Why Your Cold Calling Isn’t Working….

These are a continuation of the list  which can be found here

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?…..

Wrong Attitude
I always find it interesting how many people start a cold calling session that are defeated before they even start!  These people can always find an excuse for not doing the calls ‘oh I haven’t got the time’, ‘I’ve just got to ring a few existing customers first’ and ‘I just need to tidy my desk for the 17th time this week!’

And when they actually have to make some calls, they are convinced that decision makers don’t want to speak to them, that no one will buy because of ‘the recession’, that cold calling is a pointless activity and won’t work, etc etc.

What kind of impact does this sort of thinking have on the potential results of their cold calling sessions do you think?  Might it be affected in a negative way?  Of course!

Then, when it comes to handling objections, the same negative attitude and mindset affects them here as well.  Let’s take the example above, where the salesperson has ’decided’ that no-one is buying because of the recession.

What do you think will happen to that salesperson’s attitude the minute that the person they’re talking to says something like ‘we don’t have a budget’ ‘or we’re cutting back at the moment’?  That’s right, they’ll say to themselves ‘see I knew it, no-one’s got any money at the moment because of the recession, maybe I should get out of sales and get another job?’

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  But it’s happening a lot more than you’d think.  What happening to trying to handle that objection, position back the value and re-close for the business?  Didn’t even show up!  All because the salesperson had the wrong attitude and had already ‘decided’ that the person wasn’t going to buy – and the first piece of ‘evidence’ that seemingly confirmed their suspicions, they gave up….

Lack Of Pride
I’m often astounded when I meet salespeople (and business owners who have to ‘sell’ as part of their role) that don’t appear to be proud of what they’re doing.  Instead of being proud of themselves, their role, their company and their products and services, far too many salespeople sound like they’re almost ashamed instead!

Think about when you’ve ever received a call from someone trying to sell to you.  If the person has sounded weak, uncertain and has started to apologise for the fact that they’re even calling you, what kind of impact has that had on your perception of this person, their company, and their products and services?  My guess would be that it wouldn’t be particularly favourable!

I’ve even heard some salespeople say things like ‘oh I’m sorry to bother you’, or ‘sorry if this sounds like a sales call but…’  It IS a sales call!  Be proud of the fact!  Be proud of the fact you’re in sales, your company and your products and services, instead of apologising for them!

God knows what the potential customers think of the salespeople who apologise!  Do those salespeople think the client’s going to say something like ‘there, there, it’s okay.  I don’t mind this sales call.  It’s okay, please go ahead and pitch me….?!!

Sales is a difficult job to start with.  Cold calling is even tougher.  Why on earth would you want to make your job even more difficult by trotting out this kind of rubbish?!!

Lack Of Activity
Now I know some of you are going to complain about this one (those would be the sales whingers ;-))  But seriously – lack of new business activity is one of the biggest reasons salespeople don’t hit their turnover or profit targets.

And before any of you start banging on about ‘oh but Andy I want to make quality calls, not quantity’, let me explain further.  I don’t mean that I want you to make lots of random calls with no direction, no quality and no value.  What I mean is that I want you to make quality calls, I just want you to make more of them!

Let’s face it – no matter how poor (or how good) your sales skills are, based on your existing conversion rates if you make 10% more calls, you’re going to get to speak to 10% more decision makers, make 10% more meetings, 10% more proposals, and therefore 10% more business!  Just from a 10% increase in activity alone!

Now if you were to read the rest of this article (and the first part) and work on your sales skills, you can increase your sales figures even higher…..and some of you could also increase your activity by more than 10% of course 😉

And this also comes back to ‘reason one’ that I mentioned in the first part of this article – that mentioned ‘preparation’.  If you haven’t planned to do a cold calling session uninterrupted, how on earth can you expect to get in the ‘zone’ as athletes call it – ready, focused, motivated and call after call continuing with the same energy and enthusiasm that’s needed to help persuade people over the phone?

Lack Of (Or ‘Rusty’) Sales Skills
This is a topic that people are becoming more and more aware of in the current market.  There is a general lack of sales skills, but especially so in the ‘new business’ and ‘cold calling’ arenas.

For far too long, cold calling has been viewed by some people as a ‘necessary evil’, something that ‘junior’ salespeople do, and generally looked  on as something that people with a year or more of sales experience don’t have to do anymore.  They’re wrong.

Cold calling and new business generation is something that every salesperson should do, regardless of age, seniority or experience.  It helps to keep you ‘sharp’, being able to deal with the tougher objections (so when they come up from existing clients, you can deal with them easily) and helps you to fill your sales pipeline.

For some salespeople however, they’ve never developed those skills, possibly because they’ve been in more of an account management or ‘incoming’ sales role.  It might also be that they haven’t had to cold call for a while and their skill are ‘rusty’ at best.

To be successful at cold calling and new business generation, you need to have a good level of skill at call openings, getting past gatekeepers, questioning, objection handling and closing at the very least!  How do you currently rate yourself or your team in those areas?  And when would be a good time to do something about it?!!

Happy cold calling and the best of luck with your sales!

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