You’re Never Too Young to Cold Call!


“You are never too young to learn, never too old to change.” – Thomas S. Monson

In many respects, Bernu Vermeulen was like any other salesperson.

He understood sales is a challenging (yet potentially lucrative) profession. He was diligent in outreach. Unfazed by rejection. Being an entrepreneur, he was passionate about his product.

He faced typical salesperson challenges: Unreturned calls. Inability to break through to prospects. Endless voicemails. Obstructions from gatekeepers.

One other complicating factor: He’s 13 years old. He sounds like a kid. It’s not his fault.

Bernu wasn’t selling candy bars for a Scout troop. Nor pizzas for a school trip. He was hawking RoastMore Coffee, a unique fund-raising product bearing the name of the company his father founded.

His dad’s an entrepreneur, too. Like father, like son.

His dad, Christo Vermeulen, and I connected on LinkedIn some time ago. He followed, and occasionally commented on, my posts. I appreciated his interest, as with every one of my 30,000+ LinkedIn connections.

I never expected him to call, though.

As a good father raising an ambitiously entrepreneurial son, Christo wanted to equip Bernu with the tools to succeed. He asked me to teach Bernu how to cold call with my sales training program.

Christo had watched his son gamely call schools and non-profit organizations to pitch RoastMore Coffee … and consistently get nowhere. Something didn’t add up.

The product is good. Nearly every home has someone who drinks coffee. The fund-raising potential, at a time when many charitable groups desperately need money, is monumental.

Maybe it was that Bernu sounded young. Or maybe it was just a typical salesperson’s fate. As I’ve mentioned many times, cold calling is not a common skill.

Bernu and I got to work on his sales training. Christo and I wanted to be sure he was uncommon.

Now, I’ve done a LOT of cold call sales training since launching The Cold Call Coach in 2015. My sales trainer clients typically range in age from early 20s to early 70s. Never before had I trained a 13-year-old.

Well, Bernu was an ideal student. He was prepared and polite. Did his homework. Asked great questions.

Most of all, he took the instruction seriously. He committed to mastering the skill of cold calling, making it part of his mental muscle memory.

Our sales training program lasted for three two-hour sessions. Finally, we tried some live dialing.

Bernu made good calls. He left smart voicemails. He showed signs of knowing how to turn gatekeepers into advocates, a crucial skill in accessing decisionmakers.

Since then, however, Bernu has become The Gatekeeper Whisperer.

The 13-year-old prodigy has a 53.8% cold call success rate; the national average is 5.5%. His voicemail response rate is 16.7%, exponentially higher than the 0.7% national average. He’s filling his calendar with appointments.

Keep in mind, he’s experiencing this incredible success during a pandemic economy. Schools, an ideal client for Bernu, are largely closed. Non-profits, another target market, are running lean.

What could his results be in a good economy?

I’ve had some gratifying cold calling group trainings recently, most notably Wintrust Bank. Still, I’ve never worked with anyone like Bernu. At just 13 years old, he’s better at cold calling than 85 percent of the other sales reps out there.

Kudos to Christo, too. He had plenty of reasons not to educate his son in this niche skill. He could have said “too young.” Or, “the work will be there when he’s older.”

He didn’t, though. He wanted Bernu to learn early, to fan the entrepreneurial flame within. It’s since become a bonfire. See why I believe cold calling should be taught in schools?

So if a 13-year-old can master cold calling, why not you? What’s holding you back?

The coronavirus isn’t going anywhere. It’s actually created opportunities, as sales competitors try to figure out how to navigate the market. Write a compelling cold call script, suck up your confidence, and start dialing. Don’t wait until your coffee grows cold!

Paul M. Neuberger is President of The Starr Group, Founder/CEO of The Cold Call Coach, and a globe-trotting inspirational keynote speaker. Don’t miss his three-part webinar series, Paul’s Emergency Sales Kit, filled with timely instruction and advice for salespeople during a challenging period. Or, for an even deeper dive, try Cold Call University. Contact Paul at 414-313-8338 or via e-mail at

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