“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”
Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino, in an Oscar-nominated turn) in “The Godfather”
“Business” takes many forms.
Michael Corleone’s business was certainly unique. Hopefully yours doesn’t resemble his … but hey, if it does, no judgment being passed here.
His statement bears consideration, though. Anyone in business knows the importance of relationships. Business can’t help but be personal, right?
Consider cold calling, and the many qualms people have about the practice. You know what they are.
Uncooperative, sometimes rude gatekeepers. Endless voicemails. Being told not to call again. Getting hung up on. Maybe even being yelled at.
Ouch. They all sound pretty unpleasant. One’s feelings, and ego, can certainly be bruised. But guess what?
It’s not personal … and here’s why.
Consider the gatekeeper. She (or he) might be told to screen calls for the decisionmaker you’re trying to reach. You’re not the only cold-caller they’re blocking. Everyone gets the same treatment. They’re doing their job.
In other words … it’s not personal.
Voicemails can be the bane of a cold-caller’s existence. Getting a live person can seem impossible at times. Yet, how often have you heard someone say “I only answer calls from numbers I know?” Call screening is the new norm. Well, guess what? They don’t know your number. Your call’s not getting picked up.
It’s not personal.
You actually get through to the person you’re trying to reach. Once you stop jumping up and down with excitement, you go into your pitch … but things don’t go as hoped. They immediately say “no.” They hang up. Or, maybe they angrily tell you how uninterested they are, and that calling again will result in an even unfriendlier response.
You’re crushed. But consider this objectively: What might be happening that affects their response? What if the person is having a really bad day?
Maybe they lost a big account. Maybe a loved one is sick. Maybe a key employee walked out. Maybe they just said “goodbye” to a beloved pet.
Or maybe, as in so many lean organizations post-recession, they’re stretched beyond thin and literally have no time, except to put out the next brush fire.
The thing is, you don’t know. No way you can, either. Here’s what you can know: It’s not personal.
Keep this in mind, because people’s qualms about cold calling boil down to one fear: rejection. Who likes being rejected? Hard to not take it personally – even if, as we’ve pointed out, it isn’t.
Unless you’re the rare (and strange) glutton who enjoys rejection, a better approach is to be smarter about your cold calling. Understand the fundamentals of a good cold call, and employ a strategy to make them work for you.
You don’t have relationships with the targets of your cold calls. Your goal is to create relationships … in other words, to make it personal.
Master the practice of cold calling, and your business can be as successful as Michael Corleone’s … and probably healthier for all involved, too.