Would you rather endure 100 paper cuts soaked in vinegar than making a few cold calls? Does the phrase “cold call” make you break into a cold sweat?
I hate cold calling. I had a sales position in college and often had to call people to solicit for money—it was the worst. I’m not shy and I’m also pretty blunt, so many people think I would be a natural at cold calling.
Wrong. I don’t think it’s natural for anyone.
Cold calling is a difficult part of many jobs, no matter the industry or position. It’s intimidating to pick up the phone and generate a sale, donation or media placement.
Since my sales days in college, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable picking up the phone. While it’s still not my favorite task, I’ve found several strategies that have helped me cope over the years.
- Be prepared. Write down some key points about the product or organization you’re trying to pitch. Imagine the ideal conversation – and imagine the worst. From the first “hello,” you should be prepared for either. It’s the Schrodinger’s Cat of cold calling—until you pick up the phone, you have the sale and you don’t.
- Practice. Call someone and ask him or her to listen to you. Rehearse your pitch as if you’re talking to your contact, and consider any suggestions that are made.
- Call when appropriate. Early morning or afternoon? For some people, they are less likely to take calls as the day goes on. I find that tackling this first thing in the morning seems to be the most receptive. As people go on with their day or even week, they tend to get busier and focus on the tasks already at hand.
- Get it over with. When I first started cold calling, I would waffle on it. It would loom over my head throughout the day. I would put it off until I could not put it off any longer—which significantly increased my stress levels. Pick up the phone and dial. The longer it hangs over your head, the more stress it’s going to add to your day.
- Be ready for a no, but prepare for a yes. A fear of cold calling is hearing the dreaded “no.” When making these calls, know that you may not hear “yes” right away or at all. That’s ok. If you’re prepared for it, it makes the blow a little easier. If you do get a no, try reversing this situation into to a positive without taking up too much time. For example, a simple statement such as, “Would it be ok for me to send you an email? I’d like to send you information and how you can contact me in case you change your mind in the future.”
If you take one thing away from this, take this: Get to the point because everyone is busy. Whether you’re doing media callbacks, a follow-up for funding application or soliciting new donors for money, make your introduction quickly and move on.
While this may not be the best part of your job, it’s often necessary. Next time you start to sweat at the thought of a cold call, wipe your brow and start dialing.