I’m Afraid of Cold Calling

I'm Afraid of Cold Calling"I'm afraid of cold calling!" is one of the most common cries by people in Sales. Rationally, this fear seems incredibly silly. All you're doing is talking with another person. "But the rejection!" the salesperson comes back with.
I have to take issue with this idea of "rejection".
Rejection is not "They didn't want to talk to me right now." Rejection is your significant other or a friend, who actually knows you, saying they don't want to see you anymore. See the difference?

The Irrational Fear that Makes You Say I'm Afraid of Cold Calling

Something is interfering with rational thought about cold calling. And I've found it doesn't matter whether English is the salesperson's first language or not: the same two fears about cold calling persist:

1. The prospect won't be available (nobody will answer my call)

2. The prospect won't be interested in what we have to say (no one will want to talk to me).

These two fears are floating around in the heads of people new to prospecting. And then they go out there without understanding any of the expectations of the reality of making prospecting calls--and what happens?

Their fears are realized.

Many people aren't in.

Of those who are, most quickly interrupt and say they're not interested.

The calls are over in 10 to 30 seconds, and the salesperson takes it all very personally.

Can you see where the problem is?

Two Stats that Will Change Your Mind About Cold Calling

I am going to share with you a couple of numbers. These two numbers will explain the reality of prospecting by phone. Once you know them, they will clear up a lot of the fear you have about calling.

First, on average half the people you call won't be available.

One day could be better, another worse, but over time that's what it will average out to.

Second, on average half the decision makers who answer the phone can't talk right now.

They can't even talk to their own mother now.


These are averages, and they are the reality of cold calling. No matter how good you are, no matter how much experience you have, this will always be the case.

Consider this. What it sums out to is that three-quarters of the dials you make won't reach a decision maker who can talk to you today. And it has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!

A Huge Mistake that Makes You Continue to Say I'm Afraid of Cold Calling

The reality--that on average 3/4 of your dials won't connect with a decision maker who's free to talk right now--has nothing to do with you. Not your tone of voice, the things you're saying, the time of day you're calling, the niche, the alignment of the stars, the way your pens are arranged on your desk.

And yet...these are the things newbies rush out and try to get advice on and change.

ALL of these variables. At once.

Look at any business forum discussing cold calling, and you'll see it. "I made three dials and this is what happened! What am I doing wrong?"


No statistical relevance. No understanding of the reality of calling.

And worse, this desire to change every variable you can all at the same time. Imagine a science experiment. What are you supposed to do with an experiment? Change ONE variable and see what happens. But if you change a bunch of things simultaneously, how will you know what cause had what effect?

So How Can I Stop Believing I'm Afraid of Cold Calling?

And now step back from the problem even further.

Notice you cannot change these averages no matter how hard you try. That 75% is going to be there, no matter how hard you work or how many changes you make. This is where salespeople give up. They exhaust themselves trying to change that 3/4 average, which cannot be altered.

Now that I've explained the reality of prospecting to you, you should be able to see where you can get improvements. Yes, in that 20-25% of the people who do answer the phone and can talk right now.

This is where you'll make your improvements.

Most calls are begun so badly that there is no rest of the call! So this is where training and technique helps. Getting better results--more and deeper conversations with prospects--in that 1/4 average when people can talk.

Accept the fact that the 3/4 average isn't going to change. Concentrate on improving the results of that 1/4 average. You'll persist and start seeing success if you do.

Now that you know this information, do you believe it's silly or smart to get all bent out of shape, upset and shut down when people aren't in or don't want to talk right now? Should you still be saying "I'm afraid of cold calling"?

In closing, I do have a method for improving your odds beyond getting a conversation on an average of one in every four dials. But surprise surprise, it takes work.

>> Was this information helpful to you? If so, please Like, Share or Comment to let others know. Thank you! <<


What If Sales Training Doesn’t Work? And I Asked for It?

What if sales training doesn't work - Richard RuffWhat if sales training doesn't work? And you advocated it?
"Is Advocating Sales Training a Career Risk?" asked sales training program developer Richard Ruff a few days back. His answer--"No!", qualified with an advisement that sales training effectiveness studies are not going to be found in the cause and effect ROI format. Sales is a social science, not a physical science.

