As a professional selling your own services, you may believe that your discomfort about calling prospective clients on the phone is because you’re not a “real” salesperson. But studies reveal that up to 40% of full-time salespeople experience episodes of call reluctance that are serious enough to threaten their careers.

On the phone

You don’t need to be making cold calls for this to be a problem. Reluctance to pick up the phone often shows up when making warm calls to folks you already know, or follow-up calls to people who have already expressed interest in your services.

The good news is that any fear or resistance you’ve been experiencing doesn’t have to be permanent. Research indicates that for over 95% of people who are reluctant to make sales calls, their fear subsides once they make contact. If you stop avoiding the calls and start making them, there is a very good chance that you will actually feel better once you begin talking to someone. Here are some tips for getting past your reluctance.

  • Make your first call of the day one that you know will get a good response. For example, call a friend, family member, or familiar colleague. When you end the call, don’t put down the phone. Disconnect and immediately punch in the number of your first target, while you are still feeling calm and confident.
  • Visualize the person you are about to call as friendly, smiling, and interested in what you have to say. Hold that picture in your mind as you speak to them.
  • Look in the mirror while you place calls, smile at yourself, and if possible, stand up. You will be amazed at the positive impact this can have on your attitude.
  • Prepare for your calls by writing out some talking points, but not a word-by-word script. Referring to notes during the call can increase your comfort level, but reading a script will get in the way of natural conversation.
  • Role play sales calls with a friend, colleague, or coach. Instead of asking your partner to raise objections, begin by asking that they agree to all your suggestions. Only after you have built your comfort level by acting out several calls where everything goes the way you want should you raise the stakes and have your partner ask some challenging questions.
  • Instead of focusing on how you can sell yourself in each call, consider how you can best be of service to the person you are calling. If you maintain a generous and helpful attitude, you and your target will both be more comfortable.
  • Remember that the people you are calling are human beings, just like you. They have goals, problems, jobs, families, and all the other elements that make up a full life. Imagine you are calling someone who might become a close friend one day, and treat them with the same care and respect, but don’t handle them with kid gloves. Picture your prospects doing ordinary things like playing tennis, reading to a toddler, or having coffee with a friend. It will help you relate to them as people instead of phone numbers.

It’s perfectly normal to experience some reluctance to make sales calls, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent barrier. Any time you’re having trouble getting started, use some of these tips to help you get back on the phone.

And when a call doesn’t go as well as you hoped, don’t let it stop you from making more. Tell yourself, “That person probably wasn’t a good client for me,” and move on to the next one.

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