Cold Calling The Cold Callers


I lost my supermarket job recently, and now I’m in the process of looking for a new career.  I feel drawn to sales, because I’m personable and reasonably charming and have the gift of gab.  I’m drawn to logistical sales because it means I’ll do a lot of cold calling.  It’s a grind.  But it’s the kind of grind that will turn you very quickly into a good salesman.  If you can handle making one hundred cold calls a day to people who hate you on a molecular level, you’ll be able to survive in any sales environment.  Also, the money’s good.

Right now, I’m cold calling salesmen in the Chicago area to get some pointers as to how to break into the business.  A lot of them hang up on me.

It’s not good for my self-esteem: the people that everyone hangs up on, hang up on me.  What does that make me?

The other day, another salesman hung up on me when I asked if he could advise me as to what companies I should apply to.  So, I sent him a text message thanking him for his time.  He sent me, in response, two emojis: an American flag and a smiley face.  That was really helpful.

I have a pretty thick skin.  I can roll with the punches.  And I’ve found a couple of friendly salesmen who have gladly given me their time and advice.  “You’re talking to me!”  I gasped, when one salesman started telling me all about the business, how he got started, and the best companies to work for.  He laughed at that, he knows a lot of people in the field aren’t very personable.

I think I might have an edge over some b2b cold callers in that I’ve worked in customer service for many years and have developed a little bit of sweetness and gregariousness.  I genuinely like people and like selling products I can believe in.  I won’t call businesses without trying to find some way to connect with their buying managers on a personal level.  There’s always a way.

You have to find the hook.

One sales manager that I spoke with had played football at Southern Illinois.  Also his mom’s an audiologist.  I know this because I scoured his social media accounts before calling him!  Maybe I’m a snake, but I like knowing about the people who might potentially hire me!  When I got the gentleman on the line, I began by saying, “I’m sorry if I ask you to repeat yourself, I’m a little hearing impaired, and therefore I belong to the same population that your mother has worked with for many years.”

He was impressed that I knew something about him, and had leveraged that information right off the bat to make the conversation pleasant.  He told me it’s a much better hook than saying, “Hey I’m looking for a job, can you help me?”

Salesmanship is all about empathy, understanding that you’re taking up the client’s time and so you have to make the interaction worth their while.

Business to business cold calling might not afford me the luxury of researching people, because I’ll be making a hundred or more calls a day.  I want to learn more about finding ways to make cold calls a little warmer.

If I do get a job in logistics, then I’ll be working with lots of truck drivers and shippers and receivers and mechanics and DOT people to get the products from one geographical area to another, either by train or by truck or by boat.  I’ll also have to reach out to all kinds of businesses to see if the particular company’s services that I’ll be working for are a match.  I expect a lot of people will hang up on me.  I will still try to make each cold call personable and honest.  It will be a challenge.  Logistics guys are gruff and blunt.  But I referee wrestling matches.  I’ve heard it all!

I think I’ll be able to find a hook, even as a cold caller.

I often apply for jobs, connect with recruiters, and then I’ll never hear back from the company.  The recruiters tell me that they will pass along my information to the hiring manager, but I never hear from those managers.  The trail goes dead.  I think that’s because I’m forty-eight years old and am therefore a non-traditional candidate.

But don’t these companies want people who know how to work?  I stayed at my last job for eight years!  I worked in restaurants twenty years prior to that!  I have tremendous resilience and amazing customer service skills, skills I’ve developed over a quarter century of working!  Doesn’t that mean anything?

It doesn’t- not in their eyes.  Many companies want only fresh, young people.  I’m fresh, in my aspiration and spiritual life, but I am not physically young.  This is just another barrier I have to cross.  The challenge is to find companies that won’t discriminate against me because of my age.  This is why I’m reaching out to sales managers directly without bothering with recruiters.  Recruiters’ job is to screen people out.  If I can call a manager directly, have a warm, funny conversation with him or her, then I can show that I’ve got the skills.  I don’t need to go through human resources, or worry about my age, if I can demonstrate I’ve got the abilities to succeed.

There are always obstacles.  Life is hard.  Because of my physical disabilities, I’m pretty sure I could get money from the government and live a very modest life off of that.  But I want to work.  I think work is a means of self-discovery, and also I can reach out to people and share some of what I’ve learned from Guru with them.  Most truck drivers and logistics people won’t want a long poem, necessarily, but they might like Guru’s shorter, punchy aphorisms, or at least if I can convey some of Guru’s light by listening, empathizing and identifying, then my job is still manifestation, somehow.

I’m on my third cycle of reading the hard cover Ganapati Press editions of “Sri Chinmoy Answers”.  These books are pricelessly beautiful and helpful, in every way.  His books have taught me persistence, focus, empathy and poise- all qualities which are measurelessly prized in the business world.  One day, I’m sure his question and answer books will be quoted and applied in business courses.  I’m happy I got a head start.

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