Dear Friends & Colleagues:

This week’s excerpt from my new book, How To Win Client Business, is from Chapter 13: Does Cold-Calling Work? And What To Do If It Doesn’t. In this chapter, I discuss the low success rate of cold-calling prospective clients as a means to winning client business for those of us in the professional services. Most of us don’t enjoy cold-calling total strangers and, frankly, it’s not very successful. I propose an alternative approach that I think is most effective and more enjoyable.

In addition to the text excerpt below, I’m providing a short 5 minute audio version as well – narrated by me. So, if you’d rather listen to a sample from Chapter 13 in lieu of the text excerpt, here you go. (Note: If your preferred format is audio, the audiobook is now available on Amazon and is beautifully narrated by Barry Abrams – one of the best in the industry.)

Here’s this week’s excerpt. I hope you enjoy it!



Chapter 13: Does Cold-Calling Work? And What to Do if it Doesn’t

Remember What Mom Said: Don’t Talk To Strangers


Mel vented, “No one wants to talk to me! When I call a prospect I get hung

up on. Or the admin puts me into voicemail – of course, no one ever calls back.”

“Why do you think that is?” I asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe they’re busy. Honestly, it drives me crazy. I feel like I’m

wasting my time. And, frankly, I don’t think I can do it any longer,” Mel said.

I responded, “Do you ever take a call from a stranger?”

“I guess not. If I don’t recognize the caller, I’ll let it go to voicemail,” Mel


“Huh,” I said, “I guess your prospects are not that different than you or me.”


Cold-calling has the lowest success rate in winning new client business –

representing roughly 12% according to my survey data. And if we looked at the

return on investment of the time required to achieve that 12%, I’d say it’s hard-won

business. Just like my friend Mel, I have learned the hard way that cold-calling is difficult.

And I haven’t found it to be very effective in my practice, and I don’t enjoy it

very much.


If you’re one of the rare individuals who have found success with cold-calling

– and if it brings you a solid pipeline of business – then please don’t let me

stop you. I have heard of sales training programs that specialize in teaching people

to be master cold callers. I’m sure these are useful programs, and I could certainly

get much better at cold-calling. It’s just that I don’t want to; I believe there is a

much better way for most of us, although there are a few isolated cases where cold

prospecting may be necessary (more about this later).


I’m willing to bet that you don’t like cold-calling people, either. And, aside

from it not being a very enjoyable way to spend the day, it’s a difficult way of finding

new clients. Most of us would be better off searching the sands of India for the

next Hope Diamond. Calling strangers hasn’t proven to be a great use of our time

for the vast majority of service professionals. Pattern-recognizing creatures that

we are, we stop doing what isn’t working. The trouble is this: If cold-calling isn’t

the best use of our time, what should we be doing?


Remember What Mom Said: Don’t Talk to Strangers


Perhaps another reason why people won’t take your call is that mom’s voice still

echoes in our heads: “Don’t talk to strangers!” Maybe deep in our subconscious

brain somewhere are the lessons we learned as kids. If so, then maybe there’s hope

for my own kids.


People generally don’t gladly pick up the phone and chat away with a total

stranger. Consider this scenario:


Dick: “Hi, you don’t know me from Adam, but I’m Richard Pendarvis and

I specialize in helping turn around struggling companies. You can

call me Dick.”

Prospect: “Hi, Dick. Great to hear from you; you called at the perfect time. I was just

going over my profit and loss statement and, boy, are we ever struggling.”

Dick: “Great! I mean, I’m sorry to hear that. Could I come over to your

office tomorrow and share with you our approach to turning around

struggling companies.”

Prospect: “That would be awesome. How about 8:00 a.m.?”

Dick: “Perfect. See you then.”


Have you ever had a cold call go like this? I’m guessing not. It hasn’t for me,

at least not often enough to justify sitting behind a desk dialing for dollars all day.


Great, thanks. You’ve told me what I already know. Cold-calling stinks. What

next? Well, the answer is relatively simple to understand, but it will take a commitment

of your time. But I think it’s a far better use of your life energy.


Sticking with my childhood theme here, I’ll share with you the second part of

my Don’t Talk to Strangers idea; it’s called the Make Friends on the Playground



Making Friends on the Playground


Have you ever noticed kids playing on the playground? OK, probably not, unless

you have young kids of your own. Kids have no trouble making friends on the playground.

You’ll see a few kids playing together on the swings, taking turns pushing

one another, seeing who can go the highest.


And you’ll also see a few kids gathered for a kickball game. A few others will be

playing tag. There may be a couple of kids chasing a butterfly. Perhaps a few stay

inside and read or draw. You get the picture. Kids naturally make friends by gravitating

to the things that interest them. I bet if you were a grade-school teacher you

could predict before recess break which ones would be doing each activity. Kids

have their favorite playground pursuits and the same kids gather together most

every day.


As kids get older their interests change, but the themes remain. Kickball

becomes soccer. The monkey bars become the climbing gym. Tag becomes track

and field. Butterfly chasing becomes science club. Crayons become paintbrushes.

Think back on your best childhood friends – how did you meet them?


Take this parable into our adult lives. As adults, we are just grown-up versions

of our childhood selves. Our waistlines may have grown a bit and our hair has

grayed or thinned, but, really, deep inside we’re just older kids. And like kids make

friends organically on the playground, we make friends in much the same way as



If you’re into gardening, you easily make friends with others in the garden

club. If you’re into golf or tennis, you have a list of friends to call when you want

to play. Whatever your interests – cycling, computers, cars, cooking – you have a

group of friends who enjoy these same activities. Making friends in this way seems

effortless, because it is.


Would you pick up the phone and randomly call someone’s house to say,

“Hi, you don’t know me, but I love trail running. Would you like to run with me

tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.?” The response is likely to be “No, I don’t know

you and wouldn’t like to run with you.” So why do we try this approach to finding

our clients? It really doesn’t make a lot of sense. We’d be much better off finding

clients in the same way that we found friends as kids. Yes, you may be able to win

client business through cold-calling if you have the stomach for it. And I bet we

could chop down a giant Redwood with a screwdriver.



Click here to order your copy of my new book, How To Win Client Business, today!