Updated: Feb 6, 2020
Okay, admit it, your skin crawled. Just a tiny bit. Maybe a sense of panic or a flood of excuses immediately entered your mind? There's a good chance a few of you out there get excited by the words "cold" and "call". This probably isn't for you. For the rest of you, let’s talk about it.
Cold Calling – actually picking up the phone and calling someone you’ve never previously met- is a necessary evil. It certainly is necessary, but is it really, evil? Perhaps, there's a chance, we've just been approaching it the wrong way.
I am probably the perfect/worst example of this. If at all possible, I avoid cold calling entirely. I'm more of a "warm-caller." If I can use any other possible way to get in the door; whether through networking, cold stop-bys, or send a gift, emails, food, or news articles, I will. Unfortunately, per research, my sales are suffering because of it.
Why do I hate to cold call?
Well, the short answer: I am afraid.
Why? Why are we afraid of picking up the phone?
As it turns out, I am not alone. According to a Value Selling Associates study, 48% of us are afraid of cold calling. Be warned you fearful callers: this fear is to our detriment. Salespeople who are afraid of making cold calls are actually more stressed, make less money, and hit quota less frequently than our counterparts. Cold calling is necessary, a game changer, and giving our peers a leg up.
Great, I'm a scaredy cat salesperson. Why is this happening to me, and what can I do about it?
Weldon Long, Harvard Business Review (HBR), says there are two things in particular that cause this fear:
1) We are afraid of sounding like a sales person
2) Fear of failure
He says there are ways to overcome these mental hurdles.
First, give your self some credit. Being a salesperson is an honorable profession. We are problem solvers, we keep companies in business, improve processes, save money, make money, help others. We introduce and provide incredible things, products, and services that can make serious impacts. Be the proof of this. Make sure when you are cold calling, you are offering tactical and a specific value add/s to your prospect.
And the way to get over fear of failure? One way, is to just start failing. Fail over and over. One option is “Go For No,” a technique we’ve described in one of our previous posts. The other, is to keep practicing. Role play, practice with co-workers, spouses, friends, get so good at what you are saying on a cold call, it becomes second nature.
By addressing these two most common fears, we begin to build confidence and understand our value.
Once you’re feeling good, now it’s time to dial.
When it comes to the actual cold call itself, there are also some measurable and interesting findings.
According to research by Gong.io, these techniques tend to be more successful when used to gain a meeting or an appointment from a first time call:
1. State your full name and company name- people don’t like guessing, be upfront with who you are.
2. Do ask, “How are you?” Cold calls with this question are 5.2x more successful in gaining the appointment. Why? People like common, familiar greetings.
3. Open with the reason for your call – increases chance for booking a meeting by 2.1x
4. Avoid discovery: the purpose of a cold call is to set up a meeting.
5. Make your value prop- specific to the prospect (make sure to do your research)
6. Book your meeting: Ask, “do you have your calendar handy?”
7. Make cold calls on these days and these times:
Wednesday and Thursday, between 11a-12pm or 4-5pm
And finally, it’s important to make sure these components are in place:
1) Reach out to the decision maker.
2) Do your research on the individual.
3) Do your research on the company
4) Make sure that you are adding value in a specific way
5) Be persistent - 44% of Appointments made, take more than six touchpoints
6) Don’t give up!
To be a top performer, cold calling must be a part of your schedule, there’s no way around it.
The hardest part isn't the dialing or the prospect, it's ourselves, and changing the way we look at ourselves and how we communicate. So go out there. Know that you're helping and improving lives. Time to start dialing!
The following resources were used for this article, if you would like to learn more:
Harvard Business Review, Getting Over Your Fear of Cold Calling, Weldon Long, 2019.
Value Selling Associates, B2B Prospecting Challenges from the Front Lines, 2018.
Gong.io, Cold Calling Tips: 17 Proven Techniques to Master Your Cold Calls