How to Cope with Cold-Calling

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

If you’re in Sales, a Freelancer or in a role where you need to secure some kind of deal, at some point you may need to Cold Call. The fact is, unless you’re already a Cold-Caller…

Everybody Hates Cold-Calling!

We will all try and avoid it, if we can. When business is tight and you have some time to spare (in business-speech, you have ‘over-capacity’!) cold-calling just might be the last-resort.

Get this though – most people really dislike cold-calling for one big reason: fear of rejection. We hate to be rejected. It is a primal fear, for many of us. True enough, we might say it’s because we get nervous, or maybe we can’t get our words right, but underneath it all it comes down to this same issue. It’s no wonder that great tele-sales people are in demand.

Nevertheless, at some point in your sales or freelancing career, you’ll have to grit your teeth and make that cold-call.

The reality of using cold-calling to generate leads and business is you will be rejected many more times that you will succeed. This is a fact. Even the most amazing cold-callers earning total mega-bucks face this fact too. But does this deter them? No. So how do they do their job?

Like any task in a job, it takes practice. It takes time to learn the skills, learn the process, and cope with the possible outcomes. Coping with rejection, and making it become ‘second nature’ is just part of it. We can all do this – and we can all learn to cope.

How can we ‘accelerate’ the learning to cope with defeat?

There is a way to speed up the development of our coping mechanisms. We can learn how to brush off the rejection of disinterested people when we cold-call. Here’s the trick.

When you’re starting out with cold-calling, begin by believing that every call will be rejection, but by each call, you’ll learn from it.

Accepting the worst before you begin means that any success is a bonus. I don’t consider this as having a negative attitude – far from it – this is more about getting over the rejection before you make the call – that way, whatever happens shouldn’t lead to disappointment. Get me?

The more rejections you experience, the easier the next will become. Rejection will become part of the job, and you will not fear it, be hurt by it, or fazed by it. In fact you will come to accept it like the rain.

A Genuine Example

I recently coached a skilled businessman who has built a successful business up from scratch, and has grown by word-of-mouth. He wants to grow more, and cold-calling is something that he accepts he must do. But he makes excuses why he can’t pick up the phone. When challenged, he admitted that fear was driving his procrastination. So asked him to do this:

  1. Make a list of all the companies he wanted to work with
  2. Find the people he should talk to in each company
  3. Set himself a goal to be rejected by half of these people
  4. Make the calls

What happened? Well, he was rejected by over half of his list. But not by all of them. In fact, of the 38 calls he made, 16 actually responded very well and he got 10 meetings from the exercise, and landed 6 new clients! This is 6 more clients than he would have had if he had not picked up the phone!

Are you afraid of making cold-calls?

Do you fear the rejection? Then please leave a comment or start a discussion in my Community Forums.

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4 thoughts on “How to Cope with Cold-Calling”

  1. Hey Simon,

    Good post, and I totally agree with the rejection thing. I was in IT sales for 3 years and even for the most upbeat of folks, the constant “NO” can be demoralizing.

    I like your suggestion at the end about assuming the worst, then learning from the call. That mindset also makes a positive call a very pleasant surprise.

    The company I worked at was big on the Sandler system and regularly sent us to training. From a cold call perspective, I really like a couple aspects of their process:

    1) First – they HAD a process. If you’re just cold calling with no script or objectives, you’ll be mumbling or rambling and probably deserve your NO.
    2) Give control to the prospect. ASK THEM for 30 seconds of their time to introduce themselves and if they don’t want to talk further you will hang up. Of course, now the burden is on you to get them to want to talk further.
    3) Introduce your company, but focus on how you can solve your prospect’s issues. Remember they probably are getting a ton of cold calls every day, so simply saying you “offer strategic value” or you are “results-oriented” isn’t going to cut it. Ask them what their three top issues are and tell them how you can help.

    A big breakthrough that helped me with the rejection is simply remembering that, just like dating, not everyone is a good match. In fact, very few people are a good match. So, don’t think of it as rejection, so much as simply not being a fit.

    Finally – stop trying so hard. Continuing the dating metaphor, if you’re on a date and you’re constantly trying to impress her, you’re going to come off as fake or shallow and not get a second date. Be yourself, relax and have fun and odds are she’ll want to see you again.

    I hope this adds a little value to the conversation.

  2. @Dave – a very sagely reply Dave and your advice obviously comes from the wisdom of experience. I like ‘stop trying so hard’ as that’s what we all do when we try something new like cold-calling. The very act of trying so much puts so much pressure on us that we bomb out.
    Heck – it’s all about practice. I say, make some cold-calls to people who you think you’ll never get business from, be yourself, be relaxed, and learn from it. And guess what – you might just surprise yourself. Cheers Dave!

  3. I hate cold-calling with a passion, and come to think about it, probably for the reason you gave Simon.
    You are probably right – must practice. Did you practice, and how?

    1. simonstapleton

      @Asif – let us know how you get on in breaking through the fear and loathing of cold-calling! I’m sure we would all like to hear it

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