If there’s one job function that I think most people can agree absolutely sucks, it’s cold-calling. I’m pretty sure that in my entire life I’ve never met one person who has ever actually said they enjoyed the act of cold-calling. For me personally, my cold-calling experience goes back a long way. In fact for my first 6-7 years out of college, cold-calling was my primary job function that I had. My very first “career” job out of college was working for a telecommunications company in New York City. Our job was to prospect small to medium sized businesses and try to get them to switch their telecom service over to ours. It was about as cold as cold-calling gets. I was expected to make around 100 calls a day. It was absolutely brutal. The amount of rejection I’d take on a daily basis was tremendous. I’ll never forget the anxiety I would have before each call. I couldn’t stand it. One time I called someone who actually told me to jump out of a window. I was having such a bad day I called the guy back and said, “hey, it’s the guy who just jumped out the window,” to which he replied “don’t ever f***ing call me again.” Given that type of experience, you might wonder why in the world I would recommend cold-calling to almost anyone.
It’s not about passion, it’s about building skills
If you know me I’m a firm believer that finding your passion is bullshit. Look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be trying to look for our passions in life. Far from it. But without getting into too much detail (read the article I linked to), I am saying that if you go too far the other way, as in spending countless time trying to find said passion, you’ll miss out on a ton of life. Sometimes trying to find “that thing” becomes an all-too consuming process that’s actually destructive. Instead, we should spend our time “doing things.” And by doing things I mean experiencing things but also building necessary skills so that you can get what you want, when you want it. I think most people underestimate the fact that if you are super good at one thing or a few things, it can open up a tremendous amount of doors to other things. It’s pretty easy to grasp the concept. Want a great example? Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan’s the best basketball player in the history of the game (let’s not debate this). That one skill opened up the doors to him becoming a billionaire. Because of basketball, Jordan got endorsements. Because of basketball, Jordan got exposure to people he was never exposed to before. Because of basketball, Jordan was able to make enough money to venture into avenues he likely never dreamed of before. Sure this is an obvious example but it’s one you can apply to most any skill. So let’s get back to cold-calling. Cold-calling isn’t a glamourous skill. It’s not a fun skill. But it happens to be a skill that if you can get good enough at it, it will open a ton of doors. Most people however, don’t do it long enough or don’t stick it out until those doors open. When those doors open, it’s what I call “breaking through.”
Cold-calling leads to “breaking through”
So here’s the thing. Am I really recommending that everyone try cold-calling? The answer is an emphatic “no.” But what I am saying is this. If you want to take your life or career to new heights or especially to a height you never thought possible, you’ve got to do things you didn’t think were possible. And what I mean by that is pushing through some kind of barrier. I mean getting to the point of no return. A point of no return is a point where you’ve established a skill so great that you can use it the rest of your life to your advantage. So let’s take cold-calling as an example. One of the most common professions cold-calling has been utilized in is financial advising.
When you first start off as a financial advisor your biggest mandate is growing a book of business. Back in the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and even today, cold-calling has been suggested as one of the best ways to establish this book of business. The problem with cold-calling is that it’s incredibly hard, time consuming, stressful, grueling, and frankly annoying as all hell. Basically you’re calling a list of people who have never heard of you before (hence the world “cold”) to try and convince them to use your product or service. In this case it would be to hire you as their financial advisor.
Most successful financial advisors make at least 100 cold-calls a day and in most cases for at least 1-3 years before establishing any kinds of books of business. And in nearly every case, that 1-3 years was unbelievably tough. So tough that most people in any type of cold-calling industry quit their jobs. It’s true. Most people simply don’t make it. The sheer amount of rejection they get on the phone is enough to scare them off. But here’s the thing. Once you do make it through, that book of business can literally set you up for life.
And that’s what I call “breaking through.” Breaking through is when you reach a point where you’re doing less cold calling and referrals begin to take over as the main source of clients. In other words, you don’t have to do all that outbound prospecting as much. All of a sudden people are calling you. The cold calls convert from cold to warm. The business becomes easier to grow and you build a network of people that can help you for the rest of your life. Breaking through is when your business starts to transform and you don’t need as much outreach as you used to. Inbound begins to become part of the game (always do outbound though, no matter how successful you are).
And it’s not just cold-calling. It’s any type of business growth method that you’ll have to endure for whatever time you’ll have to endure it until your business finally “breaks through.” For example, let’s take my website business. You really need to put in at least 6 months and produce at least 1 solid piece of content per day to make any type of traction in search engines in order to get traffic to your site organically. If you don’t put in that time, your website will never grow. Most people who start websites quit in the first year because they are impatient they’re not ranking #1 in Google for everything.
But those that do make it? Most work on their sites for 1-3 years before even seeing any type of real progress. But once you can stick it out that long? That’s when you can see some serious growth. Like any other challenge though, those 1-3 years can be extremely grueling. For me it was a year of averaging 12-15 hours a day, 7 days a week. But once I got past it? I build up income generating businesses that need little maintenance and can make money for decades.
Get out of your comfort zone
So what am I saying here? I’m not just telling you to go out and cold-call. But I am saying that part of becoming extremely successful is getting out of your comfort zone. It’s about doing things that you likely can’t stand for a while. Of course if you find things you love right off the bat, by all means do it. But what I’m pointing out is that if you can get through the shit and come out clean on the other side, you’ll be that much better when those passionate things come along. It’s important to struggle. It’s important to fail. It’s important to keep going. Because most people just quit at the first sign of adversity. If you can get past it, you can “break through” and set yourself up for life.