Overcoming The Fear Of Cold Calling

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

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You’re all ready to go. You’ve got all your leads for the day prepared and lined up in front of you. You have all your rebuttals ready, and you have rehearsed your main talking points. You’re ready to begin your cold calling session.

You pick up the telephone and make the first call. The prospect was not in. What a relief. Time to take a break. A quarter of an hour later you’re back at your desk and you start again.

You make a call. The prospect said they were not interested and hung up. You then suddenly realise you have some paperwork from last week’s sale that you must get done right now.

If this prospecting period sounds remotely familiar, it is because you suffer from a fear of cold calling. Chances are you’re looking for all manner of alternatives to cold calling to ensure your sales funnel is full. You’re doing everything but make the calls.

Cold Call Anxiety

Cold call anxiety is a serious problem and entails much more than what you may think. To overcome the fear of cold calling, you first must understand the fear.

So, first let me give you a clear explanation of the fear, followed by a way to get rid of it.

The Fear Of Cold Calling

At the heart of the fear of cold calling is that usually the salesperson puts too much weight or importance on the value of a single telephone call.

The thought process, though mostly subconsciously, goes something like this:

1. To be successful and have all the things you want, you must close lots of sales
2. To close lots of sales, you must close one at a time
3. Before you can close one sale, you must do a successful sales interaction
4. Before you can complete a successful sales interaction, you must set an appointment
5. The next telephone call is to set that appointment and first you need to get past the gatekeeper
6. Therefore, if you fail at this call, you lose everything!

The salesperson believes that everything depends on this one call, and since they have no real control over the call or what the prospect says, it creates a horrible feeling of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness.

To overcome this fear, you must put the cold call in its proper perspective.

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What Is A Single Cold Call Worth?

So, exactly what is a cold call worth to you and your company?

It is certainly not worth your entire future, your home, car, and life as you know it.

But exactly, precisely what is the value of a single call?

To figure this out, you need conclusive data. That is, real data from a CRM or database that contains actual sales activity records. Once you have the definitive data then you can work it all out.

First, figure out your closing average, as in how many closing attempts does it take on average to close one sale. Let us assume that it is 20% or 1 out of 5.

Then check out how much money, on the average, you earn from one sale.

And let’s assume that figure is £400. Therefore, we know that it takes you 5 appointments to earn £400 so you earn £80 per appointment.

Does that make sense?

Now, calculate how many cold calls it takes for you to set one appointment, and let’s say it takes 10 calls.

So, it takes you 10 cold calls to set 1 appointment, and that 1 appointment earns you £80.

That works out to just £8 per cold call. That’s it. In this scenario, a single cold call is worth £8, and you get paid that £8 no matter what. Now you could work all of that out for turnover, profit or indeed the sales commission that you will get paid because of your sales. Whatever gets you motivated and whatever you understand, you should use.

The Truth Shall Set You Free!

This is no trick or play on numbers.

This is how you get paid. If you work with any type of a commission, then you earn a certain amount of money every time you place a call, no matter what happens.

So, the next prospect that yells, “I’m not interested” Don’t get upset. Just move on to the next call.

450 sales questions free report

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Myths About Overcoming Your Cold Calling Fears

In spite of a million cold calling tips out there in the universe, salespeople at every level and in every profession still struggle with this often unavoidable task. While cold calling advice ranges from the useful and practical, to the sublime and ridiculous, there are some cold calling ideas and beliefs that are harmful and will cause you to be fearful if you believe them.

There are some ideas that salespeople have heard for so long that people have just started to believe they are true, when in fact, they are anything but. Our Telesales Training covers the essential skills for you to be a success and at the same time gives you a healthy dose of realism to ensure that you have longevity in your sales career.

The following are three cold calling myths that have shrouded the minds of unsuspecting salespeople for decades and can cause irrefutable harm to your career.

Cold Calling Myth #1: Don’t Take It Personally

You’ve heard this one before. You have people that hang up on you over and over, and you should just brush it off. Just continue to accept the hang-ups as part of the process, and don’t take it personally. “They are not rejecting you, just your services or products…” While this appears to be a reasonable sentiment, the fact is that such a concept is insane.

Be honest. How can you not take it personally?

This type of thinking is what causes burn-out in the telemarketing industry and is one of the primary causes of cold call anxiety. It is personal. In fact, usually the main reason for the hang-ups is you, and the sound of your voice.

