Fill a room with commissioned sales people and say the words COLD CALLING SUCKS and the reaction is probably pretty predictable. Most of the room will probably cheer in agreement and it isn’t very likely that anyone will stand and dispute the claim.
But most accomplished commercial real estate agents and brokers will tell you that cold calling was one of the keys to their success as they built their careers. Why? Because it is still the most effective way to make direct contact with the prospects you want to do business with. So while many do not relish the activity of cold calling new people every day, the ability to effectively win new business is directly linked to making new contacts. Like it or not, the phone is still the best way to open that initial door to a potentially long term business relationship.
Let’s breakdown the most common hurdles people face when considering the activity of cold calling. Then we can address ways to sidestep those so that cold calls become your friend.
- Fear of Rejection: Rejection in all of its forms is not a pleasant experience. Reactions to rejection can include disappointment, embarrassment, anger, reduced self-esteem, self-doubt and a feeling of defeat. Not fun. So obviously if you focus on the possibility that the next call you make could result in you experiencing some of these painful emotions…that could definitely give you pause. It frames the idea of making cold calls as high risk because you are focused on the potential negative consequences of rejection. Sound familiar?
- Lack of Confidence: When you dial the number of a prospect that you’ve never spoken before you assume that prospect will answer your call. At that point, the burden is on you to begin a conversation that will get the prospects attention and ultimately extend into a dialogue. Of course your end game is to win an appointment with the prospect and begin the process of moving toward a working relationship. If you are not well prepared to drive the conversation and deliver value in your dialogue with the prospect, you probably won’t sound very confident in your approach. This will reflect in your tone and content as you begin the call and has the potential to torpedo your call early on in the process. The thing that will hold you back from dialing the phone here is the fact that YOU KNOW that you don’t feel confident. Lack of confidence, like fear of rejection can have a paralyzing effect on you before you ever pick up the phone.
- Focus on Failure: What are you thinking about before you make that call? You are probably playing a little movie in your head, anticipating how the call is going to go. Most people hone in on the possible rejection or other potentially negative aspects of what might happen. This is a defense mechanism where your brain is telling you to protect yourself from the negative emotions that you risk feeling when you make that call. Rarely do newer agents embrace the call with a positive mindset, confident that they will have a great conversation with the prospect.
When you consider the 3 limiting factors above, they all revolve around mindset. There is nothing truly tangible keeping you from making successful cold calls. The core problem for most who struggle is simply a mental picture that sets them up for failure. If we can improve this mindset and gain a more positive perspective on the activity of cold call prospecting, many if not all of the hurdles described above will melt away.
An easy place to start is by considering the old cliché “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Of course rejection is a less pleasant experience than acceptance, it is simply part of what we do as agents. It isn’t personal. It isn’t directed at you or your family. If someone is cranky, dismissive or even belligerent with you on a call, no one dies. Maybe they are just having a bad day or maybe they are just that type of person. Either way…who has the problem? Not you. You have a whole list of other people to call and the rejection you experience on this call is really meaningless in the big picture. Answer the question in as much detail as you can…”What is the worst thing that could happen if this prospect rejects me?” I assure you it is a very short list and seeing it in front of you will help you realize that rejection now and then has very little impact on your ability to succeed…UNLESS YOU LET IT!! Don’t.
Let’s talk about your confidence. This is a bit more difficult but there are easy ways to build confidence and feel confident before you start dialing. The core driver of confidence is your personal awareness that you are knowledgeable and prepared for the call. One way to bolster that confidence is to take control of the call by following the structure we teach in the 6 Steps to Successful Cold Calling course. Preparing diligently for a very specific topic related to a specific asset will give you the confidence that you are knowledgeable and prepared to discuss that topic and that asset. If the subject matter is too broad or without specific context, your confidence will be lessened because you will have no idea what the prospect is going to want to talk about. You basically lose control of the call and of course, lack of control also equals lack of confidence. Narrow the subject matter to exactly what asset you want to discuss and a specific topic related to that asset. Then make the call knowing that this will be what you will talk about and you are prepared and knowledgeable about the topic. This puts you in greater control, allows you to follow a structured framework for the call and results in a confident delivery.
A hard fact is that most of the calls you make will not garner the results you want. I could give you dozens of analogies from other walks of life but here’s just one. If you know baseball, a Hall of Fame baseball player will fail 7 out of 10 times at the plate. Reggie Jackson is known as one of the greatest baseball players of all time, especially for his home runs. But he also struck out more times than any baseball player in history. The point is that your focus as you approach cold calling needs to be on getting to “YES”. Every other reaction, result, rejection or other outcome is secondary and irrelevant compared to the few that say “YES”. If you re-frame your approach by realizing that cold calling as a prospecting activity is simply a process of seeking out each “yes”, the significance of the “no’s” diminishes drastically. A metaphor I often use is this: You are standing in a field and there are 1,000 rocks in front of you. You are told that under 1 of those rocks is $10,000 and it is yours if you find that rock and turn it over. Some of the rocks are big and some are small. It might be under the 1st rock or the 1,000th rock or somewhere in between. Are you focused on the difficulty of turning over each rock? Are you focused on how many rocks you may have to turn to find your $10,000? Not likely. What you ARE focused on is that $10,000. So what are you going to do? Probably start turning over the rocks right? Turning rocks becomes the process for finding your money just like cold calling becomes the process for winning new business. 999 of those rocks result in nothing (or you could call it failure). But turning them is part of the process you need to go through to get your money. Re-frame your approach to the process of cold call prospecting and you might just find that it is a much easier and (dare I say it?) more enjoyable part of your day.
ACTION STEP: Simply make a list of all of the worst case scenarios that happen if you make an unsuccessful cold call. Then write down what impact that will have on your career.
Then write down the impact of a successful cold call (i.e. winning a new listing, building a relationship with a long term client, etc.). You can even quantify it by estimating how much money you could make as a result of this successful call.
Finally compare the two scenarios and think about the significance of a successful call vs. the insignificance of an unsuccessful one.
Then MAKE A CALL!