First of all, I can teach anyone how to cold call effectively.  That’s not difficult.  The difficult part is teaching someone how to enjoy cold calling!

Let’s face it.  Telemarketing has received a lot of bad press.  So much, in fact, that we don’t use the word “telemarketing” much anymore.  Telemarketers call you at home and interrupt your dinner.  Bad, bad.

So, right out of the gate, we have a problem.  How do we take a job that’s perceived as negative and unfulfilling — a job of last resort — and make it more attractive to professionals?

Well, our solution was to throw money at it.  We offer educated and experienced professionals the opportunity to work when they want, on projects they find interesting.  And we offer them an incredibly high non-incentive based hourly wage to do it.  We get great people who share our work-life balance  values.

But, when the pushers come to shove, getting on the phone for the first time is difficult.  Should it be?  No! But anything new can be scary, so here are the points I share with my new callers to get them through their initial “call reluctance”.

Let’s start with the premise that you believe in the product or service you represent.  If you don’t, you shouldn’t be representing it.  You have a family to feed and yadda yadda yadda, but there are hundreds upon thousands of outbound sales roles out there – if you can’t ‘represent’, go look for another one.

So, now, let’s start with the premise that you believe in the product or service you represent.  Excellent.  Pick up the phone.

What?  You’re not ready?  Why not?

You have a list, right?  Names, phone numbers, titles, notes?  All good?  What’s the problem?

You’ve got call reluctance.  You’re concerned you’re “bothering people”.

If you’ve done your research, picked an appropriate target, and are asking permission before you launch into your pitch, you aren’t “bothering” anyone.  Odds are, if you work for a company as a caller, they’ve already done all this.  If you own your own company, take some time to think about who really benefits from your service and why.  Then call those people, and only those people.

Anyone who treats you as if you’re bothering them should think a moment about their role in the company they represent.  As a business owner, or business manager, it’s my job to find ways to save my company money or make my company money.  If you call me to tell me about a way in which I can do either of those things, I owe it to my company to take that call.  Period.

Remember, you’re calling normal human people.  The CEO got up, took a shower, had some breakfast and drove their kids to school, just like you did.  Nothing scary about that.  And you can help her save her company a million bucks today, right?  Right.

Okay, you’re not bothering them.  Pick up the phone!  No?  Why not?

You’ve got call reluctance.  You’re afraid they’re going to say “no”.

Issue number two.  “What if they say no?”  News flash.  They’re going to.  Over and over again.  There are plenty of reasons for that.  I’m not going to dig into things like building value in this post – it’s a talk for another time.  Let’s not focus on objection handling at all today.  Let’s just assume – for today – that “no, thanks” is the end of the conversation.  How scary is that? People say no to you all the time.  They turn down your invite to the movies.  Not because they don’t like you…but for other reasons, right?  They’re busy, they don’t want to spend the twenty bucks, they don’t particularly share your taste in cinema…do you wring your hands and wail every time it happens?  Of course not.  People say “no” all the time.  And then you know what you do?  You call up another friend and invite them to the movies.  Problem solved.

Cold calling is the exact same thing.  Except you’re inviting a hundred people to the movies.  I’ll be honest with you.  There are days when I don’t get one single yes.  There are days when I don’t even get through to anyone I’m trying to reach.  But it averages out over the course of the campaign.  No is just a natural part of the process.  If every person you call wants to buy what you’re selling, I want to come work for you.  Right now.  Call me.

People fear what they think is going to be the “drudgery” of cold calling.   And to that, I say this: If  it’s boring, it’s because you’re making it boring.  People don’t want to talk to robots.  You can be a little silly.  You can be a little funny.  You can be yourself.  I ask prospects about the origins of their names.  I ask prospects about their sports team preferences.  If they’re located in a city I’ve never been to, I ask them what I absolutely should not miss when I visit that city.  I ask them for restaurant recommendations.   I do what I need to do – represent my company – and I make it pleasant for the prospect and interesting for me in the process.  I work from home, so sometimes, if my day is especially frustrating, I take a quick break and go put on a glamorous cocktail dress, or a hallowe’en costume.  I have a playlist of energizing songs I can turn to if I need a little pick me up.  I take a 20 to 30 minute break every three hours and do something active – a quick walk, swim or Wii break!  (Your office may not allow such things — maybe you should come work for us!)

A few more things to keep in mind before you pick up that phone for the first time…

You’ll learn soon enough how to gauge whether or not a prospect enjoys chitchat.  If they sound rushed, let them go.  If they’re enjoying the chat,  have some fun with it.  If someone treats you badly, remember that if you meet a hundred people, you won’t click with all of them. Cold calling can be like speed dating to the ‘nth degree!  Be professional at all times.  If you make a mistake, apologize and start over from a place where it makes sense to — or ask permission to call them again!  I’ve fumbled over my company name, my own name, their names, the product name…and I normally laugh, and so does the prospect.

There’s no reason to fear cold calling – if you let it, it can be the most interesting and fulfilling job you’ve ever had.  I spent my first year cold calling with my baby daughter riding shotgun in snuggli!  My daughter is ten now.  Almost old enough to start her summer job as a cold caller!