What is Dialing and Smiling

Dialing and smiling is a telemarketing technique in which unsolicited calls are made to prospective clients of a business or service. It is a colloquial term for "cold calling." In the financial context, the practice has acquired a negative connotation over the years as it is generally associated with high-pressure sales tactics used by unscrupulous stock promoters in "boiler room" operations. Such salespeople use an upbeat and positive tone to sell highly risky or sometimes spurious investments to unsuspecting investors. Dialing and smiling is also known as "smiling and dialing" or "dialing for dollars."

Breaking Down Dialing and Smiling

Dialing and smiling involves a call to a completely unknown person. Stock brokerages would employ the practice — often using leads generated from a database of leads — in an attempt to win new brokerage clients. Dialing and smiling practitioners often feel as though they are playing a role given the overly positive tone they must take and the fact that their efforts will not succeed most of the time. Some jurisdictions have regulations in place to limit the use of such cold-calling practices. 

Dialing and smiling requires the use of leads to call, preferably ones vetted for net worth, income, profession, zip code or another clue to a target's ability to afford what is being pitched. Such lists can be purchased or built based on the needs of the user. Some dialing and smiling users will mine published corporate directories or call a company's main telephone line after hours to access their electronic telephone extension directory to find names and titles.

Dialing and Smiling and Do Not Call Registries

The introduction of "Do Not Call" (DNC) registries, which lists people who do not wish to receive unsolicited calls from telemarketers, has reduced the incidence of such calls. While the stiff fines imposed for violation of the DNC rules is a deterrent to legitimate businesses, it is less so for "boiler room" operators, which may be engaged in unlawful or illegal activities to begin with.

Dialing and Smiling Tactics

While such rules have had a chilling effect on the most controversial cold calling methods, the best practices that make up dialing and smiling may be applied to many types of sales and client prospecting efforts. For example:

  • Not fearing the word "no": Most dialing and smiling callers will be rejected. They must quickly learn that the only thing that equals failure is not making the next call.
  • Preparation: A caller must understand their prospects, their wants and needs, and know how to address them. Pitches should be practiced. And if possible, send an introductory email before calling.
  • Pacing: Break calling lists into manageable pieces but be sure to keep momentum up. Calls are easier when you are on a roll.