Conquering the mental game of sales calls

In the last post, we discussed some tactical ways to make phoning easier. Now I’d like to talk about conquering the mental and emotional aspects of sales calls.

Rewrite your inner dialogue

“I’m bugging these people. They all hate me”

“I hate this. I can’t do this. This is awful!”

“If I don’t set ten appointments this week, my business is going under. I’m failing.”

Even the most seasoned sales professional still has these feelings of fear when they start dialing. The key to a successful day is not learning to ignore or suppress these feelings, but to recognize they are untrue, and to replace them with statements that are actually true.

“My time is valuable, and I’m a useful person to know. it is absolutely worth this person’s time to meet with me.”

“This is hard work, but I’m actually good at it. I am making all my dreams possible right now.”

“It’s no big deal if someone isn’t interested. My schedule is filling up with other people who are. The world is full of exciting possibilities.”

Chop your work into manageable pieces

How do you feel when you look at this empty calendar?

If you’re like me, you probably don’t feel too good. Look at that vast sea of white – all that empty time that needs to be filled. In one word: overwhelming.

Now look at this:

Same calendar, but different view. All I’ve done is listed my available appointment slots in the margin of my call sheet. I space my appointments every 90 minutes, so out of all that open space, I’m really able to fit a certain number of slots.

This looks much more manageable. Instead of telling myself “I have to fill an empty schedule,” I say “I only have ten spots open in my calendar.”

It also makes scheduling easier. When I have the prospect on the phone, I don’t even have to pause; I tell them “If Tuesday works for you, I have a 10:30 open; otherwise, how does 4:30 work on Wednesday?” They pick the time, I cross it out and write them down next to it. Bam, my schedule is filling up quickly. (Just remember to transfer the info to your digital calendar at the end of your phoning session).

Hit a baseline milestone, and then do a little bit more

I’m not big on goals. I think the act of setting goals makes you miserable and stressed out. With that said, I’m all about having a vision and setting milestones that let you know if you’re on your way to achieving that vision.

Find a minimum baseline of activity you need to complete to be on track to achieve what you want. Say it’s six appointments per week. While you are phoning, look toward that milestone of six appointments and every time you set an appointment, say “I’m only five away from achieving my dreams.” “I’m only four away from achieving my dreams.”

Then, when you hit your six appointments, your week is already a success! Hold a 30-second celebration, pat yourself on the back, and then do just a little bit more. Any additional work is icing on the cake, so set a second milestone just a little bit higher than the first, and have a clear picture of what you will accomplish if you consistently work at that level.

The key is to allow yourself to enjoy the feelings of success as soon as you are doing the things that will get you there. Don’t postpone fulfillment until some imaginary endpoint when you’ve finally achieved everything you ever dreamed. That point is in the future and it’s hard to realistically measure future fulfillment. Just feel great now – you’re doing everything right.

I hate making sales calls. Can I really be successful?

For a guy who depends on sales calls for his living, you think I’d be more disciplined about doing them. I actually hate them. Or, I used to.

I remember my first Monday on the phone. My hand was shaking as I dialed – I was that nervous.

I used to worry that the fact that I despised the phone meant I couldn’t be successful at my job, but as I asked around I found that many successful business owners have some routine activity they have to do, that they hate. But they all find a way to get through them, even thrive on the activity. I realized that success is not about finding that mythical business opportunity that fits you like a glove – instead, it’s about finding a way to push through the one or two hard parts of your job and doing them anyway.

Over the last two years I’ve found that not only can I become good at cold calls, but I can learn to be disciplined about them as well. I have since turned a corner in my business and it’s an immense relief not to hate them anymore.

Here is the routine I’ve developed:

  1. Have everything prepared beforehand. If I want to have a successful phoning session on Monday, I have to research and prepare my leads list on Friday. It’s printed out on my desk, so when Monday morning rolls around I have a list, a pen, and my phone on my otherwise clear desk. No distractions or excuses, and NO TECHNOLOGY. Just my piece of paper and phone.
  2. Have a set time to get it done. I make my sales calls every Monday between 11am and noon. I treat it as an appointment, and I know by noon that it will be over. As soon as 11:00 hits, I start dialing without even allowing myself to think whether I want to do this or not.
  3. Get out of the house. There are a thousand potential distractions at home. I take my leads list to the park or a quiet corner of a hotel lobby. Or if the weather is nice, I just walk around the neighborhood and call while I burn a few calories. Being away from the familiar distractions allows me to focus on the one thing I need to do, and get it done so I can move on to things I enjoy.
  4. After the work is done, reward yourself. I love gelato, and there’s this wonderful gelato shop around the corner from my house. After a successful phoning session, I’ll treat myself to a $2.50 scoop, sit back, and envision the successful future I just made possible.

These are the tactical tips that have made things easier for me. Next, I’d like to discuss the mental game of sales calls.