There’s no denying the power of cold calling. Millions of companies have been built (or at least got their start) by cold calling prospects to sell their products and services.
Sales aside, people cold call to get their dream job, raise support for political campaigns and charities, and I’ve even heard of athletes cold calling coaches to get on sports teams (ahem, Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, good on you).
Needless to say, a simple phone call can move mountains. So why aren’t more people doing it? Why isn’t every company a well-oiled cold-calling machine? And why do YOU struggle with cold calling prospects to land deals?
The answer is obvious: There’s fear at play. In fact, one study cited by Harvard Business Review found that 48% of B2B salespeople are afraid of cold calling. Yes, 48%!
You’re afraid. You’re afraid of rejection, afraid of failure, afraid of success, afraid of friction, and you’re afraid of the unknown. It’s only natural. Cold calling is scary … until you see it for what it is. It’s a phone call. It’s a quick conversation.
Today I’m going to highlight six strategies and tactics that you can start using NOW to finally break the fear cycle and fall in love with cold calling once and for all.
Let’s get right into it.
#1 – Rejection is Necessary
OK this is the obvious one, so let’s deal with it first. People are afraid of cold calling because they’re afraid of rejection. But here’s the thing… you will be rejected, I promise. So get over it! You’ll hear “No” more than you’ll hear “Yes.” Even at the highest level, a 5% meetings-booked rate is a job well done. That means out of 100 calls, you might talk to a handful of decision-makers, and only five of them will agree to a meeting. You must embrace the “No’s”, because each “No” gets you one step closer to a “YES.” Rejection is part of the process. You can’t have success without rejection, so it’s best you learn to love it and fail forward.
#2 – Remember. It’s Just a Conversation!
You don’t close a deal, you open a conversation. That’s a mantra we live by around here. Your job on the cold call isn’t to close a deal. And frankly, other than putting a sales call on the calendar, you shouldn’t be pitching anything on the cold call. So this should take much of the pressure off your back. All you have to do is show up and have a quick and cordial conversation with a prospect, try to put a meeting on the books, and that’s it! You’re golden. And we all know you can gab — I’m sure you gab it up with your spouse, friends, co-workers, etc. A cold call is no different.
#3 – Do Your Homework
Remember in 8th grade when the teacher called on you in math class and you were paralyzed by fear? That’s because you didn’t do your homework! Same goes for sales. To overcome the fear, do some “homework” on your prospect. Look at their LinkedIn, check their website, Google the company, etc. A little info can go a long way when building rapport and getting your foot in the door. For instance, maybe your prospect helps out in the community, giving back by volunteering at the soup kitchen. If this info is online, it’s fair game to bring up. So bring it up! He or she will be delighted you took some time to learn about their interests and background. Just don’t get too personal or it can backfire on you.
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#4 – Lower Your Heart Rate
Cold calling can spike your adrenaline, making you feel like you’re in “fight or flight” mode. This can be a good thing. But if you’re always in fight or flight mode, you are unnecessarily taxing your adrenals and nervous system. So I always recommend doing breathwork a few times each day to give yourself a baseline of calm. This, in turn, cuts the fear way down. Don’t worry, breathwork isn’t some hippy granola thing. It’s just paying attention to your breath for 5-10 minutes, breathing in and out deeply. You can also pray, meditate, exercise, and find other ways to mellow out.
#5 – Use a Script (But Don’t Sound Like a Robot)
Use a script when you cold call prospects, but you don’t want to sound scripted. A script helps you to stay on track, thus eliminating the fear of losing your train of thought (a big one for most salespeople). And using tonality and “riffing” — or going off-script here and there — really helps your script come to life. Cold calling scripts also allow you to measure and track results. So vary your scripts over time, testing to see which ones perform best. If you’re always just “winging it,” you’ll never know what gets the best results. You can (and should!) A/B test cold calling scripts. Sure, it takes some effort, but it’s well worth it.
#6 – Build Momentum!
Another fear of cold calling stems from inconsistency. Ever sign up with a gym membership, go twice in a month and decide to call it quits? You didn’t learn the machines, you didn’t have a routine, you didn’t gain momentum, and so you didn’t see results! Just like working out, to experience cold calling results you have to make it a habit. There’s a learning curve that you have to commit to mastering, day in and day out, before the fear subsides. You will build momentum by showing up daily and picking up the phones. It will become a habit. And once the habit is built, the fear will be gone. (Note: technically there will always be a little fear, but that little bit of fear gives you an edge and helps you perform. Plus, it’s what makes sales exciting!)
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Outbound sales can be scary at times. And that’s OK. It’s totally normal to have some nerves as you sit down with a lead list to make calls. But you don’t want fear standing in the way of your goals and ultimately your success. So be sure to implement these six pro tips to take charge and crush your sales numbers.
But before you leave, I have two last truth bombs for you. First, don’t expect to be perfect on your cold calls. You will fumble at first, and even after you’ve been cold calling for years you might still trip over your words at times. It’s OK – everyone messes up here and there. When you give yourself permission to not be perfect, your creative energies begin to work in your favor and cold calling begins to feel effortless.
Second, don’t be afraid to succeed. That’s right, I said “afraid to succeed.” The truth is, as you begin to succeed in life, you have to let the “old you” die (in a sense) to make room for the “new you.” Think of the snake shedding its skin because it’s growing, or the caterpillar breaking out of the chrysalis to become a butterfly. OK – the butterfly analogy might not be working for you. But you get the point. Don’t hold yourself back because growth or success might feel uncomfortable at first. Instead, welcome it. Embrace it. Grow into it! You owe it to yourself.
Until next time…