Most of us in sales have one particular aspect of the selling process we particularly dislike. For many it goes beyond dislike and we might actually dread the thought, let alone the act.
That aspect is often cold-calling or prospecting calls.
Now you might not like making prospecting calls, but you really do have to make them.
Why? Well, if you want to be in control of the kind of prospects and customers you work with, then you are going to have to start ‘talking to strangers for a living’ at some point.
Face the fear
Even if you accept that some form of prospecting is an essential part of growing the business you aspire to build, you might still feel trepidation around making cold-calls.
So why exactly is that – and what can you do to overcome the fear?
It all comes down to call reluctance, a mental state characterized by a lack of of enthusiasm for making calls. As a consequence, we make few (or no) prospecting calls, and when we do we feel sick to the pit of our stomachs.
Call reluctance can be caused by a number of things;
Not following (or simply not having) a prospecting plan
- Internal messages from our childhood (children should be seen and not heard)
- Taking rejection personally (it really is just business)
- Not knowing what to do or what to say or how to leap the hurdles thrown in our path
There may be some external factors influencing how we feel about prospecting. We may blame things that are outside of our control. Days of the week, time of the day, holiday periods and major sporting events are often easy things to blame and feed our call reluctance.
We could find self-centeredness on the part of the prospect we call debilitating. Prospects can often be incredibly dismissive to cold-callers and this can be damaging to even the most robust of egos.
We might even empathise too deeply with our prospects. Our attitude towards making cold-calls is too often based on our experience of receiving them. We don’t like getting unwanted sales calls, so why would they?
It is more likely to be internal factors though. Often we find ourselves buried beneath our self-limiting beliefs. This behavioral scripting started all the way back in our childhood and is deeply ingrained in our sub-conscious.
There are some techniques that should make your prospecting less onerous;
Adhering to a planned schedule for prospecting (set time aside daily)
- Using positive self-talk to overcome negative childhood messages
- Switching our prospecting call paradigm (I help people solve a problem)
- Recognising that cold-calling is playing in a role
- Not accepting prospect’s preconceptions
- Maintaining our self-confidence
There are some important things to remember when dealing with call reluctance.
Behaviour that runs counter to deeply ingrained messages can create discomfort, uneasiness, fear, and even guilt. However, recognising those internal messages is a key step in overcoming call reluctance.
Now, you may feel uncomfortable when you act against those internal messages. But, that discomfort is a sign that you are doing the right things to overcome call reluctance.
Measure your success at prospecting not from the results you get, but by the numbers of calls you said you would make and the fact that you made them.
If you find yourself needing some support in moving your prospecting dial beyond t0 get a prospecting coach to work with you on who you want to talk to, what you want to say and how to get the prospect to engage meaningfully with you.
You don’t have to like prospecting; you just have to do it.