Cold Calling with Dave Tester

Reading Time: 34 Minutes

Dave Tester is the author of Fearless Communication and Dialing Strangers. In this interview, he’ll answer tough questions to help you add value to your clients during your calls, extract critical information, troubleshoot common problems, and collect high quality feedback.

After the Interview

About Dave Tester

Dave has a long career as a Director of Sales, Director of Marketing, reporter, TV anchor, and CEO. Today he focuses on helping sales teams succeed. He offers 1-on-1 coaching, accountability, and full-scale team training.

Who is Dave Tester?

Allison: Hi, welcome to Deliberate Leaders. I am your host, Allison Dunn, and it is my pleasure today on the show our guest is David Tester. He is the author of Dialing Strangers: Overcoming Hang-ups and Producing Cold Calls That Sell. He has a long career of a Director of Sales, Director of Marketing. He is a former reporter, a rock star TV anchor, as well as a CEO. And today he focuses on helping sales teams succeed through one to one coaching, accountability, as well as full scale team training. David, welcome to the show.

David: Wow, Allison. What an honor to be here and you and I get to talk face to face a handful of times, but I was so excited when you said, come on. I said, absolutely. So what an honor to visit with you and to your audience.

Allison: Fantastic. Well, I appreciate your time today. You are the master of cold calling and I’m hoping we can spend some time to help my audience dispel the challenges that we have around just smiling and dialing and picking up the phone. Is that okay? Cause that’s kind of your thing, right?

Dave’s First Cold Call

David: Well, and part of the secret of my book, I always say Chapter One is the best chapter because it was my first cold call. In sixth grade, I asked a girl to the County Fair in Coeur d’Alene. So my first cold call was pretty tough cause I was scared to death in sixth grade.

Allison: First chapter; sixth grade. Did she say yes?

David: No, I hung up the phone when she said hello. I was so scared and the irony was when I got into sales – her name was Chanel – and I paced back and forth thinking about what would she say? What would she think about me? Would she think I’m dumb? Would she think I’m stupid? And I really hope that the phone would just ring and ring so I could tell my friends I called her, or I was hoping maybe she wouldn’t be home so I could tell them I gave it a shot and ironically enough Allison, later on, when I became an accidental salesperson, I had a sales manager and he told me just make calls. And so when I picked up that phone and I remember picking it up and grabbing it and calling Chanel only at that time, I guess it was Chanel Number 5. But I made the phone call and I started thinking of things like, oh, I hope I get voicemail. I hope no one answers. They’ll think I’m dumb bothering them and all those type of things. So it’s wired into us, Allison, as you know. Don’t talk to strangers and certainly don’t ask them for money or in our case, ask for an appointment.

Overcoming the Challenge of Cold Calling

Allison: Yeah. In today’s society we just get a deluge of so many robocalls and the fake numbers. I think even from like now you’re afraid to make cold calls, but now I’m afraid to even answer the phone, not knowing who’s going to be on the other side. How do you help people overcome that challenge? Because it has to be a huge challenge.

David: In I guess full disclosure – my uncle, his name is John Tester and he is a US Senator, and one of his goals is to get rid of robocalls. And I said, Uncle John, you’re killing my business here. What are you going to do? But as you know, perception is not always reality. When we say we get a ton of robocalls, I counted them one day and I get 1, maybe 2. Now I’m sure there’s people out there, oh, I get them all the time. We do coach and train how to deal with that. So I want to make sure that your viewers, your listeners get a tip.

The first tip is:

When we make a phone call and no one answers, we hang up and we dial right back again.

Now here’s what goes on in that head. Remember, we’re going back to hey, what if I bother Chanel? Or what if I upset? Typically, they’ll pick it up because they do kind of like what you and I do, Allison. We see it now. They’re getting really smart. We go, Parma, Idaho

Allison: Or New Hampshire.

David: Yeah, New Hampshire, sure. Something like that. And then it’ll ring again and we go, well, maybe it is important. Hello! So the first thing, what I would do as far as the coaching is you need to hang up and dial again because robocalls don’t hang up and dial again now. Eventually they will. Now here’s the scary part, Allison. Be prepared because when you hang up and call again, they’re going to say hello, so you must be prepared. And so many people when that happens, they’re like I’m a salesperson and I work for XYZ Company. They don’t say, Hey, Alli. It’s me, Dave. Did I catch you at a bad time? And you’re thinking to yourself, how does he know me? He called me by Alli? No. I’m a little lost here. I was wondering if you can help me out. Well, I’ll try. Who’s in charge of generating leads for your company. I assume that’s you? Because our goal is to have a conversation. And most people, when we coach them up, they say, well, I don’t want to sound like a salesperson. So then I ask, do you follow a script? Nope. Well, then you sound like a salesperson because the worst time to think of it is when it comes out of your mouth.

 Now people will say to me, well, Dave, you sound like you’ve done this a thousand times. It’s kind of like in the movie when you say you had me at hello, or you want to make me a better man. I don’t think Tom Cruz goes, you know what, Mr. Director, I’m going to wing this. I’ve been doing it. I did Top Gun. Did a couple other movies you heard about. I’m going to wing this one. No, he owns his script. You make me want to be a better man. Jack Nicholson, he owns the script. So it’s not about reading a script that says you complete me. It’s owning the script where you are going to look at somebody and say, Hey Alli. It’s me, Dave. I catch you at a bad time? Because my job is to have a conversation, and when I have a conversation, I’m going to determine your personality style and it’s going to be what’s a clear next step. What needs to happen?

