No fear

If you are in sales for any reason, you have to be in front of buyers.

So, pick up the phone and make the call: the cold call. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? For some, it is; for others it’s not. Is there hope? Yes.

Do you have to fear this important activity to the point of paralysis? No. Cold calling has many positive benefits.

First, remove the doubt and fear. This is an exercise of releasing personal attachment to the outcome. If the goal of your call is to gain an appointment and you are refused, that is simply more information about your prospect base. Maybe your approach, message, target market, product or service needs refinement.

Second, a refusal is not a “no” forever. It might mean, “I need some time, stay in touch with me.” But, you have begun the first step toward the relationship.

Third, cold calling lets you know where to spend your time. There will always be companies and individuals who will never use your service or product. Find out who is “cold” and who is “warm.”

Fourth, have a plan. Some years ago, a minister bestowed upon me a formula I have used in my prayer life called ACTS. I modified it for use in my cold calling regimen. This works if you are talking live, leaving a voice mail or sending an e-mail:

Appreciation. Be grateful for any opportunity to be heard. Chances are, there are three, four or 100 other people calling for a slice of this person’s time.

Control. Get to the point. You still have to listen, but just be aware that the person on the other end has things to do. Don’t ramble.

Target. Include a value proposition in your message. For example, use the “What we found …” and “What we have done …” formulas. This demonstrates that your product or service has a quantitative benefit directly to the bottom line.

Supplicate. This is a big word for call to action. Be specific about the next step and ask the prospect to participate: “My initial call will be 20 minutes or less. Is Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning better for you?”

Finally, have fun. You are meeting new people with each call. To me, that is a rare gift.

Remember that sales cycles begin with a call. You may have leads come in at times, and advertising definitely helps, but the proactive phone call is the beginning of the relationship. And that’s what this is all about: relationships.

A refusal is not a personal attack on your self worth. This is where persistence pays off. Find respectful ways to stay in front of your prospects. Patience will pay dividends

Your attitude counts. If you are making every call with only your personal gain in mind, the purpose is defeated. Call with the intent to help and give.

Tim Steele is sales director for Idea Integration and president of ADI Consulting. A Cuyahoga Falls resident, Steele specializes in sales management, target marketing, account management and strategic planning. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]