There are three cold calling truths in sales. The first is that nearly every sale worth making begins with a cold call. The second is that nearly every sales professional hates cold calls. The third is that cold calling is necessary.
Nearly Every Sale Worth Making Begins With A Cold Call
The highest earning sales professionals are proficient in cold calling. There’s a reason you don’t work in a retail sales position: the earning potential is not nearly as good as your current position. When customers walk through the door, practically begging to buy what you’re offering, the commissions are predictably smaller. When you, a sales professional, have to actively identify, seek out, approach, greet, inform, perform follow-up, close, and maintain the client relationship, the earning potential is considerably higher because the sales process is more complicated and demanding.
If you expect new prospects to walk in or call you expressing a desire to buy, then you are an order taker, not a sales professional and should be paid a smaller hourly rate. When existing customers call you to place an order, it’s because a relationship already exists. It’s highly likely this relationship began with a cold call.
A sales professional who wants to fully maximize their earnings will master the cold call and the sales process.
Nearly Every Sales Professional Hates Cold Calls
If you’re reading this article, it is highly likely that you hate cold calls or manage someone who struggles with them. This series of articles will help you overcome the struggle of cold calling by helping you identify why cold calling is the most hated aspect of sales.
Cold Calling Is Necessary
There are a lot more businesses out there that are not advertising with you than are. You can send emails, send texts, put up billboards, send direct mail and run ads and promos encouraging businesses to advertise and that may generate some business. But, the only way to establish a relationship with the rest of the potential advertisers who don’t respond is to make contact with them directly. This will come in the form of a cold call.
The Two Topics We’ll Cover In This Article
Most of the hatred of cold calling comes from a misunderstanding of what constitutes a cold call, a lack of self-awareness regarding the origin of the emotional response to the cold call, and a lack of a measurable goal. There are two topics that this first article on cold calling will address.
- Identify where the hatred comes from and find ways to manage it
- Establish measurable benchmarks to quantify your successes
What is a Cold Call?
A cold call is contacting a prospect where no relationship exists and the prospect is not expecting your call or visit. A cold call can be either in person or on the phone.
I often hear sales consultants talk about their disdain of cold calling, but then seem to consider any kind of phone call a cold call. If you have any kind of existing relationship with the prospect, then it’s not a cold call, it’s a follow-up call.
Let’s be clear, just using the phone is not a cold call.
As mentioned earlier, a cold call may be in person or on the phone. Texting, emailing, messages on social media or any other form impersonal communication does not constitute a cold call.
The Hatred of Cold Calling
I want to share with you the most useful lesson I have ever learned:
Every negative feeling we are capable of having can be traced back to a single emotion: fear.
This truth is taught in the writings of don Miguel Ruiz. I strongly recommend his books as the lessons they teach are great assets to assist anyone in helping to understand the human condition and how to identify and manage one’s emotional responses.
When you begin classifying all of your (and other’s) negative emotional responses into the fear category you find a lot of clarity into what is causing certain behaviors.
Let’s begin by making it clear that you don’t have a hatred of cold calling, you have a fear of cold calling. We will cover this topic a lot in future articles, but for now, having an understanding that the root of the problem is fear will give you the freedom to manage that fear.
Begin to identify what you’re actually afraid of.
Is it rejection? No. It’s deeper than that. Rejection itself doesn’t affect you. It’s what the rejection implies. Your fear is that your self-worth is diminished by the opinion of the other person. Why are you giving the other person the power to have that effect on you?
Is it a fear of embarrassment? Maybe. What are you embarrassed about? If you don’t have a reasonable goal for the call you run the risk of embarrassing yourself because you’ll look like an amateur. Thankfully, this is the easiest to solve and it is solved by setting benchmarks for success.
This understanding of fear will help you clarify a lot about the prospect’s behavior also. They’re rejecting you because they’re fearful.
- Fearful they’ll make a bad decision
- Fearful that you will waste their time
- Fearful that you will waste their money
- Fear of embarrassment when they must admit that they can’t afford to advertise
In reality, any objection is an expression of fear. Understand that well, we will come back to it over and over again in future articles.
In their basic form, the benchmarks we will set are the goals (or goal) of the call. Yes, it’s okay to have a single, simple goal and no, it doesn’t have to be to close the sale.
Setting a reasonable goal will greatly improve your cold calling success rate. Be honest with yourself. Is it likely that you will be able to meet a prospect for the first time and end the visit with a meaningful order? Not really. You’re no more likely to meet a stranger and walk away with a marriage commitment.
If you expect a cold call to end with a sale, you’re going to feel like you’re beating your head against the wall. If you do end a cold call with an order, I believe that you left money on the table because you didn’t have enough time to build value. What you walked away with was a sympathy order. The prospect agreed to run some ads to get rid of you. You took a sip from the well, but you certainly didn’t fill your bucket.
Your station has a lot to offer the prospect. There are sponsorship opportunities, ad schedules, naming rights, live remotes, webstream sponsorships, digital advertising and so much more that are unique to your market, your station, your community, and your own creativity. How do you know what is the best fit for this prospect? I hope you’re not of the mindset that everything on your station is perfect for every prospect?
So, what is a reasonable expectation from a cold call? Meeting one of these two goals results in a successful cold call.
An appointment if you get to talk with the decision maker.
Information to use for future calls if you don’t get to talk with the decision maker.
Do not sell on the telephone and do not sell on the cold call.
If you get to talk to the decision maker or the person responsible for scheduling his appointments, your sole goal is to set an appointment. You’ll then spend the appointment learning about the prospect, the prospects business, building credibility and gathering information to make future sales presentations.
If you’re stopped by the gatekeeper, you’ll use the cold call to gather the information you’ll need to make appointments on future calls. Sometimes you have to sell the gatekeeper on your credibility before you earn the right to set an appointment. If this is the case, the focus of your cold call shifts from setting an appointment with the decision maker to building a relationship with the gatekeeper.
Can you see how this simplifies things? You have one of two goals when you walk through the door or pick up the phone. Your cold call is a success if you come away with an appointment or information that will help you make an appointment.
In future articles we’ll work on the best ways to accomplish this, so stick with us.
I use the word “conclusion” as the heading of this section very tentatively because this it is more of a beginning. We’ve only scratched the surface of understanding cold calls and how to use them most efficiently.
In future articles, we will :
- Develop scripts to help you with cold calling preparation
- Guide you through questions to ask during your first appointment
- Help you bring value to the cold call that will encourage your prospect to schedule an appointment with you
- Find ways to use the gatekeeper to help you
- Identify the best people to talk to in your information gathering calls and visits
- Consider perspective and how to approach radio sales from a prospect’s point of view (the only one that really matters)
- Talk about how going old school can set you apart
- Identify the mindsets you need to adopt to use cold calling successfully
- Find out if perfectionism is crippling you and what to do about it
- Break the cycle of sales slumps
- Get into the mind of your decision maker
- See how social media fits into cold calls
- Uncover the power of your personal brand
- Implement the art of “because”
- Understand how time blocking may be the most powerful habit you can form
- And so much more