Coach's Casebook

The Case of the Disillusioned Sales Person and Cold Caller

The Case of the Disillusioned Sales Person and Cold Caller

Its a truism to say that a shy sales person has skinny kids. So when you run your own business, it is essential that you have a selection of sales skills that you can use to get in front of your potential customers and cold calling is just one of those skills.

However, the act of cold calling can be intimidating. Lots of people feel a level of anxiety about picking up the telephone and calling a stranger for an appointment but for Gary it was a bigger problem.

Gary’s business was one that needed a steady stream of new customers, customers that were gained in 3 main ways…

1. Networking – which was time consuming
2. Referrals – which were happening too infrequently as to be a strong source of leads
Should be ‘happening’
3. Cold Calls – which Gary didn’t seem to be able to do.

While an expert in communication, Gary struggled to find the motivation to pick up the telephone and call even a warm prospect.

The result was procrastination, avoidance of calling and few new clients.

Gary’s coach took him through a series of questions to establish the origins of this behavioural limitation.

Behaviour is based on 3 factors:

Knowledge – knowing what to do
Skill – knowing how to do it
Attitude – wanting to do it.

In Gary’s case, it should have been simple to write a script and use it to cold call lots of customers. But it just wasn’t happening.

After exploring the situation, the coach helped Gary identify a limiting belief in the very techniques he was applying. After being exposed to a large variety of the tools and techniques and used them with his clients, Gary had actually become desensitized and no longer believed in their value or efficacy.

There was also a level of belief that his level of expertise should stand out by itself and so Gary was no longer following the approach that had worked so well for him in the early days of starting his business.

This meant Gary was no longer able/willing to craft language that was persuasive and had lost belief in his own ability to persuade.

Working with his coach, Gary began to explore how he could communicate more effectively with his potential prospects and revisit the systems he had used early on in his career. Systems that had been very successful.
Before taking on a coach, Gary had been using some very direct approaches, almost hard selling his potential customers. This was giving some negative results and reinforcing Gary’s opinion that his techniques weren’t working.

After coaching and so fairly robust feedback, Gary began using less direct language and using questions to build rapport and relationships with potential prospects. He started to get more appointments and build his confidence.

Gary’s confidence then translated into sounding more capable on the telephone and he started to get even more appointments.


The coach recognised that using similar techniques to those Gary was familiar with would be of little value as Gary had lost confidence in them. Gary was looking for alternative approaches that would give him the motivation and confidence to begin selling again.

Although, in principle, Gary had the knowledge and skill to cold call and to sell, a series of negative responses had undermined his confidence. This had been because Gary had become complacent and his overconfidence had led to poor technique.

Gary’s coach applied some Cognitive Behavioural Coaching to look at the cause of the limitation and the effect it was having on Gary’s attitude. The coach then looked at a series of possible future outcomes for Gary and his business. These had a ‘towards’ motivational effect and also placed Gary in mental place of “possibility”.

Finally, Gary’s coach helped him build a series of questions and scripts to help build his confidence about approaching people and selling. Role play gave Gary the opportunity to practice, practice, practice and that rehearsal built both competence and confidence.

After several weeks of applying his new techniques, Gary started to experience the results he had known in his previous sales career. This again built more confidence and Gary is now thriving at the sales part of his business activities.


When you have a client that is experienced in performance improvement techniques, it can be a challenge to demonstrate credibility and so give the client the belief that you can help. This is particularly the case when the client is highly competent and so doubts the ability of others to assist.

If this happens, you will need to go ‘off piste’ and find new fresh methods to encourage change and give the client hope and the belief in the potential to improve.

It’s a presupposition of NLP, the “law of requisite variety” that suggests the person who is most flexible in their behaviour will prevail…How true that is, so as a coach remain flexible in your approach

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