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Brother Can You Spare a Sale

There is a lot that salespeople can learn from panhandlers about cold calling, closing, time discipline, and self-motivation.

Recently there was a major controversy in Toronto around panhandlers on the street and their impact on tourism.

Of course the solution proposed by the ever enlightened leadership in the city was to ban all them from asking for money. This of course stirred further controversy and debate on the street, in the papers and talk radio, my favorite media vice.

Cold Calling Motivation

I know, you’re reading this wondering what this has to do with cold calling, but stay with me.

One caller into the radio had a great suggestion, they were joking, but I think they missed the brilliance of their suggestion when looked at from my perspective.

The caller suggested that we should take all the panhandlers, put them in suits and give them all jobs as cold callers. They clearly had no issues engaging strangers; no fear of rejection; no call reluctance, and they seem to have the proper work ethic. The panhandlers were putting in a full day of work, each day, without costly supervision. Self-motivated is what we call it in the sales world.

When you think about it, why do the people on the street panhandle? You would think that for the majority it is very simple, if they do not, they will not eat; simple straight forward. There are of course those few who are out there because they can make loads of tax free money, and they earn more from panhandling than others do at work.

Overcoming the Fear of Rejection

In sales, when we cold call, we usually only have to ask for the appointment, panhandlers go right for the gusto and ask for the close!

  • How do panhandlers overcome the fear of walking up to strangers and asking for money?
  • How do they find the discipline to do it day in day out 5,6,7, or even 8 hours a day?

They understand that if you don’t initiate the process, there is little chance of reaching your objective. I sometimes wonder if they know their ratio of approaches to cash.

Understanding Ratios and Numbers

Unlike many salespeople, they do not spend time trying to figure out who to call and who not to call. They don’t pretend to be clairvoyant and divine if someone is a buyer or not just by looking at their business cards or faces. Panhandlers just systematically and consistently approach everybody in their territory. They make the call and deal with the results and the rewards.

Time Discipline

They do not spend a lot of time planning and researching, or any of the other things that seem to consume the prospecting time reps set aside. Once they get to work, they make sure that they have what they need and then spend their time executing rather than rationalizing.

They also do not fool themselves that their “pipeline is full”, “I need to work on what is in the pipe and then I can prospect”, they are never too busy planning and hoping.

Execute and Ask

They ask for what they want, have a system and process and, they execute. They don’t worry about interrupting or bothering their targets, they just approach, present their value proposition “need to eat,” and ask for the money. If someone says no, they are that much closer to the next close.

I am not suggesting that we become panhandlers, (although I am sure some of the ones on the main streets of Toronto are making more than some sales people in Toronto), but I would encourage everyone to stop and ask why the panhandler can consistently act and execute.


We’ve broken the formula for running powerful prospecting sequences into 7 Core Elements. Learn more in our FREE guide on Building Effective Prospecting Sequences.

About the author

Tibor Shanto

Tibor Shanto

Tibor Shanto has over 20 years of sales experience from telemarketing to leading a…

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