Ruff's experience extends to such companies as UPS, Smith & Nephew, GE, Boston Scientific, Xerox, and Canon USA. So he knows what a successful sales training program takes. But do the client companies? Interestingly, Ruff reports that 43.5% of sales training customers in a study said the program didn't meet their expectations. This stat makes me wonder how well expectations were managed!

What If Sales Training Does Work?

But first, in the cases where the training was welcomed and adopted, what happened?

Firms saying that their sales training "exceeded expectations also reported both lower competitive loses and less loses to “no decision” as compared to the other two groups"...those "that exceed expectations enjoy a higher percentage of salespeople achieving quota, higher percentage of deals won, and lower sales rep turnover.”

When we monetize these results over time, it's clear that effective sales training is an excellent investment.

And not the least of those results is having you and your sales staff know where you are in the sales process. I've stopped counting the number of companies I talk to sales leaders of who have no idea why they won one order but lost another. Or think it's all about price. Totally lost.

What If Sales Training Doesn't Work

A major issue about the success or failure of any sales training program is the attitude of the trainees. If they are unwilling to adopt the new process, possibly because they feel it was forced upon them from on high, they won't use the methodology. Trainers and their clients need to be aware of change management techniques to guide a smooth transition.

An ES Research study reports between 85% and 90% of sales training has no lasting impact after 120 days. And my response to this stat is, "Wait a minute here. You expected a seminar-type training format to give permanent results?!" You need ongoing reinforcement of technique for sales training to be effective. It simply is not a one-time thing.

I have to question why many people seem to believe that sales training is like a some sort of innoculation. As if you get it once, and you're good for many years. No! Would you expect this to be the case for learning how to be a chef? For a horse to learn how to be a racehorse? For an Olympian to train and participate at the Games? For a painter to become a master? Ask the question of What if sales training doesn't work in the context of these other situations, and see just how silly it sounds.

And so we arrive at the core issues of why sales training fails. No commitment. No adoption. Poorly managed expectations.

As an Operations Management guy, I know all about managing change. It's one of the toughest things to do. People want to go back into their old comfort zones. And if you don't have a corrective mechanism--ongoing reinforcement--to bring that person back to the correct use of the new technique, the training is worthless after a short while as the ES study shows. So if you're going to get sales training, or advocate it, make sure everyone involved is committed. That they are ready to adopt the new methodology. That expectations are being correctly managed. Or else it is going to be a trainwreck.

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales force developer based in Wilmington, NC. Was this article helpful to you? Please Like, Share or Comment to let others know! <<


How Badly Do You Want It: A Lesson from Saturday Cartoons

How Badly Do You Want It - Megatron Can't Take The Day OffIt's Saturday morning. So I'm going to talk about cartoons.

One cartoon, actually, and the antagonist of that story. Oh boy--I've wanted to write about this one for a long time.

The big 4-0 is staring me in the face and that means I was a kid in the early 80s. In 1984 a show came out promoting a line of toys that changed shape from humanoid to a machine, vehicle or something else. In English it was called The Transformers.

Our antagonist is a gravelly-voiced megalomaniac named Megatron. He is a strategist, though of the low animal cunning kind. His plots are not elaborate. But in a show for kids, should they be? He leads a police force-turned-banditos from the legitimately ruling group of the planet Cybertron, down and out for several million years or so after chasing rebels to a mutual crash landing on Earth.

Upon wakeup, a central computer reforms all the Transformers' non-humanoid forms into things that should blend in to our society: cars, trucks, jets, and the like.

Megatron, the epitome of naked force, is naturally given the alternate form of a handgun.

The rebel team--called Autobots--determine that while they need to find alternate sources of energy to power a return to Cybertron, they ought to be nice to the natives about it. And protect the humans from Megatron and his followers if they can.

The bad guys--called Decepticons--have never felt a higher emotion in their collective existence. So nothing gets in the way of their idea of enslaving the Earth. Then they can drain the planet dry of energy to crush the Autobots and triumphantly return to Cybertron and end the civil war.

Got the story so far?

What Megatron Has to Teach Us About Answering "How Bad Do You Really Want It"

Here's why we're talking about it: the only character I find really interesting in the series is Megatron. The Autobot leader, Optimus Prime, is represented with a cowboy mask over the lower half of his face. So you can't even see him emote clearly. But Megatron's face is bare to the world. There's nowhere for him to hide.