Phone Calls Work

 The reason phone calls work is so many people don’t do it. They say things like, well, I get robocalls and now let me text and email. It’s amazing when we do our live cold call seminars, they go, well, Dave, how come so many people answer when you call and Alli, here’s what I tell them. I must get lucky.

Allison: I love that. I think in today’s society; we do go to just the comfortable email. I’m just going to use an example. I’ve been working with a service provider of my business for all six years that I’ve been here in the Valley, and this year that person has not picked up the phone to actually call me, but has sent me 10 emails asking for my stuff and has never actually called. I’m just so dismayed by it, and so I guess from the encouragement standpoint is it’s okay to call your client and your perspective clients. That’s how they’re going to know you.

David: Yeah. Allison, I think my business now has grown from, and you shared the book, Dialing Strangers, our new book now that is coming out, it’s called The Follow Up Call, because someone said to me, well, what about dialing friends?

I have a system in the morning where I call 3 of my current customers before 9 o’clock. I call it the “love letter.” I call and say things like, “Thank you! I appreciate you. Anything I can do better?”

But the quintessential thing to remember to ask is, “Who do you know who I should know?” Or, “What’s your biggest challenge?”

It may be me sending you a book or anything like that.

Our company provides a service. It’s called customer intelligence reporting, and you would be a perfect example, whoever this vendor is that you’re working with. I call and I’d say, Hey, Alli, what do you like best about working with this company? Well, I’ve been with them for 6 years and typically they do what they’re supposed do. If you were to recommend them, what would you say? Alli, is there anything we could do better? And then you would say, well, they’ve sent me 10 emails and I can’t get anybody to pick up the phone because we treat people how we like to be treated. The challenge is whoever’s sending you emails, they like emails because they want a “paper trail”. I always remind people, we don’t fix machines, we fix people. So they can fix your machine, Alli is outstanding, but if they can’t fix you, remember 81% of our customers leave us because they don’t feel appreciated, or they think we’ve forgotten about them. And you’re a perfect case. Look how hard it was to get you as a customer, and now they’ve just said, well, we’ll send her 10 emails and we’ll keep her.

Allison: Yeah. I giggled as you were going through your customer intelligence call. And after I sent him an email and said, I’ve decided to go with another provider this year, he or she sent back an email with those questions – via email.

David: They should have called you right away, but they sent an email.

Allison: Nope. It was, what did you like about our service? Would you recommend it to other people? What could we have done differently? You know much time I’m going to spend responding to that?

David: Yeah. Zero.

Allison: Zero.

David: Alli, our philosophy is nothing happens until the unspoken is said. If you think about we call them your Director of First Impressions, the people that answer the phone at your company, they talk to 99% of your prospects and your clients, and we usually give them maybe 1% of the coaching. Their two biggest fears are number one, what if I’m asked a question I don’t know the answer to, and number two is what if they’re mad? We give them tools for that, but in the same situation here, I would say, Hey, let’s call up Ms. Dunn. Now let’s call up Mrs. Spear and see what she says. Let’s make the phone call and ask her. They would say, well, what if she’s mad? And I would say, well, what would you rather have her be mad and tell everybody, or be mad and tell you and find out how to solve the problem? Because as you know, Allison, if they would’ve called you before you decided to go in a different direction, you could’ve let them know, hey, here’s what’s going on. How can we fix it? Because bad news isn’t like wine. It doesn’t get better with time, I’ve discovered.

Who Can Best Use Cold Calling and How to Do it

Allison: Very wise advice. So knowing that cold calling and bold calling is a very powerful strategy, who do you find that it’s working best for? Or what types of companies or is it any company?

David: Well, I know this probably isn’t the answer for you because people want to know when is the best time to make calls. Everybody’s getting ready to get ready. I just pick up the phone and call. Pick up the phone and call and you would be amazed, Allison. When I’m in a group and I’d say, well, who’s somebody you can’t get ahold of? Just happened an hour before this. I was training an automotive group, and the great thing he said, what you did? Oh, robocalls. And who is it you can’t get ahold of? So they gave me the name of the company and I said, all right, let’s call them up, and the cool thing about your phone, you can just say call the guru and it brings up Allison Dunn and it puts on there and it dials it automatically. Whoa, whoa, whoa! You can’t call him. Well, how come? Well, he might get mad. Have you ever talked to him? Well, no I haven’t, but we don’t want to rush him into this.

 So you have to have a daily behavior now. Allison, you’ll get kind of a chuckle out of this, or at least I do. I coach a call center in the Philippines, and the interesting thing about the call center in the Philippines, they make 120 dials every day and they don’t even think twice about it. They’ll call on Saturday. I’ve discovered the average salesperson – now they’ll all tell us something different – if I can get 1, maybe 2 cold calls out of them a week, I’m pretty happy.

