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Blog #92 Why We Hate Cold Calling

Fact; cold calling is the most reviled, abhorred, and avoided part of any sales person’s job. It doesn’t matter if you’re B2C, B2B, targeting Fortune 100 companies, or beating the street going from office to office. Cold calling is displeasurable, painful, and generally the least favorite part of any sales professional’s job.

Sales people know it, sales management knows it, yet it is the dark secret continually swept under the rug. No one wants to talk about it, and everyone wants to avoid the subject. Wonder why?

We’ve come to live in a world where everyone is pressed, stressed, and overwhelmed. Dead-lines loom, and enough is never enough. We prioritize and run from fire to fire. Calamity has become our middle name, no, make that our first name. So when we cram that one more task into our day, well, you get the point.

This is important to remember, because the whole cold calling debacle begins with understanding those who are being cold called. These are the people whom we expect to be receptive and willing to take our calls. These are the people whom without their cooperation, we’ll plain fall flat on our faces.

Our prospects avoid, dodge, and live in fear of picking up the phone at the wrong time. Their profound distaste for getting bushwhacked by a cold call is palpable. They employ infinite strategies to make sure it happens as seldom as possible. In a world of emerging technology those options have become increasingly more ample. Theirs is an attitude justly come by because almost without exception, sales people provoke and exacerbate our prospects’ exceptional loathing of cold calls. Beyond predictable, most prospects know that picking up the phone at the wrong time will be a colossal and painful experience.

And we sales people have brought this on ourselves. We do it by employing endless and ridiculous propositions and come-ons that lack a shred of credibility or truth. We tell them we understand their challenges or problems. We claim we have “something special”, or that we can “save them money.” What we almost never do is respect the prospect’s intelligence and BS meter. Traditional cold calling techniques are just plain duplicitous and phoney, or worse. Traditional cold calling methods are rarely based on an authentic or credible proposition but rather rely on bluffing our way towards getting that rare fish to swallow the the generic lure we bought at Walmart.
We make assumptions. We take for granted that when someone answers the phone they will be willing to talk. At our worst, we are obtuse. We’re not quick or alert in reading their reaction. We lack sensitivity and ignore how the prospect is truly reacting. Then we’re caught flat footed with a response.

About five seconds; that’s the amount of time someone making a prospecting call has to make or break. It’s the amount of time a caller has to truly differentiate themselves from the vast flock of lemmings that have preceded them.

Want to be different? First and foremost, you have to change your attitude. You have to shift from a verbal posture of being the one who is going to make the prospect rich, to one of humility. Hubris has no place in a prospecting call. You think your approach doesn’t sound cocky? If so, get someone else to listen to you and see what they think.

Those that make it past this five second threshold do so because they don’t approach the call with a mindset of possessing the magic potion the prospect is looking for that day, or that moment. Rather, they understand and take the position that they may offer no value what-so-ever. Their attitude is not one of assuming they can help the prospect, but instead, that perhaps through a meaningful and mutually respectful interaction they may both chance upon a thread of potential value to each other.

To do this, the caller must immediately communicate an image of professionalism and respect. They must, as quickly as possible, establish themselves as a peer versus just another instant gratification and cocky sales person.

From the first hello, a professional or peer begins by establishing trust, they make sure to communicate that they aren’t assuming someone they’ve never met will even be willing to talk, so they ask for permission to speak first. Asking for permission doesn’t mean the cliché “is now a good time to talk”, but actually telling them what you want to talk about, and how long it will take.

For instance: “Good morning Ms. Prospect, my name is John Doe and I’m calling from a company called CBA. May I take a moment to tell you who I am and why I’m calling?”

By asking for permission, and then being very specific about who you are and what you would like to talk about, the caller conveys an unspoken message to the prospect that they understand and empathize with the prospect’s circumstance. That being someone who generally speaking, is less than interested in engaging with a caller on the phone whom they don’t know.

Of course, this is just the beginning of a successful call, and there is much more that follows an initially successful introduction, but that’s for another post.

Want to be different? Then start by considering how you would feel were you to be on the receiving end of a cold call. What would it take for you to engage?

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