How to overcome fear of cold calling

How to Overcome Your Fear of Cold Calling

In business, cold calling is the act of contacting somebody that you want to sell something to without ever having started a relationship with the person in the past. It’s a common sales tactic that many companies will use and is often one of the first steps in an outbound sales process.

Cold calling has stood the test of time and is still a very popular sales method today in a wide variety of industries. It’s often used in B2B (business to business) sales and is especially common for selling advertising or marketing to local businesses. If you run a local business directory and coupon website, cold calling can be a great way to sell listings to local businesses. While closing rates will vary based on the quality of the lead, studies have shown that cold calling a business can be very effective.

As successful as cold calling can be, it comes with a bad reputation. Worried about coming off as intrusive or obnoxious, or the possibility of being rejected, many sales people shy away from cold calling altogether. Failure to effectively implement cold calling in your own business can impede your growth and result in slower or fewer sales.

If you have a fear of cold calling, you are not alone. Studies have shown that roughly 1 out of 2 sales reps fear cold calling. The fear of cold calling can cause anxiety, procrastination and can lead to a mental "paralysis" that makes cold calling seem nearly impossible. As challenging as it might seem, it's critical that you overcome the fear of cold calling and learn how to do it effectively so you can start utilizing it to grow your business.

Here are 9 ways to overcome the fear of cold calling:

1. Recognize this is a common fear

While it might seem like there is something wrong with you or that you’re just not cut out for sales, the truth is that most people struggle with cold calling. Studies have shown more than half of sales professionals (53%) give up too easily when cold calling and 48% are afraid to pick up the phone and make cold calls.

Recognizing that your fear of cold calling is more common than you think can help bring you peace with the fact that you’re not alone and that it’s OK. Rest assured that over time anybody can overcome this fear and develop the skills necessary to become effective at cold calling.

2. Keep your eye on the prize

At times, cold calling might feel like a burden or an obstacle you just can’t overcome. You might even consider throwing in the towel, succumbing to this fear and giving up all together. But it’s important to stay motivated and understand that cold calling is a challenging but necessary step in your long-term success.

If you’re struggling with cold calling, keep your eye on the prize and set short and long-term goals. Why did you become a business owner? What made you launch a business directory website in the first place? What benefits will you receive from reaching your business goals? Whether you’re motivated by money and financial freedom, or more time with family, let that be the burning desire to keep your head in the game. By harnessing your motivation, you'll remember why you are doing this which will make it easier to get in the mindset that the ends justify the means. 

3. Do your research 

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make when cold calling is not doing enough research about their customers. You can’t blindly pick up the phone and expect to get results. It’s important to learn as much as you can about a prospect or industry first before making contact. The more you know about a business, the more effective you will be on the phone, and the smoother the conversation will go.

Start by visiting your prospect’s website and social media pages because that’s where you’ll find much of the information you’ll need, and you’ll start to become familiar with the business. Find out what they offer, how long they’ve been in business, and of course you’ll need to figure out who the owner is.

Having trouble finding what you’re looking for? Call in advance to gather any information you can’t find online so you’ll be prepared when you call back to make your sales pitch. You can pretend to be a customer and ask any questions you like including who the owner is. When calling back, ask for the owner by name in order to bypass any gatekeepers. Use what you learned about the business to build a rapport with the owner/decision maker and spark a natural conversation so it’s easier to lead into your pitch.

4. Follow a sales script 

Very few sales people can just “wing it” when it comes to making a pitch - especially when cold calling. Without a plan of what you are going to say, you leave yourself vulnerable to missing key points, losing focus or getting off track. This can lead to more anxiety and stress. That’s why most companies require their sales reps to stick to a script. Good sales scripts help you maintain a clear and consistent message, earn trust, create excitement, ask the right questions, overcome objections and stay on course.

If you’re running a local business directory website with Ideal Directories and selling listings to local businesses, you can definitely benefit from utilizing the sample sales script we provide. Available to all active clients, this prewritten sales script is short, concise and effective during both phone and in-person sales. It explains what a local business directory website is, the benefits of advertising, and encourages the business owner to sign up. By using a sales script, it will help you become more comfortable on the phone, send the right message to prospects and overcome your fear of cold calling. 

5. Practice makes perfect 

The more you do something, the better you become at it - including cold calling. Practicing or role playing can help you become more comfortable with the idea of speaking to business owners and reduce your anxiety and fear of calling. Ask your family and friends to help you by acting as business owners so you can perform mock cold calling sessions. Have them respond honestly and ask questions they expect a business owner might ask. The more objections or challenges they throw your way, the better prepared you'll be to call on real businesses.

Practice really does lead to perfection, and performing mock cold calls will allow you to refine your script while reducing your fear of cold calling.

6. Learn to overcome common objections

Sales objections are inevitable. No matter who you are, what you’re selling, or how long you’ve been selling, you're bound to face objections. But objections are a good thing and show that a prospect is actually listening to you and interested in your product. Being able to confidently overcome objections will help you move the sales process forward and reduce your fears of cold calling.

So how do you overcome common objections when selling directory listings and advertising to local businesses? Being prepared for common objections before you hear them from business owners is the best way to overcome them. Having an idea of what a potential advertiser might say and knowing the best way to respond with solid canned answers will allow you to confidently overcome any objections that come your way.

7. Stay persistent

No matter how afraid you are of cold calling or how much you’ve been struggling, it’s always important to remember to stay persistent. Even the worst sales people will close some deals if they stick with it long enough. In fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs are successful not because they are great salespeople, but because they are persistent and didn’t stop trying.

Sales is a numbers game and you are going to hear "No" more than you'll hear "Yes". But remember, every no puts you closer to a yes. The only way to reach that next yes is to dial the phone and make another call. Set a daily goal for how many businesses you will call every day and stick to it. You’ll become more comfortable with every call and will eventually start to make sales.

8. Don't get discouraged 

Rejection is part of sales. You’d be foolish to think that every call will go smoothly and everyone will want to buy your product or service. Selling directory listings to local businesses is no different. Expect to get rejected or dismissed, but don’t take it personally and don’t get discouraged.

While you’ll find that the majority of business owners you speak to are pleasant, polite and professional, you are going to come across people who will cut you off, hang up on you, or tell you never to call again. Some people will be impatient, rude and downright obnoxious. Maybe it was just bad timing, or they’re simply a bad apple. Don’t let negativity push you off your course; stick to the plan, and remember tip #2 to stay focused on why you run an online business directory.

9. Soak in your success

Success often cures the fear of cold calling. When it comes to business, there are few things as satisfying as closing a sale - especially your first sale. When you get your first sale, enjoy it, celebrate it, and allow yourself to soak in your success. You’ll often find that once you get in the groove and close a sale, the fear of cold calling disappears.

Use the first sale as the fuel to your fire that keeps you going as you work toward your goals. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn as well. Take a moment to reflect on what you did differently that led to the sale. Did you say something different? Did you call at a certain time? What kind of business was it? Being able to identify what worked for you in the past is a skill you’ll need to develop so you can replicate your success on the next call.

While the fear of cold calling is understandable and quite common among salespeople, if you can overcome that fear and master it, you’ll master sales. Use the tips in this article to help you overcome your fear of cold calling so you can pick up the phone with confidence and take the next step towards your success.

Published on June 11, 2021
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