 Now, when I say cold calls, please don’t confuse this with let’s start at the As and let’s call all the tire companies. So let’s start with Les Schwab Tire. I heard they’re for sale. Let’s call them up, or they’ve been sold. I have a system and there’s leads and we follow up on leads. And then when we pick up the phone, there’s a system we use and we follow it because as I discovered, the second time I tried to call Chanel was when I became that accidental salesperson and I started it was called a cold call report. I started writing fiction and I started calling my friends and family members and the two or three clients that I had. I called them all the time and Hey, what’s going on? And I thought, wait a minute, there has to be a better way. What if I made it fun?

 I started thinking back. I started out in broadcasting a long time ago, but I used to do prank calls with my grandparents about the horses it got out. And it was when I was in fifth or sixth grade, but I’d call up and I’d go, Helen, is that you? Yeah. Hey, I see a couple of quarter horses out here and I’d hear her yell at my granddad, Dave! Dave, the horses are out and of course later on, I would get in trouble. But what if we can make it fun and what if we have a system because Allison, the number one motto I have back to when you asked is making these calls. The call ends when I say it’s over, and I don’t say that as braggadocio, I say it as I have a script. So somebody says I’m not interested. I’ll say, was there anything I could have done better on this call? No, no, no. I’m just in a hurry. Well, real quick, who do you know that I should know now?

 Remember, not all of a sudden they’re going to give me leads or anything like that. And then I might say just for fun, Allison, you’re in the great state of Idaho, in Boise. I might say Allison, real quick before you go, is it true you have blue turf in Boise?

Allison: So again, I’m talking again about something they’re interested in.

David: Yeah. You keep talking, and then I would end the call and say, ma’am, I sure appreciate your time. Thank you so much. Then when I hang up the phone, I don’t go, oh, this is the worst job I’ve ever had and then we make up stories like people hang up on us and they do this and that. I’ve only had two hang-ups in my career. I have a lot more hang-ups – I’m talking about phone hang-ups- and both times I pick up the phone and I call them back and I say, we must have got disconnected. No, we didn’t. I didn’t like that you called me. What could I have done better? And one, I set an appointment with. So remember this:

Do one thing every day that scares you to death. Now I’d like to say that’s my quote but it’s Eleanor Roosevelt who said that.

Now, for me, I’m afraid of heights so one of the challenges that I did and it wasn’t anybody challenged me. It was Hey, Dave, we’re taking you to dinner and I went with this group of clients and we got an elevator and I saw there was just two buttons, 1 and 50. I’m going to the 50th floor and I was scared to death, but I got to the 50th floor and don’t get me wrong. I said, we’re not sitting by the window, but I made myself walk out on the deck, not to zip line, but to look at it. And if you pick up the phone and make it work, it can be a great tool.

Well Known Cold Callers

 The late Steve jobs said, when he was 13 years old, he called up Bill Hewlett. You don’t know Bill Hewlett. You might remember a name of a company called Hewlett & Packard. Now it’s called HP, but when he was 13 years old, he picked up the telephone and called him. He said, do you have any frequency counters? I don’t know what a frequency counter is, but he said, do you have any? He said, sure.

 The founder of Spanx, she says, I made 300 cold calls. That’s why when I brought Spanx up and everybody told me no, I went no big deal. Here in our Valley, there’s a company called Zamzows, and it is a company that does lawn care. The founder – well, he is not the founder, but his name’s Jim Zamzow. Some of our listeners may know who J. R. Simplot is, and if you don’t know who J. R. Simplot is, he put French fries in McDonald’s. So there you have it. He called J. R. Simplot and said, Hey, J. R., how do I become a billionaire? And they had this long conversation.

People pick up the phone and make calls every single day, but you have to have something to say. You have to have a script.

And Allison, the most valuable piece is to add value. I don’t want to just call and say, Hey, do you want to buy? Do you want to buy? I want to say, what’s your biggest challenge? If I were to recommend you to someone, what would I tell them about you? Who’s your ideal client? Questions they have never been asked before, but now they feel like they’re adding value and I may not be a fit. I talked to a lady today that asked me for help with her team and we call it the Director of First Impressions training their intake. She’s in the middle of tax season. She said, Dave, can we go to work in May? Sure. Well, between now and May, I’m going to give her a ton of value.

 Now, Allison, make sure you know I’m going to call her every month like clockwork. Allison’s my sales manager. Allison, we’re going to call her in May. We’re going to get the deal done. That’s not how it’s going to work. So I think the biggest thing is pick up the phone, find the script. There’s lots of scripts, and I’ll provide this for your listeners if they go to It’s, and just put on there, Dave, I want your book. I’ll give you the audio copy. I’m not going to give you the hard copy. You have to go to Amazon to get that. Probably if you emailed me, I’d send that to you, but I’ll send you the audio copy.

 So there’s the scripts in there right now. You can Google any scripts, so it’s not necessarily the case. The thing we’ve discovered is it’s now funds. So when we pick up the phone, it’s fun. Hey, how many calls can we make? Let’s make one more call before the end of the day. That’s where we get our most appointments between 5 and 6, because most decision makers are still in the office. Everybody else has left and they’re like, my darn phone is ringing and they pick up the phone and go, hello! And that’s the beginning of it. All we need is somebody to say hello. We want to have a conversation. We determine their personality style and then a clear next step. You have to make those dials to make it happen.

