Cold Calling: Is It Really Worth It?

Bill Stinnett

For many sales people, the fear of cold calling is only slightly less than that of death-by-drowning or public speaking. The idea of contacting a prospect by phone for the first time may cause even the most aggressive sales rep to break out in hives. The good news is that there are several ways that we can make cold calling easier, more productive, and much more profitable.When potential buyers seek us out, it means they have a need they suspect we can fill. The problem is that they're likely seeking out our competition, too. Most sales people would prefer to simply wait till they call us, but the downside of living our sales life in this reactive mode is that “incoming” deals are usually very competitive, often “fixed” in terms of time frame and budget, and are frequently “pre-baked” for our competition to win. Many of the very best sales opportunities are found when we take control of our destiny, and go out and find people who have needs for which we can provide a solution. The value to us is quite often shorter sales cycles, larger deal sizes, and a whole lot less competition.

Why does Cold Calling cause so much fear?

The biggest fear of cold calling is the fear of the unknown. Our mind races to ask:“What if I catch them at a bad time?”“What if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to?”“What if this person is down right rude?”But, perhaps the scariest unknown of all is . . . “What am I going to say when I get this person on the phone?” All these fears are easily overcome with a little planning and preparation. By using a simple and replicable pattern to structure our calls, we can build-in statements and questions that alleviate tension and better equip ourselves to deal with potential roadblocks and potholes when we hit them.Most of what we commonly refer to as Cold Calls, are really simply “first” calls, but there is no reason why they have to be cold. There are several ways we can warm them up. As with most things in life, planning and preparation can make us much more effective and in this case, it may also serve to substantially improve our confidence.

Prepare yourself before you call

There are several ways you can prepare yourself for success even before you pick up the phone:

  1. Do your research before you call. That way, when you get someone on the phone, you can have a relevant conversation about something you’ve read or heard about their industry, their business, or even about them personally.
  2. Precede your call with some other form of communication. Use an organized series of letters, fax, voicemail, and email, to introduce yourself and your company before you make the first call.
  3. Develop a short value proposition – preferably referencing how you’ve helped a similar client – that is clear, concise, and compelling. Then, learn how to ask the questions that “set you up” to weave the story into your conversations. Don’t just recite it in their general direction.
  4. Prepare a list of the ten most common questions or objections your prospect is likely to have and the appropriate responses for each. There are usually only an handful that we hear over and over and over. Let’s get prepared with a strong explanation or rebuttal for each.
  5. Compile a list of happy clients to use for “name dropping” during your conversation. Make sure you understand exactly what kind of value your solutions have delivered to make them happy, and how your functional capabilities can do the same for your new prospect.
  6. Practice, practice, practice. Unfortunately, most sales people never do enough Cold Calling to learn to be effective. Your general confidence will increase when you apply these ideas above, but the only way to truly eliminate the fear of the unknown is to make enough calls and experience enough different situations that there is little or nothing new to hear.
  7. Quit trying to “fight it.” Accept the fact that for most sales people Cold Calling is just part of the job, and spend your energy learning to enhance your skills instead of dreading and avoiding the phone.

You are only responsible for your efforts

If you or your sales team are responsible for making large numbers of Cold Calls everyday, and especially if research and preparation is not appropriate, we need to detach ourselves emotionally from the results of the call. We should learn to, “Translate our results goals into action goals,” so that we don’t feel as though we are failing if we don’t see the desired results right away. Sometimes the job should be perceived as just a series of simple actions which include:

  1. Dialing the phone
  2. Posing certain specific questions
  3. Proposing the prospect take a specific action

In order to cope with the anxiety and stress, you have to let yourself off the hook. You can’t control your prospect's reaction to your proposal. All you can control is the actions you take to propose it, and the resolve to take the action again regardless of the outcome.If you do only one thing to enhance your skill set this year, resolve to get “good” at making Cold “first" Calls. It seems too simple, but this is true: Every situation you’ll ever face in professional sales can be improved by enhancing your ability to find and engage more new sales opportunities.About the authorBill Stinnett is the founder and President of Boston-based Sales Excellence, Inc. and is a highly sought after speaker appearing at sales meetings, conferences, conventions, and annual sales kick-offs world-wide. He is the creator of many popular sales programs including Selling at the C-Level® and Maximizing Sales Velocity™. For more information on these and other services please call 1-800-524-1994 or send email to bill@www.salesexcellence.com.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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