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Take a deep breath - it's time to overcome your fear of cold-calling.

This story appears in the January 1998 issue of

About 10 years ago, a sales manager-turned-entrepreneur gave me two pieces of advice for people about to start working at home: Stay away from the refrigerator, and avoid the television. He could have easily added a third: Learn how to use the phone.

You probably think you're pretty good at using a telephone; after all, you've been doing it for years without thinking too much about it. However, as a homebased business owner, cold-calling is so central to your business's success that just being good doesn't cut it. In addition to telephone prospecting, you'll probably be acting as your company's sole telephone voice (that is, if you haven't enlisted a spouse or a friend to be the voice of your "personal assistant"). In fact, as owner, president, CFO and head of marketing, everything you like and dislike about using the telephone is magnified.

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