We’ve all been there. Burned out, fed up, frustrated and feeling utterly hopeless about prospecting. It’s that moment when the idea of making even one more cold call ranks below a root canal. It happens because you’ve heard one too many hang ups. It happens when you can’t see the progress you’re making. It happens when you want to make a sale but can’t even get an appointment with the decision maker.
This blog post is for those times when you are stuck in a rut, struggling to overcome your own call reluctance but unable to fully regroup and find your mojo. As a professional seller, this feeling may be a bit bewildering. Some sellers may even start to question their career choice. Others let feelings of negativity creep in, believing that buyers’ objections and perceptions are accurate. Certainly, the voices of buyers saying “no” seem louder and clearer than they have before.
These are dangerous waters to tread in, and you need a life preserver, stat! You can easily find yourself caught in an undertow when you choose to believe that something about your product or services or company has changed. The odds are far more likely that something about you has changed. Look at yourself first. That’s where some positive change is most likely to have an impact on your sales and prospecting productivity.
You’ve heard it said that success breeds success. In sales, I’m certain that this is true. I see it all the time. A seller coming fresh off a sale made or an appointment set exudes confidence. A seller’s confidence in the product or service is more compelling than any other feature if the product itself. Buyers respond when sellers have genuine confidence – not self-confidence (although that helps, too), but strong confidence about the effectiveness and relevance of the product being sold.
So that begs the question – where does that kind of confidence come from and how can you get it?
A good place to start is with your customers, either your own account list or the broader list of your company’s customers. Notice the number and caliber of customers, the length of time some have been doing business with you, and the rate of repeat business with you. This matters because it is the counter-balance to all the negative chatter you may hear and magnify from prospects.
Your marketing department may provide some of this for you. Or, perhaps, you hear about it in sales meetings. If you’re like many sales professionals, you may be a little cynical about internal promotion. For every success story you hear your boss tell, you’ve got three stories about less successful outcomes. But take a second look at the story being told here – it’s not all hype. You can’t reasonably deny all that’s been said in favor of your company, products or services. If you truly can, maybe you’d be better off looking for another place to work…
Since it turns out you’d like to stay with your current employer, focus on whatever part of the internal promotion you can agree with or believe in most. Don’t make the mistake of reciting this feature to everyone you talk to as if it would magically open doors on its own. That’s not the point of this exercise. (Besides, not everything is relevant for or of equal value to every buyer.) Instead, focus on this feature so that you develop greater confidence in what you’re selling. The prospects you talk to may never hear from you about this particular feature and that’s okay.
Next, look for more reasons to love what you’re selling. Extend your search for positives beyond the internal promotion. Talk to your long-term customers and ask for testimonials. Listen to what they say and how they say it, too. Some will have an emotional attachment to your company and products or services. Others will give you a practical rundown of what they appreciate. Knowing both will give you resolve when those who are less familiar with what you’re selling put up barriers. Your confidence is what will break down those barriers.
Finally, to push through those times when you are reluctant to make cold calls, get serious with yourself. A goal of “I’m not going to stop prospecting until I get an appointment” will serve you better than “I’m going to make 10 more calls today.” Your goals need to be outcome-based, and you need to push for the desired outcome instead of reaching for an activity metric that doesn’t measure real results. If your performance standards are activity-based (e.g. “makes 25 outbound cold calls per day”) then you should, of course, meet that standard. But aim higher, too, because the activity alone isn’t going to add commission dollars for you. Set a private goal that is based on the outcomes or results you need.
With the right mindset, a focus on outcomes, and a boost in confidence, you will be able to push through call reluctance. You’ll also be able to make more sales. Since success breeds success, you’ll soon be back in the game.
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