Telephone Prospecting Excellence

“Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you.” [First intelligible words spoken over the telephone]

—Alexander Graham Bell

Question: “How do you get a salesperson to stop working?”

Answer: “Put a phone in front of him.”

That's a little joke that elicits nervous laughs at keynotes and seminars.

For thousands of salespeople, picking up the phone and calling a prospect is the most stressful part of their life. Many of these reluctant salespeople stare at the phone, secretly hoping that it will disappear. They procrastinate, get ducks in a row, and work to ensure that everything is perfect before they dial. Any excuse—and I mean any excuse—to do something else takes priority.

They work over their leaders, too. Whining that no one answers the phone anymore. Arguing that it is a waste of time. Complaining that people don't like to be contacted by phone. Labeling any outbound phone call a cold call—even when they are calling back inbound leads—while gravitating toward so-called experts who pontificate that cold calling is dead.

Last month a top-five insurance company hired me to deliver a Fanatical Prospecting Boot Camp. The executive who bought me in said that the single biggest challenge facing their new agents was prospecting. His words: “We are having such a hard time getting them to just pick up the phone and talk to people.”

When I arrived on the morning of the training, he pulled me aside and said, “I hope I haven't put you in a bad spot. We didn't ...

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