Not too long ago, someone emailed me to let me know about a heated debate over my book that was taking place on one of the sales discussion forums online. Because I get such a kick out of all the old-school “You must cold call or die!” fanatics still lingering out there, I immediately signed on to have a look. Sure enough, salespeople who are still out there working every day, fighting it out in the trenches to make a living, were agreeing with me. On the other hand, some coach who charges corporations thousands of dollars to train salespeople posted a lengthy message about how we live and die by cold calling. There’s no other way, this high-paid trainer said.
(Interestingly, I took a look at this person’s site. I went to the articles archive. The very first line of the very first article said, “Salespeople don’t succeed because they don’t make enough phone calls.” Needless to say, I clicked my back button and got out of there! No wonder why so many companies I work with are furious at some of these coaches they’ve paid $5,000 or more to. Could you imagine paying someone $5,000 to have them come in for one day of training, only to have them stand there and say, “Make more phone calls!” We already have managers reciting that mindless chant all day long!)
What I really noticed in all of this is the same thing I always notice. The salespeople who are out there, making a living NOW, seem to understand the truth about cold calling. They know the score. Then you have a bunch of managers, trainers, and coaches who have been out of the field, and therefore out of touch with reality, for ten years, twenty years, or even longer, and yet they still insist that cold calling is the only way. Period. Plain and simple. Don’t even try to argue with them, because they’ll fly off into a rant about how anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong, lazy, or – get this – is mentally insane. Yes, one of these coaches’ sites I looked at is based on some quack theory that salespeople who don’t like to cold call have a variety of mental disorders that can be effectively cured through psychotherapy. So, according to this person, exactly 100% of us are wacko! Sorry, but in my opinion, this goes way beyond silly. It’s downright insulting and offensive to those of us who have to get up every day and make a living in sales. One must wonder if anyone who touts these quack theories has ever sold in the first place. After all, most of my managers had never sold and they claimed to know all they keys to success!
(Ok, just for fun, as if paying someone $5,000 to have them tell you to make more calls wasn’t enough, imagine paying someone $5,000 to tell you you’re crazy!)
The point I’m trying to make here is that the “cold call or die” people are generally those who have been out of the field for an extended period of time, or have never sold in the first place. The people who have the “cold calling isn’t working anymore, what else can I do” attitude are those who are out there today. These old-time coaches apparently haven’t realized that times have changed and we live in a new reality now. Seth Godin explained in great detail exactly how and why Interruption Marketing is dead and has almost zero chance of working in our new economy, and how Permission Marketing is the way to go. Guess what, folks – cold calling is the most blatant form of Interruption Marketing ever known to mankind!
Selling is selling
Another point I’d like to touch on is something I faced when I was in sales, trying to get out of one industry that had stagnated and into another. Every time I went and interviewed for a position in a different industry, I got the knee-jerk “You apparently
have a proven track record, but if you haven’t sold in our industry, we can’t hire you.”
This drove me nuts because I knew that selling is selling, much like what I explained to a reader in a previous mailbag about cross-cultural differences. Just as people are people and human nature doesn’t change from one nation to another, it doesn’t change from one product or service or industry to another. I know people who have been highly successful in a variety of totally unrelated fields, and I also know people who have been miserable failures in a variety of fields. It doesn’t matter. One of the mistakes I made early on in selling was to assume that something that had been highly effective for someone in another industry would not work for me. Not so. The only thing that really changes from one industry to the next is product knowledge, and that’s a whole lot easier to learn than how to sell.
I’ve previously mentioned the fact that our students are in a wide variety of industries – it’s safe to assume all industries at this point. I want you to realize this so you don’t go and make the same mistake I did early on of saying, “Well, that may work for you, but it wouldn’t work for my product.” Spend time talking to salespeople you know who are in completely different industries. Unrelated industries. (By the way, they make great referral partners. A lot of sales reps only network with people in related industries. By restricting yourself like this, you’re closing yourself off from a potentially huge number of referrals.)
Some of the industries I’ve had the pleasure of working with are:
Steel frame sales. Custom tailors. Life insurance. Investments. Telecom. IT and internet. Funeral sales. Door-to-door vacuum cleaners. Thermal coatings for buildings. Legal services. Dentists. Shipping. Educational products. Accounting services. Copiers. Software. Business credit lines. And the list goes on and on.
These people are all reporting great success.
And they’re all using the EXACT same techniques and principles.
So don’t pigeonhole yourself because you think what works for someone else won’t apply to you. Try it! The worst that can happen is nothing. (Did you hear that? I didn’t say the worst that can happen is you fail or you lose the sale. I said the worst that can happen is nothing. So why be afraid of something that isn’t there?) Just watch out for that one coach or you’re likely to be labeled as psychotic for doing something other than cold calling.
Selling is stupid
Okay, before you get offended, realize that I’m in sales too! I’m not making fun of selling. I’m saying that it’s stupid when you use my definition of the word. For a refresher, here are my definitions of the words “buying” and “selling:”
Buying: The act of willingly acquiring for money something that you want or need. The buyer generally leaves the transaction feeling happy and satisfied.
Selling: Attempting to convince another that they want or need your product or service despite the fact that they may not. The purchaser typically leaves the
transaction with a strong feeling of buyer’s remorse.
Think back to what you’ve been taught in training about doing an excellent follow-up to alleviate buyer’s remorse and minimize cancellations. Now you know why.
With that in mind, does it makes sense to sell to someone? Or does it make sense to get them to buy from you? Think about it. Think about whether the things you’re doing on a day-to-day basis are selling, or if they’re setting people up to buy from you. This is very powerful when properly applied.
Speaking of definitions, when I came up with these, I looked up the standard dictionary definitions to find out what they said. Naturally, I also looked up the definition of cold calling, and was quite surprised and shocked to find this:
Cold calling: The ethically questionable practice of making unsolicited calls to people one does not know in order to solicit new business.
Wow. That doesn’t speak very highly of cold calling. It’s a reflection on how cold calling is perceived today. It proves that cold calling immediately triggers a lack of trust and a credibility issue.
Maybe some of these know-it-all dictator managers and old-school coaches and trainers should look at this.
Try something different!
Don’t keep doing something that isn’t cutting it!
Don’t put too much trust in managers and coaches who have been out of sales for decades!
And whatever you do, don’t get yourself committed to the psychopathic hospital because you don’t like cold calling!
Remember, the worst that can happen is nothing. Since nothing is the usual result of a cold call anyway, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. So get out there and try something new and different. Besides, doing something different is fun. And that alone will make your job a lot easier!
If you’re ready for fresh, powerful ideas that work, get my program right now:
Remember, you get to try it absoutely free for 30 days. If you love it – and almost everyone does – keep it, and we’ll bill you for it then. If you don’t love it, simply send it back and you’ll never be billed. It’s that simple.
Thanks once again for your time and attention. Good luck and happy selling!
Frank J. Rumbauskas, Jr.