Episode #401: Nancy Calabrese

Build Your Cold-Calling Courage


Nancy Calabrese

Nancy is passionate about a properly executed pre-sales process – engaging with prospects, uncovering their needs, and turning them into qualified leads. She saw the need for better quality, highly specialized, qualified lead generation and 2011, created One of a Kind Sales. Nancy employs a unique approach to solving problems using consultative selling.

Our Mission Is To Change The Negative Perception Of Sales People

Our Vision Is A World Where Selling Is A Profession To Be Proud Of

According to Nancy Calabrese, cold-calling is just networking by phone. It’s relevant because many people don’t do it anymore. It will help you stand out. People feel it doesn’t work because they don’t do it enough. If you’re not practicing daily, you’ll get rusty. 

It all starts with your mindset. You’re just having a non-salesy conversation with a decision-maker to decide if you’re a good fit for each other. You have to build your cold-calling courage muscles. Nancy shares her successful cold-calling strategies in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:01] Is cold-calling still relevant? 
  • [1:54] The art and science of cold-calling
  • [3:17] How Nancy prepares for cold-calling 
  • [4:39] How Nancy captures someone’s interest 
  • [6:47] How to keep a cold call engaging 
  • [7:54] Measuring the success of a cold call
  • [9:57] Nancy’s top three cold-calling dos and don’ts
  • [12:00] How to handle an objection

How Nancy prepares for cold-calling

Nancy doesn’t think you should do too much research for a phone call. But you do need to know who your target audience is. 

What industry are they in? How many locations do they have? How many employees? What is the required sales volume? Who are the decision-makers? Create a list from that information. 

Nancy prepares by practicing. Her team does a sales training weekly where they deconstruct a cold call. You have to know that you’ll get more nos than yes and don’t take it personally. 

How Nancy captures someone’s interest 

Don’t fall into the trap of saying “Hi, I’m Nancy Calabrese, I’m with one-of-a-kind sales and we do A, B, C… and we want to get time on your calendar.” Instead, try to stand out and sound different. 

Nancy would say, “Hi, this is Nancy Calabrese, I’m guessing my name doesn’t ring a bell” or “We don’t know each other.” Then she’ll say, “I’m not sure if you’re the person I need to speak with, but if you give me 30 seconds, I’ll let you know why I’m calling and you tell me if it makes sense to continue.” 

Using that approach gets very few to little hangups. You don’t want to have someone put up the sales “wall” right away. 

How to keep a cold call engaging 

A cold call should start between 4–9 minutes. The goal is to set the appointment, not dive into sales. Nancy is a big fan of scripting. Why? Actors and actresses use a script. They internalize it. A script allows you to get your message across consistently. 

When you ask the prospect if anything is relevant to them and worth another conversation, you shut up and listen. The goal is to get them to recognize that their pain is deep enough to set an appointment. 

How to handle an objection

If a prospect says they aren’t interested, Nancy will say something like “How’d you get so lucky?” She’ll reference the pain points in her script and say things like “You have enough leads in your pipeline? That’s wonderful! What do you do?” 

When Nancy was working as a recruiter, she contacted an insurance agency to attempt to recruit one of their employees. The employee turned around and went to the principal who called Nancy and reamed her out. Instead of getting angry, she said, “You should be so proud that your employees are so loyal to you.” He ended up becoming a big client of Nancy’s. 

Remember that you aren’t doing anything wrong. You need to make a living. Everyone does it when they’re trying to build their business. Believe in your approach and just keep practicing. If you don’t, you’re leaving money on the table.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Nancy Calabrese

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Audio Production and Show notes by

Learn More About Nancy Calabrese

What was a pivotal moment or experience in your career that shaped your approach to cold calling, and how did it change your perspective or strategy? I realized in my early 30’s I could engage in meaningful conversations with key executives through cold calling. The quality of my questions and my ability to listen to their needs allowed this. At that moment, I knew I could succeed in this business. 

Can you share a specific tactic or approach you’ve used in cold calling that significantly increased your success rate? Please provide a brief example or case study.  We employ a very non-salesy approach in each call. Every call is a discovery call. Are we speaking with the decision maker? Are they experiencing pain that our clients can solve? As a result, we get very few hangups. If there’s no pain, there’s no sale, so our prospects never feel they’re being pushed into agreeing to an appointment.

Cold calling often comes with its set of challenges and rejections. Can you share a particularly tough challenge you faced while cold calling and how you overcame it? I don’t recall having a tough challenge. Maybe in my early days, I was intimidated by C-suite executives, but I quickly realized that my job was as important as theirs. Equal stature. Yes, this business comes with rejection, but each rejection or no leads you closer to a yes.

What are the top three tools or resources (e.g., software, books, training programs) you consider essential for someone looking to improve their cold calling skills and outcomes? CRM is critical, especially one designed for outbound prospecting. We use VanillaSoft. Ongoing sales training is a plus. No matter how experienced you are, you always take away a nugget from each session. We are big fans of Sandler Sales Training. Reviewing call recordings to sharpen your skills. Share them with your colleagues and allow them to give suggestions and congratulations on a well-done job.

How do you foresee the practice of cold calling evolving in the next few years with advancements in technology and changes in buyer behavior? What advice would you give to sales professionals to stay ahead of the curve? Cold calling is not dead and will live on. Incorporate this channel in addition to all other marketing channels, including social media. If you don’t, you’ll leave money on the table!

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