing to consider our solution?”

Source: Adapted from blog posts by Jill Konrath, Jim Domanski and Mark Brooks. To learn more from them visit; and

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