A saw a stat this week that found that 48% of business-to-business salespeople are afraid of making cold calls. Sadly, sales professionals who are afraid of making cold calls have trouble hitting their quotas, are more stressed and are likely making less money than their counterparts who don’t have this fear.
I have no idea who is credited with saying this first but I love the saying: “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” Taking that statement a step further: Nothing is sold until a salesperson makes a cold call. There are a ton of technology products out there that can help you find leads, help automate the cold calling and warm calling process, and help generate leads for sales professionals. Even with this technology out there, at some point in your sales career, you will have to do some cold calling.
In my experience as a sales professional and in my work talking with other sales professionals, I have found two consistent themes around cold calling fear. Those two key fears are the fear of sounding like a salesperson and the fear of failing.
Let’s knock the first fear out of the way. If you are a sales professional, you will sound like a sales professional. Get over it. If you listen to podcasts by sales trainers. If you read books by sales trainers or if you read their social media posts; they all want you to “provide value.” But no one describes what that sounds like or can give you industry-specific examples. Why? Because they want you to call them and pay them a fee for their “expertise.”
Do you know what programmers sound like? Programmers. Do you know what politicians sound like? Horse’s asses…well maybe…but they also sound like politicians. It is okay to sound like a sales professional. Remove the mental picture of a snake-oil salesperson.
The key to getting comfortable with sounding like a sales professional is understanding that sales is an honorable profession. After all, a sales professional is a talented problem solver. We help businesses fix their most pressing issues. We help our own company stay in business. There are a lot of people that flame out of a sales career because they were not good enough. So get comfortable with the fact that you are going to sound like a sales professional because you are a sales professional. When you dial the phone, walk into an office, send an email, reach out via social media: you are there to help improve their lives, their jobs, and/or their business.
Let’s talk about the fear of failure… Sometimes the fear of cold-calling comes from your limiting belief that you will not be successful at it, which creates anxiety and leads to a destructive self-fulfilling prophecy.
We often avoid cold-calling because we have this fear of failing. Nevertheless, if you understand the physiological responses from the fear in your head and take a few steps to change it, cold-calling can become as routine as brushing your teeth.
There are two keys to getting better at cold-calling. First, accepting the fact that if you never pick up the phone…you did not avoid failing…YOU FAILED. So pick up the damn phone. Second, cold calling is like most sports in that the more you practice, the more accustomed to the task you become. The more accustomed you become, the more confident you’ll be. Confidence does not guarantee success, but you need confidence to be successful.
As you practice, you’ll realize that nothing bad is actually going to happen, which will, in turn, ease your fears. Once you’ve role-played long enough that you’re no longer feeling butterflies, you’re ready to try a live-fire call. Keep in mind that it will clearly be more difficult when it’s for real, but a few real attempts after role-playing will settle you down and help you get into a productive groove.
At the end of the day, if you want to be successful, you will need to make calls. There is simply no way around that fact. The key is to take pride in your work, your solution and your company. Get comfortable making the calls and you will be well on your way to consistent sales performance.