Stay in Touch with Current Customers

 The biggest challenge, Tony Robbins once told me if you get in your head, you’re dead. If you start saying things like nobody uses phones. Everybody texts. All they do is email. They’ll think I’m a Robocop, all this kind of stuff, then you’re okay. Don’t do it. But nothing happens until a sale is made, and a sale can’t be made until you have a conversation and you have to have the conversation either face to face or on the phone. And as Allison said, if you’re not staying in touch with your current customers, you’re going to lose them. Allison, you’ve been with that vendor for six years. They just lost you and all you got was an email that said, could we have done anything better?

Allison: Yep, unfortunately. In the outreach calls, are you trying to close the sale? I think people go in and think that they’re trying to make the sale right on the phone, and I think that’s somewhat of a misconception. You’re just, I believe trying to move it to the next step.

Set Goals for Your Sales Calls

David: Allison, you’re absolutely right. Number one, I just have three goals so it’s easy to remember. My first goal is a conversation. Hey, Allison, is that you? Yeah. It’s me, Dave. I catch you at a bad time? No. And they might say Dave who? But remember, I’m still not telling him the name of my business. I have a script. There’s not a lot of words that you have, but I’m having a conversation and I’m able to tell your personality. So a lot of times I’ll call, Hey, it’s me, Dave. I catch you at a bad time? No, Dave. How you doing? And they’ll start talking to Dave and I know that they have a personality kind of like a parrot. They like to talk and they’ve got lots of colors, and they want to talk and I’ll ask them about the weather and people in the audience are like, well, if that were me… Well, if it were you, I would probably be talking to you differently because others might answer the phone. What? Bill, is that you? It’s me, Dave. I catch you a bad time? Well I’m busy. Well, I’m busy too. So Allison, you’re absolutely right. Number one is conversation.

Your first goal when you pick up the phone is conversation.

 Second goal is to find out what is the personality type? Do they need to win? Do they need love? Do they need three choices, or do they just want the facts? And then the last item is a clear next step. And Allison, if anybody takes one thing away from your podcast today, it’s when people say no, three things should happen. So hopefully this is the one thing, what’s the one thing I have to write down when they say no?

 Number one is try harder. Number two is no for now. Three or A-plus is practice. That’s why I’ve honed my skill is I get a lot of NOs and I practice. Well, could you page them? We don’t have a pager. Would you walk up to their office and see if they’re in? All those type of thing, people are laughing and they think, I can’t believe the guy said him pretty soon. They go, all right, I’ll go up and see if he’s in. Next thing you know, the guy answers. Now be prepared because when the decision maker answers the phone, I’ve seen this happen where we have a voicemail training that we do, the four secrets to getting your voicemails returned. And when we use it, somebody will say Jim never answers. So I make the call on Jim’s phone. I listen to his personality, leave it. And I had a guy one time go, Jim’s calling back. And I said, answer it. And he threw his phone at me and he didn’t throw it like here you go. And so I took the phone call and it was Jim and we had the conversation and we were good to go, which tells me that our biggest battle is fighting our head.

 And if you make it fun and say, Hey, look, my only goal is a conversation. I want to find out whether they’re a lover, a winner, if they don’t like change or if they follow the rules, and then I’m going to have a clear next step. The clear next step may be NO, so if I hear no, is it true you really have blue turf? What’s the weather like? Okay. Well, I sure appreciate your time. Our motto is, if you like what we do, tell others. If we can do anything better, please tell me. Goodbye. And the call ended when I said it was over. There’s call number one.

Call number two. You should follow a script, Allison, because typically when I get on an airplane and again, I’m afraid of heights, the pilot always has a flight plan, and I know he’s flown to Dallas numerous times, but he looks at that flight plan and the main reason he does is so he doesn’t make any mistakes. He doesn’t get back to us and go, hold on, I’m going to try something. We don’t hear that over the PA, because we don’t want to be on that flight. Same for a doctor. He’s done surgeries numerous times. He looks at the x-rays. There’s things he’s going through so why on earth do we have to wing it because we’ve been doing it for a long time?

Be a professional. Be a trusted advisor. Follow your scripts and be somebody people want to be around. They want to be around somebody is a professional and who wants to add value.

 Value is defined are you better off after I met with you than before? And if you’re better off after you met with me, same for this podcast. I hope you got two or three things. You got my book, if nothing else. You’re better off after you met with me than before. Same for working with Allison. She’s providing this for you as value. You’re better off after you met with Allison than before. She added value and that’s the key.

Things That Can Go Wrong With Cold Calls

Allison: I love the fact that the phone call is over when you decide it’s over and to end it in a way that you feel good and you’ve provided value. I think that’s such a powerful way to think about an actual cold call is that you are going to give and leave them better off. So that’s fantastic. Can we talk about the things that go wrong with cold calls? Obviously not having a script, lots of things can go wrong with that. Without a script, obviously some of the things that you can do is you can basically head way off topic and not move anything forward, or your prospect can take you off topic, the person you’re speaking to. So how do you get the conversation back on track?

