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How to get over your fear of cold calling

Fear of Cold Calling
Why cold calling is still important
What’s behind cold calling anxiety?
8 tips to help you overcome the fear of cold calling
Final thoughts

With the spookiest date of the year just around the corner, it’s a good time to share tricks (and treats) on overcoming one of a salesperson’s greatest fears: cold calling.

In this article, we celebrate Halloween by turning common fears into opportunities for fun and connection with others. Lean into that concept and face your cold calling fears so you can connect with sales leads and hit your goals this quarter.

You’ll learn how you can overcome your fear of cold calling, but before we get started, let’s look at why we need to do it in the first place.

Why cold calling is still important

With the cold calling challenges salespeople face, it’s easy to think there’s a better way to reach prospective customers. However, cold calling can still be effective.

First, it’s a highly effective method for getting meetings with prospects. According to Rain Group’s Sales Research study, 82% of buyers accept meetings with sellers who cold call.

Do you accept meetings with sellers who cold call?

Salespeople may also worry that they’re bothering prospects on the other end of the phone. The same study found that 71% of buyers want to hear from sellers when looking for ways to improve business results.

They often don’t know what they’re looking for until you call with the solution. Cold calling can introduce prospects to a new, cheaper, or better way to solve their problem, which motivates them to book a meeting.

Here are some more cold calling benefits that you don’t get from other prospect engagement methods:

  1. Real-time engagement. On a cold call, you can talk to a prospective customer directly, hear their objections and overcome them in the moment (versus an email, for example).

  2. Active listening. Active listening is a key skill all salespeople should develop. On a call, you hear the words, the tone and the pauses, which provides valuable feedback during your lead nurturing process.

  3. Feedback and analysis. As well as being able to react to prospect feedback on the call, you can also use phone systems like JustCall and CloudTalk to record calls and gain insights on improving your sales pitch.

  4. Soft skill development. Effective cold calling requires excellent communication skills, resilience and adaptability. Regular cold calling can help salespeople hone these skills, making them more effective in all areas of sales.

  5. Cost-effective. While time-intensive, cold calling can be more cost-effective than other inbound and sales outreach methods. It doesn’t require expensive ad campaigns or sophisticated software tools, just a list of potential leads and a phone.

  6. Relationship building. Depending on the profile of your ideal customer, connecting on the phone is one of the best ways to build a mutually beneficial relationship with a lead. It’s also more personal than an email, humanizing your interaction from the start.

The last point is an important one in today’s age of personalization. The tailored, just-for-you touch is very appealing to customers who are bombarded with general sales and marketing messages daily.

As Pipedrive’s VP of Sales Sean Evers points out:

There is an inherent feeling of value, legitimacy and trust gained when speaking to a live salesperson versus working only through digital channels.

Getting over your fear of cold calling customers takes some work, but it’s worthwhile for the benefits cold calling brings to both businesses and salespeople.

Before you can start building the skills for stress-free cold calling, you should understand why it’s such a nerve-wracking experience.

What’s behind cold calling anxiety?

It’s perfectly natural to feel nervous about cold calling – every salesperson can recount times they’ve had a challenging conversation with a new lead.

In fact, 48% of salespeople admit to being afraid to pick up the phone and make cold calls. Just over half of SDRs surveyed also admit to giving up too easily on a B2B sales call (53%).

Why do so many sales professionals feel this way?

Here are some of the common reasons people fear cold calling:

  • The fear of failure and fear of rejection. It’s hard to keep hearing “no”, even if coping with rejection is a common part of the sales process.

  • The fear of making a mistake. You may only have one chance to make a good impression over the phone and you can’t edit something you’ve said aloud like you can while drafting an email.

  • The uncertainty of what will happen. On the very first prospect call, you have no previous encounter from which to gauge how they’ll react, whether it will be a win or a total failure.

  • Previous negative cold call interactions. Almost every rep has had a bad experience and it’s natural to dwell on them ahead of future calls.

  • The pressure of hitting targets. If cold calling is a large part of your sales outreach strategy and target deadlines are looming, it’s easy to feel like every call has to go perfectly.

Thankfully, you can overcome all these fears with the right approach. So, how do you overcome the fear of cold calling? Here are our tried and trusted tips for gaining confidence on your initial prospect calls.

Turn talk into action with these cold calling scripts

Download these customizable cold calling scripts to convert more conversations into qualified leads

8 tips to help you overcome the fear of cold calling

Seasoned cold callers have several strategies to prepare for calls and navigate challenging situations. Below, we cover eight of the best tips to help you get over the fear of cold calling.

1. Craft a compelling script

One of the most important steps in building a cold calling strategy is creating the script, or scripts, you and your team will use.

A script is an evolving text that creates a structure for every sales call. You’ll perfect and improve it based on your sales call successes, creating responses that work for common reactions and various situations.

A cold calling script helps reduce feelings of uncertainty by preparing you with responses for the most likely situations. It also helps you avoid making mistakes by putting the information you need right in front of you on the call.

However, scripts should always be used as guidelines rather than strict talking templates. Make sure the script is just the foundation for each conversation so you can still react to what happens on each call.

2. Be as prepared as possible

Cold calling scripts are just one example of sales collateral that can help on sales calls.

Build up a dossier of useful resources, common objections, responses, product descriptions, links and more to increase confidence on your call. With the answers to questions close at hand, you’ll feel more able to handle cold calls.

