It would feel soooo good to say, “cold calling is dead”, wouldn’t it? After all, I haven’t met too many people who get excited to jump on the phones for a few hours to a bunch of randoms on the hunt for a sale.
Cold calling, like hunting, is a survival skill.
Life today is considerably easier than it was in medieval times. Have our survival instincts dulled? We have McDonald’s and debit cards. We haven’t needed to practice life-supporting skills and that has made us rusty. This cushy existence seems to create an awkward entitlement that often doesn’t fit with the needs of employers that demand their employees to participate in prospecting efforts.
The reality is simple. If you need sales now, you don’t have the luxury to run an advertising campaign that will bear fruit 3 to 9 months from now.
If you need sales now you have got to go out and hunt. When you need sales you probably won’t have the time or money to spend on hiring it out either. You just gotta roll up your sleeves and put in the hard work. Our research has shown that your salespeople are going to make better calls than any call center will ever produce. They know your offering better, and they know the nuances of sales. Just don’t fool yourself into believing that you can throw down a call list and expect to smash out a bunch of sales. To get results in your cold call effort, you need to follow some truths:
- Be a leader. Hold your callers accountable for their actions. If there are no consequences to their inaction, there will be no action. Motivate your call team by communicating the importance and ROI of your cold call efforts, for the company, and them personally.
- Lead by walking around. The mice will play when the boss is away, so be sure to be an active participant in their success. The Hawthorne Effect demonstrated that a person will increase productivity when they know they are being observed. Your paperwork must wait. There is nothing more important than the task at hand.
- Recognize the actions of making a good call, not the outcome. Callers can not control an outcome so don’t frustrate them in this way. Steering your call team’s mindset toward best practices of a call will eventually result in your desired outcome.
- Celebrate the small wins. When they do something right, give them public praise. Ring a bell, give them a lottery ticket, give them high fives and fist bumps, or simply pay them cold hard cash. Not unlike Pavlov’s dog, humans can be conditioned to recognize reward and seek pleasure, not pain.
- Give them permission to fail. If your callers believe they will be punished or bullied for making an effort, the harder it will be to get them to pick up the phone. Regardless of how poorly they do, protect them from negativity and provide a safe environment to learn and develop their new skills.
- Have a script. When there is no consistency in the way salespeople present an opportunity, it will be impossible to improve on the delivery of the message. The very best movies, speeches, improv comedy, and songs are scripts. Done properly, your scripts are packed precisely with the psychology necessary to achieve your desired results. A well-written script allows your salespeople to maneuver at the right times, and maintain tight control when necessary.
- Coach from the script. For a caller to adjust their approach, they need clear instructions on how to improve. Be supportive of what they are doing right, and give them a reason why a change will help improve the desired outcomes.
- Keep it simple. Overcomplicated scripts and multiple ‘calls to action’ only confuse things. Have a script that works, and work the script. Just like Eminem says, “you got one chance, one opportunity”.
- Practice. The very best way to ‘not sound scripted’ is to repeat the script over and over until it sounds natural. Sidney Crosby is an exceptional hockey player because he practices every day. He didn’t stop practicing when he got good.
- Eliminate distractions. Distractions break concentration and flow. If you ever hope to get better at something, you need to give the mind the necessary time and frequency to move from the short-term electrical area of the mind to the long-term chemical area of the mind.
- Practice positive indifference. Positive indifference is when you untether yourself emotionally from the outcome. This is a coping technique, popularized by Landon Porter, to help salespeople disassociate the frustration of negative responses or missed opportunity. Following the script is a methodical process that, when done in large enough sample sizes, will get your desired results.
- Have fun! Create a boiler room atmosphere where everyone can feed off the positive energy of others. A loud room forces them to talk a little louder and listen a little harder. This energy will translate over the phone. Candy and energy drinks and some fast-paced music make an otherwise tough job much more tolerable.