3 Lessons from 75,000 Cold Calls

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Guest Post by Drew Kluender 

I’ve had the opportunity to make around 75,000 cold calls so far in my career. In a world where there is high rep churn, high rejection and batting .200 makes you top-tier – winning can sometimes feel like losing. 

A successful cold caller fights this and outclasses others with their mindset. After being a top rep at 2 different fast-growing software firms, there are 3 key lessons I believe provide an excellent frame for success:

1. Never take a cold call personally

Taking rejection personally is a core reason for SDR churn. SDR’s are subjected to an extremely high volume of hearing “no”. Because it’s in the nature of the job, it’s easy for reps to take this rejection personally. A common frame of thinking is “Prospects are saying no because of me/who I am” This is a problematic frame and a core reason for SDR’s thinking “Cold calling isn’t for me” 

Not taking something personally is the frame that: My efforts failed not because of me but because of the circumstance/my approach/my actions. You can control these things. This is an empowering view. 

Whenever you hear an objection your goal should be to understand the response of the prospect. “Why did they say that?” This is the question you should be trying to answer! The focus should be on the prospect and trying to find out why they said what they said. This frame naturally leads to asking more questions. This is the key! Talk less. 

You need to separate the idea from prospects are rejecting you – to prospects are rejecting your pitch! People say no for a host of reasons that don’t include you. Dissociate.

2. Stay calm

To me, being calm involves being in a state of relaxation, alertness/preparedness and awareness – all at the same time.

When you are in a state of calmness, you are better able to provide the necessary response, come across as professional/smooth and obtain the desired outcome. Simple as that! 

 

Understand the goal – Booking a meeting is not always the correct outcome of a call. Sometimes you need to infomine, sometimes you need to get a referral. The only way to know which path to take, is through being curious and discovering the situation. 

A cold call can at first, be seen as a high-pressure behavior. Although it can feel this way in the moment, understand there is 0, yes 0 downside risk. The worst-case scenario is they say no! This results in the action of cold calling being 100% ROI positive. It should be easy to stay calm when you understand that nothing negative can happen. 

3. Up the pressure

Upping the pressure means putting yourself in a situation where the potential impact for you is elevated (Positive or Negative) 

Calling in front of multiple people is the easiest way to up the pressure. One option is for managers to call out individuals on team calls until they get a connect. On the rep level, you can invite a few SDR’s to a zoom (if remote) to give you feedback. If you book a meeting it makes it that much greater! If you fail you should know why with others in the room. 

Expert mode is doing a calling block in front of another company’s team. If you can get comfortable doing this, I believe you are at a high level. 

Upping the pressure does 2 things for you – 

  1. Makes you care 
  2. Highlights weaknesses

In the age of remote selling, sometimes it’s hard to care because no one is around to see. When you call in front of other people, you will naturally find you push harder and are more resilient to objections. 

If you do make a mistake while calling live in front of other people, it’s obvious and apparent – This is what you want! The easiest way to get better is to know what you need to work on. This gives you a beacon. It may hurt a little in the moment, but next time you hear the same objection you will remember the time it came up!

In Conclusion: 

If you don’t take cold calls personally, stay calm and up the pressure – you are well on your way to becoming a high-performing sdr. The winners are not the ones who start the fastest, but simply don’t quit. Best of luck! 

Hello! My name is Drew Kluender. After studying mechanical engineering in college I pursued tech sales directly after my junior year – to finish my education, I decided to cold call at a fast-growing startup. I was an intern, a top sdr out of 30 and everything in between.  From there I was able to transfer the skills I had learned to be a top cold caller again at another exciting startup where I am now. I’ve estimated that I’ve made over 75,000 cold calls in my time so far. My goal is to share the lessons I’ve gained to help improve others’ skill and acumen. 

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