David: I think the first thing that we do, the biggest mistake is we tell them we’re a salesperson. We tell them that right away. So the first thing that you can, and then if you follow a script, you keep them on track. You keep them on track. Now we could call this pontification. We could call it filibuster, a whole number of things, and roughly 41% of the people we talk to do that. There are ways we get them. I call it expectation interrupted. I might say something like Allison, did you hear that? Hear what? Oh, Allison, I’m sorry. Real quick, where were we? Oh, you were telling me who your ideal customer is. You said that they’re a business from roughly 21 million to 27 million. Currently how are you prospecting that client? So that’s how we get them back on track, but we always have a script so that we know when we’re done with the phone call, one of four things happened.

 I got a YES. I want to buy. I got a NO. Now remember when I say no, just to reinforce the training, I practiced no for now and try harder. I got a clear next step and this is my goal. Allison, I want to be in your day planner. Remember when I’m in your day planner, it’s imperative for you to know it’s in pen so that’s part of our script too. Allison, shall I put that in pen or pencil? Well, what do you mean? Well, pen means it sticks. Pencil means you’re probably not going to have an appointment with me. Oh, you put that in pen. You don’t see anything between now and then that will keep you from making that appointment. I know Tuesday is the 4th of July and a lot of people tend to take Friday off. I’m not going to, but are you? Oh, I forgot about that so go ahead and reschedule.

 And then the last thing is a referral and recommendation. Who do you know that I should know? So when you hang up the phone and I go, Allison, how’d that call go? Oh, it was pretty good. He was a Vandal or he was a Bronco, or he went to Mississippi State or he’s from Maine or whatever it might be. It’s not that I got a clear next step. We’re going to meet Tuesday at 3 o’clock. Between now and then, he’s going to tell me his four biggest challenges with time management and how to hold himself accountable. So I gave him homework too. Outstanding! Allison, did you put that in pen or pencil? Because if you just say I’m going to send you a day plan or reminder and cross your fingers they click on it, that’s not going to work. Shall I put that in pen or pencil? That eliminates cancellation by 64% of the time, because here’s the other thing. Well, pencil it in. What would be a time that we could put that in pen? Oh, really? Because remember an appointment is a form of an objection too. Oh yeah. Come by next week. Sure.

 Hey, there’s somebody here to see at the front desk. They said, oh, tell them I’m busy. So remember just because they told you that they’ll take a day plan or appointment doesn’t mean they’ll get that. The other thing is I think Allison is we think people are mad or we think they’re busy. We’re all busy. As business owners, we have 180 interruptions every day, 300 hours of unfinished work on our desk so everybody’s busy. So one of the secrets -giving you one of my secrets again – and I only do this on Allison’s podcast. Anybody else, I wouldn’t do it.

Allison: Thank you.

 You tell people you’re busy too. I’m busy too. What are you working on? And they’ll tell you, I’ve had people in the middle of conference calls. Alison my favorite story. I guess I need to get better at telling this. I called a guy up. I was in front of a group of realtors and it was a prospect and, said, Hey Jim, it’s me, Dave. I catch you at a bad time? Sort of. Well, what do you mean sort of? He said he’s kind of busy and I go, well, I’m busy too. What are you doing? I just got pulled over by a policeman. Now normally most people would hang up the phone. Of course Dave went, what were you doing? Well, I turned left and it’s an illegal left hand turn. Okay. Then I let him off. But I think that’s the biggest thing. As soon as somebody says they’re busy or they’re at the movie, I want your mind to go.

 When they say I’m at the movie, I want you to ask what are you watching? If they’re busy, I want you to ask what they’re busy doing. If they’re in the airport, where are you going? And then you sneak your question. Well, I’m just getting ready to catch a plane right now. Oh, me too. Where are you going? I’m going to Boston. Well, let me ask you really quick. What are the three biggest things right now that need to happen for you to move the needle in your sales department? Oh, wow. Even if I get one or two of them and then I’m going to sneak another question. Do you mind if I walk with you while you board? All right. Just a minute here. You hear beep beep. Going in. What airline are you on? I’m on Delta. Okay. I’ll be really quick, because they’ll want to close the door. So don’t allow tone and tempo to make you think that they’re mad.

 And then the last thing would be listening for what’s not being said.

Listen For What’s No Being Said

Allison: Tell us what you mean by that.

David: I hear things like that. I could hear a baby in the background. I could hear somebody pouring coffee. I could hear them starting up a car. I’m listening for things like if they answer on speaker phone. Immediately I know they’re a dominant personality. if I hear them whispering, things like that. So I’m trying to pick up elements like that so they think I’m there with them. Remember in person, the advantage we have when we see each other, 64% of communication is body language. So Allison dresses sharp all the time. I try to keep up with her, but I pick that oh, I have a thought. On the phone, 93% of communication is tone and tempo. Slow down on the phone like one of my mentors, Paul Harvey used to tell the rest of the story. So slow down and then listen so you’re able to hear. Oh, Allison, I hear your blinker on. Where are you going? Is he here in the car with me? And it not some version of I’m stalking you or anything like that. It just becomes I’m riding along and I get five or six more minutes because I’m listening, and I believe being listened to and being loved are so close together most people can’t tell the difference.

Allison: Agreed.

David: So if I’m talking kind of like what I’m doing today, you may not be listening. However, when I’m asking great questions and you are talking, that means you are listening and feeling some version of whatever it is for you feeling loved.

