Book Review: Cold Calling Early Customers: Lose your fear and book ten appointments this week

Recently I read Cold Calling Early Customers by Robert Graham.


Robert Graham is author of a blog, where he writes of his adventures as a software entrepreneur.  He is a fan of the Lean Startup methodology and a follower of Eric Reis,  and Steve Blank.


The book opens with the answers to two questions; “Who should read this book?” and “Why cold calling?”  To answer the first he states:

“You should”

More specifically, you should read if:

• You are starting a new business or product.

• You want to connect with new customers or markets.

• You want a deeper understanding of your customers.

• You don’t have marketing background but need one.

• You love Lean Startup, but want more of a Lean Roadmap.

• You are related to me or wish you were.

• You want to impress me.”


To answer the question of; “Why cold calling?” he sets forth three main reasons; time, cost and relationships.  Time saved by getting feedback from your market right away.  Cost saved by generating a call list for free.  Relationships built by talking with people over the phone.


The ultimate goal is to turn cold calling into a game by optimizing your prospect list, fine-tuning your scripts and tracking your progress.  The book provides insight and actionable information based on the author’s real life experience.


If you have an idea, but no customers…you need to find out if your market has the problem you are trying to solve.  Your problem is; you don’t know, the book shows you how cold calling is the perfect way to learn.


First, you want to reach out to the right people.  He explains how to identify your ideal initial customer and if already have customers how to zero in on your all around ideal customer.  He explains the three ways to generate a call list; doing it by hand, buying one or outsourcing list generation and then provides detailed instructions on how to do it by hand referencing specific sources of information and pointing out the details you should gather and include for each contact on your call list.


Next up, the script, a crucial component of the process.  He quotes Patrick McKenzie, in saying; “A job is a system that turns time into money. A business is a system that turns systems into money.” and explains scripts allow you track, test and adjust to create a system and states; “The key to a system is documentation, measurability and repeatability.”  Scripts should be focused around the purpose of the call and should be concise.  The book covers the main areas of; doing your homework, offering value and giving something away for free and provides actual scripted examples for each approach.


You are then taken through a case study detailing each step of the process from finding the ideal people in your market to beginning the sales process.  He lays out ways to provide value for your market in specific detail and explains how you can apply these techniques to any market.  The case study is complete with screen shots detailing his process for building a list of people to call.  This is definitely an action plan you can implement right away to get started in any market.


He addresses the fear of picking up the phone to talk to a stranger and suggests exercises you can do to practice and get more comfortable and layout steps to prepare for the call.  He explains the importance of taking notes and highlights the key information to focus on for improving your scripts and ultimately writing your marketing copy.  Next he gives examples of ways to warm up your call list.


The Fear of Calling Case Study is an interview with a reader who implemented tips from Graham’s guest post on Jason Cohen’s blog, and speaks directly to the fear associated with cold calling and how to overcome them and take action.


Graham is also a fan of Chet Holmes’ The Ultimate Sales Machine especially the chapter on Dream Clients and explains how to apply this approach to cold calling.  He stresses the importance of following up and notes in his experience “people have a lot of respect for patient persistence.”


In the final chapter Marty Martinson, a veteran salesman, offers his perspective based on 20 years of sales experience.  He explains time-tested tactics like; “the penny pull,” the “get your no’s approach,” and the “educated cold call.”


The appendix provides Sample Notes and Script Adaptation to model as you take action.


The bottom line is; you have to talk to your customers to be successful in any venture and cold calling is the best place to start.


The book is available a PDF, Kindle, a self-narrated MP3 audio of the book and bonus interviews are available at  The PDF version is 84 pages and the self-narrated audio run an hour and fifteen minutes.


Jenn Saunders

Software Entrepreneur, Direct Response Marketing Consultant, Writer

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