Do you really enjoy prospecting?  Most people would answer "NO! It's painful, full of rejection, and not a good use of time."  

But is it really?  Actually, personal outreach via a phone call is still the #1 highest result activity reps can do to engage with prospects and potential opportunities.  The DMA in it's annual study consistently has phone outreach at the top of activities that identifies opportunities.  So why do people hate it so much?

Here are a few reasons:

  1. Takes a long time to actually connect with someone.
  2. The belief that people don't want to take calls (I discussed this topic last month)
  3. Feeling uncomfortable calling strangers.
  4. Feeling it (cold calling) is an activity beneath you.

What it takes to shift your results is a change of process, mindset, and a better understanding of what the people on the other end of the phone really do think when you call.

Consider this:

Takes a long time to actually connect with someone

It can be a challenge to reach someone.  Numerous studies, some mentioned in other posts on this blog, point to the fact it can take from 7-11 attempts to reach someone.   Organize your activity so you make a difference and not just calling into the air.  What does that mean?  Are you making every call count, are you calling the right people leaving the right messages.  If someone were to look at your activity in an account, did you make any kind of difference or would no one know you were there?  You should be leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, so to speak, that leave a clear mark you were there and your prospects know you are trying to reach them.

The belief that people don't want to take calls

People don't want to take BAD calls.  They will take calls from peers, executives, non-sales people, partners, etc.  How do you make your call a great call?  Focus on the prospect and what they do, invest in educating yourself on yours and their industry. Be an expert, add value, create anticipation to learn more from you, CARE about who you are talking to. Every day I get communication from some sales rep that couldn't care less about what we do, but if someone genuinely wants to make a difference, they will get some time on the calendar. And taking the approach of just connecting vs. I want to sell something will work better 100% of the time.

Feeling uncomfortable calling strangers

You talk with strangers every day.  At work, at the store, on a plane, just about anywhere has potential to meet someone new.  The difference is you aren't thinking you are surrounded by CxO's evaluating every word.  But in fact, you have already met people that could have been your prospects and felt perfectly comfortable talking to them. Take the venue out of your calling.  It is just talking, not cold calling, not pitching....create a "repeatable presence" of interacting with people you call.  What is that?  It is your normal self, with your gestures, humor, interests, and everything else making calls.  Practice your outreach so you have it so ingrained, it sounds like the most natural thing in the world. 

Feeling it is an activity beneath you

Calling and engaging prospects in a meaningful way is actually something that requires the highest level of situational and technical fluency.  CEO's call CEO's all the time, do they think of themselves as cold callers?  NO WAY.  Business peers call either other and don't even think about it as a "cold call" but rather just a part of doing business, which is exactly what it is.  Do they drive or fly out to meet someone every time they want to talk? Of course not, they pick up the phone.  The greatest public speakers in the world embody the skills it takes to have on a call.  They practice until it sounds unpracticed, they know exactly what they are going to say, the are able to read their audience and make a real-time change to adjust to responses, they are dynamic, smart, and engaging.  Real engagement is not achieved by a low level telemarketer, but a very highly skilled expert in both situational and business fluency.  It requires the art of creating a strong presence without a physical presence with your prospect.   It isn't beneath you, but rather are you able to pull everything you know together to fire on all cylinders to engage on the phone? Challenge yourself.

I have said a million times it's all about mindset. Perception is everything, and your perception of an activity is the determining factor of how well you will do with it.  Sales leaders do well to invest not in more old-school or tactical training, but rather in how to free their teams from wrong perceptions and thinking that is costing them deals every day.