There is a lot of talk these days about how cold calling sucks. And I agree—it can be brutal. When I started my career in the financial industry, I had to make more than 150 cold calls every day. Sometimes, I’d be so beaten up by 11 am that I just wanted to go to lunch and never come back!
I knew that if I continued like that, I wouldn’t make it in sales, and I knew that something needed to change. What I finally figured out was that the top reps in the company didn’t mind cold calling. In fact, they actually “smiled and dialed.” I soon learned that cold calling sucked because I sucked at it. And I became determined to change that…
What I learned, and part of what I teach now, is that to get good at cold calling—or prospecting, or whatever you want to call it—you have to invest some time and energy and, yes, even some money. Here are three things you can begin doing now to get better at prospecting:
Number One: Invest in some sales material to help you instantly get better. Face it: you’re not alone in having to prospect for a living, and many others have been there and done that. Why not leverage what they have discovered to make calling easier?
There are plenty of good books on theory out there, but if you want to actually get better on your next phone call, you’re going to need actual word-for-word scripts. Best place to start?
Power Phone Scripts: 500 Word-For-Word Questions, Phrases, And Conversations To Open And Close More Sales. Get it here.
Number Two: Start thinking about helping people rather than selling them. I learned years ago that the people I was calling were actually just people—just like me. Once I took a genuine interest in building rapport with them, learning about them, listening to them, and making a connection, I did much, much better. And I enjoyed my work more.
Take a hint I’ve given people over and over again and record yourself. When you listen to yourself, ask: how well do you actually listen to people? If you’re like many sales reps, you may be talking over people, or just waiting for them to take a pause so you can start pitching. Nothing will turn someone off quicker than that. People can tell when it’s all about you or if you’re truly interested in them.
Learn to use your MUTE button when someone is talking, and force yourself to pause after you think they are done talking. Use the “1,2,3 alligator” pause after they finish talking before you begin.
Listening is the most important thing you can do to get better—start practicing this today.
Number Three: Put a smile on your face. Get a mirror and look into it before you pick up the phone. People can tell if you’re smiling, and you’ll transfer that energy to your prospect. People can also tell if you are tense, angry, or in a hurry to pitch.
I know it sounds corny, but trust me: the $4 you’ll spend on a mirror will go a long way to improving your phone presence while prospecting…
Don’t underestimate the impact these three tips will have in improving your cold calling. If you think prospecting sucks, then I’ll wager that you kind of suck at it. That can change if you’re committed to getting better. If you’re in sales, then I hope you are, because you’re going to be making a ton of prospecting calls over the life of your career.
So what are you waiting for? Get busy. Order a book of phone scripts, get a mirror at CVS at lunch, and listen to a phone call on your afternoon break. If you do these things, you’ll be better at cold calling by tomorrow.