Cold calling anxiety is the fear experienced by salespeople before and during calls to clients with whom they have never spoken. Research shows that 40% of salespeople will experience intense anxiety about making cold calls at some point in their careers.
For those with social anxiety disorder (SAD), many aspects of being a salesperson can have the potential to trigger anxiety, but cold calling may be one of the most difficult. The combination of negative self-evaluations with potential negative reactions from clients is a recipe for disaster. Below are some tips to help you cope with this aspect of sales.
- Have an Outline
Although you may be tempted to read directly from a script, it is better to have a general outline that you can refer to. Reading from a script detaches you from the content of what you are saying and allows your mind to wander.
The person on the other end can also usually tell if you are reading from a script, and you may come across as less genuine.
- Do Your Research
Before you pick up the phone, make sure that you know the name of the person and company that you are calling, and how to pronounce both. Study the needs of the potential customer and how you can meet them. Be clear in your own mind what your goal is before you call; this will allow you to guide the conversation more easily.
- Be Positive
If you are anxious about phone calls in general, try acting as though you aren't afraid. Sit straight as you talk, put a smile on your face, and speak as confidently as you can.
As long as you have put in the time to properly prepare, there isn't any reason why you can't "fake it 'til you make it". Eventually your confidence will grow with experience.
Practice what you are going to say, record yourself speaking, listen to the recording, and then make changes based on what you hear. If you don't think you are objective enough, ask someone that you trust to give you feedback.
Doing this exercise will help you to identify aspects of your communication style that may need tweaking such as how fast you speak or the volume of your voice.
- Take notes
As much as possible, take notes during your conversation. This will help you to avoid slipping into negative thought patterns and focus on what the other person is saying. It will also give you a written record of what was said that you can refer to in future conversations.
If the idea of making cold calls still has you in knots, see if there isn't a better approach that you can suggest to your supervisor. Many organizations are moving away from cold calls because they are less effective than following up with existing customers and interested leads.
Verbeke W, Bagozzi RP. Sales call anxiety: Exploring what it means when fear rules a sales encounter. Journal of Marketing. 2000:64;88-101.
Women for Hire. Cold Calling 101. Accessed April 2, 2010.