In the world of sales, few tasks will turn the stomach of an entrepreneur as much as the thought of cold calling. It is often perceived as the the most difficult, most feared activity in their day. Why is that? For men, does it conjure up awkward memories of teenage years, asking for a date? For women, might it be the now-fading societal rule that women do not make the first move or initial call? For whatever reasons that I will leave for psychologists and social behaviorists to explain, we are often uncomfortable with making that first move, that cold call.
We often tend to make almost any excuse for not picking up the phone. It sits on our desk as an immovable, heavy weight. We will busy ourselves with any task at hand, justifying to ourselves that we are simply too busy to call now and will do so later. Procrastination is not in the dictionary of the winner. The successful entrepreneur takes action now, even when it is uncomfortable. As Mark Twain once said, “Do that which you fear and the death of fear is certain.” A more modern vernacular is “fake it until you make it.”
We must learn to work through our fears and move forward. Often, simply visualizing what the worst possible result could be and then rationalizing that the reality of the situation is far more acceptable, may be enough to spur you to action. It does get easier too. Every call is easier than the last. You will actually reach a point where you do not associate any negative emotion with cold calling.
As with any activity, practice and exercise will improve performance. There are also some simple, logical steps that contribute to the ease at which you will progress in your cold-calling efforts. Consider the following three-phased advice from Geoffrey James the next time you plan to make cold calls:
Step 1. Remember the goal.
What is the purpose of this call, depending upon the your sales process? Take a few seconds to refocus on exactly what you want the customer to do.
Step 2. Consider the prospect.
Review what you know about your prospect, your prospect’s company and industry. Determine the “hot buttons” that will cause that prospect to consider taking the action that’s the goal of the call.
It pays to do your homework up-front, so that you are familiar with the company, its industry, their products, markets and personnel. A simple web search will often yield enough information to get you started.
Step 3. Differentiate yourself immediately.
On the typical cold call, you have fifteen seconds (more or less) to communicate to the prospect that you’re somebody worth talking to. To do this, touch one of the “hot buttons” that you researched.
I would like to contribute one helpful additional step:
Step 4: Act like you are already doing business there.
If the company is small to medium sized, ask for your prospect by his first name. Mention the last name only if the operator questions you. Be as comfortable with your prospect as well.
Cold calling can be an exciting adventure yielding great results and experiences or one that leads you to the medicine cabinet for some antacid tablets. It actually is your choice. Either way, it may make or break your business. You will learn to overcome your fear if you begin taking action today. Utilize these simple steps to your advantage, thus eventually eliminating any apprehension concerning cold-calling. Believe it!