Just recently I had the opportunity to trial a software tool, one that the CEO said would revolution outbound sales. It was a software tool that would significantly increase the throughput of cold calls by a factor of around ten.
Now I’ve always been keen on innovation, an early adopter of better, more efficient products and services, and given that this was going to help me with a task I normally hated, I thought “why brilliant I’m in”.
So I trialed the tool and was shocked to see that the CEO’s claims were absolutely true. In just one hour I was able to get through 150 cold calls.
This was a real bonus because, not only had I been struggling to make calls in the past, given on average it was taking over ten calls to get through to a real person it was very easy to get demotivated and quit.
With this tool, I was able to make 150 calls and get into around 8-12 conversations in an hour, the feeling of rejection every time the phone was unanswered or went to voicemail was eliminated.
The tool also navigated any directories and gatekeepers, so I was always getting through the person I intended.
I wrote a couple of articles about my experience, and the CEO challenged me to use the tool for a month and see how I felt about cold calling at the end. Would it change my opinion of it or not?
I accepted the challenge in a heartbeat and posted about it on LinkedIn. I decided to set a goal of making 3000 calls in April.
The CEO loved this and offered the first ten people who applied, the same opportunity, providing they would share their results on LinkedIn.
Yes, it was a bit of free marketing, but in return for a tool that could increase my cold calling by a factor of ten, it felt like a great deal.
With this in mind, I reached out to everyone I knew who I thought would be interested, as I thought this would be an amazing opportunity.
But the response I got was really surprising, and it made me wonder how many other great innovations were met with the same level of disinterest, apathy or resistance.
Now I understand that many people make wild claims about their products. But in this case I had the evidence, I had the proof of the beneficial impact that this would give. There was no cost or catch, and yet still I was met with this response.
One person told me they didn’t have enough time.
I said “but you’re going to be doing cold calling in April right? You have a list of people you’re planning to call. You understand that this will allow you to make all your calls in a tenth of the usual time, and it only takes ten minutes to train.”
They answered, “Yes, I understand all that and agree with everything you say, but I just don’t have the time this month, so maybe next time.”
Others said, “I would love to join, but I don’t know who I would call.”
I was truly staggered that with the offer of a fantastic solution, one that could save time, reduce cost and improve results people seemed to be going out of their way to find reasons why not.
When I spoke with the CEO of Connect and Sell, Chris Beall, about this. He said “that’s pretty much in line with our findings. People tell us all kinds of things; they don’t have the ability to scale their business; it would mean they would need to restructure the department and let some people go, it would mean we would need to find more customers.”
He said that in around 50 percent of the cases people found an excuse not to improve.
When we started the initiative, ten people had agreed to be involved. By the start of the second day, only four of the ten who signed-up had actually started and by the fourth day, there were only three of us who were still involved and who completed the full month.
One of the participants, who posted his results daily, show that he was doing between 700-1000 cold calls per day, was getting into dozens and dozens of conversation which he was converting to meetings. And yet still the other seven people declined.
What became clear to me throughout all this was that no matter how good an innovation might be, you’re still going to have to fight the resistance and fear of change.
You’re still going to have to run a strong change management campaign to get your new product or service adopted. Even a guarantee of significant improvement is going to be sufficient to drive acceptance and implementation.