It’s only natural for our students to be anxious about cold calling prospects for the first time, so it’s one of several skills we rehearse during our 12-week program. No one is great at cold calling from the start; it takes rehearsal, patience, and a strategy for success.
But you can easily overcome cold call anxiety by following the tips laid out in this guide, and if you need more help, Uvaro is here to support you and show you why there’s nothing at all to fear!
Any sales professional can experience cold call anxiety, even those who’ve been on the job for some time. When there are high-stakes deals on the line, feeling anxious is a natural stress response, but how do you use it in your favor?
The answer isn’t as far-fetched as you might think, so keep reading to see precisely how to get over cold call anxiety – and lay the groundwork for a successful tech sales career.
How common is cold call anxiety among sales pros?
It’s a mistake to stereotype a salesperson as an energetic smooth-talker who’s “always closing” and living the fast life. That’s simply not how the most successful sales pros operate, not even close. The reality of a sales career, the daily grind, is more down-to-earth than many of our students assume.
Statistics show that as many as 48 percent of all salespersons will go through cold call anxiety at some point in their career, so it’s a common problem in the industry.
Along those lines, the most experienced sales representatives in the world can still get anxious every once in a while because anxiety is one of the most instinctual emotions that all human beings experience.
What causes anxiety in general?
Evolutionary scientists and psychologists theorize that anxiety is essentially a remnant of an era when human beings needed it to survive. But over time, anxiety has become a maladaptive response to stressful situations for millions of people.
When we experience overt anxiety from a physical threat, it keeps us safe from harm and works as our internal alarm bell that starts blaring when danger is nearby. The problem is that for some of us, anxiety can manifest during situations when there is no apparent harm, such as doing a presentation for a new client.
We no longer have to compete with each other for necessities like food, water, and shelter, but anxiety still remains. Only today, the “necessities” are different: livable wages, friendships, and the desire to excel at your career.
It seems counter-intuitive, but anxiety triggered by your ambition to succeed can actually be an asset if you learn to use it correctly.
Why do sales pros still experience cold call anxiety?
That said, cold call anxiety is still pervasive among salespersons during the start of their careers. That’s why we focus part of our program on overcoming cold call anxiety specifically.
Take a look at the top reasons cold call anxiety hits sales pros. The reasons may not be what you think.
Less need to call means less rehearsal for cold calling
In our time, digital telecommunications make it easy to contact anyone in the world from the palm of our hands. We can email, text, send a social media message and start a video conference call with a single device and a few applications.
That’s a remarkable technological capability! But it also means that our smartphones aren’t really phoning in the traditional sense anymore. As mobile devices have become more powerful – and entertaining to use – the need to actually make a call has diminished significantly.
At Uvaro, many of our younger students have never really needed to make an important phone call in their lives, least of all a business phone call with a lofty commission on the line.
So is it any wonder they struggle to cold call as well? No, it isn’t!
Can’t read body language over the phone
We may not realize it, but human beings require body language to gauge whether or not our social interactions are acceptable to others. You don’t appreciate the value of a face-to-face friendly smile until you can’t see it, and you still need to convince someone to speak with you – and buy something in the end.
Speaking in person relies on visual cues like facial expressions, eye contact (or lack thereof), and the physical distance between the people talking; however, speaking over the phone relies on interpreting voice tone, mood, and receptivity.
Take a moment to think about all of the times when you had to endure a boring phone conversation, but the person on the other end of the line kept talking as if you were interested the entire time.
If you were to have the exact same conversation face-to-face with the exact same words, that person would be able to sense your disinterest and boredom without you saying a single word.
Less time to talk on the phone
Furthermore, the pace of life today makes it harder for ordinary people to stop, sit down for a chat, and absorb that conversation in a meaningful way. No matter how new you are to sales, you sense this pace instinctively when speaking to people during a cold call.
There’s a lot of pressure that salespersons put on their own shoulders because time is the most valuable asset to millions of people nowadays, especially in a business context.
Now, when people speak with you on the phone, they’ll expect you to be straight to the point and respectful of their willingness to even talk with you in the first place.
Five insider tips for conquering cold call anxiety at Uvaro
No matter how you feel about a sales career, cold calling could still be a significant part of the job role. Phone calls are the most vital activity, but many salespersons never realize how critical they are to the bottom line until it’s too late.
Prospects don’t convert themselves, not even in an inbound context when they contact you instead. You’ll have to speak with people to build the relationship you need first to sell them on products or services later on.
The fact remains that most consumers today don’t appreciate a hard sales pitch, preferring kinder, more subtle communications instead, so here’s how you conquer cold call anxiety.
1 – Make a flexible script
The worst way to overcome phone anxiety is to make a rigid plan of action and expect it to work with every prospect. Indeed, sales scripts can be an innovative tool when developed and tailored to the task at hand.
For example, you wouldn’t use the same opening for prospects in different sales funnel parts. Some candidates will be more qualified than others; others won’t have a clue where to start.
Making a flexible script that you can adjust situation-to-situation makes it much easier to remain confident when the chat starts to drift off-script.
2 – Take the initiative to avoid procrastination
The bane of a successful tech sales career is procrastination. We frequently see a phenomenon at Uvaro: avoiding cold call anxiety by avoiding phone calls altogether.
At worst, procrastination can be determinantal to the company at large. The marketing team could be generating more quality leads than usual, but those leads need following to convert before they lose interest.
Understand that anxiety is like any other fear. You have to conquer it head-on through gradual, step-by-step exposure until you stop reverting to procrastination instinctively as a means to cope with stress.
3 – Ask questions to gauge receptivity
Another tactic we teach at Uvaro is to gauge receptivity by asking questions. Without a doubt, it’s one of the only ways to interpret a prospect’s willingness to continue with the conversation.
You could open with a series of soft questions to see whether or not you’ll get anywhere. You could introduce yourself and then specify why you’re calling, but everything after that introduction should be a question of some sort.
Hello! My name is John Doe, and I’m calling you on behalf of Uvaro. To whom am I speaking? (pause for answer)
Great! It’s a pleasure to speak with you, and I appreciate your time today. I’m calling out of the blue, do you have time to chat now, or would it be best to talk some other time?
4 – Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
We also like to impress upon our students the importance of rehearsal but productive rehearsal. If you’re picking up the phone and calling people at random, you’re not going to hone the skills you’ll need for a sales role.
It’s great to practice, but you have to rehearse in the proper context and in ways that convert your weakness into strengths.
For instance, you may have a habit of constantly speaking on the cold call because it’s only natural for us to keep talking when we’re nervous about what the other person might say. Another common issue is the awkward pause between questions when the prospect isn’t receptive at the moment.
One way to rehearse cold calling in the real world is to make calls to people you haven’t spoken with in ages, or make calls to local businesses and ask to speak with the owner, if possible.
The idea is that the person you’re calling can’t have any clue that you’re about to contact them out of the blue, and you can only get that kind of practice in the real world.
We can’t count how many times our students have been surprised that they can learn to cold call effectively after a relatively short amount of practice.
5 – Be helpful, not annoying
The last tip is to seem helpful but always avoid coming off as annoying and pushy, the hard sales tactics that turn off buyers faster than anything else.
Prospects will be at different stages in the buying cycle, so it’s your job as a sales pro to shepherd them along to the solution you want them to choose.
The fact remains that it usually takes multiple phone conversations to close a sale so that you won’t be successful with every opening. The idea is to make little progress and always keep the conversation going, even if it will continue later.
While these tips are a great place to begin, we can teach you even more insider tactics to overcome cold call anxiety once and for all.
Contact us to learn more about our program at Uvaro.