“You’re still cold calling!”
That’s what a good friend and co-worker said to me one day when he got curious about how I was closing so many sales, seemingly easily.
This was around the time I had perfected by lead-generation methods and organized them into an intelligent system that, by that time, was working on autopilot to bring me leads while I simply spent 100% of my time closing sales from people who were ready to buy.
“That’s just another form of cold calling.”
Now in fairness to him, he was a good salesman. No, a great one.
In fact he usually sold more than me in any given month.
The difference, however, was huge: He had been in the same business, in the same city, for over 25 years. In that time he’d given excellent service – as all successful salespeople do – and as a result he was provided with plenty of referrals. In fact, he usually received more than he could handle and got to pick and choose the best ones, then give other reps his “leftovers” to go close on commission splits.
He had started his sales career in a different time, before the internet, and before sales resistance and opposition to cold calling ran rampant like they do today.
I’ve mentioned in previous emails my “first sales manager with a brain.” When he gave me that pep talk about how he didn’t want me doing the job of a minimum-wage telemarketer, he explained that 25 years ago you could go out cold calling and people would invite you in for a cup of coffee, and would be glad to hear you out.
This ‘old-timer’ who I worked with didn’t understand that. Due to his huge book of business, he hadn’t made a cold call in over a decade, and had no idea how difficult, if not impossible, cold calling had become.
I suppose it would be like a travel agent coming out of a time capsule, unable to understand the reality that travel agents are obsolete and have been replaced by online travel sites like Expedia.
The old-timer simply assumed that what I was doing was merely a glorified form of cold calling.
When I got myself in front of someone who was pre-disposed, ready, willing, and able to BUY from me, he just assumed that I had actually cold called these people, when in reality I used a far more intelligent and reliable method.
The 3 Categories of Leads
You know from my previous emails on the topic that there are 3 categories of leads. Most salespeople waste their time on the 2 most undesirable categories, while failing to get in front of the valuable ones, the category of people who are pre-disposed to buy.
This is because sales managers & trainers of today are like that old-timer. The last time they were out in the field selling, it was a different world.
There was no way to distinguish one class of leads from another, and so all they were able to do was “throw darts at a board” by cold calling and hope to find enough of the good leads to make a living.
And most did, since cold calling was still acceptable in those days. And people were still mostly tolerant of it.
Today, however, that is no longer the case. It is now crucial to recognize the 3 categories of leads -
1. People who will not buy from you, no matter what
2. People who may or may not (“on the fence”)
3. People who would BUY RIGHT NOW – if they knew about you
Category 1 isn’t so bad – they’ll tell you “no” and unless you’re obstinate or just plain dumb, you’ll move on to someone else.
Category 2, however, is a disaster and the leading cause of failure in sales. These are the people who never make a decision to say either “yes” or “no” and will string you along forever.
(That’s why Category 1 is better – at least they’ll be direct and won’t string you along.)
They’re the ones who will waste your time in multiple appointments, telling you they’re interested, then never return another call or email. Or they’ll tell you to keep calling back in 6 months, only to tell you each time, “Try us in another 6 months.”
Just thinking about these people gets my blood boiling, not only because of how much time & money they cost me early on, but because I consider indecision to be one of the most cowardly traits of human beings.
In his book “How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling,” Frank Bettger explains that the single best thing he ever did for his sales career was to abandon prospects after they said “no” twice, instead of chasing after them forever. There are too many good prospects out there to waste time chasing bad ones.
Category 3 is the one we want – people who are PRE-DISPOSED to BUY from you! And believe it or not, they’re a good percentage of the market. The problem is that they’re part of the 80% who, per a University of North Carolina study, will never never ever accept a cold call.
“You’re just an order taker!”
The old-timer believed in the ‘good fight’ and had all the old cliches to go with it: “Getting in the trenches,” “dialing for dollars,” “banging doors” … you’ve probably heard them all I’m sure. And you probably want to puke just as much as I do when I hear them.
This guy really believed that sales somehow didn’t count if they didn’t come from cold calling, as if the money from those commission checks was somehow ‘play money’ that didn’t work in the real world.
I even once worked for a company that had a good marketing department and provided us with plenty of leads, but only ‘self-generated’ leads counted toward quota. How dumb is that??!?!?!? Sales are sales!
Having said all that, when someone in the old-school department accused me of being an order taker, know what my response was?
“Damn right I am!”
Seriously, why would anyone in sales NOT want to be an order taker? In sales we get paid only to do just that – make sales. Commissions come from closed sales, not from cold calls and appointments.
Taking it a step further, about the only way to make a truly huge income in sales is to set yourself up to become an order taker, so that you’re spending absolutely no time on anything other than closing sales and picking up checks.
There just isn’t any other way. There aren’t enough hours in the day to make any alternatives possible.
I’m a HAPPY order taker!
I have to say, becoming one of the so-called ‘order takers’ was the best thing I ever did in sales.
While it’s true that money problems are the leading cause of stress and tension, and getting rid of that cause of stress really makes a big difference in your life, getting rid of work stress along with it takes things to a new level.
You become the invincible person who is never stressed about anything. And you become amazed at how people let insignificant things bother them.
Most of all, you marvel at the people who are still killing themselves cold calling, stressing out over money as a result, and you wonder why they won’t open their minds to new ideas.So if you want to enjoy happiness and success in selling, stop cold calling, and start using your brain - and modern, Information Age methods - to generate leads, and watch your income skyrocket!