My very first experience of cold calling was face to face. Daunting right?
I was in my early twenties and my shiny new role awaited. I was a cable telephone and television salesperson, whose mission was to sell to the general public by cold calling on people in their homes.
Even to seasoned sales professionals, knocking on doors can be a fear-inducing concept. But, I was brimming with a mixture of incorrigible naivety and eagerness to prove myself in my new position, so I took no notice of any nerves or fear.
I didn’t realise that knocking on peoples doors at all hours between 10am and 9pm including weekends might be considered brave. I just went about my job. Every day I walked the streets – pardon the questionable phrase – and knocked on unsuspecting people’s front doors following only an A4 list of names and addresses, often using street lamps to read them.
This might not sound like everyone's cup of tea (occasionally I was offered one!), but I was a happy person doing this. I believed that what I was selling was the future of telecommunications.
Before each door opened, I was intrigued to know what was behind it. Although in some cases it was healthier not to go inside. I smashed targets, earned good money and found this job relatively easy. Why? Because of my brave outlook; and a belief in what I was doing.
I used this same approach when I first joined a B2B team a few years later, but with the eagerness of youth replaced with solid sales experience. I was hired into a small team because of my fresh approach during the interview. I was honest and didn’t use figures to bamboozle my way through. I talked about the value I could bring based on my research on the company. I asked questions to learn about them. In short, I sold myself to them well.
Everything was on track!
However, here in my new environment, I discovered that some team members would look at me differently because I used to be a door-to-door salesperson. One person, in particular, told me to keep my background quiet 'because it’s embarrassing'.
Of course, I didn’t.
I did consider her words though, and it knocked me back and caused me to question whether this role was for me or not. However, when I discussed it with my line manager at the time he and another director told me that it would be criminal to keep such a fantastic achievement a secret from my potential customers. So, I regained my confidence and decided to tell my true story. That story and honesty helped me to build rapport and gain credibility at all of my meetings.
Ditch the fear
Ever since then I have made it my mission to prove that working in sales is an honest profession - not a job to be ashamed of. No matter what type of selling you do.
So, when I hear salespeople try to cover up the fact that they are selling on the phone, I feel I want to shout at them - to tell them to be proud and shout out the truth. There is NO shame in selling and there is NO shame in cold calling. Embrace the fear and own what you do.Do it well and it will serve you well.
Here is an excerpt from my book, Wise Me Up To Cold Calling, that sums this up nicely:
Sometimes it’s not the skills that a cold caller lacks when making a call, it’s your own inhibitions to making the call which can be your downfall. No amount of skill will get you beyond any door if you are not mentally prepared. By being mentally prepared I mean being able to eliminate any fears from your mind. The fears will lock you out before you even get a chance to work your way through the door.
What happens is that people go ahead and start cold calling but don’t get through any door because they haven’t unlocked the fear that stands in their way. I want to show you how to unlock your fears that stand in front of the door so you can then apply your skill positively and get through each door.
So what are the locks that you have to unlock before you get through the doors on a cold call? First, you should understand what the doors are, then the locks.
What did you learn from your first cold calling experience? Have you encountered this attitude or is it just me? I’d love to hear your stories!