How not to cold call - nervous (almost) shit pants

Galahad's picture
Rank: Senior Monkey | 72

So the other day I was chatting with my upperclassmen friend; after a certain point he told me about the time (as a freshman) he decided to call a partner at a local IB firm after receiving no response to his e-mail.

Here's the scene:

Friend is sitting at his desk on a Monday afternoon. He dials the number of the partner at the boutique IB and raises the phone to his ear. After navigating through the automated menu, he eventually reaches the partner:

Partner:

Hello?

Friend:

Hi, is this Mr.____?

Partner (annoyed):

Yes, who is this?

Friend (unaware and idiotically):

My name is _____ and I'm an undergrad at _____. Are you busy?

Partner (pissed off):

YES...why do I have to pick up your call right now?

Friend (finally realizing how much of an idiot he is):

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!

Partner (still a bit pissed off):

Well what's the call about?

Friend (shitting his pants):

Oh no it looks like you're busy!

Partner (annoyed):

...So what's the call about?

Friend (still shitting his pants):

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I will contact you another time!

After a long, awkward pause the partner finally just ended the call.

In retrospect, my friend owns up to it and claims he really didn't know what was going on with him when he decided to call.

I think a few of the screws in my brain were a bit too loose.

Moral of the story for those like me: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. You may or may not have heard it from your English teacher back in high school, but it's essential. In my friend's case, he certainly should have known a partner at an IB would definitely be "busy" (the word doesn't even do justice) and should have completely changed his approach . So before you cold-call: Do your research, go and email asking for a call, and (most importantly) don't make yourself look like an idiot during the call.

Comments (36)

Oct 12, 2017

In relation to this post, is it better to cold email/call somebody from the group that you're interested in, or an alum that is in a different group? I'm working on cold contacting small and medium boutiques and MMs right now.

Oct 12, 2017

I almost exclusively used emails. A phone cold call could be very high-risk if the person reacts poorly. Plus, an email gives the contact a chance to vet you, assuming you send a resume in the first email.

Oct 12, 2017

According to my brother (just got his internship at an IB from a non-target), you should always email when you're working with the big guys. And in doing so, you're just going to have to understand that you probably won't get responses. What that means is that you have to send follow-ups and in general try a lot of people.

Shoot a lot of darts and see what sticks

-Some guy at an information session I recently went to.

Oct 12, 2017

Email. My friend tried to call a MD who never responded.

Let's just say that didn't go well and he was immediately transferred to HR who said he'd email with app link and some info.

Oct 12, 2017

"Well what's the call about?"

Obviously he knew what the call was about because your friend introduced himself as an undergrad. This was a prime opportunity for him to admit how interested he is in working at the company etc. etc.

Oct 12, 2017

I think in general my friend messed up a lot. Who the hell has the nerve to ask an Invest Banker if they are "busy" haha. And on top of that you're right: the partner gave him two opportunities to progress with the call and ask about working for them. But I imagine my friend was too worked up to think it through.

    • 1
Oct 12, 2017

I have managed to connect with some VP and MD's through cold calling. I have a lasting relationship with one for the past few years, started with a cold call.

Also, why is your username your email?

Oct 12, 2017

Thanks for pointing that out! That was a mistake I didn't catch!

Best Response
Oct 20, 2017

Anyone who's done a lot of cold calling in their day has had this happen to them. Practice makes perfect, tell your friend to keep calling. But maybe start with lower rungs on the latter so the stakes aren't as high.

While in corporate sales, I called a Chief Executive at a Fortune 500 Telco who I'd reached out to well over 15 times. I was expecting a routine voicemail, but when he picked up the phone I dropped a deuce so hard it practically fell through the 5 floors of our office building. This is a great reason why you need to have your pitch memorized, so in those deuce dropping moments you don't drop the ball.

    • 4
Oct 20, 2017

Spring semester was wrapping up and I still didn't have an IB internship secured. I started to feel the urgency and decided to call an MD of a small local shop who didn't respond to my initial cold email.

MD: "Hello?" (agitated)

Me: "Hi my name is... and I go to... "

MD: "Listen kid, I don't have time for this shit. Do you have my email?"

Me: "Yes, I have it right here"

MD:"Ok, so why are you calling me?! Send me your resume and I'll take a look." Hangs up.

Surprisingly got a first round interview out of that! Almost shat myself though haha.

    • 3
Oct 20, 2017

Firstly stop treating these people like they are Gods. They are just another human being like anyone else. I feel that people get themselves far too worked up when phoning people with high titles which then increases their nerves and basically ruins any productivity from the call.

The partner in this case sounds like a bit of a dick. We are all busy, thats life. Everybody has 30 seconds to be polite down a phone though.

    • 2
Oct 20, 2017

Don't be awkward, just laugh it off or whatever, say how much you appreciate whatever time either/or can give you, and then have a productive phone discussion.

If you mean will it be helpful in getting you an interview someday, probably not. Hopefully you're just gathering information, gauging your own interest, etc.

Oct 20, 2017
SmallUser:

Will this is call be helpful if I am a rising sophomore? I think it will be interesting! If he doesnt hate me......

