There seems to be no such thing as a salesperson that loves cold calling.
Selling to strangers over the phone requires salespeople to go against their basic human instinct to avoid social rejection (again and again). And no one is as ruthless at doling out “no’s” as that faceless receptionist who is fed up with sales calls.
At best, cold calling is a necessary evil in the eyes of salespeople and at worst it is a waste of time, money and effort. Still, cold calling remains a pillar of sales prospecting methodology and as a sales manager; you would probably like to have something for salespeople to work on that could drum up business when their pipeline is dry.
So what do you do with all your salespeople that simply hate cold calling? Read on to find out.
Are cold call haters simply wrong for sales?
Salespeople might find cold calling ineffective, tedious or simply boring, all of which can inspire less than fuzzy feelings for the process. Sales jobs do tend to attract extroverted people, who are typically better at barreling through cold calls, but good salespeople come in all types.
Introverts tend to take social rejection harder, which means they learn quickly from their social mistakes, but recover their confidence a bit more slowly than an extrovert would. Learning how to cold call is a little bit painful for an introvert, but once they get the hang of it they can be as effective as anyone.
There are pros and cons to both personality types when making sales calls, but if an introverted salesperson seems to be struggling to keep up, teach him the introvert’s secret weapon for confidence: knowledge.
While introverted salespeople are the most likely to feel nervous about cold calling, they also typically have more patience for research, so teach them to use that skill to their advantage. Before they sit down to make a call, introverts can build up their confidence by researching the company they would like to sell to, finding the person who would be most receptive to their pitch and hunting them down with a plan in hand.
Is cold calling right for your company?
An important question to ask yourself is this: Is cold calling an effective sales prospecting model for my business, my industry, and my product?
The fact of the matter is that most business is found through personal referrals and social media these days.
How does the time your salespeople spend cold calling compare to the time spent working on social media platforms or following up on referrals? Where and when do your salespeople get the most referrals? How can more effective lead-gathering methods be maximized?
It is perfectly possible that cold calling is a workable method for your business, but using it as a time-filler for slow seasons might not be the most effective method for finding new customers.
Cold calling has been a part of sales tradition for decades, but if it is obsolete in your industry, it is probably not worth the time and money spent training your team to do it.
Think long and hard about asking your team to spend a lot of time on cold calls. If it really is a worthwhile use of time, give your team the training and support they will need to be as successful as possible.
Help salespeople see the value.
If you have determined that cold calling is a viable practice for finding new business in your industry, do what you can to help your salespeople understand the value in it.
Allow struggling salespeople to observe expert cold-callers so they can see that not only is cold calling doable, it can also be very effective when it is done well. Help them set realistic expectations about the number of calls they will have to make before they will likely see a sale. Sustain enthusiasm by rewarding cold call volume while they learn and improve their skills.
Beyond finding new customers, cold calling is a good way to condition salespeople to the inevitability of rejection. A salesperson who practices cold calling regularly as part of sales prospecting will learn to pick himself up quickly and understand that every “no” he hears brings him closer to a “yes”.
Developing cold call skills can boost a salesperson’s confidence, because if he can sell on the phone, he can sell anywhere. The rapid pace of cold calling will also give salespeople an opportunity to hone their pitches and learn how to treat gatekeepers and decision makers at different points of the sales process to best ensure a successful outcome.
It is a good idea to have new salespeople practice cold calling for a small amount of time every day while they learn the ropes. The more often they are exposed to the task, the more quickly they will overcome their fears and see improvement.
Look for Optimism.
The one piece of interesting information that might be gathered from a salesperson’s reaction to cold calling is optimism versus pessimism.
Rejection stings everyone, but how a salesperson copes with frequent rejection can be an indicator of his potential for long-term success in sales.
Pessimism is not the same as simply “hating” cold calling. A salesperson might avoid cold calling because he finds it boring, ineffective or frustrating, but if he seems to be genuinely defeated by the task, that could be a sign that he might be happier helping another department.
The best salespeople have Drive, which is a concise way of saying they have the Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism required for long-term success in the industry. Optimism is a critical component of Drive because working in sales involves a lot of rejection. Salespeople can be taught how to handle and react to rejection but optimism cannot be taught past early adulthood.
The best sales teams are made up of people that have Drive. Cold calling strategies can be taught, but Drive is innate. The best way to ensure that your sales team is full of Driven people is to employ aptitude testing at the beginning of the hiring process. With good testing, thorough interview procedures, and careful employee onboarding and training, you can build an unstoppable sales team.