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Don’t ever say NEVER…

I made my first cold call.

Seriously, after 14 years of being a Realtor I made my first cold call.  Last Thursday and Friday I took a Short Sale Certification class at my market center. In order to pass the class we had to call homeowners that were anywhere from 30-90 days late on their mortgage payments. (Yes we know DNC and the names are scrubbed)

Hands sweating

Making that call was a little nerve wracking, my palms were actually sweating. NO I didn’t want to do it.  It was what we in real estate lingo would say is a cold call. The people we were calling had no idea how we knew they are behind in their payments. Now I have made calls to consumers before but that is when they have initially made contact with me through my IDX search site.

Not my Cup of Tea

Picking up the phone and calling people is not everyone’s cup of tea and that includes me. The last thing I wanted to sound like was an annoying sales person. So mentally I had to prepare myself to not sound that way but to gather the right attitude.

As the 20 of us in the class went around the room, and called 20 separate homeowners we only had one person who was not appreciative when we offered to help them in their unfortunate situation. Interesting only one person said, “Yes, I need your help.”  ALL of them said we could send our business cards. Some volunteered names of folks or neighbors who they knew had lost their jobs. We did not ask this they volunteered the information.

Most people in a financial bind with their mortgages don’t have a clue what to do. In fact once they have lost their job or can’t make a mortgage payment most bury their head in the sand and the clock starts ticking on what we can do to help them out. As professionals we have several options to offer the homeowner.

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Attitude Shift

It all started with my attitude changing from thinking about me to focusing on them. I had to take my eyes off myself and my own fears of picking up the phone in order to bring hope to those who are hurting.When you care, the concern will come through your voice and into their heart. The goal is to help them, not get the listing. The goal is to try and prevent the devastation of a foreclosure.

The phone is simply a means to reach out and touch them. No, I’m not advocating “cold calling” but I am trying to step out of my comfort zone and try to reach people who need help. If that means I am uncomfortable then so be it. It won’t be the first or last time I am uncomfortable in a situation.

Photo Credit Ines Hegedus-Garcia, Miamism

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Written By

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.



  1. Erion Shehaj

    January 26, 2009 at 2:41 pm


    If I were to tell you that MY palms started sweating as I was reading the story, would you believe that I could relate to this particular situation on a deep level? 🙂

    I’ve ready many books on overcoming this fear and they all preach the same “it’s a numbers game” shtick. But, your point on shifting the attitude and changing your focus on the person you’re trying to help is right on. Great post!

  2. Seth Siegler

    January 26, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Ohhh man,

    I used to do some cold calling and I remember how hard it was to start!

    Good point about putting the focus on THEM instead of YOU.

    I remember I had a coach who said, that I must have one hell of an ego to think that I can ruin someone’s entire day simply by calling them.

    You’re calling to help and that’s the key.

    One question though…

    Where do you find a list of people late on their payments?

  3. Ken Brand

    January 26, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Cold calling, door knocking, calling expireds, calling FSBO’s, asking a pretty girl to dance….it’s all dripping with possibilities for heart wrenching, ego crushing rejection.

    At least it is if you think and feel it is. As you’ve shared, focus off yourself and plunge it. Stretched repetition leads to grace and ease.

    In this particular case, these people really need help and guidance, you’re doing a positive thing…cheers to you.

  4. Missy Caulk

    January 26, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Seth, our broker also owns offices in CA. She found this group and we are working with them. They scrub lists by counties.

    A homeowner is 30-90 days late so there is still time to help them.

    The number is huge. Over 450 in the month of January.

  5. Missy Caulk

    January 26, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Erion, thanks I was nervous about posting on AG about this because I know it is not something most do or agree with. Heck as I said it was my first one and I’ve been a Realtor a long time.

  6. Missy Caulk

    January 26, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Ken, it is a stretch of who I am but anything we can do to help these folks with direction during these times in Mi, I am willing to put myself out there for.

  7. Bob

    January 26, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    These poor folks have been called, had people knock on their doors and a forest full of paper flyers dumped in their mailboxes.

  8. Austin Smith

    January 28, 2009 at 10:25 am

    As someone who makes their living from the cold call, I say congratulations to you, Missy. Cold calls may not be pleasant, but they are effective if your callers are effective. To conduct an effective cold call, one needs to not so much focus on the end result: a sale; instead try to identify what sort of problems or needs your client has (since everyone is an individual they all have individual needs), and when you begin to solve those problems a relationship will be formed that has the potential to lead into a sale.

    That’s not to say I wake up every morning, hardly able to contain my excitement until i press a phone to my ear. But I do what I have to do to pay rent, and I realize the value of a sincere cold call. It’s all in the approach. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Missy.

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