About a year and a half ago I moved from the world of psychology and mental health into the world of recruitment, sales and corporations. They are two very different places. When I started recruitment, I genuinely thought I could get the edge on other consultants and competitors simply through my knowledge of psychology and human behaviour. In all honesty, this just hasn’t been the case. All apart from one area – the mind set in cold calling.
Cold calling is probably one of the most anxiety provoking things a human being can do. No one likes cold callers. I hate them, people that knock on my door, people that call me off a private number, I really hate them. You know nothing about me, why in god’s name did you chose me out of all the people in the world to sell your hair drier to.
This is what goes through my head each time I pick up the phone, smile, and dial. I am the enemy, the time waster, the awkward person phrasing a question in a way that is difficult to shut down, keeping you on the awkward call way longer than you anticipated. I know the person down the other end of the line doesn’t me to call them. They are high level executives making really important decisions on an hourly basis and they definitely don’t want to hear from me.
When I or any recruiter starts thinking like this, they have already lost….
One of the things my mentor said to me the other day made all the sense in the world. “You can talk yourself out of making a phone call”. I quickly realised within my first couple of months that any successful recruiter is going to have to constantly challenge their negative automatic thoughts. When these anxiety provoking thoughts start to creep in I challenge them with the following questions:
1. Will I die by making this phone call
2. Genuinely, what is the worst that can happen if this call doesn’t go well
3. I am not doing business with this company currently, so it genuinely doesn’t matter if this call goes poorly
4. They have no idea how I can help them, this isn’t a cold call, this is a chance for me to explain how we can help their business going forward
5. They get calls like this all the time, it comes with their territory
The worst thing a cold caller can do is not pick up the phone. If you talk yourself out of one call due to fear, and then follow it up with the behaviour of not picking up the phone to make a difficult call, you are on a slippery slope. You won’t pick up the second difficult call and it escalates to you starting to avoid mediocrely difficult calls.
All of this experience revolves around the core ideas of CBT. How you think (cognition) and how you behave (behaviour).
To implement these psychological ideas and improve your calls and confidence, you must see yourself as a scientist conducting an experiment. Here’s how your experiment should go: when you go to make a difficult call, note down all the difficult automatic negative thoughts that come to mind, note down all the imagery and horrible things you think could happen, note your level of anxiety and fear out of 10 (10 being the worst anxiety and fear you ever experienced to 0, no fear at all). Then, after all this is noted, make the call.
After the call, go back over all the difficult things negative things that went through your mind and see if they actually materialised. Also, now note your level of fear and anxiety. It’s probably less than the number before the call, mostly because it didn’t end up being an anxiety provoking experience at all, or at least less anxiety provoking. Essentially if a funny way, making the call cures your anxiety.
If you look around your sales office/recruitment office, you will notice that the people that are not afraid to pick up the phone are the same people that have been there years and years. They have experienced thousands of phone calls and carried out these experiments over and over again, although probably not consciously, but have unconsciously realised that in making a call, their fears and anxiety provoking thoughts never ever materialised.
My advice is simple, check the thoughts that go through your head. Check if they are accurate? Do the thing you are afraid of. Make the tough calls, that’s where the biggest business is, if some client tells you to “fuck off”; it’s not your fault, you have no idea what was going through their head that day. The most successful recruiter if your office would have gotten the same response. People have bad days.
Recruitment is a game for confident, hardworking, funny and positive thinking individuals. Successful recruiters, genuinely share all four traits. They don’t care about being rejected, they take humour from it. Being told to “fuck off” (rarely happens, in fact, it has happened to me once in one and a half years) makes them laugh, they put down the phone and announce “good chat”. This is a mind-set they developed over time, the game has moulded them. They unconsciously understand CBT. They have carried out enough experiments.