How could there be anything worse than phoning a total stranger, interrupting their very busy day and then trying to sell them something? Most of us have been on the other side of those calls, getting a call randomly, answering it and someone you’ve never spoken to before starts asking you questions and trying to sell you something.
Millennials feel this pain more than most. They’ve received more of these calls than any generation before them and have been brought up to feel bad about interrupting people. Think of all those times your mum would tell you not to interrupt people and then bam, suddenly it’s your job!
Cold calling might not be your favourite sales activity but it delivers results, consistently and there are few sales activities that can match it. If you want to succeed in sales then you must learn the art of making sales calls. InsideSales.com recently found that to hit their targets, sales development reps performed an average of 94.4 daily activities, 35.9 of which were phone calls.
I too, was scared of cold calling…
When I was first faced with the task of cold calling I did not want to do it. The thought of annoying someone in the middle of their day and then having to try and create a sales opportunity from it was massively daunting. I can remember being given a list of 150 contacts, people who I’d never spoken too and people who had never heard of me or my company before.
Making that first call was quite possibly one of the hardest and scariest things I have ever had to do. At the time, I looked for any and every possible distraction out there. I needed the toilet, then had to grab a drink, get my desk ready, check a few things with my colleagues, but before long I had run out of all possible distractions!
The time had come and I had to face my fear. I made my first cold call. I’d love to say it went amazing, I got the meeting and ended up with a multi-million deal. However, it was quite the opposite—it was terrible, I messed up my words, had a shaky voice and fell down at the first hurdle. The 2nd call wasn’t much better, but as each call went on I got better and better and before I knew it I had booked my first appointment from a cold call.
What can you do if you or your team fear cold calling?
It’s totally understandable to fear cold calling. As I mentioned, it goes against the grain of what we’re brought up to do and it’s seen in such a negative way. What I found was that as soon as I started to book appointments, and as soon as those appointments started to turn into sales, that fear soon disappeared.
Cold calling is a results driving sales activity and if you can overcome the fear you could unlock more sales opportunities then you could ever imagine. The first challenge is to overcome the fear, so here are my top 7 tips on how to do that:
Lesson 1 – Do Your Homework
One of the reasons most people fear cold calling is not knowing who they’re going to speak to. By researching the person or company before making sales calls, you take that fear away and you’re suddenly able to offer more “personalized” value.
Lesson 2 – Watch the Pros
Another great way to build confidence is to watch the best do it! Watch experienced sales people making cold calls and take notes. Watch how they start the call, how the build rapport, how they overcome objections and you’ll soon not only learn great tips but you’ll feel more confident when you make calls.
Lesson 3 – Build a Master Plan
Whilst it is common for millennials (and most sales people to be fair) to be scared of cold calling, one great way to overcome this fear is to be fully prepared. If you know exactly what you want or need to say, how to overcome objections and some common questions you’ll feel a lot better about making the call. It’s often the fear of the unknown that plagues us.
Lesson 4 – Practice Makes Perfect
Confidence is often built through experience so the more practice you get, the better you’ll feel and the better you’ll get at it. Most people feel bad about cold calling when they don’t succeed it at, but as soon as you start getting results and you have good conversations, you’ll feel better about doing it. The quickest way to get results? Make more calls!
Lesson 5 – Stay in The Zone
The biggest challenge in making a cold call is usually picking up the phone to make the first one. It’s usually in this time you’ll look to find any distraction possible! Once you’ve made the first call though they become easier and easier. This is why it’s so beneficial to stay in the zone once you’re in it and avoid any distractions that come your way (bar an alien invasion perhaps).
Lesson 6 – Learn to Love Objections!
The most difficult part of cold calling (after picking the phone up in the first place) is overcoming objections. You could be mid-way through an awesome pitch when they throw an unexpected objection that trips you up. If you can learn how to feel confident dealing with them and embrace them, you’ll soon master them!
Lesson 7 – Celebrate Success
As I mentioned earlier, as soon as you start to achieve success through cold calling the fear will soon disappear. You should celebrate each success; you’ve earned it!
Every time you book an appointment or get a sale, celebrate it! You’ll make the success even sweeter, and even more appealing making that fear feel like nothing standing between you and sales success.
So, whilst it’s understandable to fear cold calling, if you can overcome that fear and master it, you’ll master sales.