Although we live in an on-demand world, people still tend to perform their best when following a scheduled routine. This is especially true when we look at the little things we do that contribute to our success. Just pick your favorite sports legend (LeBron James, Tom Brady, Serena Williams) and you will undoubtedly find someone whose success is the result of many years of following a scheduled routine of practice and conditioning. Without a doubt, telephone prospecting falls into this category for salespeople.
Although cold calling is often unpleasant, and we rarely if ever “close the big deal” when we do it, most salespeople and sales leaders would agree that it needs to be done to bring success. Because cold calling can be disagreeable and typically takes a long time to yield results, it is very tempting for salespeople to move it to the bottom of the list and “get to it later.” Here are eight reasons why salespeople should avoid this pitfall by prescheduling their phone prospecting sessions.
1. You’ll be better organized. How many times have you planned on spending an hour to make some cold calls, only to find that the hour has elapsed before you’ve made your first call? You have spent the entire hour building your list, modifying your script, or handling other items that have nothing to do with prospecting. But by getting everything ready ahead of time, you’ll get more done in a shorter amount of time.
2. You’ll find your focus on an important task—prospecting. You are unavailable during other prescheduled activities, such as demos, proposal reviews, one-on-ones, etc. Why not dedicate some time to finding more business? The world isn’t going to end in an hour. Don’t let something that is urgent and unimportant take priority over something that is very important—breaking new business.
3. Your mental preparedness will increase. Don’t waste valuable prospecting time “getting your head in the game.” By scheduling ahead of time, you will be mentally prepared right when you start. There is no need to waste time thinking about your approach to cold calling when you’ve given yourself plenty of time to mentally prepare yourself.
4. You’ll be more accountable. I always feel more confident that something is going to be completed when the task at hand has been scheduled. Ever hear a contractor tell you that they “will come by to fix it sometime this week”? And how often do they “come by to fix it sometime this week”? You demand a specific day and time from them, so why not from your salespeople, or yourself?
5. It will give you a chance to reboot. Although cold calling is difficult, it can actually make your day seem easier by breaking it up with some prospecting time. Also, by dedicating some prescheduled time to finding new opportunities, you will reset your focus and may have a few mental breakthroughs on your current opportunities.
6. It can provide opportunities for synergy/team building. Scheduling prospecting activities as a group can add fun and learning to an otherwise difficult task. Although I have been in sales many years, I still learn from hearing my colleagues make calls. It’s a lot more fun to have a successful prospecting call when you can celebrate it with your peers. It’s also a lot easier to deal with rejection when the team is together and you can laugh about it and even laugh at yourselves. (Nothing builds a team better than an environment of encouragement combined with some good-natured ribbing!)
7. It can lead to healthy competition. By scheduling group dialing sessions (“blitzes”) with built-in challenges or contests, you will get more out of your salespeople and increase morale as well. Just as horses like to run, salespeople are competitors by nature and will give their best in an environment of friendly competition. Competition also provides some short-term rewards for a task that typically does not lend itself to them. It’s great to build a sales pipeline, but it’s even more fun to be No. 1 on the blitz board.
8. It will give you more moments of zen. By prescheduling your prospecting, you will not only ensure that it gets done, you’ll also free yourself from having to think and worry about it until it’s time to do it. This will allow you to live in the present and focus on the task at hand until it’s time to make some dials. (I can only assume that the “task at hand” is usually going to be closing sales and assisting your customers.) Just as you didn’t dread schoolwork on Saturday morning when you were a kid, you won’t dread cold calling when you schedule your prospecting sessions ahead of time. You just need to show up and make calls when the time comes, and things are never as bad as they seem once you start doing them! Not to mention that most people perform better with a relaxed and positive state of mind.
Pat Morrissey has worked in his role of senior account executive with ConnectLeader, a leader in B2B sales acceleration solutions, since joining the company in 2013. Morrissey has worked in software sales since 1998, in both inside and outside sales roles, with companies such as Fourth Shift, Deltek and Micro Focus.