America’s drug dealers are desperate! How desperate? According to a recent article in New York Magazine’s Daily Intel blog, some cocaine dealers in Manhattan are resorting to “cold calling” in the hopes of attracting new business.

“I'll keep doing it until it stops working," one dealer, Eddie, told Daily Intel. "But I don't like small talk. I don't like having to ask them how their day was."

The illegality of their trade aside (illegal drugs are bad for you, and illegal), their small business lesson is real: Cold calling is back, and for many of us, more important than ever. Whether you are phoning up would-be employers or trying to drum up some business, it pays to know how to work the phone when calling strangers.

In "Heat Up Your Cold Calls," author George Walther advises “preheating” your cold calls by name-dropping (if you have any mutual acquaintances) and by emphasizing any pre-existing relationship (if, for example, you both graduated from the same university or live in the same city).

Here are some other must-know tips from the pros:

Confidence is key. Cold calling is a confidence game. Absolute trust in your abilities and in the superiority of your product is necessary. If your pitch or product is sub-par, don’t start cold calling until it is perfected. Genuine confidence shines through.

Call early. According to Paul S. Goldner's "Red-Hot Cold Call Selling," 8-9 a.m. is the best time to reach prospects in the U.S. Goldner says this is not the case when cold calling in many other countries. (Prospects in India, for example, should be reached much later in the day.)

Speak loudly and clearly—slowly. Many of us have a tendency, perhaps retained from grade school when we would rush through class presentations, to speak quickly under pressure. In reality, you should do the opposite. An important pitch needs to be delivered slowly and with conviction.

Play the numbers game. Just as a good investor knows to diversify, a disciplined cold caller never relies on only one prospect.

Follow up.
You can’t always expect a prospect to immediately pull out their credit card or appointment calendar—be willing to build trust over time, and to follow up with contacts on the fence. You should keep track of who is a maybe, follow up and tailor your pitches accordingly; a person in the maybe column should not be given the same sell as a fresh lead.

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