Cold Calling Fear: Facing the Elephant in the Room

All salespeople feel it, but no one wants to talk about it: the fear of cold calling. As a sales and business coach, I’ve often heard the following comments from salespeople I have coached:

“I feel like I’m bothering people by calling them.”
“I think I need another sales course to get up to speed.”
“I need a better list.”

These comments are ways of not thinking about the elephant in the room: the fear of cold calling. We don’t like admitting we are afraid. It’s embarrassing, so we unconsciously invent creative ways to avoid thinking and talking about it. And that’s OK; we’re all human. But if we want to be truly successful in sales, we’ll have to find ways to manage the fear barrier.

Traditional sales methods gloss over the fear of cold calling with useless admonitions of, “You need to develop a thicker skin”, and “You just need to make more calls.” Additionally, most salespeople have been trained to use manipulative language which automatically causes resistance in the prospect. The prospect can even get nasty. We feel the hurt of rejection and it keeps us from calling the next number.

To be successful in sales, you are going to have be willing to feel some fear. Are you willing to be afraid and pick up the phone anyway? Top salespeople have found ways to drill into and gradually dismantle their fears so they can actually pick up the phone without getting paralyzed. In my experience as a coach, the two best ways to get beyond the fear are, 1) use a sales method which minimizes fear and, 2) use an accountability partner who holds the salesperson to his commitments.

The best sales method I have found is High Probability Selling, which reduces fear of rejection dramatically and almost completely eliminates sales resistance. The process itself was developed by Jacques Werth, of Media, Pennsylvania. As well as being a master salesman in his own right, Werth also studied the top 1% of salespeople in many industries and distilled the methods they were using into a teachable process that dramatically reduces fear and resistance and increases closing rates. Werth has been successfully passing on his knowledge in a variety of books, teleseminars and on-site trainings for many years.

The other element to conquering cold-calling fear is using an Accountability Partner. These can come in different forms. One might be a partnership with an office friend with whom you make agreements as to your calling commitments, checking in with one another regularly to compare and log results. These are usually informal arrangements between friends or co-workers. The partners decide what their arrangement will be. Because of the informal nature of the partnership, the success of these arrangements is highly variable and depends on the commitment level of each partner.

Another more formal type of Accountability Partner is a Sales Accountability Coach, who is a trained professional who follows a systematic process which usually includes these elements:

• Understanding the best selling mindset. Good selling methodologies come from a mindset of abundance which prevents the neediness and groveling that demeans salespeople and turns off prospects.

• Crafting and practicing a number of good phone offers.

• Managing the fear. Beyond good selling methodology, some coaches are also well-versed in psycho-physiological techniques that can further reduce the residual fear of the phone.

• Getting a weekly commitment to phone prospecting, and then reporting and analyzing the results with the coach. Knowing that he is accountable to his coach on a weekly basis makes this the most powerful element of using an Accountability Partner. He feels the fear and does it anyway.

• Tracking the numbers. According to Werth, the top sales people know their numbers: calls, appointments, sales. Having a system for tracking your numbers and using it consistently is absolutely essential.

Accountability Coaching is accomplished through weekly meetings, usually over the phone. Because the salesperson is paying a fee to the Accountability Coach, there is a strong incentive for the salesperson to actually accomplish the commitments he has made with the coach.

Tired of cold-calling fear? As a coach, I have a few recommendations for you:

1. Pick up a copy of Jacques Werth’s book, High Probability Selling. It is available at their website, http://www.highprobsell.com/ or at amazon.com.
2. Consider using some type of accountability partner to break through the fear.

Fear: we all feel it, even if we sometimes don’t want to acknowledge it and we don’t know what to do about it. It most likely will continue to attempt derailing our efforts. The most accomplished salespeople find ways to stare it down and step over it into the success they are seeking.