MAN THE FUCK UP

Oct 20, 2017
whatwhatwhat:
SmallUser:

Will this is call be helpful if I am a rising sophomore? I think it will be interesting! If he doesnt hate me......

MAN THE FUCK UP

+infinity

Oct 20, 2017

Whats the problem here?

Oct 20, 2017

Man, when I saw the title of this post, I figured you had called an alumni whose listed number was a sex hotline that she operated on the side of her ST gig.
Thanks for wasting 30 seconds of my life which I will never get back. Grow a pair.

Oct 20, 2017

If you're cold emailing, nobody's going to expect you to custom tailor each line of the email to the person. I wouldn't be too worried, and just brush it off like you're hustling.

Oct 20, 2017

Yeah, this is no biggie. 8 months ago I cold-emailed a Partner at a top consulting firm. No response.

Last 2 months I've been working with the same Partner on an intense project. She does not recall that I had cold-emailed her I'm sure, and I was happy to not bring it up.

Most hustlers go through this sort of thing - very normal, nothing to be worried or get awkward about. This is life, and you're trying to make a better one for yourself, like anyone.

Oct 20, 2017
bbjhva:

Yeah, this is no biggie. 8 months ago I cold-emailed a Partner at a top consulting firm. No response.

Last 2 months I've been working with the same Partner on an intense project. She does not recall that I had cold-emailed her I'm sure, and I was happy to not bring it up.

Most hustlers go through this sort of thing - very normal, nothing to be worried or get awkward about. This is life, and you're trying to make a better one for yourself, like anyone.

Agreed. Literally sent the same email (with slight variations) to three people at McK all in different locations and one connected me to the other two by forwarding my contact and email (whom I had already emailed). I have a call with one and all emailed me back with great responses.

Oct 20, 2017

If the emails themselves were reasonable (e.g. not a waste of their time), the fact that the two people have interacted with each other is no big deal.

Oct 20, 2017

I would cold email before cold call...via linkedin... a cold email directly to an analyst/associate/whatever is more effective than cold calling an assistant....

Oct 20, 2017
analyst_808:

I would cold email before cold call...via linkedin... a cold email directly to an analyst/associate/whatever is more effective than cold calling an assistant....

I agree. I spent a lot of time cold calling and finally landed a an ibanking internship at a boutique. The hardest part is getting to the right person. Most of the time it's assistants/HR/or voicemail. Haven't tried linkedin yet but definitely going to before FT recruiting.

Oct 20, 2017

Got it, the linkedin thing I always found creepy..Is it creepy to randomely message someone?

Oct 20, 2017

you get over it. Def. works though, had two informational interviews today because of random messages. One went really well as they will forward my resume, and put me in contact with other bankers in the area i'm in, as well as NY, when I visit there to network...2nd one was ok, but turned out to be Ops...

SmallUser:

Got it, the linkedin thing I always found creepy..Is it creepy to randomely message someone?

Oct 20, 2017

What did you ask for initially? Did you visit or do the call on the phone? How did the call go??

Oct 20, 2017

Since I was running out of time and summer was approaching, I straight up asked if they were looking for an intern or if there is someone I could talk to about the firm, etc. Might not have been the best approach. You might want to go a different route. But at times when I did get bankers on the phone, etc, I would usually end up with interviews from a handful of the firms I called. If they said possibly or yes, I would forward them my resume and follow up in a week or two. I kept all my calls in an excel file. Make sure you write who you talked to, their personal line if you have it, what email, when to follow up, etc.

From my experiences: you well get told no a lot. I come from a semi-target, rising senior 3.4 GPA Finance Major. The most important thing that I've learned from this experience is to keep your head high and keep pushing at it. Seriously. Don't afraid to get hit because it's going to hurt.

Oct 20, 2017

Never cold called here, but cold e-mailing seems to work. Start with alum and then work your way to non-alum in something that your interested in (i.e. specific industry group in IB or desk in S&T). Since you are a sophmore, it would be a good idea to attend any FT recruitment sessions at or near your school in the fall. I made some excellent contacts that way.

-philly g

Oct 20, 2017

if you cold call be nice to the EAs and assistants because if you don't treat them with respect you will never get thru and worst if they actually bother to take down your name and tell the MDs and VPs that you were a dick. The rationale is that if you are begging for a job or internship and already a fucking dick on the phone, how much worst will you be once you actually have a job here???

Cold email might be more effective, but be sure to keep it short and not overly specific. Don't cold email an MD or VP and ask for an internship at the industrial's desk, but rather ask for an appointment/call for career guidance and potential opportunities at XYZ firm.

Oct 20, 2017

You cold linkedin'ed boutiques or BBs? I would try to use the email format and guess, but idk if emailing is effective. Easy to ignore. Also, this week was July 4th so people are out..?

Oct 20, 2017

Use linkedin to get their names then plug those into the email format. Find the @firm.com by looking at their site for a general email like [email protected]. Often google searching the firms email ending like "@firm.com" or whatever will get you some email contacts.

Oct 20, 2017

Thanks!! Any suggestions for a typical email/how long to wait b4 a follow up?

Oct 20, 2017

I cold called, I interned and I became an analyst

Oct 20, 2017
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Oct 20, 2017