Overcoming Your Fear of the Phone

Person hiding under blankets

When reviewing your sales activity, it might surprise you to learn that your reps aren’t actually making many phone calls.

If this is the case, you’re not alone. Your team is showing the symptoms of a common and often devastating ailment: a fear of the telephone.

This illness can affect sales departments of all shapes and sizes — and in order to treat the symptoms, you’ll need to identify the cause. Here are some of the most common reasons why your sales reps might be avoiding the phone, along with cures recommended for each:

Cause: Cold calling seems impolite.
Many people don’t want to interrupt a decision maker in the middle of their busy day. Over the past few decades, an increase in telemarketing calls — especially B2C calls that interrupt people at home — has increased this aversion. Most of us try to avoid conflict; we don’t want to make a call that might be perceived as annoying.

Cure: Change your mindset — assume your call is wanted. Remember that for every decision maker out there who might not be receptive, another is eager to hear about your product or service. Assume that you’re calling the latter. If you sound upbeat, excited, and confident, you’ll almost always get a warmer response. The right mindset leads directly to better results, which in turn makes the act of calling more enjoyable.

Cause: Cold calling just feels awkward.
For many people — regardless of age or background — talking on the telephone seems unnatural. There’s actually a scientific explanation for this: in person, 55% of human communication is carried out through body language, and a conversation mediated by the telephone strips this vital resource away. It isn’t just nerves that make it harder to build rapport on a call. It’s biology.

Cure: Keep at it!
If you have the wherewithal to grind through the initial awkwardness, cold calling gets easier over time. Soon, your reps will pick up on little tricks — inflections, turns of phrase, or tones of voice — that break the ice and make the conversation flow more naturally. You can do it! If possible, ask your reps to record their calls. Listening to recordings is a great learning experience. Try it!

Cause: Cold calling seems like a waste of time.
Reps themselves aren’t always the ones who are reluctant to make calls. Managers and executives are also susceptible to phone-related fear: fear that too many calls will go unanswered, too many prospects will be uninterested, and too few sales will close. This attitude could be based on a bad experience that the company had in the past, or it could emerge if the company simply has never experienced positive results.

Cure: Better lists and smarter campaigns.
A well-designed cold calling campaign is almost always ROI-positive, but crafting such a campaign takes preparation and strategic thinking. Test, revise, and refine your messaging. Invest in a more accurate contact list, or build one from scratch. Finally, designate and train a calling team — or partner with a firm that specializes in lead generation.

Whether or not the cause is one of the three listed above, fear of the telephone can become pervasive, resulting in missed opportunities and diminished revenue. Even today, very few business decisions are made without a personal connection. Even if you don’t get the sale, you have started a new relationship — and the nuances of what can be learned in a ten minute call go way beyond the constraints of email communication.

If you want to achieve long term success, fear of the telephone is an illness that must be avoided. When it does occur, it must be treated quickly.

But if your team is already affected, don’t despair. It may take time, training, or a shift in mindset, but it’s never too late to lead your sales team back towards a healthy and productive routine of cold calls. And of course, VSA is always available to help you learn how.