Lately, I’ve been getting a high volume of calls from sales managers and their salespeople struggling to meet their sales goals. Does this sound familiar?
You’re on your way to work and during your commute, you’re thinking about what you hope to accomplish that day.
You get to your office, sit down at your desk and open up your calendar. A concerned look sweeps over your face. “Only one appointment this week.”
You look at your pipeline and get that squirmy feeling inside your gut, as you realize your pipeline is not as full as it used to be. You’re wondering where you’re going to find your next prospect.
The uncertainty begins to sweep over you. The stress starts creeping into your body, for you realize you can’t keep procrastinating making the cold calls you need to in order to book more appointments with key decision makers.
You remember what your boss told you. “Your funnel is drying up,” he says. “You’ve got to get on the phone and make more calls to your existing clients and to new prospects if you want to meet your goals.”
“Okay I can do this,” you tell yourself.
You find some people to call.
You take a deep breath and start dialing their number. “C’mon just answer the phone,” you say to yourself.
“Voice mail.” You don’t leave a message because you never get your calls returned anyway.
You dial the second number on you call list. Someone answers the phone and you hear, “Mrs. Johnson’s office, how can I help you?”
“Great, another gatekeeper,” you mutter to yourself. You’re actually caught off guard that a live person answered your call. Thirty seconds later, after your valiant, yet ineffective attempt to connect with your prospect, you hear a pleasant but well trained, “No thank you. We’re not interested.” You’re off the phone with the gatekeeper in less than one minute, as she’s been conditioned not to take unsolicited calls, especially cold calls.
You dial the third and fourth number. No luck. “More gatekeepers,” you say. “Why can’t I get past them?” you ask yourself. You start questioning if luck is actually what you really need or if there is more to cold calling than you originally thought.
“Okay one more shot.” You push yourself to dial the fifth number on your call list.
Someone picks up. Shockingly, it’s the prospect! Maybe you’ll get ‘lucky.’ And knowing that you need to open up this call with something gripping and compelling to grab this prospect’s attention to the point where they stop what they’re doing and want to engage in a conversation with you, you say, “Um, Hi. Mr. Smith? Uh, this is Chris from ABC logistics. How are you today?”
“Busy!” he says. And with that, he hangs up the phone.
Now, you’re depleted, frustrated and annoyed. You don’t understand why you’re unable to set the appointments with the prospects who you know you can help and therefore need to meet with. In a discouraging tone, you ask yourself, “Why won’t they talk to me? I know I can help them. If only they’d give me some time on the phone.”
You feel you’ve just wasted three hours of your day that you’ll never get back. In desperation, you cry out, “This cold calling thing doesn’t work for me! What else can I do to schedule meetings with more qualified prospects who can buy from me?”
And that’s when you ask yourself this toxic question which is often followed with a ‘yes’ that feeds the justification of your performance.
Is cold calling really dead?
No, I did not have a hidden webcam secretly installed in your office, in case you’re wondering how I’ve been able to paint such a vivid picture that so closely resembles what you may be experiencing yourself. If anything, take some comfort in knowing that you are not alone and you can do something about it.
So, what is the answer? Is cold calling really dead? The answer is a resound, “Not even close.” Therefore, do not abandon cold calling! Cold calling is far from dead and I see evidence of this every day. After all, a majority of all Fortune 500 companies utilize some form of telephone prospecting every day.
Sure, I realize for many people cold calling and prospecting ranks right up there with getting their teeth pulled without the gas.
However, as an executive sales coach who has coached and trained thousands of salespeople over the years, here’s what I’ve learned very early on. It’s not that cold calling doesn’t work. Cold calling works fabulously well. It’s the way you’re cold calling that doesn’t work. In other words, consider that it’s more about your approach and cold calling strategy; what you say and how you say it – that is ineffective and what your prospects are unresponsive to.
So be careful. Most people who feel cold calling doesn’t work in actuality, have learned the wrong lesson.
For example, if I asked you to go outside and dig a ten foot deep hole with a spoon, do you learn the lesson, “Well, I guess I can’t dig holes very well” or is the real lesson; “If I had the right tools I would have been able to accomplish this goal faster, with less effort.” You see, it’s all about the tools you’re using when cold calling. Even if you handed Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers of all time, a pair of lefty clubs, while he still may outperform most golfers he would not be able to operate at his best, at the pinnacle of his potential, simply because he’s using the wrong tools. The same philosophy applies to your career and to cold calling.
Most salespeople sound exactly the same as every other person when calling on the same prospect, rather than develop their unique and compelling message that grabs someone’s ear to the point where they are interested in what you have to say. Why should a prospect want to hear the same approach time and time again? How can that possibly distinguish you?
So if you’re not getting the results you need, instead of abandoning a proven selling strategy, it’s time to upgrade your cold calling and follow up system. With a strong prospecting and cold calling model that is mapped out step by step; which also includes the compelling opening statement you need, the reasons why someone should listen to you in the first place (rather than opening up a call by asking for an appointment, demo, proposal, etc.), well crafted questions to determine if there’s even a fit between you and your prospect, as well as a strong voice mail and follow up strategy, you will see what a competitive edge “cold calling” can give you.
Side note: Over the years, my cold calling book has continued to gain popularity as competition increases and the need to find more qualified prospects to fill your pipeline intensifies. It’s for those who are ready to develop a permission based prospecting system that will enable you:
1. Leverage your talents to generate more qualified prospects and schedule more appointments in less time.
2. Get more callbacks.
3. Eliminate toxic cold calling strategies that sabotage your prospecting efforts.
4. My book will show you how to develop a permission based prospecting system that will enable to bring in more sales faster than you ever did before.
Photo Credit: Roberto Cacho