You Want More Business? So Get on the Phone!


James Caan, multi-millionaire, Dragon, founder of the Alexander Mann Group was asked, “How can I get my consultants to be more productive?” His reply, “Tell them to get on the f***ing phone.”

That’s how he built his recruitment business in 1985, cold-calling prospects from a tiny office in Pall Mall. Would that still work today? James says so, I agree. But I know some people will think:

‘The world’s changed Mark. We use social media now.’ And sure enough, the young person without a smart phone and an agile thumb is a rare bird.

But what is all that digital activity achieving? Lots of entertainment certainly, but imagine for a moment, hypothetically, that your sales results are unimpressive and you’d like the kudos and pay which comes from being a star producer, what are you going to do, type faster?

No amigos, time for a cold reality shower – you will never close a recruitment deal with an email, you have to talk to the client.

Emails, texts, browsing are distracting you from what actually gets deals closed.

Now don’t go thinking that I don’t know anything about social media, I have fully considered the advantages and today use and teach methods which bring in warm leads. But outbound calling on the telephone remains the most powerful tool we have.

Social Media may be good for branding and visibility, but if you are sending tweets and hoping that the phone is going to ring, you are deluded. It won’t happen often enough for you to build a profitable business.

But you’ve seen trainers promoting the idea, ‘Cold-calling is dead.’

That’s a seductive pitch; working smart not hard. Only what they don’t tell you is that it takes a lot of time / effort / energy / trial and error to set their system up. In reality it’s not going to put food on the table or pay your mortgage for a number of months. Even then you will need to supplement it with the telephone.

Telephone prospecting is never going to be popular, I won’t claim otherwise, but it works. The reason is based on a fundamental; the human animal is strongly influenced by speech framed in well chosen words. Throughout history oratory is the tool leaders have used to motivate people facing great challenges. But your task is easy, all you have to do is to get a prospect to say, ‘Come and see me.’

So if it’s that good why would people do everything they can to avoid cold-calling? Again the answer lies within our DNA, we’re afraid of rejection, failure, looking stupid to our peers or our prospects. We fear saying the wrong thing, mucking it up, not knowing what to say or how to counter objections.

There is a cure for this and if you have ever stood on a high diving board, looked down and hesitated to take the plunge, you will know what it is.

Just do it.

… and ignore the critical voice inside your head, the one telling you: “cold calling doesn’t work, people won’t want to talk to me, I’m rubbish at business development, this is a waste of time.”

Recognize these beliefs for what they really are: excuses. Excuses that limit what you can achieve. Are you going to retreat from the edge of the diving board, and climb down feeling shabby? Of course not!

So man up, and just do it.

Deal with the temptation to procrastinate. Don’t put off making a start by tidying your desk, chatting to colleagues, or looking in the fridge for the last slice of pizza. And strictly avoid the worst of all temptations, email.

When you start your day, don’t even look at your inbox.  Pick up the phone and start dialling. Make it your first task. Call new prospects, introduce yourself, find out what they might require.

What’s the worst that can happen? Supposing a prospect says, “We aren’t interested at the moment,” could you manage politely to reply ‘Thank you, have a nice day?’

When you make an active sales approach to prospects, there is only a limited range of possible outcomes. They range from, ‘No we aren’t interested and never will be’ (only that may not be true) through to the other extreme, ‘We need someone right now, when can you come and see me?’ Typical responses will be somewhere between the ends of this spectrum and that is where most business is to be found.

To make these calls you need just a phone and mental energy, no fancy hardware or apps, just sufficient motivation.

Do your prospecting when you are fresh and have the most energy. That won’t be if you have been putting it off for most of the day, knowing you have the task still hanging over you.

Once you have made a decent number of calls and picked up a lead or two, you will feel good about yourself. The hardest (and most productive) part of the day is dealt with so now you can get to the lower priorities, which include your emails.

Regardless of whether you prefer it or the client prefers it, you are not going to close sales by email.

So get on the freaking phone.

About the Author


Mark Whitby is one of the world's leading coaches for the recruitment industry. Since 2001, he has trained over 10,000 recruiters in 34 countries. Mark has helped recruiters to double or triple their billings and owners to increase their team's sales by 67% in 90 days.

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