Cold Calling is one of the most talked about and debated topics in sales. Everyone has an opinion on cold calling. Whether the opinion is how best to execute a cold call or the ever growing sentiment that cold calling is dead, everyone has an opinion. So instead of giving you my opinion on cold calling, I will give you some insight into my recent experience moving from a sales management position and diving head first back into the wonderful world of cold calling.
To give you a bit of background I spent the last two years of my career in a combined role of direct selling (carrying an individual quota), sales manager (managing a team of 5), and sales/account management trainer. You see my previous employer found themselves in a similar predicament to most SaaS organizations facing fast and significant growth. We had great people and a fantastic product but all of the knowledge was locked in the heads of only a few individuals. Sounding familiar? Which brings me back to cold calling. The past two years I spent training new sales people on the industry, the role and responsibilities, the software, and most importantly demand generation a.k.a. cold calling.
As I reflect on my first two months at LearnCore, I couldn’t help but notice my initial hesitation when picking up the phone. It took me a while to put my thumb on the reason. Obviously someone with my experience shouldn’t have any trouble cold calling. I mean I trained people to do this every day, right? WRONG. I found myself asking: “What am I afraid of?” It can be difficult for those of us in sales to admit we are fearful of anything. We are supposed to be fearless on the phones and calm and collected in any client interaction. So admitting that there are things that scare us is a difficult task in itself.
So what is it that scared me? Take your pick: What if they answer? What if they don’t answer? If they do answer, what am I going to say? If they don’t answer, what message should I leave? What if they answer and actually like what I have to say but have questions? The list my friends, goes on and on.
This is a hurdle that must be overcome by any new sales person. Whether they are joining your sales development team right out of college or they are a top producer joining a new company. The hurdle is fear of the unknown. Which can only be overcome with practice. Once I started hitting the phones and writing down each objection, question, and different types of pitches I built up enough confidence to take on anything that may be thrown at me along the way.
It is that baseline of successful calls that gives sales people confidence in their work. They don’t need to be handheld throughout the process they just need to know what works and what to expect. For instance, how does the sales development guy in New York, that constantly blows out his quota, get people on the phone? What does he say? Or the director in Los Angeles, that hasn’t missed a Gold Club in 10 years, how does she communicate value? These are simple questions yet most organizations do not share this information with their new sales hires. Isn’t the goal of any sales organization to close the gap between your high and low performers; in turn leading to increases in revenue across the board? Let me ask you this: If your bottom 10% of sales people sold even 5% more than last year what would that do to your revenue target? Not to mention the middle of the pack that increased their sales by 10%. If we can give our sales team a baseline of success by harnessing the way our top performers communicate value, close business, and engage clients we will not only eliminate the fear but actually prepare them for success before they ever pick up the phone.
I understand how this may sound like a daunting task. You may be thinking, there’s no way Tom in New York is going to spend time training others. Or I can’t take Lisa in Los Angeles out of the field for a second to train the team. I can assure you of one thing, it is much easier than you may think to accomplish the task outlined above. I’d be happy to discuss how we were able to accomplish this task at both my current and former employers. Please feel free to reach out to me directly via LinkedIn. Best of luck and here’s to blowing out numbers in 2015!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net