Your prospects can sense how prepared you are for the call.

“Why do you sound scared?” the prospect asked me once I introduced myself.

“I’m sorry if I sound scared Kevin, but I know I have no reason to be. You’re all the way in New York so I know you’re not going to kill me or anything.”

“Well I just might if I keep getting these calls.”

It was in the early days of my sales career. Kevin was a marketing leader, so I probably wasn’t the first person to call him that day. And he was joking, but the interaction made me wonder: could I sound more confident on my cold calls?

To understand why your tone, pace, and overall level of confidence is critical to talk to new prospects, let me briefly summarize the Stanford Prison Simulation (SPS). If you’re aware of the experiment led by Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, you can skip the next paragraph.

In 1971, Dr. Zimbardo gathered a group of volunteers and split them into two camps: prison guards, and prisoners. The first day was relatively uneventful, but as time went on prisoners began to revolt, and prison guards started to punish the prisoners. The conflicts escalated enough for Zimbardo to end the experiment early. Zimbardo concluded that the prisoners and the prison guards had each internalized the stereotype of their roles and had begun to act on them.

What can we take away from the SPS? Our roles dictate our behaviors and actions. In the context of prospecting and cold outreach, how you view yourself and your prospects can either add to or detract from your level of confidence. The person on the other end of the line will size up your confidence and make a snap judgement. The prospect will either see you as a peer with expertise, or you will fall into the bucket of “just another sales person.”

Do you consider yourself a peer amongst your prospects? Have you done the work necessary to deserve that peer to peer dialogue?

The knowledge that you have about your prospects’ business, their industry, their challenges, and their priorities are all things that add to the level of confidence you portray on your outreach. Forming the habit of using a smooth introduction matters.

When you position yourself successfully in the first 20 seconds of the call, you hear the change in a prospect’s tone and develop the confidence that you will have the same success next time. A prospect can tell whether you’ve done your homework based on how you speak, not just what you say.

There's no magic or natural talent required - these are all things that can be improved with practice. Kevin made me realize that perhaps I sounded scared because I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been.

If I have a reason to call someone that connects to what they care about, why would I be afraid of calling them? Even a C-Level executive at a Fortune 500 is only human. If I am offering expertise and service that can help them resolve significant business challenges, and I can express that, they won’t be able to pass on hearing me out.

Are you as confident as you could be on the phone? What do you think is keeping you from achieving that level of confidence? Improving in this area of sales is a New Year’s resolution as worthy as any to pursue.

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The Comprehensive Guide to Cold Calling


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