Monday, March 4, 2024

Is Cold Calling Killing Your Brand?

In my defence, I thought this was my 11:00 call coming in, so I picked up.

Me: Hello, this is Elizabeth.

Scott: Hi Wendy. How are you today?

Me: Who is this?

Scott: It’s Scott from Universal Printers. How are you doing today?

Me: I’m really busy and I have another call.

Scott: I hear you, Leslie and I won’t take a minute of your time.

Me: You already have.

Scott: I wanted to introduce Universal Printing to you. We’re just up the street in Denver and we have the best prices on screen printed shipping crates in the tri-state area.

Me: I’m not interested. Thanks

Scott: Well, Martha, can you tell me who you buy your shipping crates from?

Me: Look, we don’t ship things in crates and I’m in Canada, not Colorado.

Scott: Thanks for that information, Sherry; who should I talk to about your shipping crate needs?

cold calling

Me: I would think someone in the Denver area who puts things in boxes and sends them away.

Scott: Can you give me their name and number?

Me: Do I sound like the Denver phone book?

Scott: Well, then, Sandy how about a discount coupon to next week’s Crate Expectations convention in Atlanta.

Me: Are you a chatbot?

Scott: No, ma’am. I’m a vegan. I’d sure like to stay in touch in case you change your mind about shipping crates.

Me: I’m hanging up now.

Scott: Thanks, Stephanie. Have a fantastic day. I’ll follow up in a few weeks.


Every time a cold call like that one gets made, an adorable tree frog dies.

Nobody likes cold calling, I keep hearing it’s deader than a Monty Python parrot, and yet, if I type it into a search box, there are all kinds of people willing to do the calls for $7 an hour and thousands of other people who swear they can make those folks better at it. Let’s call it what it is, which is a random act of telephony that kills tree frogs.

Guess what else it’s killing? That’s right, your brand. The minute that unprepared, under-trained sales person utters your company’s name during the act of pissing off another human being, they are taking a tiny, self-inflicted chip off your brand equity.

Cold calling is an RPG

In addition to whatever you are paying these folks, and the cost of your terrible script and questionable list, you are now having to invest even more on the brand side to undo that random act.

Sadly, this is one of those rare things in branding that actually scales. Terrible cold calls are not usually isolated incidents; they are almost always a campaign, and thus come in bunches. Instead of a little nick, we are now mopping up after a rocket-propelled grenade slams into our brand equity and takes out a bunch of tree frogs at the same time.

So how do our Sales Squirrels sell stuff if not by interrupting strangers in other countries? How about they start making sales calls. Sales calls, unlike their frosty counterparts, are something we actually prepare for. These calls are made not to strangers on a third-party list someone bought on Etsy; they’re made to people whose names, titles, experiences and general opinions we already know.

Ideally, they are made to people who have agreed at some point to have a conversation with us. Or we’ve followed on Twitter, checked out on LinkedIn, and otherwise determined to be the right person to whom we have something intelligent to say. I’m going to bet that most sales teams even have a nifty little tool that can automate this whole thing, so you know just who you called and how it went. Throw in a decent call script and some training and you’ve got yourself some revenue.

I know this is expensive, but if we consider the vast cost of repairing the brand after a cold call assault, and the strong likelihood that the people you pissed off are not only not in your sales funnel, but will never agree to be in your sales funnel, I think it starts to make sense.

Let’s make this the year we abolish cold calling.  Do it for the tree frogs.


Originally published January 24th, on

Feature image source: David Mark


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Elizabeth Williams
Elizabeth Williams
Elizabeth Williams is the President of Candler Chase Inc., a consulting firm specializing in employee communications and branding. She is a survivor of more than 20 years in the telecom, financial services and technology sectors, and can often be found blogging about brands and speaking at conferences. She keeps meaning to write a book.