Posted by: BayAreaComRE | August 18, 2010

The Other Side of a “Cold” Call

You’re sitting at your desk, maybe in between calls or tasks, or eating lunch browsing your favorite websites, readying your draft picks for fantasy football, or perhaps snooping around on Facebook and your phone rings, it’s an unknown number, one you’ve never seen before, and you decide to pick up.


“Hi Mr. Smith, this is Billy Thompson of XYZ Commercial Brokerage, do you have a second?”


You’ve been caught in the middle of a cold call. You clench up, and a hundred questions start running through your head. “How did he get to my direct dial? How does he know my name? Why is he bothering me? Why didn’t my receptionist block this. Can’t I finish my sandwich?”

Odds are you’re not too excited about who this person is and what they have to say on the other end of the call and if you’re like 99.9% of people, you’ll try your best to get off the call within the next 10-15 seconds. Maybe you’ve heard from Billy Thompson before, maybe you’ve told him to call you back in a month just to get him off your back, either way, you are 100% convinced that this salesman has nothing good to tell you and is only going to waste your time because all business nowadays is done through relationships, your existing vendors, recommendations; in other words, people you know and trust.

Odds are you a are probably wrong however. The person on the other line, a.k.a. Bill Thompson likely values your time, and in more cases than not is going to have something intuitive to say. You can tell within the first 10 seconds if that is the case, and if Billy is a Ready Fire Aim type of salesperson and is just dialing for dollars with no direction, it will come through within the first minute of the conversation. On the other side of the coin, if they are a seasoned, strategic “consultant” with a fresh idea, it may be worth 5 minutes of your day to listen.  It’s all in their approach and confidence. If this broker or salesperson knows what they are talking about, they likely won’t push you to talk with them too hard. In his or her mind, they know the idea is THAT good that it doesn’t matter when they get your ear, it will be worth your time when you are prepared to listen. And it’s probably better that  they don’t rush you to listen because your attention will be focused more on how to get off the phone then having an open mind to the idea if they do. The good caller also knows that if you are a decision maker involved in the bottom line of a company, it is your JOB to be open to change and ideas that will have substantive implications to your balance sheet.

The Bay Area is a very open-minded region. From the rich arts and music scene, to the innovation of the local universities  and technology companies, to the large gay population, and political movements that have spanned the modern century here locally, it’s apparent that change is accomplished here quite easily, and in most cases for the better. So many business people have a way of doing things, a set way of operating that they feel comfortable in, and they forget what a progressive culture they are a part of; our question is always, why not extend that progressive thought to the way you run your business? Many prominent, successful business people feel the same way – Steve Jobs “Think Different”, Larry Ellison “When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts”, Richard Branson “You never know with these things when you’re trying something new what can happen. This is all experimental”.

If the source of ideas were always as easy to grasp as pulling an apple from a tree, then innovation wouldn’t be as valuable as it today. If those ideas just so happen to come from  a source that you are uncomfortable with, it may be time to step out of your comfort zone, step back from your shell for a moment and listen to an idea for that moment. Worst case scenario you’ve wasted 5 minutes of your day. I’m willing to bet you’ve wasted it on worse things before!

You may be asking why we included a picture of a street violinist above.  Internationally acclaimed violinist, 39-year old Joshua Bell, spent a day attempting to get passers-by to listen to his music (which they didn’t) at the crowded entrance of a building in Washington D.C, when nights before he played a $100 per ticket show at Boston’s Symphony Hall.  The correlation is this; sometimes the best ideas go unnoticed because people are too used to their personal comfort and pattern, stop for a second, you may hear something amazing. You can read about the Washington Post Experiment here – “Pearls Before Breakfast”.


  1. Justin,

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