Off late, I have been going through so many email and articles titled, “Cold Calling is Dead,” or something consistent with that theme. Cold calling is far from dead. What these articles should really say is, “I’m afraid and too lazy to cold call, can somebody please help?”
After almost being into sales business for more than a decade, I made close to 250,000 cold calls, built a successful sales business and worked with many start ups developing high performing sales teams, and I can tell you prospecting, via the telephone, is one of the most critical components of success. I realize there is nothing quite like making your first cold call and having the prospect tell you, “they’re not interested and to go f@&k yourself. Definitely not a pleasant experience. Suddenly the simple task of picking up the telephone could be likened to picking up a 100 pound dumbbell. Did you think it was going to be easy?
Let’s use boxing as an example. Boxers are in the business of getting hit. In order to land a shot on there opponent they have to expose themselves for the opponent to counter. How does this compare to cold calling? Sales is the business of rejection, where 95% of your day is about getting rejected. The good news is it gets a lot better. The bad news is it never fully goes away. The way to success in this game is you have to get into the ring. When first starting out, inherently you’re going to get hit frequently. Yes, it’s gonna suck, but it’s imperative for your success, that you become comfortable getting hit. A byproduct of the black and blues is you begin to understand distance, timing, you develop speed and how to control the ring, and through those painful experiences you build muscle and a playbook on how to win.
Those same rules apply in the prospecting game. The more rejection you get the more muscle you build. In time you understand how to build rapport, how to match tone, when to rebut objections, how to uncover pain points, when to sell value, and inherently you’re able to control the conversation, in the same way a great boxer controls the ring. Something you will not get by sending out an email.
How do you do this? I can write on this subject for days, and by no means does this cover all the variables, but in the context of this topic, let’s say there’s 4 critical pieces.
- Knowing your product inside and out, and being able to convey that knowledge effectively.
- Being super enthusiastic about your product or service. Enthusiasm is infectious and it will get you demo’s.
- Understanding your industry and how you differentiate from competitors. Where are we better and how does that translate to the prospects pain points? People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Show them you care by asking the right questions. Something that is very difficult to do effectively, via email.
- Tracking your metrics. Examples of this are, “how many calls are needed before I get to a Decision Maker,” or “how many DM connects before I book a demo,” and “how many demo’s are needed before I close a deal?” This is critical to success. If some of these numbers are off, it’s telling you, you need to improve in that area. Consistently tracking these 3 metrics will change your career quickly.
Lastly, top sales people never look at it as, “being rejected,” but simply as “how many No’s do I need before I get a Yes!” You start to chase the No’s, because it brings you closer to that Yes.
What about email prospecting? Here’s my take, through years of stress testing. There is something very real and organic when you pick up a phone and speak with a prospect. Having a conversation enables you to get a good sense on how engaged and receptive they are. People buy people. It’s very difficult to get that type of raw feedback and vulnerability though email prospecting. Email has its place, and it can be very effective, but it’s best used as a follow up tool. The same way dessert is best served after your entree. The quickest way from point A to point B is a straight line. And to me picking up the phone is the straight line.
So back to our initial question, “Is cold calling dead?” I say, absolutely not, some will disagree and that’s ok. What is dead, is making excuses and not leveling up to the person you could be in the absence of laziness and fear.