So you are holding that ugly green frog in your hand, the one we call Cold Calling, and your boss says to eat it? How can one eat a green frog and even pretend to like it? Here are some tips on how to not only be successful in cold calling, but to also enjoy the process.
The first step for success in cold calling is taking on a paradigm shift. You need to view cold calling in an entirely different light than you ever have before. If you related to part 1 of this article, you may have found that you actually view the process of cold calling as regularly interrupting people, dealing with a terribly mundane task, taking on massive amounts of rejection, and using the very methods to contact people that you find disruptive to your day. So how does one take that information, reorganize it, and throw a positive spin on it to the degree that it becomes a positive experience? And how do you turn something you detest into something you can actually look forward to?
By definition, a paradigm shift is a completely different way of looking at the same situation. You may have all heard of a Stephen Covey example story of him being on the subway on a quiet Sunday morning. I’ll review it for an example, as it demonstrates the point well. As he sat there on the subway that quiet Sunday morning waiting to arrive at his stop, people were reading newspapers, sitting were quietly waiting for their stops, etc, as people do, and a family came on board the subway. The family consisted of a father and several children.
Suddenly the atmosphere in the subway completely changed. The father had sat down next to Covey, but the children were running loose being noisy and disruptive. They ran around pushing and yelling, and in general were causing a great disturbance. After several minutes, this bothered Covey enough that he suggested to the man that he might consider controlling his children better, as they were disturbing everyone on the subway. The man slowly looked up, as if coming to, and said, “I suppose I should. We just came from the hospital and their Mother died less than an hour ago. I don’t think they know how to take that, and I’m not sure I know how to either.”
Suddenly the feelings of irritation surrounding the children instantly turned to ones of sympathy and understanding. The mindset of harsh criticism turned to one of gentle compassion for suffering individuals coping the best way they knew how. There was a paradigm shift. A completely new way of looking at the SAME situation based on a new perspective and some new information.
Based on the concept of that example, the only way to change your thoughts about cold calling is to have that paradigm shift, that new perspective. But in order to successfully have that paradigm shift, you need some new information or a new way to look at the situation. Here are some helpful hints that will apply to most industries that deal with cold calling.
1. Sales is in fact the most honorable profession and the oldest profession in the world. Some think that something else is the oldest profession, but it is simply a subset of selling. Without sales, the wheels of industry cease to churn, and the world as we know it would no longer exist. Progress completely stops. No product sells itself. It has to be sold. The role you play is vital to the economy. We need to bring this up number one, as many sales people take too much to heart the criticism or rejection they receive while cold calling. Isn’t it ironic that the very person that dishes out those feelings of ill will actually depends on your counterpart at their company to make sales and keep their job intact? Yet they have no qualms belittling you? Their company depends on people just like you to continue to exist. If they cannot make a sale and create revenue, they no longer can operate. Take heart! Your role is valued by those that matter most. In times of downturn, companies cut back on all kinds of support, but rarely would they ever say, “Let’s cut back on sales!” Companies will always need sales. You are vital in the role you play for your company and in the economy. View any criticism from those you call on as inconsequential, as the people giving you negative feedback do not understand the big picture. Their jobs in essence depend upon your success.
2. You are a professional problem solver. Sales is not manipulation. If you think it is, please get out quickly! Many misinformed think the role of salespeople is talk people into something they don’t want or need, whether they can afford it or not, and to overcharge them at every opportunity. They think salespeople buy books of voodoo and manipulation techniques that help persuade you with NLP. Anything to get you to sign the dotted line. How sad. The truth is that to be successful in sales, the number one topic you can read about and the number one skill you can learn is the ability to listen, to understand, and address the needs of your client. You are a professional. You do not use high pressure tactics. You provide a high quality solution for your clients, but only if it is a fit. You do not ask them to buy if it is not right for them. If the fact that some people view sales as manipulation bothers you, don’t let it. They simply haven’t met with you yet, or they have not received the kind of professional service you provide. Sales, at its essence, is the ability to solve problems with a product or service. You are a professional problem solver. Your clients are the ones who benefit most by using your solution and having you as part of their team. Remembering this while cold calling makes it easy to deal with those who don’t understand your role.
