Most of us hate answering the phone just to find out there’s someone on the other end trying to sell us something. We generally think, When I need something, I’ll go out and find it. Which is why we tolerate sales calls but rarely welcome them.
And if we hate TAKING sales calls from strangers, it’s no wonder most of us hate MAKING sales calls to strangers! We don’t want to be that guy we hate. We dread the inevitable rejection we’ll face because we KNOW it’s going to take anywhere from 10 to 30 calls before we get to someone who can buy from us and will actually entertain our pitch. That’s a LOT of people saying NO—some very nicely, some dangling the carrot of call me later, some almost audibly rolling their eyes, and some hanging up or being so rude we WISH they’d just hung up.
So what do you do if you’re convinced you need to make cold calls in order to grow your business but you absolute abhor it?
Let me keep this very simple. If you hate cold calling, you have four primary choices:
- Learn not to hate it.
- Keep hating it but do it anyway.
- Hire someone to do it for you.
- Find other ways to build your clientele.
So let’s break this down.
- Learn not to hate it. You do this partly through basic exposure therapy. If you’re afraid of snakes, the fastest way to get over that fear is to be surrounded by them, holding them, and having them wrapped around you (with a trained professional nearby!). If you’re afraid of asking women for dates, the only way to get over it is to ask women out over and over until you (a) perfect your pitch, and (b) expect a certain amount of rejection and learn to let it roll off you. But when it comes to cold calling, it’s not enough to just DO IT. You also need to have some success. Some ways to ensure greater success are working with a professional sales script, practicing with your coach, recording yourself and playing it back to hear where you can improve, and tracking your YES calls. I also strongly recommend you do one of the following things to help ensure success: 1. get referrals or permission to drop a name of a mutual connection (a personal connection can increase your chance of booking an appointment by 4X), or if you can’t do that 2. Look them up online and find a positive review or something to compliment about their online presence—if you can lead with a sincere compliment, it helps!
- Keep hating it but do it anyway. If you just keep doing it, you will probably improve your attitude about it AND your success with it. But it’s quite a hill to climb if you don’t have strategies or support. You know how when you were young, you always heard “practice makes perfect”? Well, you know better now; perfect practice makes perfect. Same with cold calls. If you just keep hating it, you’ll keep doing it badly, and your fear or anxiety or resentment are going to seep right through the phone and turn off your prospects. So if you really, really hate it and see no chance of that changing, you’re better off doing numbers 3 or 4 below.
- Hire someone to do it for you. You need someone who has a great phone presence and endurance. You might think you can just train your niece or your neighbor’s kid, and maybe you can. BUT, if you really hate doing it, you’re not going to be very good at training it, so either hire someone with a track record of success making outbound sales calls (maybe even consider working with a professional telemarketing company) or bring in an outside trainer. Make sure your pay structure is appealing because people make cold calls for a living do it for the money! I even noticed there are people on fiverr.com and upwork.com that will make calls for a ridiculously low rate, so you could try them out and see if that works for you. (And I can’t help but bring this up…should the CEO of the company be making cold calls? Perhaps your time is better spent on other efforts while cold calling is delegated. Think about it.)
- Find other ways to build your clientele. Yep. I get that you’ve already committed to the idea that your business will fail if you don’t make cold calls, but if options 1-3 above don’t work for you, then you need to find other marketing strategies. Start by really analyzing where your prospects and clients come from, and measure the results from all your marketing efforts. You might find out cold calling is the lowest ROI (return on investment) anyway. The data will be very, very useful in helping you decide whether to revisit options 1-3 above or to put your energy elsewhere. If you don’t know where to start on this, a coach or consultant can help you think outside the box.
I hate hearing from people that sales are stalled because they were told that cold calling is the only way for them to find new business. I’ve seen too many people go out of business because they couldn’t get over that hump and make cold calling profitable…yet simultaneously they failed to use other marketing efforts well enough to eliminate the need to make those dreaded calls. Don’t let this happen to you. Get help soon and make more sales!
Oh, and if you want to see some interesting statistics about sales and cold contacting, check out this very cool infographic.