Salespeople want to know how to cold call because they want to make more sales, hit their quotas and keep their jobs. They want sales now, a sales pipeline for the future, job satisfaction and new business contacts. They know prospecting for new business is important and they think they know exactly why they should cold call. Then why aren’t they dialing the phone more often?
Some salespeople severely limit the number of cold calls they make in spite of the potential rewards because it involves either (1) a first telephone call to a given prospect or (2) an unexpected face-to-face “call” at a prospective customer’s business.
Salespeople are afraid of the risk, and the reality, of rejection because they think, when a prospect says “no”, they are rejecting them. Before long, they start viewing cold calling as a horrible chore that should be completely avoided. To protect themselves from feeling personally rejected, they often develop self-limiting beliefs and corresponding excuses:
• “I don’t have time”
• “I don’t like it so I’m not going to do it”
• “I can reach my goals without doing it, so I don’t need to do it”
To an employer, it may appear that employees simply don’t know how to cold call. In fact, employees don’t feel comfortable making cold calls because they experience emotional stress related to their fear of rejection. How can an employer help salespeople overcome their fears of cold calling and rejection so they can cold call more consistently and make more money?
Consider providing the following four cold calling tips at your next sales meeting to help develop consistency and resilience in your salespeople:
- Develop a detached, professional perspective with qualifying as the primary objective. Employees tend to think cold calls must coincide with immediate needs in order to contribute toward sales goals. Instead, salespeople should maintain a positive, self-assured perspective viewing cold calling as a necessary step toward qualifying leads. Use humor after the call to diffuse any tough situation, keep calling consistently and you’ll move past the moments of rejection quickly.
- Warm up the cold calling process. You’ve got about 30 seconds, so tell them your name and the name of your company and then get to the point quickly. Make the process more effective by turning your cold calls into warm calls. For example, send emails or letters before calling to help differentiate you. Call at a time predetermined and communicated in your correspondence to demonstrate your professionalism and follow through. Emphasize your past successes with similar clients and highlight solutions to problems. Prospects may be more likely to take your call if they read your communications and respect you for your approach. Emails and/or letters + phone calls = Warmer conversations, better appointments, and more profitable deals (Test this for yourself!).
- Hold yourself accountable. Let prospects know when you’ll be calling via email or letter, and you build trust with the prospect and hold yourself accountable to calling at a specific time. If you are still struggling to pick up the phone, try FedEX instead of sending emails and you’ll likely get yourself to start making calls. Why? You won’t want to spend the time and money to send a letter by FedEX and then waste your effort by not calling. Schedule calling with a co-worker or a partner that sells complementary products or services and then hold each other accountable to making a certain number of calls. Pick a calling time and schedule it (consider calling Tues, Wed or Thurs from 8 – 9 a.m. or 4 – 5 pm). Always schedule calling in your calendar rather than leaving it as an open task.
- Get smart about targeting. Target industries or segments that have the highest likelihood of needing what you offer. Target the job titles that are the likely buyers or decision makers. Look for trigger events that provide a good reason to call, such as an article published in a newspaper or magazine. Match the strengths of the product or service to the needs of the target market. Show how the position and price are aligned with the prospect’s needs and communicate value.
Salespeople can achieve top performance through cold calling if they develop a strong value proposition and learn how to overcome their fears of rejection. Start by helping them develop a strong value proposition. Then encourage them to use the four tips above to call more effectively and consistently. If you also help them address their underlying fears of rejection, your sales team may become even more highly effective and resilient.