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How Cold-calling Made Me A Great Salesman

By Jon Elhardt

If you started your sales career with cold calling, you know the rigors it put you through and the confidence that came out of it.

There is something magical that happens when you hear objections 50, 75, to 100 times a day while making cold calls and to your surprise, the outcome is not negative, even though most of the conversations end negatively in beginning.

The typical salesperson is terrible when they start cold calling. I have hired hundreds of new salespeople and I have yet to see one slamming home runs from day one.

You’ll get hung up on, sworn at, shamed, and disrespected. If you didn’t have thick skin before, you’ll grow it after cold calling. It can be demoralizing, but as you plow through, you realize that there is only room for improvement.

You review your calls with your manager, take corrective action on feedback, refine your answers, and use the scripted lines that have proven successful for so many sales reps before you. These baby steps of improvement will pay dividends over time both professionally and monetarily.

HOW COLD-CALLING MADE ME A GREAT SALESMAN

Confidence

The biggest surprise for me when I started cold calling was that my daily calls were actually giving me more confidence. In the midst of rejection, I was building my skills. I noticed it the most when I wasn’t at work: my interactions with strangers on the street, merchants, shop owners, taxi drivers, family members, and friends were all slightly different than before.

The power of preparedness

Knowing the objections you may receive before you begin calling is incredibly important. Many experts agree there are only 6-8 unique objections you might hear with each call. There will certainly be variations but most times they will fall into a few key buckets.

Knowing these and creating bullet-proof rebuttals, practicing them with colleagues and managers, and absolutely owning the objection is one of the quickest ways to impact your cold calling success. You’ll get past difficult gatekeepers, set up follow-up opportunities with decision makers, or have the opportunity to have better conversations.

Intuition

Another way that cold-calling made me a great salesman was through the impact it had on my intuition. When you are cold calling you are typically thrown curveballs all day long that break in every direction.

Over time you learn to anticipate, react, and capitalize on these variations of the objections you are expecting with each call. Through repetition you will develop something that feels like “gut” reactions, but really it is the result of your brain looking for patterns in its never-ending quest to be more efficient.

Everyone in sales has heard, ad nauseam, that “sales is a numbers game.” Even if you never have made a sale or set an appointment you WILL eventually start to have success if you are committed to your craft.

Whatever that percentage of success is for you, you will find it and over time that percentage of success will increase and this continuous improvement will have an impact on your confidence as well as the obvious financial benefits.

Sometimes the road to success is paved with failure.

There are a number of books on this topic, and I highly recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath. I think the most powerful application of that book to cold calling is that if cold calling is initially difficult for you, this may be more indicative of your future sales success than if you were a natural.

Jon Elhardt joined Acquirent in January of 2013 as the Sales Manager for Acquirent’s Constellation Energy account. He was tasked with creating a new team at Acquirent for an existing client that was to be highly transactional with a renewed focus on core sales fundamentals. Jon lives in the Edgewater neighborhood and enjoys traveling, music, spending time with his wife and son, and taking advantage of everything Chicago has to offer.