Everyone knows cold calling is not easy. Calling a total stranger out of the blue and pitching to them is challenging work. It requires you to put yourself in an uncomfortable position. You are vulnerable to negative responses or worse — frustrated or angry respondents.
The exciting side of cold calling is that every once in a while, you will make a sale. If you never pitched to those strangers, you would not be earning your living. Cold calling works and has been a standard in sales and other fields for decades.
Top sales people have figured out how to make those cold calls and convert them into sales. The top earners even make it look easy. They look like they are enjoying their calls and even seem to celebrate rejection rather than letting it get them down. Cold calling like a pro could increase your income and improve your mood, and who wouldn’t like to be happier at work?
Cold Calling Tips to Minimize Stress
Sometimes, when you know you have to make those calls, you are so nervous you cannot concentrate. Some people perform well under such pressure, but most of us choke, but stressing over cold calling is a waste of time. It can cause you to procrastinate and put off making your calls. After a tough call, many people may take a long break before making the next one, and the stress of anxiety can hurt your performance on the next call.
The key is to successful cold calling is to reduce stress so you can get the job done.
Here are some cold calling tips and tricks to minimize your stress:
Adjust your perspective
The stress you experience when you start to make cold calls is usually a fear of rejection. No one likes being told no or listening to the hostile attitude some people take with sales calls. As you anticipate your calls going wrong and becoming a bit of a battle, your stress level rises. The more you worry about a negative outcome the more stressed and defensive you become.
Approaching a cold call with a defensive attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you are looking for a fight, that’s exactly what you will find. Instead, adjust your attitude to one of giving. Instead of thinking you are trying to get something from the person on the other end of the phone, a sale, think about how you are trying to give them something.
As you present your offer from a mindset of giving, your stress will diminish. You are just trying to help, but if the person on the other end of the phone does not choose to take advantage of your offer, it is okay.
Go through the call mentally
For some, cold calling stress builds just before they pick up the phone. It is the anticipation of feeling like you are on the spot. Your breath feels restricted and your mouth goes dry. What if you cannot speak when someone answers the phone? Before you pick up the phone, do a visualization exercise to reduce that stress so you can make your calls confidently.
Picture yourself making the call. Imagine you look and sound confident on the phone. Envision yourself talking smoothly through your script and stopping to answer questions when appropriate without fear of losing the attention of the person on the other end. Visualize a successful call to reduce your stress, and then begin making your cold calls.
Prepare for a substantive discussion
Preparation is an important tool in sales of any kind. Some people think that because they do their work over the phone, preparation isn’t important. Actually, it may be more important to prepare for a cold call than an in-person meeting.
You should not only know your script and understand your pitch, but you should know the product or service you are selling very well. Engagement is a sign of interest and could lead to success. If the person on the other end of the phone asks you questions and you do not answer confidently, you could lose that potential sale.
Study your materials before picking up the phone. Anticipate potential questions and prepare answers to those. You want to invite engagement, and that will go better if you are confident in your knowledge and able to answer any questions that come up.
Follow the route to Carnegie Hall
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice! Feeling nervous about cold calling has to do with being self-conscious and insecure. You feel like you are acting instead of being yourself, and you’re not sure you can maintain the act long enough to get through the call. The key to perfecting your act is to practice until it feels natural.
Start with a mirror. Read your script in front of a mirror and see if you look confident. At first, you will probably look as nervous as you feel. Most people are not used to seeing themselves as they go about daily activities. Keep practicing in front of that mirror until you look and sound comfortable. Try using a recorder or a video to capture your performance, and then play it back for yourself and critique.
In your practice sessions, try different poses and alternative timing. What happens if you pause after the third sentence — does that feel more natural? Try it and see. Switch up your examples or your references until you find ones that sound the most natural. If there are certain words you struggle to pronounce, try to rework your script with alternatives.
