Several years ago, the company I worked for held its international sales meeting, and reps from all over the globe came to our corporate headquarters in Los Angeles. I was asked to stand up in front of the group and make a presentation. Two of the reps from Australia approached afterwards to tell me they thought I’d done a good job. One of them expressed his fear of public speaking with this statement: “I’d rather staple bacon to my face than speak in front of a group.”
I’m not sure where he came up with that expression, but I never forgot it … because that’s how I felt the first time I had to make a cold-call (it took me 40 minutes just to work up enough nerve to pick up the phone). Although I’ve never been afraid of public speaking, stapling bacon to my face seemed preferable to that first call. I suppose for some people the fear goes away after the first few dials. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them.
So how did I go from cold-call terror to telemarketing manager? Although there are a ton of programs you can buy or seminars you can attend on effective cold-calling, they won’t do you any good if you can’t even get yourself to pick up the phone. In a minute, I’ll tell you how to get the all training you need to overcome your fear—without costing you a dime. But first, let me tell you a story …
It Only Hurts until the Pain Goes Away
I have a neatly-stacked pile of boxes in my basement that have been there since we moved (some of which I’d like to keep, but most of which my wife would like me to get rid of). I know that if I start tearing into those boxes to sort through them, I’m going to end up with more of a mess than I already have. That’s the pain I’m avoiding … despite the fact that I know my basement will be less cluttered in the long run.
Whenever you make a change or try something new, you will experience pain. This is the period when things seem to get worse before they begin to get better.
I suppose it’s human nature to endure a long, dull ache rather than face the sharp pain of change—even when there’s a long-term benefit on the other side.
Like sticking with Vista even though you know Windows 7 would be faster and easier, because you’re afraid that switching would require too much time and effort (or even bothering to stick with Windows at all when a Mac would be … well, you get the picture).
Or suffering through lousy service from your cable T.V. provider even though satellite is better and cheaper, because switching is too much of a hassle.
Or continuing with your current marketing plan (or lack thereof) because cold-calling means you may fumble and embarrasses yourself on the phone—even though you know once you master it, you will get more face-to-face client meetings, gain confidence, and (best of all) make more money.
Okay, I promised to reveal my secret to getting all the free training you need to become the cold-calling pro you always wanted to be. But be warned … you probably won’t like it (and most of you probably won’t do it). Ready? Here’s my secret …
Get a part-time job at a call center.
See, I told you that you wouldn’t like it.
When I quit my web business in 2006 and needed something quick to keep the bills paid, that’s exactly what I did. I worked a late afternoon to evening shift, got trained for free, learned how to sound completely natural while reading a script, and had no choice but to pick up the phone and dial. Do that for a few months and you’ll no longer be afraid of cold-calling.
I promise it will hurt less than stapling bacon to your face.
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.