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cold calling | December 12, 2018

Steve Jobs Proved that Cold Calling isn’t a Numbers Game!

Cold Calling isn't a Numbers Game!Jobs believed so strongly that Apple II would change the world that he started cold calling VCs!

When you watch this clip from the Jobs Movie it seems to validate that Steve was playing the number game.

However, if you listen very closely to Mike Markkula he gives you the clue that proves cold calling is not a Numbers Game!


Mike Markkula Reveals a Cold Calling Secret

Please make sure to watch this YouTube clip of Steve Jobs calling VC’s and pay close attention to the words of Mike Markkula!

Yes, when you watch the clip it shows Steve Jobs calling and calling relentlessly overcoming objections, attempting to get past gate keepers and contacting VCs. He pours his heart out over the phone and tries to persuade VCs to share his belief in the destiny of the Apple II to light the tech world on fire. As you see him dialing for dollars in one scene after another it appears that he is relying on the numbers game approach to secure the funding for Apple.

However, it’s only at the end of the clip when Steve gets burned out and Mike’s corvette drives up, that we catch a glimpse of the cold calling secret. If you paid close attention, then you hear Mike Markkula say that Steve Jobs called one of his partners over 150 times!

While it appeared that Steve was calling hundreds of contacts in sequential order, aka the number game, in reality he was calling a group of VCs’ over and over again which is the opposite of the number game!

Will the Real Cold Calling Technique Please Stand Up?

When you call a list from the bottom to the top in sequential order like Chris Gardner, then you will fail to contact the majority of prospects on the list. This is true because of the dynamic nature of decision makers movements in the office because they are on the phone, at lunch, in a meeting etc. When you place just one single solitary call to reach a prospect, then the odds are simply stacked against you!

However, if you target a smaller list and just call the same prospects over and over again, like Steve Jobs did when he called that one VC 150 times, then you dramatically increase the chances of making contact. After all, isn’t the idea to actually make as many contacts as possible and not just make a bunch of calls?

Imagine you’re a call center manager and you had two agents reporting their results at the end of a shift. One proudly announces that she has in fact made several hundred calls but has no contacts or appointments to show for the effort. However, the other agent reveals far fewer calls for the day but shows a higher contact ratio and has booked actual appointments. Which agent would you be happier with, the one that played the numbers game, or the one that hit pay dirt by booking some appointments. I think the answer is obvious!


Seeing Steve Jobs so determined to get Apple II out of Wozniak’s garage that he actually picks up the phone and starts making cold calls is impressive. Steve sets a great example for other startups by showing his willingness to roll up his sleeves and use whatever tools were at his disposal, even the phone. Of course, when you watch these scenes it looks like he actually was dialing for dollars and playing the cold calling numbers game. However, it’s clear from Mike’s statement that Steve was actually calling VCs hundreds of times, instead of calling hundreds of VC’s! Now we have even more evidence that proves that cold calling isn’t a numbers game!

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