Hitting the phone & getting results

Whenever I’m talking to business owners or their sales teams, the topic of new business development and cold calling in particular always evokes interesting reactions.

Cold calling is one of those topics that everyone has an opinion on – even those that don’t do it!  And the salespeople and business owners that do it normally fall into one of the camps – love it, loathe it, or tolerate it!

However, no matter which of those camps you or your team fall into, most people don’t get the results that they want from cold calling, so below are some reasons why that is the case, and also some ideas on what to do about it!
So why isn’t your cold calling working as well as it could be?…..

Lack Of Preparation
If this is you, you’re not alone!  Most people fail to prepare for their cold calling sessions properly.  You’d be astounded how many times I see people ‘start’ a cold calling session by looking for their list of people to call, trying to find their diary, finishing off an email, taking a call from an existing client, tidying their desk, going to get a drink or have a quick cigarette…pretty much anything but start making the calls!
Often, this means that the calling session that was due to start at 10.00 now really starts at about 10.40.  Then, by the time the salesperson has made a few calls, the session is over!  The salesperson might have achieved their objective of ‘avoiding’ the session, but has the session really contributed to the success of the business?  Hardly!

Cold calling is best done in focussed ‘sessions’, with no interruptions.  That means no emails, no incoming phone calls, no interruptions from colleagues, no going to get a drink etc – do all of that before the session starts.  And if the session is meant to start at 10.00, then the first phone call should be at 10.00 – not 10.05, 10.10, or 10.20!
Lack Of Belief
A number of business owners and salespeople I meet still aren’t convinced that cold calling actually works, or could work for them and their company.  And those people are usually the ones who have tried it (or are currently doing it) and aren’t getting the results that they could, or they haven’t tried it but have already decided that it won’t work!

I always find it interesting when I talk to people who have this belief as they often say that ‘cold calling just won’t work in my industry’.  Then, when I ask them what they do, they are in the same industry as someone that I have trained that is getting great results from cold calling!  Perhaps what the people with the negative beliefs really mean is – I’m not sure of the right approach that would make it work for me?
Whatever the reason, if you or your team is making cold calls with the belief that cold calling doesn’t work, do you think that might stand in the way of the potential success of your calls a little?  Of course it will!

In my experience of making and listening to tens of thousands of cold calls in all sorts of industries, if you start with that sort of belief, your activity levels will be lower, your voice tone will be monotone and boring (instead of bright and enthusiastic), you’ll accept the first objection too easily and you’ll do anything to avoid doing the calls – so is it any wonder that cold calling isn’t working for you at the moment?!!

Inability To Deal With Rejection
This is always an interesting subject.  This can affect anyone, particularly if you’re new to sales, new to cold calling, or only do it as part of your role.  For example, if your role consists of mainly account management, if your boss has just told you that you need to start making cold calls, or you’ve started up your own business and need to start cold calling, then this could be affecting you right now!

Let’s face it – if you’re cold calling you’re going to face some rejection.  Some of you will have to deal with the fact that people will give you objections.  Some of you will have to deal with the fact that people will say ‘no’ directly to you.  And some of you will have to deal with the fact that people will put the phone down on you fairly regularly.

When you’re cold calling, the majority of people you speak to are going to be hesitant, resistant and say no to you at some level.  The point is, you’re not expecting to get a ‘yes’ on every call.  You’re expecting that 90%, 95% sometimes even 97.5% of people are going to say no.  The reason you’re calling is to get the smaller percentage of people that are going to say yes to you – yes I’ll consider you, yes I’ll meet with you, yes I’ll look at buying from you.

However if you can’t deal with (or learn to deal with) the rejection that you’re going to face, do you think that might stop you making the calls, or do your best to avoid it?  Of course it will!

Failure To Stay Motivated
Cold calling can be difficult.  And because of the amount of objections and rejection you face it can sometimes be difficult to stay motivated.  However your failure to stay motivated could actually be causing you problems on your cold calls.

Many people I talk to find selling over the phone difficult.  Particularly if your role involves selling face-to-face, or has done in the past.  This is because when you sell face-to-face, you can read the other person’s body language, build rapport faster and watch their reaction when you deliver your price.  However when you’re selling over the phone, all you have is your voice and delivery.

If your role involves a lot of cold calling, it’s very easy for your motivation levels to drop later in the day if you’re not careful!  For many people cold calling is about sounding bright, enthusiastic, confident and certain and all these traits can be heard in your voice tone.

However, I’ve lost count of the amount of calls that have been made when the salesperson or business owner isn’t motivated.  Their voice tone has gone from being bright and enthusiastic to bored, tired and disinterested.  They might as well be saying ‘Hi it’s Andy from XYZ company…..you probably won’t be interested in what we have to offer…..you’ve probably happy with your existing supplier, so please put me out of my misery and tell me to go away, so I can ring someone else and hit my call target to get my boss off my back….’.
Now, you don’t have to be a genius to work out that making that sort of call is going to produce pretty much zero results, do you?!

Andy Preston is a leading expert on Sales and selling for small businesses.  You can see more about Andy at www.andy-preston.com  You can also see more about Andy’s bite-sized training for small businesses at www.salesbreakfast.net