Fear of the phone

“NO” stings.

A recent Wall Street Journal post offering a CEO’s recommendations for dealing with rejection brought my thoughts to remarks people make when they hear about my work.

“Oh!” they say.  “Where do you get the courage to pick up the phone and call people you’ve never met before and try to sell them something?”

Or “How can you stand hearing ‘no’ all the time?”

Certainly, every day presents opportunity for rejection in agency new business.  However, powerful ways to keep that number to a minimum revolve in great part around the idea of “calling people you’ve never met before”.

In his book, You’ll Never Get “No” for An Answer, author Jack Carew’s advice includes:

  • You’ll never make a spray-and-pray sales call — if you FIND THE AREA OF OPPORTUNITY
  • You’ll never feel like an unwelcome guest — if you ASSUME THE RESPONSIBILITY
  • You’ll never have a rejection hangover — if you MAKE THE CUSTOMER PART OF THE SOLUTION
  • You’ll never fumble over an objection — if you INVEST IN THE RELATIONSHIP


With all the information and tools available to us at our fingertips – some for a fee, a lot of it free – Business Development professionals have no reason to start a conversation with a true “cold call”.

Online networking tools are widely used for introductions and research, but dig deeper.

Invest in the relationship before you pick up the phone.

Find that area of opportunity to make your call relevant to the prospect at the outset.

Entrepreneur offers a process for successful sales calls that mirrors Jack Carew’s advice.

At the heart of minimizing rejection is building familiarity with your prospect and their business before the call.

It won’t be so much like “calling people you’ve never met before”.


Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.