Many years ago, I was interviewing for a sales management job with a large media company. In one of those interviews, the SVP of Sales told me offhand that he really didn’t know why sales people complained about cold calling.  “What’s the big deal? I don’t mind making cold calls,” he stated flatly.

I didn’t contradict him at the time, but that statement was one of the reasons I turned down the offer from that company.  That SVP was not someone I was willing to work for, because he was either lying or clueless.  People who say they don’t mind cold calling are the ones who don’t HAVE to do it for a living every day. Cold calls suck, pure and simple. You still need to make them though.

In sales, we do not control results, we control our activity, which creates the results.  Cold calls, or prospecting is as essential as it is unappealing.  The reality about cold calling or prospecting, is that you don’t have to like it, you just have to get through it, sort of like going to the gym and working out.

In comes into play a concept I call Rack Focus.  Rack Focus is that effect in a movie when the camera changes focus, making something in the foreground go out of focus while something in the background comes into focus.  It is often used in movies to get the audience to suddenly notice something that has been there the whole time, but that the director now wants you to pay attention to.

I like this concept as it applies to my life and in sales.  Applying rack focus to your life means choosing what to focus on every day.  Life will almost always comes down to what you choose to focus on, because your brain cannot process ALL the information around you.  There is simply too much of it.  Try this quick experiment. Close your eyes suddenly, and list out the things made of metal in the room with you. You’ll likely be able to get the most obvious ones.  Once you open your eyes however, and focus on finding metal objects in the room, you’ll find dozens you didn’t notice before, because you were not focused on looking for them.

As I was saying, no one likes cold calling or working out.

When I’m training a group and I state this truth, I inevitably get a few who speak up in opposition.

“I don’t agree, I love my work outs”, they’ll say. However, like that SVP of sales interviewing me years ago, those people are not admitting that they in fact use the concept of rack focus to trick themselves into working out.  They don’t enjoy the actual act of working out.  How could they?  It involves physical pain.  They do enjoy how working out makes them feel afterwards, both physically and emotionally.  By focusing on how it makes them feel, they can work through the painful or unpleasant part of the exercises to the positive desired result. .

Controlling your rack focus allows you control your behavior (or sales activity).  More specifically, it allows you to take the pain out of cold calling.

I am pretty sure none of you enjoy the pure act of calling a stranger on the phone and asking for things, be it time, money, or any other resource.  You do enjoy, probably, successfully helping a prospect make a smart decision, and helping them fix a problem.  Using rack focus will make this work to your advantage.  As your hand reaches for the phone, or for the door handle as you walk in, focus your mind on the possible positive outcomes of your cold call.

  • If this prospect starts asking buying questions, how will you feel?
  • If this looks over looks at an ROI analysis you did and has an “Aha” moment, how will you feel?
  • If they contact you in 5 months and say “Thanks so much for being persistent because this was the best decision I have ever made”, how will that make you feel?

Notice, the nature of the rack focus I am suggesting involves your prospect’s priorities.  Using rack focus and reminding yourself how much money you’ll make off this prospect isn’t the right path.  Yes, if they buy, you’ll get commissions, but focusing on that is likely to create a negative selfish mental energy that the prospect will easily pick up on, because that energy is something they are very attune to, considering it comes from one of their primary fears (Sales people ripping them off to make a buck off of them).

Don’t focus on making cold calls or dials because you fear your manager.  Don’t focus on the actual act of calling.  Make the calls while focused on all the great things that can happen if you successfully connect with a prospect and get to have a good business conversation where you find need.  You probably will never actually enjoy making cold calls (God knows I don’t) but you can use Rack Focus to blow away your activity numbers, and trick your mind into thinking you don’t mind making cold calls.  Then, when you attend one of my seminars, you can raise your hand and argue with me about how much you love making cold calls and working out.