4 Reasons Why Prospects Fear Cold Calls

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Phone Off The Hook We have heard for years about how much today’s consumer detests receiving the dreaded cold-call. We all know that cold calling has become increasingly difficult and the modern-day buyer has become more evasive, defensive, suspicious and even hostile towards getting a telephone solicitation call.

As a result, there are tons of training and tips on how to handle such obstacles as well as many alterative prospecting avenues. However, my take is that to develop any solution, you must first truly understand the problem.

So, join me as I diverge today, and instead of giving you tips on how to overcome objections, get past gatekeepers or project a positive image; allow me to share some insight into WHY consumers have come to feel the way they do about receiving a cold call.

If you can genuinely understand and honestly empathise with the person on the other end of that telephone call, then you can begin to learn how to handle the situation from the inside– out!

#1. Privacy Violation
Of course, you have heard buyers complain that a cold call is an invasion of privacy. However, think of this analogy:

You are sitting at home with your family, relaxing or eating dinner or you’re in the middle of writing an important document at work. Suddenly a stranger bursts in the door and begins to walk right up to you. What would you do? Better yet, what would you actually say?

Responses to this person
Your first response might be questions like:

“Who are you?!”
“What do you want?!”
“Why are you here?!”
“How did you get in here?!”

You are doing nothing more than protecting yourself/family from a possible harmful source. It is a natural defensive reaction.

Now, if the answers to those first questions were inadequate, your next responses would turn more aggressive:

“We don’t have any valuables/money!”
“Get out of here!”

Responses to the Telephone Intruder
You have to realize that when you make a cold call, essentially you just “materialised” in that person’s dining room or working environment. When the prospect picks up the telephone, you are instantly in their living room, their office or perhaps their bedroom! Just like the above example, you just burst in the door, unannounced, and charged up to the person. Can you see why they react as they do?

Responses to a cold call:

“Who are you?!” “Is this a sales call?”
“What do you want?!” “What are you selling!?”
“Why are you here?!” “What are you selling!?”
“How did you get in here?!” “How’d you get my number/information/pass gatekeeper?”

These are not objections! They are normal and natural defences erected for protection from an unknown potential threat. If inadequate answers ensue, then real fear sets in:

Responses to a cold call:

“We don’t have any valuables/money!” “I’m not interested!”
“Get out!” “Click!” They hang up.

Can you understand why some tell you, “I’m not interested!” before they have any idea of what you sell?

#2. Personal Space
In addition to the intrusion, a cold call violates personal space. Think about it; when someone is talking on the telephone, where is the phone? It is right up against their face. You are a total stranger and suddenly you are right there, virtually nose-to-nose with the prospect. You are literally in their face!

#3. Lack of Knowledge
When you call someone, you immediately prove that you have more knowledge of him or her than he or she does of you. First, you called them, which means you have their telephone number and in many cases, it is a private number. You also knew the exact whereabouts of the person: you caught him at the office or her at home.

You know his name. You know her address. You know his job title. In fact, with very limited prospecting information, you could know what they do, where they work, how much money they earn and what kind of dishwashing detergent they use. However, at the time of the call, the prospect knows almost nothing about you.

People can feel this imbalance of power and it makes them uncomfortable.

#4. Lack of Control
Finally, with all of the above, the prospect was powerless in preventing any of it. They hired a sharp gatekeeper, set up voice mails, eluded calls, and still you caught them. The prospect simply had no control over your entrance.

This lack of control is what sends real fear into the hearts of today’s buyer and is why you have heard buyer’s use the term, “violated.” It is this severe, often hopeless feeling of a lack of control that is at the heart of the problems with cold calling.

However, if you think about it, there is one very simply thing the intruder could have done to avoid all of the first natural defences and the following unnatural defences.

All the intruder had to do was knock on the door.

Safely behind the door, the homeowner/decision maker could look and decide to let the person in or not. The resident could ask questions of the would be intruder—before they gained entry. Most importantly, the buyer would have the choice, the option of opening the door.

The buyer would feel as if they were in CONTROL of the situation.

That is the problem with a cold call. There is no way to give the prospect the immediate feeling of control. There is no way to knock on the telephone.

Or is there?

Posting Jan 6, 2012:
How to Knock On the Telephone

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 5 January, 2012

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