If you’re a recruiter—and chances are good that you are—then you’re going to make cold calls. That’s what you do: you’re a cold caller. Well, it’s not ALL you do, but it does constitute an important part of a recruiter’s daily activities.
That’s a simple fact. Here’s another simple fact: cold calls are NOT fun.
Sure, there are probably some people out there who like cold calling. Heck, they might even love it. But you probably are not one of those people. You probably don’t even know one of those people.
No, cold calling can be a tedious, cringe-worthy exercise. However, those who do it well position themselves much better to enjoy more success in the profession. So . . . what is a recruiter to do?
Recruiters invest their time, money, and effort into a wide array of tools. Using recruiting software and joining a recruiting network in search of the next split fee are some examples of investing in tools to make more placements. But if there’s a bottle-neck at the beginning of your recruiting process, the investments further down the funnel will be a waste.
In a nutshell, a recruiter should invest great effort into learning how to be the best cold caller they can be. Not the best cold caller in their niche, nor even the best one in their office. That’s because successful cold calling is comprised of two basic elements:
- Natural talent and/or innate ability
- Skills honed through practice over time
So a recruiter starts with a certain level of natural talent and/or innate ability. Then that recruiter hones that ability through practice over time. What does that mean? It means that some people possess more potential for cold calling than others. That only makes sense.
With that in mind, a recruiter should seek to maximize their potential as a cold caller and not be tempted to compare themselves to anybody else. To do that, though, requires much in the way of preparation (mental or otherwise) and practice.
That’s why in this article, we’re going to take you through the various stages of the cold calling process. The overriding priority: to help you become the best cold caller on your recruiting desk that you can be.
The Pre-Call Mindset of Successful Cold Calling
This is the starting point, in more ways than one. That’s because most of cold calling is mental—literally mental. It’s all in your head! What, exactly, is in your head? Fear, doubt, anxiety, uncertainty . . . all of the above.
There is such a thing as cold call reluctance. However, you can overcome it. First, though, you must recognize your specific reasons for it. Now, you might only be a little reluctant, or you might be a lot reluctant. You might have just one reason for being reluctant, or you may have a lot of reasons. Below are three of the big reasons:
1 – Cold calling is an uncomfortable situation.
You’re making a phone call to somebody you probably have never spoken with before to present something to them. Of course it could be an uncomfortable situation! However, you can’t let the reality of that prevent you from making the calls in the first place (or prevent you from making as many as you should).
2 – There is a distinct fear of rejection.
Nobody likes to be rejected. Nobody. Even people who appear to let rejection slide off their backs don’t like it. However, the key is to NOT take the perceived rejection personally. The person on the other end of the phone is not rejecting you as a human being. Or as a recruiter, for that matter. Their rejection of your presentation may not even have anything to do with you.
3 – The feeling of failure is pervasive in cold calling.
In recruiting, confidence is everything, and I mean everything. A loss of confidence can be catastrophic for a recruiter’s billings. That’s why this is important:
Even if you lose the phone call and/or the prospect, it is imperative that you do NOT lose your confidence. You must take that confidence with you to the next phone call!
It might help to envision the worst-case scenario. What would that be? The prospect says something derogatory and hangs up on you? Maybe they even call you a name. So what?
Here are the essential elements of the pre-call mindset:
- Realizing and being prepared for uncomfortable moments during the call.
- Recognizing that any perceived rejection during the call is not a rejection of you as a human being or even as a recruiter.
- The most important outcome of the call, outside of successfully engaging the prospect and getting information, is to take the same level of confidence to your next phone call.
- Envision the worst-case scenario and . . .
Planning a successful cold call
Yes, having a set of recruitment cold calling scripts is important. However, that’s just one part of the planning process. You know the old saying: “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” Well, that saying certainly applies to cold calling. Below are some other planning prerogatives:
- Identify the top candidate objections and the top client objections. Then devise ways to overcome those objections and work those ways into your scripts. This means multiple scripts that can be used interchangeably and/or in conjunction with one another.
- Practice, practice, practice. This the best way to improve your delivery, which is important. You only have so much time to engage the prospect. If you consistently stumble at the beginning of your delivery, get used to the sound of the dial tone.
- Plan out your calls. When you leave the office, you should know who you’re going to call the next day. Of course, you have your “closest to money” calls first, but after that, which prospects are you cold calling and why? Plan to work and work your plan and plan your plan to work . . . wait, how does that go?
- Make your cold calls warmer. Before the invention of the Internet, this was more difficult. But now? The world is literally at your fingertips! You can conduct research about each of your prospects prior to the call, thereby customizing the call and your delivery. This helps with the execution stage, which just so happens to be next . . .
Executing the best cold call
Excellent planning is all well and good, but the whole thing will still fall flat without excellent execution. The first step is defining what “excellent execution” is. Here’s what it is NOT:
- Engaging every prospect exactly the way you want to engage them
- Having a pleasant conversation with every single person with whom you speak
Why is this? Because doing these two things is impossible. Do not set the impossible as your goal or feelings of failure are inevitable. In this case, “excellent execution” is defined as a series of actions on your part that are not immediately measured by results. In the case of successful cold calling, the more you focus on execution, the better the results will be.
Even if you strike out on 100% of your calls one day, the focus should be on your execution the next day, not the fact you struck out on 100% of your calls the previous day. If you focus on improving your execution every day, the results will come. It’s inevitable. Below are important elements of cold call execution:
- You MUST dive right in. You can’t procrastinate at all. Because the longer you procrastinate . . . the longer you’ll procrastinate. There is a football analogy that illustrates this. Football players are sometimes nervous before a big game. Do you know when they become less nervous? When they hit somebody and/or are hit by somebody. That means they’re in the game and instincts take over. Get in the game! Hit somebody! Or call somebody! Or hit somebody and then call somebody!
- Focus on what they want. You know “WIIFM,” right? “What’s in it for them?” Forget about what you want. If you help give this person what they want, then you will get what you want, as well. Don’t put your cart before their horse. You must position yourself as having something of value to them. Nobody hangs up the phone on true value.
- Make it a conversation, NOT a monologue. The most important objective of your cold call is not to get the other person to listen. It’s getting the other person to speak! You want them to talk. A one-sided conversation will go nowhere. Get them to open up and tell you what their current needs are, so that you can meet those needs. You might not meet them today, but you might do so in the future.
- Take a ton of notes. If you’re engaged in a conversation and not a one-way dialogue, you’ll have plenty of notes to take. All of this information has future implications. That’s because the next time you speak with this individual, it will no longer be a cold call. With the information you glean from this first call, you’ll be able to place a more targeted warm call.
Discovering how to be the best cold caller . . . one day at a time
So you’ve completed your calls for the day. Some were successful, and some were not. You have your notes, and you already have your list of people who you’ll call tomorrow. Your confidence is in check, and you’re ready to focus on “excellent execution” as opposed to immediate results.
To increase your production, you don’t have to be the best cold caller in the world. But no matter your natural ability and talent, you can become the best cold caller on your recruiting desk by implementing these effective cold calling strategies.
And over time, you’ll discover that striving to be the best cold caller you can be will be more than good enough.