Instead of trying not to take it personally, understand that you need to make some changes in your telephone approach and your sales mindset. Understand what you are being paid per call as previously covered in this blog.

Cold Calling Myth #2: You Often Have to Take Some Abuse

Many salespeople believe that the only way to be successful on the telephone is to tolerate the abuse you may get from prospects in cold calls. Aside from the hang-ups, many believe in the idea that you must also “Endure the pain to make the gain” philosophy.

As in myth #1, if you often get overly rude or obnoxious prospects that tend to downgrade or humiliate you on the telephone, then there is a problem in your telephone selling technique.

While there are some people that are invariably and unjustly discourteous and intolerable, it’s not a large percentage. If you routinely run into overly rude people, maybe it has something to do with your approach. However, you do not have to just take it.

Cold Calling Myth #3: Never Hang Up On a Prospect

Riding along the heels of Myth #2, is the fact that while it is rare, there are times when you need to terminate the call with a cold called prospect. Occasionally, you are bound to run into that truly horrible person. No technique, skill or amount of professionalism will stop this individual from lashing out at whoever it is on the other end of the telephone. However, you do not have to sit there and spend your valuable time taking abuse.

It is true, that you cannot lower yourself to their level, and return like rudeness or just slam the phone down. But you can, at your discretion, “terminate that telephone call with tact.”

Firmly thank the prospect for their time, and then use a finger to disconnect the call.

Make sure the last words the prospect hears is you thanking them, and then use your hand so there is no sound of the telephone hanging up. If the receiver touches the base of the telephone, it will sound harsh and rude. Instead, use your finger to depress the button so the prospect barely hears a “click.”

If necessary, do this in the middle of a sentence and even speak over the prospect.

Prospect: “…And another thing! I told you people to never call me again, blah, blah, threatens, yell, yell…”

Salesperson: “I really appreciate your time, thank you” Click.

It is true that you must remain professional. But that does not mean that you must become a doormat.

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Overcome Your Fears By Developing Rapport

At the start of your sales call, you have a few precious seconds to accomplish a whole list of objectives, one of which is to get the prospect to continue to listen to you. Of course, to do this you need to create some rapport with the prospect. If you are fearful of making cold calls and suffer from cold anxiety, then developing rapport will help to settle you down considerably.

Following are tips to help you instantly create a stronger rapport with the prospect in a cold call.

Reflect a Like Attitude

First, listen. Listen intently from the very moment the telephone begins to ring. Every sound you hear is an important clue as to the prospect’s state of mind. Listen and reflect a similar or like attitude. This does not mean to mimic or copy the prospect. Just slightly adapt to the prospect’s current temperament.

As an example, the prospect answers and you instantly detect an upbeat, enthusiastic, and cordial demeanour. In such a case, you should respond with a similar tone. Conversely, should the prospect answer with a very business-like, sombre attitude, then you should be a bit more subdued and direct.

Drop the Smile & Dial Enthusiasm

The old idea that if you are excited and enthusiastic at the beginning of the cold call, then the prospect will magically become excited and enthusiastic also; is as outdated as the smile and dial era it came from and is a common sales mistake. Someone who is having a horrible day and is in a miserable mood is not suddenly going to feel better at the sound of your over-animated voice. Slightly adapt your attitude so that you are on the “same page” with the prospect.

Adapt to the Formality of the Prospect

Listen carefully in the beginning of the call and the prospect will give you clues as to how formal or informal they are. Should you refer to this prospect as Mr. Dillon or Steve? To “warm up” with talking about the weather with some prospects, is the worst thing you can do. Conversely, with other prospects, not to engage in some small talk could spell disaster.

Stay Level with the Prospect’s Pace of Speech

Very simply, if the person with whom you are speaking talks very slowly, then you may have to slow down a bit. On the other hand, should the prospect be a very fast talker, then perhaps you need to speed up a little.

Adapt your attitude, formality, and pace to that of the prospect.

Overcoming your fear of cold calling is down to skill and will. The skill is all down to your telesales technique. The will is keeping the right mental attitude and understanding that you get paid for each call you make no matter what.

The most successful Business Development Managers have skill and will in abundance. They get through gatekeepers, they set their appointments and they get their voicemails returned and they can only achieve this by calling. Phones aren’t going to call themselves.

Check out our range of Sales Training and Sales Assessment solutions. All of our services are engaging, practical and will provide you with the strategies that you need to have a successful sales career.

Happy selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

Sales DNA

Updated on: 2 May, 2018

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