Decepticon society is based upon power. That power can be founded in strength, but it also has a big dash of perception. Starscream, a hyperactive teenager of a lieutenant, is perpetually scheming to remove Megatron and take his place; however, he's too often afraid to take the first shot and simply grumbles from the sidelines.

And here's the rub: Megatron doesn't get to take a day off.

Why Megatron Can't Take the Day Off

Other Decepticons can disappear into the background and sulk. Autobots can do the same. Even Optimus Prime can go hide in the control room of his base with the supercomputer Teletraan I. And it won't make a difference. When he pops out again, the other Autobots will still respect him.

But Megatron? He doesn't have such luxuries.

He needs to be visible.

He needs to be leading.

He needs to recover quickly from setbacks.

If Megatron is not visible to his followers, they will begin to doubt him. They will suspect he is weak. And in such a perception and strength-based society, that will soon lead to overthrow attempts. He must constantly appear before them, showing a state of ultimate power.

Should Megatron not be leading with some new stratagem to capture energy, destroy the Autobots and effect a swift return to Cybertron, the other Decepticons will look for someone else who will. Regardless of their moral alignment, this group is highly motivated. They do not want to sit around and wait for something to happen.

And if Megatron is emotionally crushed by the failure of his latest plan, that loss of faith will immediately trickle down to his followers. Adult criticisms of Megatron include the observation that he is too quick in the face of real resistance to shout, "Decepticons, RETREAT!" and get the heck out of there. (All of the Decepticons can fly, though most of the Autobots cannot; this makes an exit to Stage Up an easy option to take.) But he is always back with a new idea and refreshed enthusiasm.

Again, if Megatron--and he alone of all the Transformers is in this position--did not do these things, he would quickly be killed and replaced. Megatron does not get to take a day off.

How Badly Do You Want It: Megatron's Lesson for You In the Real World

Now take this to the real world.

Many leaders are in a similar predicament. Call it obsession, call it knowing their true purpose, call it a bad idea. Whichever you like: they have worked themselves into a position where they are symbolic as well as active, and they cannot disappear without consequences. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of these people, for example. I'm sure you can think of others. People who stand for a cause or an idea and stick with it. Their commonality is that after a point, they cannot publicly behave in a manner inconsistent with the world's perception of them. They cannot vanish for awhile. They have a place to hold. Ground to keep covered. Ideals to uphold.

Consider this with your own business or role.

Really consider it. Not being able to take a day off can be miserable, I know. But it is the possible price for "success"...when you are known for something and you can't stop. Do you love what you do? Have you staked your life on it? Or are you just playing around?

Notice how the three things Ol' Megs has to do are the same things you must do as a business owner to stay alive:

Be Visible


Recover Quickly from Setbacks.

Curious, no? There aren't right or wrong answers here. I just want you to think about Megatron's situation and compare it with your own. Where do you find yourself? What do you want? How badly do you want it?

>> Jason Kanigan is a business development expert from the planet Earth. Did this discussion help you? Please Share, Like or Comment to let others know! Also, you can subscribe with the big red Follow button at the bottom right. Want help with positioning your own business for success? <<


(I don't want you to miss this, which is the first Disqus comment below; please feel free to respond there!)

My thanks to the individual who submitted this to Reddit. I appreciate it!

One reader commented on Reddit that I was suggesting people be more like Megatron, or that he should be a role model for motivation (and the reader didn't agree). This is incorrect and not the point of the article.

The article is about the price of success, to get you thinking about what it means to you, and what you're willing to pay for it.

Paying for success, however you define it, like Megatron does can make you miserable. Not being able to take a day off can make for considerable unhappiness. It's not necessarily a good choice, and I talk about that in the write-up.

Having been an employment coach and worked with many other coaches, I will share with you that when people find out their "life purpose", they often don't like it. Their life purpose isn't fun. It's a real slog, to get done what they need to get done. The BS sales pitch of the self-actualization dreamers is that discovering your life purpose is going to be all fireworks and leaping dolphins and applause and confetti. Sometimes it can be absolute misery...but it HAS to be done.

Megatron has his "life purpose." He is fully engaged in it, and *he cannot change his behavior*. If he does, he will cease to be himself. (Why do you think so many people have problems with 'retirement'?) That is a little scary, isn't it?

This is what I want you thinking about.