5 Cold Calling Horror Stories That Will Make You Cringe

Ah, cold calling. While it’s not exactly America’s favorite pastime (63% of salespeople say cold calling is what they dislike most about their jobs), it’s been an integral part of sales and marketing since man uttered the first elevator pitch.

As a demand generation agency that provides teleservices for many of the world’s largest tech companies, it’s safe to say we’ve had our fair share of ‘cold calls gone wrong’.

Since it’s unfair for children to be the only ones having fun on Halloween, we’ve decided to take you behind the scenes of our call centers with these five cold-calling horror stories.

We asked our fellow Televerdians to share the cringiest, creepiest, and downright silliest stories they have from their days on the phone.

So dim the lights, put on some spooky music, and get ready for a treat.

You probably think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you?!?!

By: Jennifer J

“I had not thought about my calling career – let’s face it, it was short lived – but one time I called through and asked for the prospect by name. The gatekeeper asked me where I was calling from, and I told her my campaign’s name.

She placed me on hold, then came back asked me again what company I was from.  Then, she put me on hold again, this time with some music. The first verse wasn’t familiar, so I didn’t really listen to it until the chorus kicked in — where they were singing about the telemarketer ‘being on hold on the phone until she got tired of waiting and hung up.’

I have never heard such a song since, but it took my calling to a whole new level. How embarrassing.”

A matter of national security

By: Jill T

“Our team managed web hits for a network security company (inbound leads, web hits, contact me forms, things of that nature). One follow up call went really well; the gentleman we spoke with seemed to have a genuine need for what we were offering – it sounded like a slam-dunk opportunity to pass along to my rep!

Fast forward to the discovery call, where the prospect would only talk about how he’s involved with the Illuminati and the Federal government owes him and his mother money. In fact, the purpose of him reaching out with the intention of speaking to our fed rep was to ensure we could help him hack into the Pentagon’s payroll system.

The conversation only got weirder from there. Kudos to the inside sales rep that took the call though, she handled it with professionalism and grace!”

Let me update my records

By: Roxanne R

“I’d been working a target account when I was selling network security. I called in, spoke to the operator, and asked for Charles.

I get pushed through … the call rings …*female voice*... ’Hello?’

Me: Hi, I was looking to speak with Charles.

“Oh, I haven’t been Charles for about 5 years now. How can I help you?”

Me: Interesting, is network security still in your wheelhouse…?

It threw me for a loop, but we had a great call!”

Broussard Chu Chuck

By: Alexandria H

“The most mortifying moment I’ve experienced here at Televerde (which doesn’t seem so mortifying now) is when I got a record for someone named Broussard Chu Chuck. I knew that Broussard was typically a last name, but figured I could trust the record.

I called in extremely confident and asked in my peppy voice if I could speak with Broussard Chu Chuck. My request was met with (DUN DUN) … complete silence. For at least 45 seconds, the longest of my brand new Televerde life because I knew my initial instinct had been correct. The gate keeper then scoffed and asked if I meant Chuck Broussard. I answered promptly with, ‘absolutely!’

I could barely contain my embarrassment. I was about a month in on the floor and it was a huge lesson in doing my research if something seems off, and also not sweating the small stuff. When the last training class started, I told many of the girls this story to help them understand that there will always be weird moments on the phones, and it’s best to just embrace it and be human!”

He’s just a ‘wittle’ guy

By: Erica P

“When I first started out as an agent, I had a problem with taking ‘questionable’ data a little too literally. Thinking back, here’s one of the bad-data mishaps that especially stands out:

Me: “Is your last name Wittle?”
Prospect: “No, it’s Little, like small.”
Me: “Oh, sorry.”
Prospect: *audible sigh*

You could hear his contempt through the phone. This taught me to trust my instincts and verify information with the org if anything seems strange!”

The bottom line

We need to remember not to take ourselves too seriously, and not to beat ourselves up when we make mistakes – they are inevitable! If there’s a lesson in these stories, it’s that whether you’re B2B or B2C, we’re all in the business of people. And people like to connect with other people.

With the technology available today, no one should be going into a call blind. With just a few strokes on a keyboard, we can learn the hobbies, interests, online habits, buying patterns and pain points of the person we’re calling. Use this information to connect personally.

Here’s a real-life example of this tip done right:

One of our agents closed a deal by beginning a conversation with a prospect through LinkedIn. Our agent had done her homework. She sent a direct message thanking the prospect for the work she had done to advance women’s equality in the workplace. This personal piece of information formed the basis for a meaningful connection and a back and forth conversation that eventually led to a signed deal.

The best thing we can do is learn to laugh at ourselves, have fun at work, and continue to “smile and dial!” We hope you enjoyed these gems, and stay tuned for more holiday and demand gen content.

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