I can remember this moment as if it were yesterday, yet it was over 30 years ago. I sat in my car, parked in front of a prospect where I was planning to make a cold call. I sat there immobilized, instead of opening the car door and walking to the lobby.
Was I in danger? Of course not! But I was too scared to move. And that’s what sales call reluctance, also known as sales call jitters, can do to you.
If you are just starting out in your new career in sales, or if you’ve been selling for a while but still suffer from cold-calling jitters now and then, here’s how you can overcome sales call reluctance and get the sale.
Change your outlook
I think most salespeople have very unrealistic perceptions of what can happen with a cold call. These unrealistic perceptions immobilize them; they forecast “doom and gloom” scenarios. Think about it. What could scare someone so badly they can’t pick up the phone or get out of a car? Fright comes from thinking if a call goes badly, you’re doomed forever—”I’ll never make a sale with this customer.”
Now think about if the doom and gloom you foresee actually happens. So what? Do you think that the customer you’re afraid to call on is the only prospect you will ever have? Of course not. So why be afraid? Instead, tell yourself the next time you feel immobilized that no matter what happens it’s going to be okay. Repeat this message as often as necessary until you are able to act.
Focus on the process, not the outcome
Prepare for cold calls or sales meetings that are scaring you, and focus on the process of preparing for the meeting instead of worrying about the outcome. Consider how you will start the sales call, what questions you will ask, as well as what materials you will bring to support your sales conversation.
There also can be the problem of spending too much time preparing for a meeting. Over-preparation can be a type of procrastination that allows you to delay. Avoid it by being ready to act when you have prepared 80% of what you might need. Think of 10 things you need to do; you are ready to act when you have completed eight.
Be able to gauge your success
How you evaluate the success of a sales call can contribute to your overall confidence. Do this by coming up with goals that you can control and will help move the sales process forward. Note: a final sale outcome is not a goal you can control.
And let me be clear—I’m not suggesting that you say no if a customer wants to buy! I am suggesting that you should only judge yourself based on things you can control. For example, a goal could be to learn new information about a company. You could ask a prospect about their buying process, find out who their current supplier is, or inquire about potential problems or needs. As you gain new information, you are moving your sales process forward, and in turn, you will feel a sense of accomplishment.
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Set very small goals
Sure, it would be great if you walked into a prospect and the customer says they are ready to buy. But that’s unrealistic. And having a sales goal that’s too big could end up immobilizing you.
Overcome call reluctance by setting small but realistic goals—situations you can control. And be sure any goals you set will move the sales process forward. For example, you are moving your sales process forward if you leave a sales call with more information than when you walked in.
You can overcome sales call reluctance
Sales call reluctance is a very real issue for both new and experienced sales professionals. Just so you know, I did get out of the car that day. I finally told myself that if I didn’t walk to the door, I would never make it in sales. Yes, that sounds harsh, but it got me moving—tough love sometimes works.
I didn’t make the sale that day, but I did overcome my reluctance and went on to make many more sales. You can overcome your sales call reluctance, too.
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