Entrepreneurs often struggle when they start doing cold calls. They hate calling others to drum up business and they're not good at it, either. Their approach is too timid and they give up too soon when they encounter resistance. They don't manage objections well, so they don't bring home the bacon.
Fear of failure
One of the guys on our team had problems with cold calling. This seemed strange because he was an audacious, bold and outgoing person. But tell him to sell on the phone and he turned into a frightened little chicken.
The cause was obvious: fear of failure. He was scared of rejection. We both knew it. He also rationally understood that this fear did not serve a positive purpose, but he was still stuck in it.
Turning fears into reality
But how could we get him unstuck? How could we shake him up and change this state? I decided to challenge him with a new task: to fail with every call. For the rest of the day, I told him he should call people and make them hang up on him. His mission was to fail miserably.
To make it more fun, I told him to fail in a different way with each call. "Start by speaking painfully slow and unenthusiastic," I suggested.
Our little coaching conversation turned into the center of attention in the office. Everyone on our team was looking at him when he made the first call. His discomfort was obvious. But he played along. He spoke each word painfully, slowly, with excruciatingly long silences and pauses. It was painful to hear. Everyone in the office had to tap into the core of our self control not to burst out laughing. But there was no holding back once the other person hung up on him. The whole office was going crazy, including him.
The team came up with a new challenge for the second call: stuttering. And so he did; he stuttered his way through half a conversation. After 10 of these calls the atmosphere in the whole room had totally changed.
Changing your state
I looked him in the eyes and said: "Now go get 'em. Close deals. Take everything you've got and make it happen. Have fun!" And suddenly he was a different person. A total transformation of energy: he became fearless and unstoppable, a relentless machine.
But what exactly caused this transformation? It wasn't a new insight; he already knew that it was just fear holding him back. But he had now transferred that insight from a logical, rational level into an instinctive insight. He had emotionally internalized what he already knew mentally by making failure real. And that led to the breakthrough in his behavior.
Use these techniques if you feel anxious about cold calling:
- Address the issue and verbalize it.
- Instead of trying to avoid failure, aim for failure.
- Be creative about different ways to successfully achieve failure.
- Have fun and be silly. It will unlock the secret vault of sales power deep inside of you.
- Now that you have experienced what failure feels like, realize there is nothing to be afraid of.
Now crush it and see how you can perform once you aim for success. How have you lost your fear of failure in the past? Please share your stories and experiences so we can all let go of our fears and live more adventurous and successful lives.
A version of this article was originally published on LinkedIn.
Steli Efti is the Co-Founder / CEO of Close.io and an advisor to several startups and entrepreneurs.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.