Use positive body language
It may seem unnecessary since the person on the other end of the phone cannot see you, but body language is important in cold calling. People can hear stress in your voice, and it undermines your confidence and credibility. A smile will help you feel and sound more relaxed. Smiling reduces stress, even if you have to force the smile onto your face
Try standing when you make your cold calls to give you a feeling of authority. If you make calls while sitting at a desk, sit up straight with both feet on the floor. This is a powerful position that will keep you balanced and feeling confident. Body language on cold calls is as much for your state of mind as it is for the recipient’s perception of you.
Bring a friend
Everything is easier when you tackle it with a buddy. Cold calling might be a solitary task, but you can use a picture of a friend or a loved one to get you in the right frame of mind. Looking at a picture of someone you love can reduce stress and will make you happy. Placing those cold calls with a smile on your face can make them more effective.
One problem with cold calling is that you are speaking to a stranger. With a picture of your friend or loved one, you can talk to the picture. By imagining you are talking to a friendly face, you will be more relaxed and be perceived as friendly by the person on the other end of the phone.
Come to terms with rejection
Cold calling will always produce more rejection than success. If you can get comfortable with that, your stress will dissipate. It will take some practice, but you can learn to embrace the rejection. Remind yourself that it’s not personal. The rejection is about your offer, not you as a person. The person on the other end of the phone doesn’t even know you.
When you start your cold calling with the expectation that you will receive rejections, there is no surprise, and the sting just isn’t there. Try tracking your calls by the number of rejections you get instead of the number of successful calls you make. Go down your call sheet until you’ve logged a certain number of rejections. You might be surprised at how many successful calls you end up with.
Give yourself a break
Accept that cold calling is hard and comes with a lot of rejection. You are going to make those cold calls, anyway, because that is how you move ahead in your profession. Get some professional tips, psych yourself up and get dialing.
Doing hard jobs like cold calling comes with some rewards to keep you going. You may make several cold calls in a row before you get one conversion, so you can’t wait for a conversion to reward yourself. Instead, after 15 calls, take a five-minute break. Walk around, have a snack, stretch and relax. After five minutes, get right back at it with renewed enthusiasm.
Stress is a huge inhibitor to performing your job optimally. If you can reduce your stress for cold calling, you can approach this task with a positive outlook. Attitude is what drives success. Adjusting your mental outlook is a crucial factor to successful cold calling.
Cold Calling Tips to Minimize Failure
Getting comfortable making those cold calls is the first step toward success. When you can make the calls fluently without too much anxiety, you begin making better use of your time. When you are no longer focusing on feeling self-conscious about cold calling, you may become concerned about your failure rate on these calls.
Once you are comfortable with your cold calling, it is time to turn up the volume. After several cold calls, you establish a closing rate, the number of successful calls per 100. The standard closing rate for cold calls is around 10% or less. That leaves a lot of room for improvement.
Here are some ways to fine tune your cold calling practices to improve your closing rate:
Change your approach
Self-evaluation is an important part of being successful at any task. You have to figure out where you are going wrong, and then change your approach. When you follow your sales script, notice where the call goes wrong. You will probably see that you get the final objection on your cold calls in about the same place in your script. You need to work on your script to push past that point and reach conversion.
Keep the parts of your script that are working well and change the rest. Try switching the order in which you present your information or the examples you use to explain your offer. Check with a successful sales person to get suggestions for fixing the problem. Keep making changes to your script until it starts to work for you.
Learn from the best
Even if your cold calling statistics are okay, they can always be better. Find the person in your office who has the highest conversion rate on cold calls, and ask what the secret is. Listen in on that person’s calls if you can and see if you can identify some quality in them that you do not have.
Ask a successful salesperson in your office to listen to a couple of your cold calls and critique your performance. It is especially hard to take criticism in a competitive field, but, if you listen carefully, you may learn something that makes you more successful.
