Cold Calling Call Reluctance
The Perfection Problem
There is no question that a lot of sales executives are hindered by call reluctance.
Watching call reluctance is uncomfortable. Having call reluctance is miserable.
The primary cause of call reluctance is simple: Fear of rejection. What if the prospect asks you a question that you don’t have a good answer for? What if the prospect is a jerk? What if the prospect insults you? What if the prospect makes you look like an idiot?
The only way the prospect can do any of those things is if you don’t believe that you are bringing genuine value to the prospect.
In our first article about Pre Call Planning, we touched on the concept of planning your call so you are prepared to talk about how you can help your prospect, not how you can sell them something.
If you’ve embraced that concept the cold call should be much easier, because you’re armed with the belief that you’re calling or stopping by to help!
But don’t over complicate it!
Have you ever found yourself caught in a circle of self-doubt questions like these:
What if he asks…?
What if he says no…?
How will I know if…?
What should I do if…?
Remember the only two things you should be attempting to accomplish in a cold call:
- Make an appointment
- Gather information
If you encounter any of the previously mentioned scenarios that started your self doubting what if, how will I know, what should I do questions, remember that those are signals that your prospect is looking for more information. In that situation, it’s time to set the appointment.
Have this statement written on a postcard on your desk, tattooed to your forearm or, even better, memorize it:
“I (we) have worked with a lot of other businesses like yours in the past and have gotten great results for them. I’d like to learn more about what your advertising goals are so I can offer a professional opinion that would truly benefit you. Can I come over on ___________ so you can share with me what you’d like to accomplish?”
Then set the appointment and come prepared with expansion questions.
What if he asks for my rates? Set an appointment.
“Thank you for asking! There are a lot of factors that go into determining advertising rates and costs. I’d hate to quote you a rate and then find out later that you could have spent less. I’d like to learn more about what your advertising goals are so I can offer a professional opinion that would truly benefit you. Can I come over on ___________ so you can share with me what you’d like to accomplish?”
What if he asks what my listenership is? Set an appointment.
“Thank you for asking! We certainly have a strong and loyal listener-base, but the question isn’t really how many people are listening, but how many of the right people are responding to your advertising. I don’t know enough about what your advertising goals are to offer a professional opinion that would truly benefit you. Can I come over on ___________ so you can share with me what you’d like to accomplish?”
What if he says that he’ll call me when he’s ready to advertise? Set an appointment.
“Oh, absolutely, that’s a great way to do it. I have many advertisers who will call me when they’re ready to advertise. I’d like to learn more about what your advertising goals are so that I can offer a professional opinion that would truly benefit you. Can I come over on ___________ so you can share with me what you’d like to accomplish? That way, when you’re ready to run a schedule we’ll have all of our details in place and we can respond instantly.”
The pitfall of perfectionism becomes a problem for you, the professional, when you are attempting to do more in the cold call than you should.
Remember, this is a cold-call. You’ve done some research, you know some superficial things. Creating an advertising campaign for a client requires more than a superficial knowledge of their product or service. It would be downright irresponsible of you to ask a customer to spend his precious advertising money without you knowing everything about their business, its goals, its shortcomings, its strengths. (Feel free to tell your prospect that!) You will find all of these things out at your discovery meeting.
The Paper Solution
For each cold call, create a single sheet of paper that you will use to help guide you through the basics of each cold-call where the goal is setting an appointment with the decision maker.
Who are you calling? (Remember to be 100% certain of their name. Is it Steve or Steven? Is Mr. Johnson?)
Who referred me to this prospect? We haven’t talked much yet about referrals and information-gathering cold calls. We’ll get to that in future articles. For now, know that a referral is always the best reason to call. (Even if you had to engineer the referral.)
What problem do you believe the prospect has that you may have a solution for? Keep it relatively superficial here. Don’t give away so much information that you have no reason to set an appointment, but not so vague to imply that you don’t know anything about your prospect.
What objections do you expect? Remember, you’re not asking for him to buy anything. You’re asking for an appointment. The prospect may infer that you are trying to sell him something, but you really aren’t. You’re sincerely looking to make an appointment to learn about the prospect’s business. If in that meeting you discover ways that you are compatible, you may suggest that the prospect advertise.
What are your responses to the objections? You don’t have to be to too unique here. In fact, many of the stock answers I provided earlier in this article may be enough to get you the appointment.
Schedule the appointment. Don’t forget to schedule the appointment. DO NOT accept an answer of “Sure, stop by anytime.” That’s not an appointment. You are a professional. You schedule appointments.
Then, as they say; rinse, lather, repeat. Move on to the next prospect and the next until you have a calendar so full of meetings that your sales pipeline is full.
Do your best to not get stuck procrastinating to perfection in your pre-call-planning. Using the plan I’ve outlined above, you will know when you’re ready to dial the phone and make the cold call.
In our next article, I will share with you the one thing that you have going for you that sales executives in other industries do not! It’s so powerful it almost guarantees you an appointment (and it requires almost no pre-call planning.)
Glen Pavlovich, the founder of Pavlovich Marketing began his career in advertising and marketing in 1989 with a career in radio. Immediately his study of markets, messages, audience building, and the full marketing arsenal began. More than 30 years later, he has continued to help businesses with their advertising campaigns, websites, e-commerce, and business management, all the while learning about new marketing vehicles, trends, target audiences, and message crafting. He founded Pavlovich Marketing with one goal in mind:
To help Broadcasters, Small Business Owners, and Entrepreneurs, regardless of industry, create marketing that isn’t just advertising. It’s the core of their business. Marketing and advertising that is an investment, not an expense.
We are very selective when we select clients with whom to work. We want to be certain we will help them get results, not simply spend their money.
In 2008 Glen opened Commercials By The Dozen to help radio stations make better radio. We do this by providing affordable commercial production to radio stations, offering pre-written scripts, custom script writing, consulting, and sales training. Commercials By The Dozen maintains a generous stable of ongoing clients and continues to thrive.
In 2019 Glen stepped back from his primary role at Commercials By The Dozen to concentrate on teaching and coaching the sales process to various industries.