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Sweating Over Making Cold Calls?

There are two phrases that cause adults who are sales people to break into a cold sweat. The first phrase is “role play.” I have seen people actually hide behind a wall rather than engage with others in a role play exercise. This is some serious fear and sweat!

The second phrase is “Cold Calls.” Again, the fear and anxiety of making cold calls is high. People just do not like to make cold calls. This is not a suddenly new crisis for sales people, it has been around for decades.

The truth is cold calls are tough and getter harder – thanks in part to technology. I remember when I started in business back in the 80s. I could pick up the phone and call a prospect and actually talk to the decision maker. Those were the best days for cold calling since you could talk to someone. In fact, in the late 80s when I moved to a new city – Memphis, I was able to build my business from the zero to six figures in one year using cold calling techniques.

More truth, I wasn’t even good at cold calling back then. When looking back at the techniques I used, well, I could have upgraded my skills and I probably would have done much better. I won then because I never gave up and kept doing it every day and every week. And, I tracked all my results. The tracking part showed the importance of making those calls.

Now, what is causing all the cold sweat? There appears to be five reasons.

Five Reasons For Avoiding Cold Calls
1. Frustration – This is in direct response to the technology thing I was mentioning earlier. Voice Mail is a major problem to cold callers since no one actually answers a phone anymore. So the screening process is in full force. Sales people are just plain frustrated in their attempts to contact a prospect or a customer.

2. Blockers – The gatekeepers are still alive and doing their thing. My staff recently attempted to update a section of our database. They called several people on the list and the gatekeepers would not even answer a base level question about a person or staff. Interesting times we live in.

3. Rudeness – Some people seem to believe since they are not face-to-face that anything goes – including rudeness. It amazes me how many people use this tactic – I guess there are more unhappy people than I expected – who take out their unhappiness on others, like cold calling sales people. Also, a subcategory is the fact that most decision makers do not return calls anymore since they are all crazy busy. Delete is more common than return a call. However, keep this in mind, the more difficulty in reaching a person, the better the final opportunity will be.

4. Uncertainty – This one gets into the top five since there are some people (who sell) that do not like to deal with uncertainty. And dealing with people is definitely at the leading edge of uncertainty. There is no standard or set in stone method of dealing with people since each one is unique and anything can happen.

5. Fear of Rejection – This is a biggie for sales people in general. It is the number one reason for the lack of cold calling through time. All the others could be listed as “excuses” and the fear of rejection can stop a powerful person in their tracks. Therefore, rather than risk rejection, it is easier to do other things and blame a lack of results on time, technology, gatekeepers, and rudeness of people. Be Bold and show no fear and success will follow you every where.
Cold calling gets a bad reputation and sales people never have liked to make them. There is still big value in cold calling if you do it right. For B2B Sales people, one of the best techniques is to do research before calling. Learn things about the customer and think about how you could improve their situation. Then call the decision maker or C Level person responsible for the area of concern. Be prepared to provide a voice mail with NO SELLING ALLOWED if you want this person to call you back.

If you have to leave a message follow these tips:
  • Talk like a peer rather than a sales person “pitching” a sale.
  • Focus on the customer and the information you found rather than you and your company.
  • Be conversational in your approach rather than being a “old school” or traditional sales person.
  • Be confident that the person will call you back (And they will if you picked the right problem to discuss.)
  • Think quality of call rather than how many can I get in so I can move on to other things.
Using the right methods and techniques, cold calling can still build an excellent list of customers. Opportunities are available, yet, we have to get in the game to become successful. Start today – do your research – practice your message – take a deep breath – and stay focused and confident. Success is just around the corner.

-- Voss Graham
Posted: 12/18/2012 8:00:47 AM | with 1 comments
Filed under: anxiety, business, calls, chamber, cold, customer, marketing, memphis, sales, salesperson, service, small, tracking

Memphis Web Design
I have started cold calling last week based on this article. Thanks so much for the tips that work.
1/9/2013 4:27:21 PM

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Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

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Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

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Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

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Design and Digital Strategy
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Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit

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