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Marketing, Raising Capital

The Lost Art of Cold Calling

I had breakfast at the Maugus with Jack Sweeney recently. Jack has founded and led several companies including EpiCon. He also served a stint as a VC at Prism. Jack and I had a great conversation about our experiences with cold calling. Here’s a few of the highlights:

The Baseball Bat: Jack was running a nascent company that was at product launch. He had to network his way into much larger companies that had never heard of him or his company. He was cold calling until he was blue in the face and then he got an inspiration. He ordered some custom-made baseball bats with each prospect’s logo engraved on the bat with the phrase “We’re already on your team!” He then mailed them to the CEO’s on his prospect list including Steve Jobs. Shortly thereafter, Jack’s partner got a phone call from Steve Jobs – he wasn’t happy! He screamed over the phone about not putting his logo on anything without his permission. Jack and his partner apologized profusely…they received a major order from Apple within a few weeks. They also received a broken bat in the return mail.

18 Seconds and Click: I’ve been cold calling several potential limited partners for Eastward VI. Referrals are greatly appreciated. One investor was nice enough to refer me to a very large family office. I called the Chief Investment Officer of the family office and mentioned the referer by name…no return call. I waited a few days and called again…no return call. To me this is funny stuff because I have no intention of going away. I then called the referer and asked him to call the family office. Now this guy has me and the referer calling him. Within a day I get a phone call very early in the morning (so early that the caller clearly thinks he’s going to get voice-mail but I’m an early riser). He’s a little surprised when I answer. Here is the transcript of the call…”Tim? Yes. This is _______(name with-held to protect the innocent). I don’t mean to be rude but I get several dozen of these calls daily. I’ve passed your material to one of my underlings. If he’s interested, he’ll call you back…click.” I haven’t made the sale yet but I did get a good laugh. Of course, I made a note to follow-up with him in a few days.

The morale of the story is that good sales people are not going to give up. They’ll innovate, they pester (in a good way) and they’ll follow up…but they won’t lose their senses of humor. When prospective clients call me, I call them back…and I appreciate them calling.


About venturedebt

venture debt firm providing growth capital for emerging growth companies


2 thoughts on “The Lost Art of Cold Calling

  1. Well done Tim . . . the final paragraph slam dunked it for me!

    Paul Castain

    Posted by Paul Castain | June 11, 2010, 12:05 pm


  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Lost Art of Cold Calling « Venture Debt -- - June 11, 2010

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Tim O’Loughlin

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