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cold calling | December 7, 2018

The Pursuit of Happyness Proves Cold Calling Isn’t a Numbers Game!

Cold calling is NOT a numbers game!In the epic movie The Pursuit of Happyness Chris Gardner accepts an intern position at a brokerage house to change his life.

In the process of trying to sell more accounts to win a job, he proved that cold calling isn’t a numbers game!

What is the ‘numbers game’, how did Chris disprove it and what are the implications for your business?

What is the Numbers Game!

The basic idea is to get a list of potential contacts and then cold call them from the bottom of the list to the top in exact sequential order and attempt to make hundreds of calls a day. Don’t let anyone that uses this term try to claim it means another thing other than what I just described. This stone age idea recommends a brute force approach to cold calling that utilizes a brawn over brains way of thinking.

I am in no way saying that you don’t have to make a lot of calls to book appointment or make sales. However, this caveman approach is one of the myths about cold calling that turns most sales professionals away from this lucrative marketing technique. However, there is a smarter way to make prospecting calls than just grabbing a random list and calling one lead after another in sequential order and doing this hundreds of times a day.

However, before we get to that let’s find out what Chris Gardner discovered that allowed him to hit pay dirt by making fewer cold calls!

What did Chris Gardner Discover?

Before you read this section make sure you watch this YouTube clip of Chris Gardner’s calling systems!

As you can see in this YouTube movie clip, Chris Gardner was in a call center where agents were trapped in a numbers game. They had to call the list from the bottom to the top, but Chris didn’t have the same amount of time as the other interns, so he had to find a shortcut to success. He had his eye on the prize of reaching the top of his list, but this goal just continued to allude him day after day. Finally, he decided to throw out this antiquated telemarketing principal and skip some contacts and call out of sequential order.

Making this random call allowed him to hit pay dirt with a face-to-face appointment that indirectly lead to a gusher of sales. Which in turn propelled him to winning the internship and changed his life forever. Of course, I doubt that Chris realized that he had just shattered a time-honored cold calling mantra, but that is just what had happened.

What’s a Better Cold Calling System?

I pioneered a better system for cold calling 20 years ago while working at a Professional Employer Organization in Dallas called CSI which you could say is now called LL Roberts Group. After deciding to discard, the traditional telemarketing system that I was taught while working at MBNA American I just happened to stumble on the idea of making fewer call and getting more book appointments.

The idea was born from reading Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and my take away was that specialization had become a lost art in this modern age! I applied this principal to myself and pretended that I had a manager (myself wearing a manager hat) and then I had two different employees (myself wearing a prospecting hat and myself wearing a closing hat). In this way I became three different people a manager, prospector and closer. The idea was that I didn’t want my closer to get involved in the dirty work of qualifying leads to verify addresses, get decision makers names and the other information that qualified a lead.

Once my prospector had about 25 to 40 qualified leads then I would set my closer loose and then he would ‘nurse’ these contacts and simply call them over and over at random until he made as many contacts as possible over the course of 3 days. Then my qualifier would have another set of leads ready and we would wash and repeat. This is how I applied division of labor and specialization to the cold calling process. The net result was that I hit pay dirt by setting 15 appointment a day every day for over six months while working at that PEO firm in Dallas.


Even though Chris Gardner and myself busted the numbers game myth you still have some chickens running around with their heads cut off crying that cold calling is still a numbers game. Chris proved the pundits wrong when he skipped to the top of his calling sheet and hit pay dirt. I busted the numbers game myth but researching and calling a select few prospects at a time but calling them over and over again. The net result was that both Chris and myself ditched the numbers game and got better results by making fewer calls!  If your business is still following cold calling gurus that advocate for the numbers game mindset then it’s time to question their influence!

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