Six Mistakes You Should Always Avoid When Cold Calling

By Christine Harrington

Today I want to help you avoid the mistakes I’ve made in cold calling.

Mistake #1: Inconsistent Cold Calling

When you’re inconsistent making cold calls, you’ll never become exceptional at it. It’s just like exercising – if you work out only once a month for an hour, you’ll never progress.

I used to hate cold calling so much, I had to psych myself up just to pick up the phone! On top of that, I only cold called once a month.

And, I might add, I was so bad at it I had to face the truth: if I was ever going to become exceptional at cold calling, I had to do it frequently. So I changed my strategy and began cold calling every day.  

My goal was 100 cold calls in a week. So I divided it into five days, with 20 cold calls a day. I could tolerate 20 cold calls a day. After I began feeling more comfortable, I started making 100 cold calls at one time.

Mistake #2: A Poor Script

Sales professionals should always use scripts with cold calling. However, my particular problem with scripts was twofold.

  1. I read the script like a robot – and I was frequently hung up on because it was painfully obvious to the caller I was just another pesky, inexperienced salesperson. At that point, I had no idea how to develop rapport through tone and words.

  2. My scripts, written by me, were all about me and my product. I hadn’t learned yet how to have a conversation with the buyer led by an exceptional script.

I learned to write killer scripts and to split test scripts – preparing two scripts and doing half your calls with one script, the other half with the second script. I do this to see which scripts produces the best results.

Mistake #3: Lack of Practice

Before making calls, I might read through the script only a few times. Then, when placing the calls, I’d stumble through the script.

I learned early on to practice – not a couple times by reading it silently, but by recording it over and over again so I could play it back and hear how the buyer would hear me.

I discovered I needed to change the tone and depth of my voice – I sounded too nasal. And, because I was anxious about calling, I was rushing and needed to slow my pace.

Mistake #4: Product Dumping

This is the major mistake I made: I was product dumping instead of only setting a discovery appointment. As a result I’d get the abrupt, “I’m not interested” – and then a dial tone. To be honest, I would have hung up on me too!

Mistake #5: Expecting Too Much

When I first started cold calling, I expected way too much and easily became discouraged. Instead of seeing cold calling as a learned skill, I thought, if I made 20 calls, I should reap 15 appointments. How naive!

I hadn’t developed mental toughness and I let discouragement take hold of me. As a result, I convinced myself that cold calling didn’t work. Be realistic when cold calling.

Final Mistake: Failure to Track and Analyze

If you don’t track, you won’t recognize your improvement. Always track your numbers. I’m so obsessed with it I have my numbers on an Excel sheet going back 10 years! And it’s proof to me how my numbers have improved year after year because I’ve dedicated myself to studying and cultivating a cold calling mindset.

I wish I had my numbers going back 30 years ago – although I do remember a time when I made more than 500 cold calls and didn’t set one appointment! I still remember what that felt like: not great. And that never happened again! Today, I can make 100 cold calls, get through to 20 or so business owners, and secure 10-12 appointments. When I leave a voice message, around 21 percent return my calls!

Just like sales, cold calling is a numbers game. After studying, practicing, and consistently placing cold calls, my numbers have greatly improved…and so will yours.

Christine Harrington is The Savvy Sales Lady. She is a facilitator for Peak Performance Mindset Workshop and a personal sales coach. Christine helps sales professionals develop their beliefs to improve their sales performance.

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