In my past life as a college athlete and lacrosse coach, I played a ton of wall ball. In my life, I’ve probably logged over 1000 hours on the wall.
For those unfamiliar with the term, Wall Ball is when you throw a lacrosse ball against a brick wall over and over again on your own to improve your catching and throwing ability. The uneven nature of brick means that by changing the force and angle of your throw, the ball will bounce back unexpectedly, forcing you to adjust and improve.
During my sophomore year at Wheaton College (Go Lyons) our recently hired head coach reminded the team that practice was when the team got better, not individual players. We had to improve individually on our own time, which meant lots and lots of wall ball.
Sales is similar, particularly around cold calling. This is one of the hardest parts of sales for new reps to get comfortable with, and for good reason! Cold calling is a skill, and skills have to be developed by practice, just like wall ball. It’s essential that this practice does not come as the rep is starting to call their leads. Cold calling your prospects is when your company gets better, and should absolutely not be when the individual rep gets better. These calls are too important to any business to afford using them as training.
This is where wall ball comes back in play.
For sales reps, “wall ball” needs to take the form of role play between reps and team leaders. By practicing a realistic mock call, reps will be able to experiment and develop muscle memory, enabling them to feel significantly more confident and calm on the phone. Every morning before the day begins, reps should have a round table and practice cold calling into the room. The group atmosphere keeps things light and fun, while exposing them to a ton of useful feedback and advice. For me, there is no better way to get new reps over the anxiety of picking up a phone and build the cold calling skills necessary to succeed.
There are a number of awesome variants to add in like time limits, specific personas, or common objections to ensure each session adds a new arrow to your rep's quiver. My personal favorite is “stretch”, where reps compete to keep a particularly brusque persona type on the phone as long as possible without being hung up on. Reps get to laugh and compete with each other while building two key skills toward cold calling: thick skin and not fearing objections.
When your rep’s hardest call comes every morning while training with the team, getting on the phone and calling leads is no sweat at all.
Now go find your wall, and get to work.
Patrick is Sr. BDR at BlueConic and proud LaunchSource grad. When he is not #BuildingTheDream at BlueConic, he’s hiking, playing lacrosse, reading, and supporting LFC.