You probably never tell potential clients your real goal in calling them, but you don’t need to. They’re already aware, because we’re all sensitive when the phone rings and it turns out to be someone we don’t know.
In the old traditional training, we learned the latest techniques for making a sale. We talk to "prospects" rather than with people. And we "guide" conversations along rather than letting them unfold naturally.
The way we do this sometimes might even be called a bit manipulative. After all, we’re relating to another person while holding an ulterior motive of making a sale.
Where does honesty and integrity fit into this scenario? Well, most of us honestly believe in our product or service. But beyond that, we carry a somewhat artificial persona when we’re cold calling. We talk with people for the primary purpose of making a sale, and we’re not really interested in them or their world.
Doesn’t this make you feel uneasy at times? It does to me.
So let’s discuss some ways we’ve been trained in the traditional sales mindset that feel artificial and dehumanizing, and ways we can overcome them.
1. We intrude upon another person uninvited, with the goal of making a sale
It’s against our nature as human beings to create uncomfortable situations. We have a natural instinct for courtesy and connection It’s usually hard for us as regular people to call uninvited, because on some level it feels discourteous.
We can change that by changing our goal. What if our goal is not to make the sale, but to find out if we can help someone? This shift makes us more relaxed. And it keeps us in harmony with personal integrity.
2. We project ourselves as personable and friendly, while also holding an ulterior motive for securing a sale
There’s an inner conflict with integrity when we find ourselves using our connections with others for self-gain. So we can bring ourselves back into honesty and truthfulness by shedding ulterior motives entirely.
We do this by focusing on whether we can provide something that will benefit another person. We find out if they have a problem we may be able to solve. And if it turns out we can’t help with our product or service, we graciously accept the outcome.
By being honest and not playing a role, we find ourselves really liking what we do. And when our "ulterior motives" are simply non-existent, people are more open to trusting us.
3. When we meet someone new, we immediately talk about ourselves and what we have to offer
It’s actually not normal for us to start an interaction by launching into a self-focused monologue. As regular people, this just goes against our grain. Common courtesy dictates that initial conversations be dialogues, not monologues.
In normal conversations we would feel self-absorbed if we primarily talked about ourselves and what we have to offer. Yet in the traditional cold calling situation, it’s an accepted "norm." We’ve been trained to read a script, follow a strategy, or give a sales pitch.
This really isn’t the way we’d like to relate to people, but it’s the way we’ve been taught.
We can break out of this artificial game of sorts by just being ourselves. Integrity and truthfulness means being authentic. We begin cold calling conversations with a natural focus on the other person. We find out their needs, and respond with genuine interest.
4. We "rev up" in an artificial way, hoping to carry the potential client along with us into a sales process
When we "pump ourselves up" with enthusiasm, it feels somewhat fake. It’s not our normal way of being, and it throws us out of integrity.
And we also appear artificial to potential clients. They become wary of possibly being maneuvered into a sales situation.
If we can navigate a cold calling conversation without such games, people will sense we’re trustworthy. They react warmly and unhesitatingly to a conversation that feels natural to them, and especially if it revolves around their issues rather than our agenda.
So how do we approach cold calling in the most truthful way? We stop being "salespeople" and become human. We engage in an honest dialogue rather than a monologue. We look for ways to help others, and we’re comfortable knowing that our product or service may not be an honest "fit" for them right now. And we stop playing roles, especially the "high enthusiasm" game.
This is what I mean by bringing integrity back into selling. It’s unbelievable just how rewarding both personally and professionally this can be.