Work with other teams to develop sales enablement assets, such as one-page feature messaging outlines and case studies that you can use to add context to a conversation.

Pipedrive recommends salespeople prepare in advance by having a list of prompts, follow-up questions, solutions, and more information to share which will help with any potential leads in the future.

Sean EversVP of Sales, Pipedrive

You may have a long list of numbers to dial, but for every lead, research as much as possible. See if you can answer the following questions about each lead:

  • Do they have a social media account?

  • What’s their job title on LinkedIn?

  • Do you know how their specific business can benefit from your solution?

  • Have they or their business experienced any big changes lately that might be worth bringing up (e.g., an acquisition or new office location)?

  • What are the prospect’s pain points likely to be?

The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to personalize the process and engage with the lead – and the less likely you are to make a mistake.

3. Train to handle objections and avoid rejection

There are plenty of sales training resources available for salespeople who are afraid of cold calling.

For example, Pipedrive’s Academy has a free video course on “Unlocking the power of sales communication”. It includes a section on overcoming objections, including “I’m not interested” and “It’s too expensive”.

Every salesperson experiences rejection, but that also means there are a lot of people who can share what they learned from their experiences.

Try to gain as much knowledge as you can on handling these situations and you’ll be better equipped on your next cold call.

4. Roleplay your cold calls

Internal sales meetings are a great place to improve your sales calling techniques and build confidence.

Discuss what has worked for you and what hasn’t on phone calls and invite your colleagues to do the same.

You could even replay unsuccessful cold calls you’ve had to understand what went wrong and where you can improve. It may feel vulnerable to begin with, but replaying calls and role playing better interactions is a fantastic way to learn and cement new behaviors.

Look to your internal resources (your teammates) for answers on how to handle objections specific to your offer. You and your fellow sales reps know your company and its solutions better than anyone.

Between you, you’ve likely heard most of the possible rejections and objections from your target audience and can work out the best way to drive the sales call forward. In a low-pressure meeting environment, you can practice what to say before you get on a call with a prospect.

5. Understand the rare worst-case scenarios

As the saying goes, “Expect the best but prepare for the worst”. Along with roleplaying the conversations you have, practice for worst-case scenarios that could happen.

What’s the worst possible outcome of a sales call? Usually, it’s something like:

  • You get a rejection

  • The lead hangs up on you

  • The lead loses their temper

  • You don’t make it past the gatekeeper

  • You make a mistake during the call

You can prepare for all these outcomes in sales meetings, as discussed above.

However, you should also consider the real, but rare, worst-case scenarios. Identifying these situations before they happen will help you keep your head, save your company from negative sentiment and potentially even bring the call back around.

Avoid these rare situations by writing down all the worst-case scenarios and discussing as a team how to avoid them.

6. Set realistic targets that focus on activities

At Pipedrive, we are firm believers in activity-based selling.

Activity-based selling is a methodology where sales teams focus on measuring the number of sales activities they complete rather than the revenue they generate.

Here’s why we think activity-based selling works so well: if you know how many cold calls it takes to get one engaged lead and how many sales demos it takes to get one customer, you just have to make enough calls and run enough demos to generate revenue.

For example, say you need to sell five products a month to hit your company’s sales quotas:

  • It takes 20 cold calls to generate 4 leads

  • It takes 4 sales demos to win over 1 customer

Now you know that you need to make 100 cold calls a week to get 5 customers.

Breaking down your sales process into activities and setting realistic targets takes the guesswork out of cold calling, reducing stress and anxiety.

7. Use technology to track what works

Wondering how you can establish the number of cold calls you need to make to hit your sales targets? CRM software comes in handy here.

You and your team can track every activity in a CRM like Pipedrive, as well as every deal, to understand what steps you need to take to win sales.

Customize Pipeline Stages

You can also integrate Pipedrive with phone apps like CloudTalk or JustCall to provide context to every call you make and store data surrounding the call in one platform.

Technology can take away a lot of the surrounding stress of organizing, tracking and remembering prospect information, so you can start your call with a clear head and details at your fingertips.

8. Create a winning lead generation process

If you’re worried about talking to your leads for the first time, then your lead generation process could maybe do with some improvement. A strong lead generation process can help you secure leads who are ready to hear about your solution.

Again, you can use technology to get the right leads into your sales funnel.

Use tools like LeadBooster to engage web visitors, social contacts and more with compelling messaging that you control.

Pipedrive Leadbooster add-on

For example, LeadBooster’s Chatbot allows leads to qualify themselves and adds their contact details to your CRM, giving you leads who want to be called.

Plus, Prospector works behind the scenes to deliver you a regular list of leads matching your chosen requirements from 400 million profiles and 10 million companies.

The better you qualify the leads before you call them, the more likely you are to talk to people who have a genuine interest in what you’re selling.

Final thoughts

This Halloween, don’t let the fear of cold calling dictate your sales strategy.

Yes, it’s just you and the lead on the call, but you can rely on your team to help you with roleplaying and realistic goal-setting.

Yes, you may only get one chance to make a good first impression, but you can prepare for every call and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Yes, cold calls happen quickly, but with a cold calling script, well-researched sales collateral and a CRM, you can manage the conversation and analyze it after.

As our cold calling tips have shown, cold calling fears are a real part of sales. With the right tools and preparation, you can learn how to get over your fear of cold calling.

Driving business growth