Why I quit cold calling cold turkey

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After spending years as a faithful cold caller, find out why Realtor Jonathan Pressman decided the return on investment was no longer worthwhile.

For years, I was an ardent advocate of real estate cold calling. To paraphrase Rocky Balboa, if you can take the hits and keep moving forward, I believe you’ll eventually strike gold. 

Cold calling is a numbers game. Unfortunately, even with tremendous advances in technology and AI, you can’t reliably predict when a homeowner is going to sell. Nevertheless, if you call enough homeowners, you’re bound to find a few who are considering selling. Set listing appointments with half of those, and you’ll inevitably secure a few listings.

Sounds like cold calling works, right? Well, that depends on your definition of success. Will you get listings from cold calls? Yes, you probably will. The question is whether you think it’s the best way to get listings. Ultimately, I concluded it wasn’t the best path forward, and here are three reasons why.

1. It’s inefficient

In my experience, cold calling has become very inefficient. It’s easier than ever for companies and individuals to aggregate lists of people’s phone numbers and autodial or robocall them. As a result, people have all but stopped answering the phone when they receive calls from numbers they don’t recognize.

According to a study published by Pew Research, just 19 percent of Americans say they answer calls from an unrecognized number. That means you’re fighting an uphill battle right off the bat, and when a prospect does pick up, they’re often not thrilled to hear from you.

2. Regulations around telephone communications are getting increasingly strict 

Before you place a single cold call, you need to research laws like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to ensure you’re not inadvertently violating consumers’ rights.

Next, you’ll have to screen every number you intend to call against the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry and the state’s DNC list. These lists are extensive and continue growing every day, with the National DNC list containing 246 million active registrations in 2022. 

In case you think no one pays attention to these laws, earlier in 2023, Keller Williams agreed to pay $40 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging the company violated the TCPA by making pre-recorded calls. I’m no soothsayer, but if pressed to take a bet, I’d say regulators will only continue to make cold calling more difficult for agents.

3. It’s mentally and emotionally draining

Cold calling isn’t physically challenging, though it can seriously affect your mental and emotional well-being. Even those with thick skin tire of the incessant, mind-numbing ringing and constant rejection.

Sure, there’s a certain thrill when you beat the odds and finally have a great conversation with a homeowner who’s legitimately interested in exploring their options, but is that enough to justify the frustrations of potentially making hundreds of calls for each success? Not in my opinion, unless it’s a diamond in the rough or a luxury listing.

The real reason I quit cold calling

The real reason I quit cold calling was simple: It no longer made sense as the most effective use of my time. What put me over the edge was making 1,900 cold calls in a month, only to win a listing when someone texted me in response to a real estate Reel I posted on Facebook.

I realized that I would be happier and probably do more business by investing my time, energy and marketing budget into other activities like social media and meeting up with prospects in person.

What to do instead

If you choose to call it quits on cold calling, only you can decide what you want to do with your time. I happen to enjoy writing and making educational Reels on social media. Other agents might choose to invest in a custom website, paid leads, local events or even sponsoring a little league team.

If you want to succeed long-term in real estate, it’s important to find a set of sustainable activities that gets your name out there. Cold calling became unsustainable for me, and I felt the return on investment was no longer worth all the trouble.

Since ditching cold calling, my business has been doing just fine, and I’ve been significantly happier than when I was spending half my day on a dialer.

Jonathan Pressman is a Realtor who writes on a wide range of financial topics. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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