Many people working in phone sales, lead generation, or similar fields that require them to chase leads will have to call prospects for work. Cold calling is especially scary – you’re less likely to know what to expect when the person on the other end picks up the phone. There are a lot of variables at play, and these calls have little to nothing in common with normal social calls.
There’s certainly a psychological element that goes into calling prospects. You have probably heard stories of prospects yelling at and insulting the callers, or even threatening them. As a result, the fear of rejection is there. The need to choose your words carefully, have a solution for everything, and give the right answer every time can be a pressing distraction to the task at hand.
When you call a prospect, you’re selling yourself (and your product or service) solely with the things you say and how you say them. It’s a high-pressure situation, and the fear you may feel is normal. Creating a strategy to overcome and adapt can help you reach your full potential.
1. Learn a Little About Who You’re Calling
If you have enough information on hand, research the people you’re going to call. Knowing demographic information about them can help you select the most appropriate manner of speaking with them. Maybe they attended or worked for the University where you got your degree. Having a few things in common makes small talk a little more comfortable – the person on the other end of the phone will feel less like a complete stranger.
Researching your prospects can help you make informed decisions on who to call. You don’t want to inadvertently call someone who works for your competitor. Scenarios like these happen all the time when prospect lists aren’t well researched. Eliminating ill-fitting prospects from your list will allow you to focus on prospects with whom you have a legitimate chance of succeeding, easing a significant amount of anxiety about making the call.
2. Work With Your Script
If you have a script you use to call prospects, the script itself may be a source of unease. If you’re stumbling through the script and you don’t feel as though it resonates with you, it’s time to rework a few things. Depending on the circumstances, you may need approval from a higher-up to modify the script in any way. Wait until you know what you’d like to change and can effectively articulate the reasons for these changes before you approach your boss.
If prospects are few and far between or vetted to be of the highest quality, it may be worthwhile to create a custom script prior to each call. This will ascertain that you touch on every important topic – there will be no reason to sit there anxiously fearing that you’ll forget something or you won’t have an opportunity to bring up your key points.
3. Realize What You’re Actually Afraid Of
It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed by the idea of making the call that you don’t realize what you’re really afraid of. Are you afraid that none of your prospects will answer the phone? Are you afraid they’ll greet you rudely and say mean things to you? Those are both possibilities. You’ll need to come to terms with the fact some people will always react negatively to sales calls, especially if they didn’t have a reasonable expectation that you might be calling them.
Brian Tracy, a popular business and motivational speaker, has developed a strategy to alleviate the fear of cold calling. The 100 Calls Method, as it is known, requires you to do exactly what the name implies – make one hundred calls. The catch? You don’t really care about whether or not the prospects buy your products or services. The outcome of each individual call is not important. What is important is that you reach out to 100 people as quickly as possible. Focusing only on the number of calls will desensitize you to the fear of rejection and will make it much easier to phone potential new clients.
It all boils down to the fact that the real worst-case scenario is one in which the prospect says no and you cannot change their mind. This is going to happen often. Accept this as an inevitability, and realize that it happens to nearly everyone who works in a position similar to yours.
4. Separate Yourself from Your Job – You’re More Than That
Did you have a bad call? Did the person on the other end insult you? Do you feel personally rejected or attacked? Maybe the person just said no, and that denial alone was enough to make you feel incompetent or inadequate at your job.
Here is the most important thing to remember – you two could be in line behind each other at the produce stand an hour from then, and neither one of you will have any idea that you just had an unpleasant phone call. You don’t know each other’s faces and you’ve both adopted different demeanors. What happens on the call will stay on the call if you don’t have an established relationship with the other party.
Who you are at work is not necessarily who you are as a person. Don’t let the unpleasant dealings or feelings of rejection follow you home. The moment you take off your nice clothes and slip into your comfortable sweatpants, your day is tossed into your laundry hamper. Don’t allow your job to become your identity – you deserve to love yourself more. Recognize your personal successes and who you are in your day-to-day life when phone calls don’t work out the way you’d like them to.
5. Straight to Voicemail? That’s Still an Opportunity
Many people allow the phone to go straight to voicemail when they don’t recognize the number that’s calling them. This is commonplace. Most people wait a long time to check their voicemail, and of the people who will actually listen to those voicemails, a very small percentage are likely to call you back. A very small percentage is still substantially larger than zero.
Don’t worry about the call going to voicemail. Instead, create a specialized approach to leaving a voicemail. When you leave a message, you have 30 to 45 seconds of uninterrupted time to deliver your pitch. Make your offer or proposition sound enticing. You can turn an unanswered call into a win if you’re deliberate and your delivery and patient in awaiting a response.
No two calls will ever be exactly the same, and it’s important to remember that different variables will come into play every day at work. There is no single foolproof method for turning every prospect into a buyer, but exploring a wide variety of strategies, recognizing your fears, and utilizing versatile approaches will help you come closer to meeting your sales goals.
About Audrey: Audrey Robinson is a customer service expert with over 9 years of experience working in numerous industries, both local and international. She can often be found online, offering her tips and suggestions on how to approach customers and grow one’s business. Currently, Audrey is supporting Maxo, experts in the field of telephone systems and phone communication.