The Day I Decided to Stop Cold Calling (for Good!)

Smiling woman avatar dressed in suit and holding magnet with lightening bolts coming from ends

By Kendra Lee

It’s a new year, which of course means New Year’s resolutions and goals. As you set your sales resolutions and goals, consider how you will and won’t sell based on your natural sales talent to achieve your annual target.

Please Let Me Just Make My Sales Goal

My natural sales talent was never cold calling making my first year in sales as a new business development rep really tough. There was no good list to prospect. There were no remarkable reference accounts in the industries I covered. There weren’t even any noteworthy solutions that fit those industries.

At the start of the year as a bright-eyed, naive sales rep, my New Year’s resolution was to blow away my quota of 13 new accounts. But by July, my goal had changed significantly. And by September, I was praying, “just let me make my number. Just let me make my number.”

During that first year, I discovered the hard way that cold calling was not my natural sales talent.

My Worst Cold Calling Experience

When I started in sales with IBM in the late 1980s, cold calling wasn’t what most salespeople today know it to be.

We didn’t pick up a phone, dial a list of prospects, and hope to have a few, quality conversations. Instead, cold calling involved going door-to-door and actually meeting with people face-to-face. Rejection in that context was slightly more embarrassing and difficult to swallow than having someone simply hang up the phone on you.

Kendra Lee smiling at you because she stopped cold calling

So, you can imagine how I felt as a freshly-minted sales rep when, in my third week on the job, my manager took me to the top floor of an eight-story building in the heart of Washington, D.C., pointed to the door of the first suite, looked at me with a Grinch-like smile, and said, “Go!”

He opened the door and I followed him in like a trusting puppy…

Naturally, I was petrified. There I was, standing in front of the company’s receptionist, and not one word was coming out of my mouth. My manager and the receptionist exchanged awkward glances and then looked at me expectantly.

Still nothing.

One second passed. Then two. Then three. Still nothing. I had no idea what to say.

Finally, my manager pulled my sinking body from the depths and took over to avoid further embarrassing us.

A Better Cold Call Strategy: My Epiphany

Shortly after leaving that appointment, I decided I had to find a better way to prospect. One that made cold calling unnecessary in every form.

I discovered that my natural talent was to take a proactive approach to new business development, seeking and cultivating referrals and combining lead generation and sales prospecting campaigns to find contacts who really wanted to talk with me.

No more cold calling down a list or door knocking a building from top to bottom. I switched my strategy to where my sales strengths were – developing warm leads. Pretty quickly, I was drawing in more high-quality leads than I’d ever generated through cold calling.

Be Your Own Sales Magnet

I went from praying in September one year, to celebrating the next September when I achieved my goal, then blew it away by December. That was the year I first ranked in IBM’s top 1% of sales reps worldwide. All because I stopped cold calling and focused on where my sales strengths were.

Find your sales talent and use it. If it isn’t cold calling, use a different strategy.

In my book, The Sales Magnet, I share five personal, four digital, and five collaborative strategies that are proven tools for grabbing prospects’ attention. These strategies warm up prospects, expose them to your ideas, thought leadership, capabilities and expertise in different mediums. When you call, you have something to talk about. And depending on the CRM or marketing automation systems you use, you’ll even know who cares about those topics before you call.

These Sales Magnet strategies worked for me and are the same ones we employ for the clients whose lead generation we manage. Maybe those same strategies will work for you, too.

Or, maybe you are a phenomenal cold caller and you have different sales strengths. Whatever your sales talent is, choose prospecting and lead generation approaches that are comfortable. Set your New Year’s resolution to leverage them to be your own sales magnet. When you maximize your natural sales talent, you will achieve your goals long before you ever expected.

If You Hate Cold Calling Too

If you or your team hate cold calling as much as I did, use the sales magnet strategies to warm up prospects. If you are feeling it’s time to learn to cold call more effectively and follow up on warm leads more skillfully, contact us. We can help. It’s time to see your New Year’s resolution through and become this year’s sales magnet!

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