There are few things more intimidating than phoning a total stranger, interrupting their very busy day to sell them something. We’ve all been on the other side of those calls, so you know how annoying it can be to get a call from a number you don’t recognize, only for the stranger on the other side of the line to sell you something you neither want nor need.
Millennials feel this pain more than most. They’ve received more of these calls than any other generation before them and have been brought up to feel bad about interrupting people. Imagine: After being told for most of your life that it’s not nice to interrupt people, you’re suddenly doing it for a living.
But while cold calling might not be your favourite sales activity, you can’t deny that it consistently delivers results, and that 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 found that to hit their targets, sales development reps needed to perform 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 really did not want to do it. The thought of annoying someone in the middle of their day and then attempting to create a sales opportunity from it was massively daunting. I remember being given a list of 150 contacts whom I had never spoken to before nor had heard of me or my company before.
Making that first call was quite possibly one of the hardest and scariest things I’ve ever done. I procrastinated, looking for anything else I could do instead of picking up the phone. I went to the toilet, grabbed a drink, got my desk ready, and checked a few things with my colleagues, but before long I had run out of all possible distractions. Eventually, I had to face my fears.
And so 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 second call wasn’t much better either. But I kept calling and calling.
With each call, I got better and better results, 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 it can unlock more sales opportunities than you could ever imagine. But the biggest hurdle is overcoming the fear of speaking to strangers. Here are seven tips on how to do that:
Lesson 1: Do Your Homework
One of the reasons why most people fear cold calling is because they don’t know whom they’re going to speak to. By researching the person or company before making sales calls, you can take that fear away and you’ll be able to offer more “personalized” value.
Lesson 2: Watch the Pros
Another great way to build confidence is to watch how the best people do it. Take a look at how experienced salespeople make cold calls, and take notes. Observe how they start their calls, how they build rapport, and how they overcome objections. Not only will you pick up some great tips, but you’ll also feel more confident when you make calls.
Lesson 3: Build a Master Plan
While it is common for millennials (and most salespeople, to be fair) to be scared of cold calling, one great way to overcome this fear is to be fully prepared. It’s often the fear of the unknown that plagues us, so make sure you’re ready. If you know exactly what you need to say, how to overcome objections, and how to answer some common questions, you’ll feel a lot better about making the call.
Lesson 4: Practice Makes Perfect
Confidence is often built through experience. The more practice you get, the better you’ll get at it and the better you’ll feel about your skills. Most people feel bad about cold calling when they don’t succeed at it, but do it enough times and you’ll eventually get more good conversations, and you’ll feel better about doing it. And the quickest way to get results is to simply pick up the phone.
Lesson 5: Stay in The Zone
For a lot of sellers, the biggest challenge in making a cold call is overcoming the fear of picking up the phone. It’s usually at this point when you’ll try to do anything else aside from actually making a call.
However, once you’ve made that first call, the next ones will become easier and easier. This is why you need to stay in the zone when you’re making calls, and try to avoid any distractions that may come your way (barring an alien invasion, perhaps).
Lesson 6: Learn to Love Objections
The most difficult part of cold calling (after picking up the phone in the first place) is overcoming objections. It’s frustrating to get thrown an unexpected objection while you’re midway through an otherwise awesome pitch—it can mess up your flow.
You should feel comfortable dealing with any possible objection your prospects . you’ll soon master them!
Lesson 7: Celebrate Your Success
As I mentioned earlier, as soon as you start achieving success through cold calling, the fear of picking up the phone will eventually disappear. You should celebrate each success; you’ve earned it!
Every time you book an appointment or get a sale, give yourself a pat on the back. By making the success even sweeter and even more appealing, you’ll chip away at your fears and you’ll soon feel like there’s nothing standing between you and sales success.
It’s understandable to fear cold calling. But if you can overcome that fear and master it, you’ll master sales.
Happy cold calling!