One of the biggest barriers to growing a service-based business is fear of picking up the phone to make a sales call. Everyone wants to default to email and text messaging to avoid bothering someone. However, total reliance on these methods lead many business owners to experience rollercoaster sales and low response rates. Email and text messaging don’t compare to the phone.
When I speak to audiences I do an exercise to drive home why email doesn’t work anymore. I ask how many people in the room have two, or more, email accounts. Every hand goes up. Then I ask, if a New York Times fact checker were in the room, how many people could honestly say they log in to every one of their email accounts, every day, and read, thoroughly, every email in each of those accounts. Every hand (including mine) goes down except one or two. In today’s world most people don’t read all their email. The ones that do have so many priorities to juggle that your sales email is probably going in the “later” pile that gets forgotten, or SPAM that never gets read. Email as a standalone sales outreach doesn’t work except to help you leave potential revenue untapped. Text messaging is getting oversaturated as well. Neither of these methods offers what the phone does – connection. So many people are avoiding the phone that this one shift in your growth strategy can make you stand out over most of your competition.
If you’re a person that trembles at the thought of making sales calls, here are six ways to face your fear of the phone and pave the path to more money and more freedom in your business.
1. Find your go-to sales nightmare and shift it.
We develop an aversion to sales because of a lousy experience we’ve had with a sales person. Mine happened several years ago in Saks Fifth Avenue. Being too lazy to find a floor directory, I went to a makeup counter to ask what floor petites were on. It was there that I learned I had an emergency situation that needed immediate fixing. My pores were so large they were like moon craters and the world might implode if I didn’t fix this problem. Before I knew it I walked away with $80 in products I didn’t want and felt victimized.
The natural reaction to a bad sales experience is to assume all sales people are “evil, mean, manipulative, etc.” and since you don’t want to emulate any of those qualities, stear clear of sales all together. The reality is if you’re not manipulative, your selling style won’t be either. If you let go of the idea that selling makes you a bad person you become free to sell in a creative and uplifting a style.
2. Calm down anxiety by connecting with a positive sales experience.
The next step is to look for positive reinforcement. There are two great ways to do this.
Think about commercials or magazine ads that inspire you. Super Bowl Sunday is a perfect place to start (at least if you’re American). Every year you’ll find at least one commercial that makes you laugh, cry or go to YouTube to replay it because it was so good. Think about why you’re so drawn to these advertisements. They made you feel something good. And yet, they were selling. So, you now have proof that it’s possible to sell and also make people feel good.
The second way to embrace positive selling is to think of a great sales experience you’ve had or one you’d like to have. Think about this; if there’s a product you’re dying to buy and the store near is sold out, wouldn’t you be delighted if the sales person offered to call you when the item was back in stock? When they call you, can you imagine how excited you’ll be? Apply this delighted feeling to your next sales call instead of anxiety.
3. Call people in the right order.
Do cold calls scare you? Stop making them! Instead, call your best friend or a relative you love. Do fear and anxiety appear as you approach the phone? If you can call your best friend, you can call someone you know and like that might be a good business lead. Make a list of everyone you could call and then sort them into categories. You can call the first category “A – People I look forward to calling,” followed by “B – People I believe would love to hear from me,” then “C – People that won’t mind me calling” and finally “D – People I don’t know.”
Call the people on your A list first. This will allows you to get comfortable with intentional phone calls. When you’re done with this list, go to your B category. As you gain more courage it’ll become easier to call people you have less prior connection with.
4. Get motivated — if not you it’ll be someone else.
If you work in an industry with a lot of competition, you’ve got a clear market for your service. That means a lot of people are ready to spend money on your service because it will make their life/business/health/relationship etc. better.
This is pretty cut and dry; if you’re not going to make that call and close the deal, someone else will. Why shouldn’t you be the person that gets paid to make a difference instead of making it so easy for someone else to get that money? Your phone fear is generating a lot of income for other people in your industry. Get over it.
5. Let hunger inspire you — you need to eat and you want to eat well.
If you’re earning your living with your business, or plan to, then consider that picking up the phone can literally help you buy food. You can’t survive without eating. The phone is a pathway to your very survival. Bonus — the more calls you make, the more likely you can eat out instead of dining on ramen noodles and pizza.
What about those fantasies you have? You know, the ones about traveling the world in style, being financially free, donating to charities, creating a Foundation, etc. Getting comfortable with sales calls, after ensuring your survival, has the additional potential of turning your dreams into a very real experience.
6. Remember you won’t die.
Rejection stinks. It may even sting a little, but sales calls won’t kill you. So, if you’re going to imagine the worst that can happen to you from picking up the phone, remember that death is not an option. Since you know you’re not going to die, there’s no excuse to avoid the phone any longer. Pick it up and get calling.