Despite the availability of social media, email marketing, blogging and other digital marketing strategies, cold calling remains part of the prospecting toolbox.
Because done right, cold calling is a faster, simpler and more effective way of getting a prospect interested in your products or services.
Cold calling is an impersonal approach that takes the prospect away from the daily routine and into the caller’s world. It is a brilliant outbound sales strategy! This is the reason why the telephone remains relevant. Companies still hire agents to perform cold calls to consumers or other businesses.
The problem with cold calling is that its very idea drives fear into the hearts of the people about to do them.
Why Are People Fearful Of Cold Calling?
It is not difficult to understand why people are fearful of cold calling.
You are about to call a person you haven’t met and attempt to get him/her interested in the product or service you are selling.
A cold call is a venture into the great unknown. You have no idea what the prospect is doing; what kind of person the prospect is and how he/she will react.
These kinds of thoughts create ideal conditions for fears and self-doubts to come up and affect your performance.
The underlying fear behind cold calling is the high probability of being rejected. No one likes to be rejected. It makes us feel that “we’re not good enough”.
How much rejection can one person take? According to a study by the Keller Reseach Center, only 28% of calls are actually answered and only 1% results in an appointment. For some call agents, the fear can be paralyzing.
In sales, confidence is your most powerful weapon. It gives you the energy, drive and focus to stay on the pursuit.
Consequently, if it starts to wane or breakdown, you will become more reluctant to pursue the objective of the cold call.
However, the truth of the matter is, it is perfectly fine to be fearful of making cold calls.
If you’re in a social gathering, you still need to muster the courage to meet new people. In contrast, cold calling does not have the benefit of face-to-face interaction.
Even the most experienced outbound sales people still get the occasional “sweaty palms” before cold calling.
7 Tips On How To Reduce The Fear Of Cold Calling
Fear is part of the cold calling process. If you are in sales, you have to learn to deal with it. The good news is there are techniques you can use to reduce the fear of cold calling.
- Understand Your Motivations For Selling
Why did you get into sales in the first place? The question “Why” refers to your purpose. There are many reasons why a person would choose a career in sales:
- Did you have a knack for it growing up?
- Do you believe this is the best way to secure financial stability?
- Do you like dealing with people?
- Are you attracted to the rush of selling?
- Were you inspired by someone close to you?
By understanding your motivation for selling, it will be easier to accept the challenges of cold calling. It will reset your way of thinking. Instead of being fearful of it, you will embrace it as part of the job.
- Identify The Trigger Points Of Your Fears
Your fears and feelings of self-doubt can be triggered by certain thoughts and behaviours. Earlier we discussed how the fear of rejection can have a paralyzing effect on an agent about to make a cold call. There are other thoughts and ideas that can trigger more fears:
- Profanity – Many agents are subjected to abusive language from prospects who don’t like receiving cold calls. It can be a traumatic experience for first-time callers.
- Threats – Irate prospects may also issue threats to the agent and to the company.
- Zero Connectivity – It can be a frustrating experience to spend 4 hours on the phone going through 400 numbers without connecting to a single prospect.
- Getting Stumped – What if the prospects show interest but you failed to answer a single question?
- Missed Opportunity – You find out the prospect just signed up with another company.
- Tongue-Tied – Unlike “Getting Stumped” an agent who gets tongue- tied can’t even see his/her script through.
- Self-Pity – After several hundred dropped calls and rejections, you slowly realize you aren’t going to get anywhere in a sales career.
Once you’ve identified your trigger points find a way to overcome it. A proven approach is to simply talk it over with a co-worker, supervisor or a more experienced sales person.
They can give you valuable tips on what to do should you encounter these situations during the cold call.
You will realize that everyone has the same or identical trigger points. Sales can be a hit or miss proposition regardless of the medium you use.
Even social sellers who sell via social media or email experience profanity, threats, and missed opportunities.
- Don’t Procrastinate
Procrastination is the sales agent’s worse enemy because in sales, time is opportunity. What you do with your available time will determine whether you accomplish your goal or not.
So while you’re staring at the phone going over your script or thinking of how to deal with yet another rejection, your prospect may already be talking with another agent.
Once you have your leads list ready, start calling.
- Build Unquestionable Product Knowledge
A prospect can tell right off the bat if he/she is dealing with a novice caller. As we mentioned earlier, confidence is the most powerful weapon in sales. If you lack confidence, it will show in your sales pitch. It will not come across as authentic to the prospect and you will lose the opportunity.
Before you do a live call, make sure you know everything about the product. It’s not enough to read the manual or go through a video tutorial. If possible, use or handle the product itself. Do additional research if you have to.
The best way to fully understand the product is to also look at its “cons”. Find out its shortcomings; the common complaints from users and how to deal with it.
- Believe In What You Are Selling
If you want to be more convincing to your prospect, you must believe in the product or service you are selling.
Remember that the immediate objective of the cold call is not “to sell” right away over the phone. The first thing you have to do is to establish the need for the product or service.
Keep in mind the leads list is comprised of prospects that have been qualified as potential buyers. They fit the typical buyer’s profile. The challenge is to convince the prospect your company offers the best product in the market.
When you believe in what you are selling, there will be more confidence and conviction in your sales pitch.
- Prepare Your Notes
Before making a cold call, get your work area ready. One of the things you must prepare ahead of time is your notes which could include the following:
- Types of products and services sold;
- Contact numbers;
- Company information;
- Scripts and spiels;
You should organize your notes systematically. Having your notes firmly in place will help you maintain confidence.
- Keep Practicing
Lastly, keep practicing. Cold calling is a learned skill. You have to keep working at it to become better. The more you practice your cold calling techniques, the more natural it comes through.
Here are a few tips on how you can practice cold calling:
- Write down all possible questions, objections and come up with the best answers;
- Role play with a co-worker;
- Practice your pitch by doing an actual call to a friend;
- Practice in front of the mirror;
- Record yourself;
Another good technique to practice is freestyling. This is where you go off the script and respond to questions as you normally would.
Companies use scripts to make sure calling agents don’t say anything that would violate existing telemarketing laws and consumer privacy rights. However, reading scripts makes the agent sound mechanical.
Freestyling injects the human element back into the cold call. Prospects feel like they are interacting with people, not artificial intelligence.
Cold calling is an effective technique for accomplishing your marketing and sales goals. However, nothing has changed. It remains one of the most nerve-wracking activities for sales people.
Fear will always be a constant companion of cold calling. As the old saying goes, “Fear lends wings”. It will either make you run toward the unknown or look for safety in your comfort zone.
The most successful sales people recognize the opportunities with cold calling. Instead of letting their fears consume them, they embrace it as part of the job.
They view it as a challenge they need to overcome in order to hit targets or achieve goals.
The fear of cold calling can easily be overcome by applying some of the techniques we have discussed.
With consistency and belief in your own abilities, cold calling will become as natural as breathing.