What To Do When You’re Ghosted

Allison: I think one of the challenges that I would even say I have, and it’s one of my many. I don’t just have one, but when you’ve had a great first initial conversation, you think you have it in pen, and then all of a sudden they’ve ghosted you. I assume oh my gosh, something terrible must have happened. Are they okay? That’s my go-to. Oh, I hope you’re all right. I had us down for 2. Is everything okay? What is your go-to?

David: I will use a couple of things. Now this is a case where we can use texting.

Allison: Okay.

David: So I’ll say, Bill, is everything okay? That’s not like you to miss your appointments. So usually what happens, especially with my particular system, they did miss it and they did blow it. Soon as they text back, I dial right now because I know they’re there. Oh, I’m sorry I did this or that. if you’re going to email, I always put in the subject line – maybe still on your radar. Have I done something to offend you? But the big one is – Allison said it – is everything okay?

 So here’s how it would sound. Allison, let’s pretend and I know we have a tiny bit of a delay, but I want people to be able to hear this phone call. You’ve ghosted me for a month. Back then we used to say people hide; now we use the terminology ghosting. Remember, after 31 days you’ve forgotten about me so when I call, you’re not going to go, oh, Dave Tester. Old buddy, old pal!! You’re going to be thinking Dave? Dave who? So this script is called I’m calling to apologize. So Allison, go ahead and answer the phone.

Allison: Hi, this is Allison Dunn.

David: Allison, is that you?

Allison: It is. Yes.

David: Hey, it’s me, Dave. I catch you at a bad time?

Allison: No, this is good.

David: Hey Allison. I’m calling to apologize

Allison: For what?

David: That’s what I was afraid of. I work for a company called Dialing Strangers and you and I talked last month. Actually we set an appointment up at the restaurant and, and I must have got my wires crossed because when I got there, you weren’t there and I haven’t heard from you. I know I screwed up and Allison, I’m better than that. I’m sorry.

Allison: Ah…

David: Now what are you going to say, Allison? See, you’ve blown me now. You have to protect me, and I’m letting everybody know I’m making Allison feel bad. I’m letting you all know that. I’m making her feel bad. Allison, I’m better than that. What did I do wrong?

Allison: Oh, Dave. I actually had it on my calendar. I totally wouldn’t even be able to lie to you.

David: Now remember I still have a script. I go, oh Allison, thank heaven. I’ve been just beating myself up thinking about this that didn’t happen. Allison, off the record, is that code for Dave, go away?

Allison: No, no, I am sorry. I ….

David: Remember my goal, and if you want to jot this down, you can.

My goal is to always have purpose, process, and payoff when I pick up the phone.

So when I pick up the phone, the purpose of that call with Allison, the purpose of picking up the phone is to reengage her. The process is my script. And in this case, the script I use – now folks, make sure you know I’m not making these up. I own my scripts, but I’m not making them up. So the script is I’m calling to apologize. And then the payoff is I’ve got a new appointment. I’ve got a new appointment. So I never pick up the phone without a plan. And when I pick up the phone, Dave, what’s the purpose of this call? What’s the process or what’s the script that you’re going to use, and what’s the payoff. Because even if Allison says, yeah, Dave, we probably don’t need your product. That’s okay. When do I give up on a prospect? It depends on who dies first, me or them.

 So I’m still going to stay in touch with you, whether it’s a newsletter or my book, whatever it might be, but that’s the system. So that would be a tool I use for ghosting. And I want everybody to know, hey, you’re manipulating them. Well, how would you feel when you drove four hours away to some hinterland to meet with somebody, you sat in a restaurant for two hours, and they no-showed you? And then you send them an email. You are more valuable than that. You have to say, I believe in myself, I believe in my product and I believe in my company, so I’m going to pick up the phone. I always say, if you had the cure to some horrible disease, would you go, well, I don’t want to interrupt them right now, or would you pick it up and say, Dr. Welby. I’ve got it right here.

Allison: Yes. That’s good stuff. From the standpoint that I don’t want you to disclose what’s in your new book, but you have piqued my interest about The Follow up Game. Set aside ghosting as a challenge, not a challenge, but that was a great example of how to follow up when the first intersecting point hasn’t connected. Give me one other follow-up tip, if you don’t mind.

David: I just think it needs to be on a regular basis and somebody says, well, what if I don’t have that many customers? You have to follow up and it’s not just on the phone. As much as I’d like to have braggadocio about the phone, the best tool for me is a handwritten thank you card. We know this for a fact that a person gets one piece of personal mail. I’m not referring to bills; I’m not referring to anything else. I’m talking about a card that I’ve written. It’s got your name on it. It says, thank you, Allison, for having me on your podcast. What is it that I can do to offer value? So that’s part of your process.

 But the biggest thing is I’m calling to check in. Now I don’t check in, so this would be a call that I do for my client customer intelligence, and I’m trying to think if we can protect your client. But, first of all, I would say, Hey, what do you like best about working with us? So not your client, but your former vendor that’s no longer a vendor. What’d you like best about working with us? So that’d be my first question. What do you like best about working with us?

Allison: Oh, you want me to answer that?

David: Yes, Ma’am.

Allison: So we’re role playing right now. Fantastic. I appreciated the personality of the person that I worked with. They’re different. They’re not the typical personality of that type of person in industry. So I like the person.

