Really. What’s so cold about cold calling anyway?
Some say it’s because the recipient is caught “cold.” They had no expectation you’d be calling, so they’re unprepared, and perhaps a bit surprised. To the supporters of this interpretation, that’s a good thing because catching people off guard can be to one’s advantage.
Another school of cold call definers claim the term refers to the caller’s “obscurity” to the recipient. Since they don’t know who you are, they have no reason to take your call or engage with you. The challenge here is to make yourself more familiar.
Then we come to the most commonly understood meaning, which tends to put cold calling in a similar category with “beating your head against the wall,” “nails scraping a blackboard,” or “blindfolded knife throwing.”
If your definition of cold calling leans towards the latter – and it most likely does – stay with us. You’re going to see an entirely different way to think about this.
The year is 1978 and Gary Thurek, a marketing manager at the Massachusetts-based Digital Equipment Corporation decided to try something entirely different. He used the new medium of electronic mail to invite people from 393 tech companies on both coasts, to demonstrations of DEC’s new line of advanced VAX T-series computers.
The responses were quick and mostly negative. Someone from the Pentagon even went so far as to phone Thurek and chew him out for this “FLAGRANT VIOLATION” of federal policy. General consensus at the time was staunchly against the Internet being used for commercial purposes. That particular attitude would, of course, change drastically in a short span of time.
By 2017 an average of 269 billion emails were sent every day — a significant portion of those in service of sales and marketing.
Email and creative ways of using it has become an integral prospecting tool across myriad industries. By combining strategic email messaging, agile online research, and personalized phone queries, today’s “cold calling” is a much more robust and effective process than the “smile and dial” process of previous decades. So much so that, according to InsideSales.com, selling that doesn’t involve face-to-face meetings is growing 300% faster than traditional face-to-face selling.
Nevertheless, the sweaty palms and stomach-churning tension of making cold calls can be a paralyzing influence. For that, let’s go back in time and take a look under the hood to better understand what causes the chill of the cold call.
Fear of Rejection
In prehistoric times our ancestors were in mortal danger without the protection and support of their tribe. Social connections meant safety from the dangers lurking everywhere.
Our evolutionary heritage gives us an ingrained fear of social rejection. That’s one reason cold calls can feel so chilly. But the chill isn’t caused by the other person – it’s triggered by our own minds when we replay, again and again, memories of feeling snubbed or ignored (and the underlying evolutionary fear of being cast out of the tribe).
We can easily get stuck in the cold vortex of imagined rejection. Ironically, our minds hold tightly to the things that bother us. Our thoughts feed our feelings, our feelings fuel our thoughts, and around and around we go in a rut of frustration.
When we realize we’re experiencing these negative patterns, we need to take the needle off the record — interrupt negative thought patterns and think differently. That may take some concerted practice, but we all have the power to change our unhelpful habits of thought.
Sales pros learn to manage their own thinking and not let others’ words and actions unduly influence their state of mind. They have trust in their own purpose and ability, and unshakable confidence in the value of what they’re selling. They know it’s not someone else’s gruff dismissal or indifference that feels cold – it’s their own internal narrative chilling the conversation.