Don’t take no for an answer
Part of being successful with cold calling is learning how to overcome objections. The law of averages says your cold calls will get more rejections than acceptances, but there are people who will land somewhere in the middle. If you get those people to become a yes instead of a no, your success rate will soar.
Make a list of the possible objections you could get from your calls. Practice how you will answer these objections to neutralize them. Remember to be empathetic in your responses instead of defensive. Agree with the person’s concerns and gently explain why they do not matter. When you learn to overcome objections, your success rate on cold calls will increase.
Get the right numbers
Your cold calling success rate will be highest when you are reaching potential customers, not just random people. If you are selling replacement windows, for example, there is no point in calling people who live in rented apartments. Only building owners will buy your product.
Research the demographics of your potential customer. Know who you are trying to reach with your offer. Then, get the right phone numbers for people who fit your demographic. Ask for a particular person when you call. There is no point in going through your entire script when the homeowner’s child answers the phone. Get to the right person before making your offer.
Control the length of your presentation
If you are nervous when making your cold calls, you will speak faster than normal and may rattle off a whole list of facts and figures in a few minutes. People are not able to hold on to large amounts of new information when it is presented to them quickly. By controlling the length and pace of your call, you can get more attention from the person on the other end.
Even when you are following a script, you can make adjustments in your presentation to help your listener understand and retain information. Pause for a moment after a couple sentences to allow the information to sink in. Allow your listener to ask questions that might signal interest in what you are presenting. Mostly, keep your initial contact short and intriguing, so you have reason to schedule a follow-up meeting.
Stick to a schedule
In sales, time is money. We refer to it as a numbers game, for every 100 calls you make, you will convert a certain percentage of them. Closing more sales, or setting up more appointments, is a simple matter of math. Given your standard closing rate, you can figure out how many calls you need to make to reach your goal.
The time you spend preparing to dial and psyching yourself up to make the next call is wasted. No sales are made when you are not on the phone. Also, engaging in long conversations is not a good strategy for closing, either. Accepting some engagement from your listener as a sign of interest is good, but beyond a few minutes, the time you spend conversing with a prospect on a cold call is wasted.
Make yourself a calling schedule. Decide you are going to try to make 50 cold calls in 150 minutes. At three minutes per call, that is completely possible. Do not rush your calls, but as soon as you can gauge a level of interest, end the call either by setting up the follow-up or terminating the discussion.
Ask for the sale
One of the most obvious reasons people do not close a sale is because they do not ask. You must be clear on your objective when you pick up the phone to make your calls. Know whether you are looking for sales, setting up appointments or soliciting some action from the person you call. Ask yourself, what do I want this person to do?
When the time is right, make your ask. If you sense some interest or have finished with your pitch, ask for the sale. Be specific in your ask. If you are setting up follow-up appointments, for example, assess the listener’s availability on a certain day at a specific time. Never leave the conversation open-ended. If your prospect is not interested, make them say no.
After you’ve tried these methods to improve your closing rate on cold calling, there is one more way to make your calls more successful. Cold calls have a low conversion rate because of their random nature. When you focus the calls better on people who are more likely to be interested in what you are offering, the conversion rate increases.
Leverage Tools for Easier Cold Calls
Cold calling is a skill that anyone can master over time. It takes practice, but you can overcome your anxiety about making cold calls and begin to see some results from your efforts. There are expert tools you can use to improve your odds of being successful with cold calls.
Buying a list of pre-qualified phone numbers can make your job a little easier. You only waste time when you get disconnected numbers or reach the wrong person. When your calls go unanswered and you have to leave voice messages, that eats into your productive sales time, too. Telephonelists.biz can provide you with accurate phone lists that get you talking to actual prospects. The more prospects you talk to, the more sales you can make.
If you are interested in improving your cold calling performance or that of your team, contact Telephonelists.biz today. We have a number of tools that can make more efficient use of your prospecting time. By helping you cut out wasted time dialing the phone, possibly transposing numbers and making your standard notes between calls, we can improve your conversion rate.