It is a fact of life for most new sales people; they get the dream sales job with unlimited earning potential and expect to earn so much money that they can now enjoy the fruits of their coming wealth. Everything seems perfect until they realize that before closing a sale and earning the big commission, they must first prospect for new customers (read, cold calls). Cold calling is hard to do. People hate to make cold calls and people hate being on the receiving end of them as well.
Prospecting is the most difficult part of the sales job. There are many ways to go about it but, for some reason, sales managers preach cold calling as the only way for young sales people to generate leads. As someone who has been through it, I wish that these attitudes would change.
I recently read one of the best selling books on cold calling. In this book, the author stresses persistence. He uses the 15-3-1 rule. That is, you need to make fifteen cold calls to make three appointments with prospects. Out of these 3 appointments you will close one sale. By being persistent and making fifteen cold calls a day, this will translate to, on average, one sale a day, five sales a week, twenty sales a month, etc. Further, the author explains that he doesn’t mind the rejection that he gets when he cold calls. The reason is that since it takes fifteen calls to get an appointment, that means that he will hear the word “no” (rejection) fourteen times before he hears the word “yes.”
This is simplistic and anybody reading this book may get overexcited and think that this is easy. It’s not easy and the author’s arguments don’t hold up in real life selling.
Take the fifteen cold calls a day rule. Anybody reading this book will think that fifteen cold calls a day is nothing. If it takes 2-3 minutes to make a phone call, it shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to make your mandatory 15 calls. Then the rest of the day is spent selling in front of prospects.
But it doesn’t work this way. If you’ve ever cold called, you will know that it usually takes at least 10 phone calls to reach a decision maker. Think about it, executives aren’t sitting in their offices waiting for your call. They’re either on the phone, in meetings, on vacation, or they just don’t want to talk to you. So now, to talk to fifteen people, you need to make 150 cold calls. This is not 45 minutes of work; this can take days.
Further, for someone to say that he enjoys hearing the word “no” because it means he is getting closer to a “yes” is just misleading. Although a select few people can take this kind of rejection day in and day out, most cannot. It is only human nature to be discouraged by so much rejection.
There are better ways to get sales leads and increase your sales. People buy from people that they trust. Your time should be spent networking with your friends, colleagues, and business contacts. Get referrals, get introductions, get testimonials and the sales will come. Not only that, your job will be better; nobody likes the rejection and time consuming nature of cold calling.