This is the first blog in a 3 part series with the intention of giving you and your team the tools and perspectives to cold call better, and to truly enjoy prospecting. Working at a sales consulting firm, I find that very few individuals consider cold calling the favorite part of their day, even though it is a vital part of their job and their sales process. We know that prospecting opens the door to selling conversations, but why do we lose motivation? With experience implementing custom sales training programs across different industries, I’ve learned that there are ways to learn how to love prospecting. I’ve isolated three categories of small changes you can make to enjoy this vital part of your inside sales process: Change How You Think, Change How You Act, and Change How You Feel. In this first blog, I address the “Change How you Think” portion of the trilogy, and I invite you to consider how the following concepts could benefit your organization’s approach to cold calling.
Make Money for Every Cold Call
Salespeople are often motivated by the financial gain that comes from commissions and bonuses. We are conditioned to associate commission checks with closed deals, and it is easy to forget how you got to the closing stage. Salespeople who spend all their time closing deals eventually run out of deals to close, then they “have to” prospect to get more deals. This often leads to a cyclical “feast-or-famine” sales cycle for the individual. A period of only prospecting because nothing is close to closing, then a period of only closing because you have more leads than hours in a day.
Today, I challenge you to view the act of prospecting as an activity that actively increases opportunities to close deals. Consider this: You make money on every prospecting call.
If your first thought is “No I don’t, I get paid when…”, then you are in the majority of professional salespeople. It is true that your check gets cut when a prospect is moved to the next stage, but if there are no prospects to progress, you have failed in your prospecting efforts. Shift your thinking to see that every call does, by extension, put money in your pocket. Without the “no” calls, you never get to the “yes” calls.
For the sake of easy math: lets say you make $100 per sale, and you close 10% of your cold calls. One way to view this is that you “have” to make 10 calls to make that $100. Alternatively, because you know you close 1 out of 10 anyway, every call essentially puts $10 in your pocket. Every time the person on the other end of the phone says, “I’m not interested”, you can thank them for the $10. When you get a prospect to buy on that 10th call, they also put $10 in your pocket. With this mentality, you never “have” to prospect, cold call, or get rejected, because every single call benefits you. The goal of this paradigm shift is to help you to enjoy prospecting so that you will have more deals in the pipeline, more consistent sales results, and more overall sales. If you have this positive attitude for every call, your prospects will hear it in your voice, and they will become excited with you.
Take The Power Before You Call
Call panic or call anxiety wastes too many productive selling hours every month. Stating to call people who don’t know you, or have much interest in what you have to say, is enough to slow down anybody that has ever picked up the phone. Self doubt, thinking “they probably chose another vendor” or “they don’t want to hear from me”, has slowed down and lost countless deals that could have been won! Over time, some people can stamp out call anxiety completely, while others continue to struggle with it or relapse from confidence to anxious. What can you do to use your prospecting time more effectively?
Every prospecting call boils down to the prospect qualifying you as a possible vendor, and you qualifying the prospect as a possible customer. Remember what you’re selling: benefits. You’re not pushing some product or service down their throat, you have something that they would like to have, should have, or must have. You have something that will benefit them; therefore, your call is not a nuisance, but a kindness. Having the solution to their problem gives you power and value in the conversation, regardless of who called whom. If you enter a prospecting call anxious because they have all the power to say no, your dialogue will reflect your lack of enthusiasm and neither you, nor the prospect will benefit from your call.
Ask: Would you sell your product to your own friends and family? If you answered no, you should sell something else.
If you answered yes, then you should be excited to share this wonderful product with your prospects. If they don’t want to listen to you, then they miss out, but you have the power to deliver this benefit to them, or take it away.
At the end of the day, any prospect must be a good fit for your company too; remember that you have to choose them too. If you go into the call without realizing.
The Person That Answers the Phone
Even if you understand that every call makes you money, and that you have power on the call, there can still remain anxiety about dialing the phone. Another helpful tactic to reduce call anxiety is to picture the person picking up the phone without their business card. Chances are that you’re not calling a mean-spirited curmudgeon with a tendency to yell at sales reps. Really think about what is the root of your anxiety; is it the rejection, the getting yelled at, the repetition? Whatever it is, put it in perspective by calculating the number of times it’s happened as a percentage of your total calls. In many industries, you will not be dealing with a disproportionate share of unpleasant people.
Once you develop a healthier view of the type of person you’re not calling, what’s the type of person that you are calling? You’re likely talking to a regular professional with a business problem. They have a spouse, a mortgage, and a golden retriever regardless of their title on LinkedIn. Once you can visualize whom you’re calling, it should be even easier to pick up the phone, start filling your pipeline, and finding your way to success.
As part of an inside sales consulting firm, I can attest that there are many ways to improve cold calling effectiveness, and your enjoyment of it. Reflecting on how you view when you make money, the dynamics of power and value on a cold call, and the humanity of the person that answers the phone can help to put any prospector at ease, and become more successful. In the next chapter, I will address how to love prospecting by changing how you act, and the final chapter will cover how to change how you feel so that you can win every single day.