David: Person. So the person. You like Jim, we hear that a lot. So then I’m going to add, tell me more. So you’re going to tell me more and go from there. Allison, we have a policy at our company. We always say nothing happens until the unspoken is said. Is there anything we could do better?

Allison: I feel like maybe more connection between services so that I know that the right steps are being taken and I don’t have to question it.

David: And when I hear more connection, because here I want our listeners to pick up this, the biggest complaint or the biggest customer dissatisfaction is here’s what they say, communication. Well now what does that mean? One of my hobbies when I was a little kid is I had my ham operator amateur radio license. So when I hear things like communication, I’m saying, so do you want us to use Morse Code? Do you want us to use smoke signal? So you really have to dig into that, and now when I hear communication, tell me more. So those are the things. The script is very simple. I’m calling to say, thank you, Allison. Thank you for your business. So hopefully you’re writing this down at home. I don’t know what chapter it is, but I’m calling to say, thank you. Thank you. Allison, what do you like best about working with us, then you follow up with tell me more, because remember, I’m also trying to get a testermonial because I can also ask you for a five-star review.

What’s a Testermonial?

Allison: A testermonial?

David: Testermonial! TESTERMONIAL. Go to So I want to get a testermonial. The next thing I’m going to say is, is there anything I can do better? Because remember, okay and fine is a neutral experience. So whenever I hear customers say it’s okay or it’s fine, I’ll tell them this. I’ll say, okay and fine or good is the enemy of great. What could we do to become great? Allison, there’s another example of listening for what’s not being said is when you hear things like okay and fine. And then there’s a clear next step. I’m going to call you up in two weeks and see if we’ve taken care of the problem. Last but not least, if you like what we do, tell others. If we can ever do anything better, please tell me.

Managing a Sales Team

Allison: That’s good stuff. Can we talk about managing a sales team? How do you keep the energy up in a call center? knowing that that’s the job at which someone like me goes, oh, like I’d rather die than do that, but how do you keep it up? What are your tips for making it competitive and fun?

David: The first thing you have to ask the team in your call center is how do you like to be rewarded? That’s the first thing you have to ask because most sales managers or general managers, they like to be rewarded with money. That’s why they are where they are. Not everybody wants to be rewarded with money. So I always ask the question, how do you like to be rewarded? It could be we’re going bowling. Could be a gift card, could be a day off, whole bunch of things. So first we have to find out how they like to be rewarded. Now I’m not a carrot and stick guy, because again, the carrot can never get big enough, and once you hit somebody with the stick, you know how it ends, but you still have to find those things.

The other thing I would tell you is:

Don’t be a manager. Be an encourager.

In the Bible, there’s a character. His name is Barnabas and Barnabas’ job is to encourage people. I’ve gone from a coach trainer to now my number job is to encourage somebody because especially the millennial which I’m now coach – I don’t use the word millennial – they’ve heard so long that they sleep in and they don’t want to come to work and all these things. I love encouraging millennials because they don’t hear, look at what you’re doing. It’s awesome. It’s great. And that’s not false braggadocio or something that I’m making up. It’s speaking the truth to encourage them.

 The other thing, Allison is you need to be able to pick up the phone and do it in front of them. And when they get stuck, you need to be able to coach them up. Again with the millennials, which we work with, micro feedback so they want the feedback right away. Dave, what did I do incorrectly? And by the way, I didn’t know what micro feedback was. I just learned that. So when I go through and I listen to their calls, I’ll stop it right there and say, did you notice there you answered the question and they didn’t really ask you a question? Or did you notice there was pain there and you started educating them? And then they can go back and listen to those. But I think the biggest thing is, and I think back to my coaches when I pretended I was an athlete, sometimes I had coaches that would run lines with us and they’d go out and set screens. And I’m like, man, this guy knows what he is doing. And I think that’s important too.

 Don’t confuse that with war story training. War story training goes like this. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and back in my day, what I used to do was I’d carry a roll of dimes with me. You never heard of the pay phone, but I’d put the dimes in. When the roll of dimes was done, I was done for the day. Please do not war story train. Say let’s go do it. Let’s give this a try. Let’s try the technique. We’ll put them on speaker phone. I’ll make the first call. I’ll let you hear how is it, then you do the second call. We’ll do it kind of as a team. And then the third call, we’ll do it with you and then just encourage them. But I think the best tool, if it is a call center is, the call ends when you say it’s over and just give them tools every single day. That’s what’s important.

Allison: Yeah. I love that. I think, one of the most powerful things we can do if it’s a habit that we need to practice is to actually listen to how we sound and how we’re responding to the caller. So my big takeaway and tip always is that if you’re not having success doing cold calling, let’s listen to the way it sounds. And that’s an expertise that you give to clients that I work with, and I think that’s just phenomenal, and the micro feedback.

Record Your Sales Calls

David: Allison, I tell clients if you’re not recording your phone calls, if you don’t have systems to record your phone calls, you’re not serious about it.

The breakfast of champions is feedback.

I’ll have probably 50 customers – well, not customers. They’re not customers yet – but I’ll have 50 prospects that reach out to me a month that say, Dave, will you secret shop our business? That’s something we provide, then we play it back for them.” The first thing I say, do not go back and play this for your team. Do not go to your team and yell and tell. Do not fire anybody because they’ve never been coached on how to answer the telephone, and it’s no different on making cold calls.

