Cold Calling Attitude - Understanding Ego Drive and Empathy

Cold calls, more than ever, get negative reactions. Overcome them by understanding ego drive and empathy factors.

Cold calling increased in 2021 by 20%. Many of those calls are robocalls, but many are real salespeople dialing phones. Some salespeople have a positive and helpful disposition. Many are slamming prospects with information about their product/service without regard to their needs and pain points. The positive, understanding salespeople will succeed with the right disposition and motivation.

Potential customers, more than ever, have negative preconceptions when they pick up the phone. They let a call go to voicemail more often than not to avoid the hassle of having to reject a pushy sales offer.

How do we ensure that our salespeople are on the right track with cold calling? Ego and empathy are the fundamental characteristics to define a successful approach. Refining ego and disposition will get your sales team on the right path to effective cold calls.

The basics are easy enough to internalize by practicing them live while making a call. Being empathetic, helpful, and keeping your emotions in check are the keys to success. Here’s a breakdown of the four key drivers your salespeople can practice and improve:


Empathy in the context of a sales call is the ability to put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. You don’t have to agree with their perspective, but you do have to understand how they feel and why they feel that way. This works on two levels. The first is the emotional level, if your prospect sounds angry, frustrated, or distracted, you should respect that and proceed appropriately. The second is the functional level - this is why you are calling. Understand what their needs and obstacles are and try to get to the root cause, then you can begin to address solutions.

Ego Drive

Ego drive is another term for intrinsic motivation, a self-generated desire to succeed, regardless of external rewards. Every salesperson wants to make commissions and please the boss, but great salespeople want to close the deal even if the commission isn’t a factor. The “win” feels good and they strive not only to close but to satisfy the customer.

Intrinsic motivation is not easily implemented but can pay huge dividends. To foster intrinsic motivation, create an environment where your salespeople understand the value they bring customers, enjoy their work, are appreciated, and feel like they are truly helping a prospect. With the right motivation, salespeople will strive to be helpful because they care about helping customers and aren’t fearful of getting fired or missing bonuses.

Ego Strength

Ego strength is a Freudian concept. It’s confidence in your ability to deal with challenges, solve problems in adverse circumstances, and control your emotions in difficult situations. Ego strength is the quality that allows you to keep a positive attitude no matter how many rejections you face. Salespeople are problem solvers, the ability to stay calm, rationalize, solve problems, and control emotions is critical to success.

Service Motivation

Service motivation is the inner drive to deliver on your commitments, get things done, and receive a “well done” or “good job” from those you serve. This concept often applies to public service and even military service, but the idea is the same in sales. If the salesperson aims to help the customer rather than just close the deal, the customer will respond positively. That positive response reinforces service motivation.

Cold calling is more challenging than it’s ever been. Ego drive and empathy are the difference between a successful cold call and one that leaves the prospect feeling frustrated and angry.

By encouraging your sales team to be intrinsically motivated, empathetic, and enabling them to prioritize being helpful, your outbound calling program will thrive.

See also: Tips on How to be Helpful, Listen and Ask the Right Questions

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