“How is your sales pipeline looking?” This question, or some variant on that theme, is something that most sales managers ask their sales team at least once a week. Sales managers need to know that a sales team is making every effort to keep the pipeline flowing with new deals.
Prospecting. Hunting. Hustling. Whatever you call this part of the sales process, as a salesperson, you need to proactively find ways to get the word out about your product/service and brand. You need to tell people about what you are selling who might not know who you are. There are dozens of ways of doing this, from social selling and prospecting to sending emails.
However, there is one method that stands out for effectiveness and levels of dislike in sales above all others: cold calling.
For over ten years, there have been articles published almost weekly about the death of cold calling.
Is cold calling dead?
And yet, as prospecting method, it’s far from dead.
Sure, it takes more effort and more attempts to get through to a decision maker: up to 18 calls, according to some research.
But compared to email, cold calls now stand out because not enough sales people continue to use this tried-and-tested method. More than anything, reluctance and convenience is killing the idea that cold calls are effective. But only the idea of how effective they are, now the outcomes. Sales people are increasingly reluctant to pick the phone up because the convenience other communication methods provide: email and social networks.
Cold calls are still the best way to:
• Engage a decision maker in a real-time conversation and a chance to see whether you are selling what they need;
• Qualify a potential sales prospect and therefore get a new sales lead into the pipeline;
• Set up a demo or sales meeting, or if they’ve got the time, undertake a live demo.
Email and a LinkedIn message might be instant, and so they seem more convenient, and they lack the “fear factor” of the phone. But in reality, those are only excuses holding salespeople back from making the calls they need that will make that pipeline look a lot healthier.
Here are four steps to take to get over phone phobia and cold call reluctance.
4 ways to get over phone phobia
#1: What is your motivation?
Getting over the fear of cold calling requires having an effective motivation structure in place.
Maybe you are afraid of not hitting target. Or worried about not being able to afford something that your bonus should pay for, such as a holiday or saving to buy a house. Whether driven by fear or a specific goal, remember this every time you are faced with the phone or email choice.
Email always seems safer, less obtrusive and therefore easier. But easy and safe doesn’t mean you are going to hit target. If needed and possible, ask for extra training. Shadow someone who’s great at cold calling and learn from them.
#2: Learn to love rejection
Sales people get hit with a barrage of rejections every day.
Get used to hearing “No”, “He/she’s in a meeting”, “I’m not interested”, and even callers who are angry and rude about being interrupted. Plus, gatekeepers will do everything they can to prevent calls getting through.
Get used to all of these factors and stop using them as excuses for not picking up the phone and making those calls you really need to make. Embrace rejection, because every no gets you closer to a yes that is needed to secure a meeting or demo that could result in a successful sale.
#3: Create a vision of success
The brain is the most powerful organ in the body and more powerful than any computer we have ever created so far.
Your brain can create a series of actions that will help you achieve the goals you have. Or it can put in place beliefs that limit your success and get in your own way. Look at the thoughts your brain is flowing with every day and try to assess how many are negative or positive.
Use this self-awareness to create a vision of success. And then, use this vision to put proactive steps in place to achieve it, which should include however many cold calls every day or week to hit your sales goals.
#4: Catch and stop negative thoughts
Negative thoughts are self-limiting, self-destructive and counter-productive.
Look at everything that is holding you back when making cold calls. Whether you don’t have a suitable script, or are lacking a qualifying process, or don’t have a system in place to prevent a reflexive no, identify negative thoughts and practical stumbling blocks.
Once you’ve got everything in place you need to succeed, get into the positive habit of making enough cold calls every day to overcome the negative thoughts that were preventing you from making cold calls in the first place. Your phone phobia will go and confidence will soar with the practice you are getting!