Cold calling. The sheer mention of the phrase sends shivers down the spines of many salespeople. They hate it. They do everything they can to avoid it. And yet, when the sales funnel is dry, it’s the fastest way to find new prospects.

In our experience, a half-day of cold calling will yield an average of 1-2 appointments. A full day of cold call blitzing (non-stop calling) will yield an average of 3-5 appointments. We see this with all the clients we work with whether they’re calling marketing qualified campaign leads or cold calling a list. (The difference is in the warmth of the contact and how far along they may be in their buy cycle, but that’s for another post.)

Even with this proven cold calling success rate, sales reps shudder when they realize they have to cold call.

They get nervous. And therein lies how reps create a self-fulfilling prophecy of cold calling failure and sabotage their own success.

When you’re nervous, you’re focused on yourself, not your prospect. You’re worried about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to sound rather than what’s important to the person you’re calling.

What are you really concerned about when you cold call? Usually it’s that you’ll be hung up on. The gatekeeper will grill you about why you’re calling. The contact will be rude. You’ll forget what to say. You won’t be able to answer their questions or objections. You’ll make a mistake.

What’s behind the fear? Potential humiliation. But these people don’t even know you, and because they don’t you, unfortunately the cold calling odds are they aren’t going to remember you called.

It isn’t until you’ve called 3 times that they begin to notice your name. After 6 times they begin to notice what you’re saying. After 9 calls, they realize they’ll have to talk to you. So, you have 9 times to charm the gatekeeper, make mistakes, master your value proposition, handle their objections, and finally have a real conversation.

Here are 3 steps to avoid sabotaging cold calls and shortening your appointment setting journey.

  1. Focus on what’s in it for your prospect in talking with you. Let the business issue or need you suspect the prospect has direct your opening and the conversation that follows. This call is about them and their needs – not your need to sell something today.
  2. Ask questions that help you understand their situation. When you focus on your prospect, what your prospect needs, and why they need it, you ask questions that will help you understand more about them and their situation. You’ll learn a lot and be able to qualify if this contact fits your ideal prospect enough to justify suggesting a meeting.
  3. Park your product talk at the door. Of course you have to discuss relevant business issues your solution can help with, but you don’t have to mention your solution. And you certainly don’t want to focus on trying to sell anything in your first call. Your only goal is to set an appointment for a deeper discussion. That’s when you’ll discuss your solution.

Get over yourself. It’s not about you and the possibility that you’ll be humiliated. It’s about your prospect. What do they need from you? How can you help? Take these 3 steps in your cold calls and your conversation will happen comfortably and naturally. Your nerves will melt away and you’ll close more appointments with qualified prospects who will want to keep them. No more sabotaging your cold calls.