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How to overcome your fear of sales calls

31st October, 2019   •   4 min

We find hundreds of excuses not to call our clients or prospects.

“We don’t do cold calls”

“People really don’t like being caught off guard on the phone in some cultures”

“I’ve sent two emails already – she’s clearly not interested and I don’t want to bother her”

The truth is – these are just that, excuses.

We’ve all been there with our list of prospects in one hand and the phone in another, looking for any reason to procrastinate instead of making the calls.

Did I do enough research on this prospect? Maybe I’d better check the CRM one more time to see if anyone else has contacted them recently.

We end up wasting time, missing opportunities and losing money.

What is sales call reluctance?

Sales call reluctance is a name for when we just don’t want to pick up the phone to make a sales call.

The reasons we offer ourselves are superficial – that social media is more effective than phone calls these days, that we need to do hours of preparation before talking to a prospect, that people actually don’t like being called on the phone.

None of this is true.

Sales call reluctance is a mindset issue. It is driven by fear. Fear of rejection, fear of the direct exposure that a sales call gives you, and fear of the discomfort that comes with putting yourself out there. This fear can drive people towards avoidance or delay tactics.

Why is it a problem?

Connie Kadansky, a consultant, speaker, and trainer specializing in overcoming sales call reluctance, points out the obvious. You can be the best at sales in every other way, but “if you don’t approach enough people, it makes little difference how thorough your expertise is.”

Sales call reluctance often means that you don’t end up with enough leads in your pipeline to meet your sales targets. You need a steady flow of prospects or else your  personality, product knowledge and perfect pitches won’t make much impact. This is the risk of sales call reluctance, and it’s a big one.

I hear you say: but sales calls aren’t the best way to generate new business in the 21st century – nowadays it’s all about social selling, LinkedIn, reviews and referrals.

The truth is, cold calling is still a verifiably effective lead generation tool. In a piece of research by ValueSelling Associates, phone calls were found to be second only to referrals in terms of effectiveness for reaching B2B prospects.

So, how can you overcome it?

Here are five tips to transform your mindset around sales calls:

1. Become aware of the issue – the first step to achieve change is to acknowledge that there is a problem.

Put this into action: Every time you feel reluctant to make a sales call, write down the reason. At the end of the week, look at all your reasons and ask yourself if these were reasons or excuses.

2. Recognise the human element of a telephone conversation – in response to our suggestion to “call them” when a client hasn’t been in touch for a while, almost every salesperson we speak to frowns: “won’t they find that a bit pushy?”

The truth is, people like getting phone calls. Especially if it’s from somebody they’ve spoken to before.

It’s a human interaction, a chance to share a story, a small break from the daily grind of sitting in front of a screen.

Put this into action: Try making five of those follow up calls that you think will be unwelcome. After each one, make a note of what the prospect’s reaction was to the call.

3. Position yourself as a trusted advisor – you have to accept and own the fact that by making a sales call you are not being the salesperson who is only out to meet their own targets.

Instead, you are being the trusted advisor. You have an offering that, following your research, you believe will be of huge value to the prospect.

Put this into action: Before each sales call, write down the value that you believe you could add to the prospect’s life or business. Keep this front of mind when making your calls.

4. Focus on the client – anxiety about sales calls can be overcome by curiosity. Psychology researcher Todd Kashdan describes how we can cultivate curiosity to overcome our discomfort in stressful situations.

You can apply this approach to your sales calls by becoming genuinely curious about the client – by wanting to understand their situation fully before anything else.

Put this into action: Before each sales call, write down everything that you’re curious to know about the client. This could be about their business, or about their personal role within the business – whatever it would be interesting for you to find out. Make it your aim to gather all of this information. Review whether you found out everything you wanted to after the call.

5. Track and evaluate your progress – adopting a growth mindset involves viewing every “failed attempt” as an opportunity to learn. By taking a constructive approach to your sales calls, you will remove the discomfort that comes with a “bad call”.

A bad call just gives you data that will make your next call better.

Put this into action: After each of your sales calls, record What Went Well (WWW), and what could be Even Better If (EBI). Aim for at least three points under each heading. Implement your EBIs in your next sales call.

It can be scary and uncomfortable to pick up the phone. By changing your attitude with these simple top tips you can grow your confidence, and improve your results.