 Remember, my first cold call was to Chanel and I paced back and forth and I was scared to death. I thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world. Sixth grade. I was gonna ask her to the North Idaho Fair, and I remember. What if she thinks I’m dumb? What if she thinks I’m stupid? Now, ironically enough, when we finished the book some 40 years later, we tracked her down and of course she said, Dave, why on earth didn’t you tell me? I’d love to have gone with you. And that’s the scenario is that we always think we’re interrupting, but remember that’s our job. We’re interrupters; we’re interrupting people. However, we want to have a system so we’re “not that guy”, and that guy or that gal is somebody that doesn’t have a script that they follow over and over and over. With my system, I “get past the gatekeeper” because I don’t think of them as a gatekeeper. They’re a friend that’s going to help me get to the next level, and I take interest in what they’re doing.

Overcome the Anxiety of the First Call

Allison: Yes. That’s super good. is there any one tip that you help people overcome the anxiety of it’s usually the first call? Is there a go-to tip?

David: It’s start your day by calling a current customer and saying Allison, thank you for being you. I really appreciate you. Hey, what do you like best about working with me? What do you like best? Man, I like that you do this and I like that you do that and outstanding. So that’s why I say start out your first call of the day, two or three warm calls or in this case, calls of people that you know, and same thing for when you’re in a slump. So when you’re in a slump, you call your best customers and say, what do you like best about working with me? Now the other side, when you’re booking appointments, don’t run around with your fist in the air going, I booked an appointment. Get back on the phone and book another appointment. You’re hot. You’re cooking and go from there.

That would be the biggest thing, as we wrap up.

Start the day with a friend and maybe finish it with a friend.

Make one more call at the end of the day and see if you can make that at 5:05. I’m always on a mission to just make that one more call. And 9 times out of 10, somebody says, “Hello.”

Our mission is: “You had me at hello!”

Allison: Yeah, love that. Is there any particular must read book, other than obviously yours, that you would suggest about bold and cold calling, as a go-to resource for you?

Other Resources For Sales Training

David: You know, Allison, I think the biggest thing is as long as you’re reading, whether it’s influencing friends and how you meet strangers and good to great, we can go down the list, if you don’t have books every day on your shelf that you’re reading, or now listening to podcasts because I also interview people because our biggest challenge is finding great sales people. I’ll tell you, the number one question I ask and if I happen to interview you, here’s what I’m going to say. What are you reading? What are you listening to? And if the answer is I don’t read and I don’t listen to podcasts, then there’s a problem.

The last piece is to practice. You start by practicing on friends. I practice talking to different personality types, whether I’m going out to dinner, or talking to baristas, or speaking to people we’re working with. We have to study and practice talking to people all the time.

The world’s greatest athletes have coaches and trainers and they practice. But for some reason we think because we’ve been doing it for a long time, we don’t need to practice anymore, and that’s not the case at all. So that would be the biggest thing rather than me say buy Daniel pink selling, or Mr. Blunt’s book, Fanatical Prospecting, Jeffrey Gitomer. I can go down the list and I would say, just go get book and read it. Read it and get yourself in that practice to read it.

Get Dave’s Book

Allison: Outstanding advice. So speaking about books, your book is available on Amazon, in paperback and in Kindle, and you’ve got it at an awesome deal price of $4.49 on Kindle, which I think is fantastic. I think you said that if someone emailed you, you send the audio to them.

David: Yeah, if you want the book, we’ll just give you the book. It’s

Allison: Awesome. free stuff on there. And even if you can’t find it, there’s a place to put your name and just say, hey, I was listening to Allison’s podcast and I want your book, and we’ll send you the audio book and you can listen to it. Allison, I’ll send it to you as well because I’ve had a lot of people go, Hey, we like the podcast a lot better than the book, and I say to that, wait till you see the movie.

Allison: I can’t wait to see the movie either, so that’s great. The best way for people, any of our followers to get in touch with you is at the website. Fantastic.

David: There’s one other something we missed and you say, Hey, I to be anonymous or whatever that might be, you can go to and then there’s a field in there for you to ask a question, or if you’ve forgotten where do I go to get the book? It’s just And by the way, my phone number on the website. You can get ahold of me any way, or reach out to Alli. She can tell you how to get ahold of me.

 Allison, I always say the books we read and the people we meet and just the fact that you’re one that when you learn, you teach, I appreciate when you reached out and said, Hey, let’s do this. I appreciate just the fact that if somebody takes one little nugget and it helps, because I had a lady one day that we made a live call for, and she was in real estate and she thought she botched a deal. And the guy said, you know what? I screwed up by letting her go. She was awesome. I should have stayed with her. She goes, Dave, that day I was going to quit. It changed my life. So that’s the mission is just take one little thing today, even if it’s to say I’m going to call three of my best clients in the morning, or I’m going to practice, or the call ins when I say it’s over. Allison, great job on your part to say, I’m going to be the verbal mortar between the bricks of knowledge. Well done. Allison.

Allison: David, thank you so much. It has been such a pleasure having you here with us today. And I hope we run into each other in the downtown parts of Boise soon.

David: All right. Thank you.

Allison: Thank you. 

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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