3. You are calling on future friends and clients. Your approach to your cold call is quite possibly the biggest paradigm shift you can make in how you feel about cold calling. And the approach you take will heavily depend upon the industry that you find yourself in. Are you a one call close? Do you get repeat business? Are referrals important to you? Many of these things will come into play. When you can view your client as a future friend, the need for sleazy sales techniques goes out the window, and you can present your solution in a very up front and honest manner. People only buy from people they like when there is a need to be addressed, so fancy talk will do little for your cause. Most can see right through those methods anyways. Even if there is no need at the time of your call, if you have handled yourself in a respectful and professional manner, you will be welcomed to call again in the future because of your approach. The key is to treat people well, and to be respectful of their time. Everyone from the receptionist to the CEO should receive your best efforts, as you never know who your next referral or opportunity is coming from. If you never call on a client more than once, please do yourself and all other salespeople a favor. Leave the conversation politely and respectfully, as we can’t help everyone all the time. Do your best to leave a positive taste in their mouth, as someone just like you may be calling on them later. The bridge you may be burning may be your very own.
4. People buy your service everyday. So why not buy from you? It is true that someone will be buying what you have today somewhere in your market. Maybe they have been looking for what you have, haven’t had time to look for what you have, have been thinking about what you have, or just haven’t found the right person to buy from. It is encouraging to think that there is someone who actually needs to address what you have today. Self marketing is a great way to help yourself be found by potential prospects, but by daily putting yourself in front of people, either in person or over the phone greatly increases your odds of being able to address those needs. The people who don’t need what you have may not say so in the nicest way, but isn’t it amazing how nice they are once you have something they need? Focus on the ones that need what you have, and let the others slide off your back. You will need to be in a positive frame of mind once you find someone who does need what you have. You are only looking for the ones who need what you have.
5. Smiles are contagious. In person AND over the phone. There is nothing as contagious as someone with a smile so bright that it makes you want to ask,”Why are you so happy?” It is actually very hard not to smile back to someone with a big smile on their face looking right at you. Just try it. You’ll feel like a big dud if you don’t smile back. You actually feel better when you smile, and the person who can put that smile on your face is worthy of a moment of your time. I view it as my personal duty when I cold call to brighten people’s day. When I come in with a bright smile, it’s amazing how their desire to ask you to leave just melts away. And if you are on the phone, and you have a contagious happiness about you, the other person cannot help but gravitate towards that. Isn’t there usually a shortage of happiness around any office? We like to be around people that are happy. We don’t like to be around gloomy people. If you are the serious type, then get a joke book and read a few jokes before starting your day. Get some comedian programs and listen to comedy routines. Put a smile on your face and brighten the world with your presence. No one buys anything from depressed people, but a person with a smile opens doors….. and it’s amazing how it lifts your day when you purposely brighten the days of others.
6. Take a different approach every day. Cold calling may be something you need to do every day to be successful in your job. If so, are you using the same approach every day? That is quite possibly the speediest way to becoming stale and burning out. Mix up your approach a little. Have some fun with it. Create new ways to say the same old things to make them sound more exciting and give them some pizzazz. For instance, I might not be interested in your approach to an offering of “computer repair” for my business, but I might respond to “essential data recovery and maintenance services.” Or how about instead of “I sell phone systems and computer systems” saying I provide next generation voice and data infrastructure solutions.” There are a million ways to say what you do. Find some of them and experiment. It’s actually pretty fun!
The paradigm shift you make in your view of cold calling can turn the process from a chore into something quite enjoyable. It will still require discipline and effort, but the mindset you take into cold calling with you can change your whole perspective on your job. Brighten people’s days, make new friends, take new approaches, address the needs of those who need you, solve people’s problems, and most of all, know that you are a part of the greatest profession in the world.