Cold calling SUCKS.
There, I said it.
It’s the elephant in the room.
It’s the most dreaded element of the SDR role.
Reps have no problem saying this, but they are forced to deal with it, it’s part of the gig.
As leaders, we shouldn’t pretend cold calling is enjoyable, it makes us seem out of touch, especially if we’re not in trenches dialing with them.
But, show me an SDR who disagrees with that statement, and I’ll show you an SDR who is on a fast track to a promotion.
We know that our top performers are the reps who understand that picking up the phone makes them money.
It’s the fastest way to book meetings, and it’s the fastest way to develop the skills needed to become an outbound expert.
So, if we know the key to a high-performing outbound team is building strong cold calling culture, then how do we get our reps to NOT hate cold calling?
Why Cold Calling Matters
Like cold calling, eating vegetables sucks.
Growing up, I hated eating vegetables. Most children (and adults) do.
But, my parents convinced me that every time I ate broccoli, I was a T-Rex.
For a 7-year-old boy, anything is fun when you are imagining yourself as a vicious predator slashing through whatever dares to get in your way.
For me, eating broccoli became fun, because I could act like a T-Rex.
As I grew up and my goal to become an athlete came into focus, I realized that vegetables were an important part of nutrition and were essential to my performance and training.
Eating vegetables never stopped sucking, I just realized WHY eating vegetables was important to me.
Overtime, I came up with ways to make eating vegetables more palatable, like salting them or throwing them in the pan with other food instead of eating them straight up.
We don't need to change our reps' minds - cold calling SUCKS.
But, we do need to show them WHY it matters, and why it’s good for them.
Let's be real, your SDR’s deepest desire is to get promoted and get the heck out of the SDR role.
As leaders, this scares us, because we want performance, so why would we rush our top performers out of the role and into their next gig?
We shouldn’t run from this truth, we should leverage it.
We know as leaders that if we can get our reps to love cold calling, we will get the most out of them.
And naturally, if we get the most out of them, their performance will skyrocket, leading to what THEY want, opportunities to promote, and never having to make 100 dials a day again.
Why Cold Calling Sucks
Now, changing culture anywhere is pretty difficult to do, especially as a leader, because everything seems forced from the top down.
Layer on trying to change mindsets, attitudes, and culture around cold calling? You’ve got quite the challenge ahead.
But, with our reps understanding why cold calling is important, and that it will get them to be where they want to be - promoted and out of the role - we can focus on how to make it more enjoyable.
By nature, cold calling sucks because we’re asking our reps to do a very unnatural thing.
“Here, go call this person that doesn’t want to talk to you about what you are selling, and make sure you nail your pitch, don’t mess up, and book a meeting. They’ll probably say no and hang up on you, but try again 59 more times and see what happens.”
“And oh, by the way, you’re going to do this home, alone, with nobody around to support you, and I may or may not be spying on your call while you talk. Good luck!”
Anxiety, discomfort, loneliness, monotony, and inevitable rejection.
Any human being sees these words and runs. It’s instinctive.
These are "danger" words, and we are hardwired to avoid them at all costs.
Add on the fact that your reps have to rely solely on however much or little training you’ve given them and that their paycheck depends on their performance… that’s a ton of pressure.
Certainly enough pressure to dissuade them from ever hitting the phones, and focusing way more on channels like email and social.
But, we know cold calling is effective and essential to a high-performing outbound engine.
So, how do we fix this?
How can YOU make eating vegetables more fun for your team?
How to Change Cold Calling Culture
Just like throwing salt on vegetables or pretending to demolish a plate of broccoli like T-Rex, there are practical things you can do to transform your cold calling culture and make dialing FUN.
1. Make sure your reps understand WHY cold calling is important, both in the short-term and long-term
In the short term, it’s the quickest way to connect with their prospects, leading to more opportunities to book meetings. More meetings = higher performance, and higher performance = promotions.
In the long term, cold calling develops skills like communication, resilience, and patience, extremely important in any role they promote into. For those seeking to stay on the Sales track as a manager or seller, they will be using the skills they are developing while cold calling on a daily basis, whether it’s managing a team of reps themselves, or building their own pipeline as an account executive.
2. Ensure your team is equipped with proper talk tracks, tools, and training
Much of the anxiety around cold calling stems from the fact that outcomes are unknown. With a proper talk track that prepares your reps with what to say, and responses to common objections they will hear, like bumpers in a bowling alley, they will feel supported and more confident when dialing. (what every cold call talk track should include blog idea)
Effective tools are critical to cold calling success. Good data, a solid dialer, and call coaching tools will help your reps be more efficient and effective in their call blocks.
Training is a must. Whether you are doing regular mock call sessions, call recording analysis, or live coaching using a virtual salesfloor, it is your job as the leader to make sure you are constantly sharpening your reps’ skills.
3. Sales is a team sport, learn, grow, and win TOGETHER!
Dialing with your team on a virtual salesfloor is the best way to transform cold calling culture on your team.
Cold calling sucks, but cold calling home alone with nobody next to you to cheer you on or give you support, it really sucks.
Sales reps are competitors, they need their team by their side to fuel energy, learning, and success. By letting your team cold call side-by-side, you are promoting a team of high performance and a culture of winning together.
Real-time call coaching is the most effective way to coach, but of the ways to do it, the most fruitful is having the ability to give live coaching while on a salesfloor with your reps.
It is also your responsibility as a leader to promote a fail-forward environment where your reps are unafraid to mess up because they know you will celebrate their failure and view it as a learning opportunity rather than something they did wrong.
A virtual salesfloor turns something reps dread, cold calling, into something they look forward to everyday, because they get to do it TOGETHER.
Cold Calling Doesn't Have to Suck!
Changing culture anywhere is a steep hill to climb, and changing attitudes and mindsets around cold calling is even more difficult.
But, by getting your reps to understand why it's important and how it will help them get to where they want to be, and making it more enjoyable for them to do, you will get the performance you are looking for, and they will get the opportunities for promotion they are looking for.
Cold calling doesn’t have to suck.
Solve the things that make it suck, like being alone, rejection, anxiety, and repetition by leaning into the things that make it fun, proper support, supportive coaching, and emphasizing that it is a team sport by bringing your team together on the salesfloor to celebrate wins and learn from losses, together.
At the end of the day, we need our reps to understand that cold calling is not an end, it is a means to an end.
It is the quickest way for them to hit performance targets and get promoted.
And for you, SDR leader, building fearless cold calling culture is the key to a high-performing outbound team.