The biggest problem with cold calling is that there's almost 100% rejection rates already in place, waiting for you. This is because the person you're calling on, doesn't know you, doesn't care to know you, and you're mostly taking their time. But cold-calling works, has always worked and will always work, if you do the following:
1) Get yourself ready.
2) Get your customer ready.
Getting yourself ready: Because cold-calling is rejection based, you can't count the number of hits, but rather the number of misses. So you need to prepare yourself to be rejected and collect rejection badges (as it were).
So if I were going to do fifty cold calls a day (via phone for instance) then I'd WANT to score at least forty nine rejections. Now this may sound super weird to you, because you're not calling to get rejected. But if you call to get accepted, you get rejected. And then as you keep calling, your spirits go down.
But if you call to be ‘rejected', now you're scoring points. So you're winning the game (in a weird way). The more rejections you get, the more points you score, and so with every rejection, you not only get smarter in the way you handle things, but you also get more cheerful.
Nothing is worse that getting more and more drained as you make the next call.
And you will get drained if your goal is to get a job/assignment etc. Because the chances of rejection are almost 100%. If you play the game of rejection, however, you can't lose and that's the crux of the issue. If you can't lose, you get more and more cheerful. And suddenly someone says “yes” and you think, that can't be possible. But it's a yes.
And this is true because of a simple definition of sales: Sales is transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another.
See that? Transfer of enthusiasm!
If you're not 100% enthusiastic and cheerful, I can smell you a mile off. And I don't want to buy anything. I don't even care what you're selling. But if you're enthusiastic, then I'll give you a foot in the door.
That foot is all you need. So that's the first part of this whole “getting a job/assignment”. You can't hope to win, because rejection is pre-loaded. So you make turn the game on its head. And count the rejections as “wins” and you can't lose.
But isn't it counterproductive to go in expecting to lose?
It's not as crazy as you think. No one is telling you to be an idiot and play the fool. Far from it. You're still going to be super-professional. But because you're in a completely unknown situation, you're going to be uptight. And when you're uptight, you don't relax (duh!)
Well, all of that comes across on the phone/in person. If on the other hand, you're relaxed (because you're there just to notch up another ‘rejection') then you're more likely to be more enthusiastic in your tone and body language.
But that's only one side of the coin.
The second part is where you prepare the client
Now this depends on the methodology you use. If you're using the phone, you need to be extremely clear about:
1) Who you're going to speak to.
2) What you're going to say.
Most cold-calling will fall apart because the call goes to the wrong person. If it's the wrong person, or a person that can't take a decision, you're just wasting your time. So you need to know who you're calling on. And if they can take a decision. The question is: what decision do they need to take? They just need to be able to say: Yes I will meet you. This is because it's unlikely that anyone will hire you based purely on a phone call.
So the question is: What are you going to say?
Most people will call in to clients and say: I want to meet you regarding (insert your profession here). And that's really boring. Why would I be interested in what you do? I'm only interested in what's in it for me.
Let me give you an example:
In the year 2000, I just moved to New Zealand. I worked briefly in a web design company and then was made redundant . And so there I was, in a new country, with close to zero-contacts and now I've got my bum on a burner—no option but to find a way to pay the bills.
I was a professional cartoonist back then, and so I knew that the folks who I had to speak to were creative directors in advertising agencies. If the creative director wouldn't meet, I'd settle for the art director.
Then I started calling for appointments.
But what I'd say was more important. When I called the art director/creative director, I'd say this: “As an art director, you often have crazy deadlines for certain ads. And sourcing the right photos, getting the shoot ready etc, can be a nightmare. I'm a cartoonist (a good one too) and I can show you how we've used cartoons in crazy deadline situations. And how ad agencies have used it without losing impact. When can we meet for 20 minutes? Is this week good? Or the second half of next week?
So let's analyse the conversation:
Analysis 1: I put forward an isolated problem. I wasn't trying to solve all their problems. Just ONE problem.
Analysis 2: I put forward a solution.
Analysis 3: I killed the objection: “How ad agencies have used it without losing impact”.
Analysis 4: I offered a “case-study or social proof”: I mentioned that ad-agencies had used us before.
Analysis 5: I made sure that the next step was in place: “This week or second-half of next week”.
Analysis 6: I was very precise about the time: “20 minutes”.
So how does all of this prepare the client?
It prepares the client, because they know that they're not going to get some hot air balloon showing up to waste their time. You've been so precise in your conversation, that they're expecting you to come in and spend precisely 16 minutes (yes, two minutes for the hello and two for the goodbye). They've given you a foot in the door. That's what you need.
So prepare yourself.
Then prepare your customer.
And go in eager to sell.
Or in other words: transfer your enthusiasm from one person to another.
Good luck, though frankly if you prepare, you won't be needing it at all.
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Chris Hanlon says
Great post Sean, and very valuable (although often people will miss seeing the value of it).
I remember starting on cold calling with the phone on my own health products business (almost 20 years ago), and counting the rejections. I listed 100 calls I would do, and then made the calls crossing them out as I went. I would get 0.5 appointments out of the 100.
Then someone introduced me to scripting my call (doh!), and the difference was phenomonal! With a decent script instead of winging it I was getting 10 appointments every calling day and doing it quicker (because the script was qualifying people early on).
Of course now I know better and am aware that selection of your list is key, but back then I was starting out and was working hard not smart…
I hope that anyone who is new to business, has ambition and sees your post realises the value it contains!!
Sean, thanks for the informative post. The idea of preparation in terms of identifying the needs and concerns of the “target” audience and the six steps of your analysis are very useful. I’m going to apply it to blog posts to see if I can increase the value perceived by readers.