You’d think with the rise of email, texting, messaging, and chat that the phone would have declined in importance. Yet, it’s become more valuable than ever for sales teams as a way to immediately connect with prospects and customers. But what if making calls causes you anxiety? It’s not an uncommon problem in spite of the stereotype of the ‘extroverted’ sales rep. But there’s ways to overcome that innate unease.
Build Flexibility Into Your Script
Scripts are a useful guideline for navigating the conversation between sales reps and prospects. But unless you’ve practiced them until you’re comfortable in your delivery, they can come off as robotic and a detached experience for the person on the other line.
An even better way to utilize a script is to adjust it to your own speaking syntax and patterns, while making sure you stay on message. And of course, customizing to the recipient is important, too!
Full Steam Ahead
Procrastinating and excuse-making to dodge making calls is all too easy to do when you have call anxiety. Of course, you need to prepare for your dials. But once you’ve prepped, give yourself the shock treatment of jumping in and doing it. Once the initial shudder is over, you can fall into the routine – not unlike settling into swimming after leaping into a cold pool.
Curiosity About Your Fellow Humans
Alexa Fischer is an actress, motivational speaker and career coach. She suggests not worrying about being clever or sounding smart, but to be curious about others. You’re dealing with people all day and trying to get information from them. This is a useful skill to have, especially since many people enjoy talking about themselves.
To get into the mindset, change your thinking from paranoia about the call to curiosity about what you’ll learn from the person you’re calling. Rather than be worried about your own performance, you’re focusing on the other person. In doing so, you are engaging in best practices for customer-oriented selling.
You can also become more curious by improving your attention to mindful living. There’s excellent, free resources in abundance about mindfulness. We’ll only note the key point: Mindful living makes you observe the world around you. It is reviving the sense of wonder and inquisitiveness you likely had when you were younger. That same sense carries over to sales calls.
Study Your Sales Calls
No professional advice or blog post will be as effective at enhancing your performance as listening to your own calls. Grating though it may be, analyzing your calls and dissecting them for strengths and weaknesses is the single best way to get better (or ‘git gud’ as the millennials say). If you’re having trouble doing it on your own, consult someone with more experience, such as your sales manager.
Yes, it’s awkward. Yes, many people hate the sound of their own voice (primarily because the voice in our head is different from what others hear). But as we adapt to hearing our own voices through the simple processes of time and exposure, we become desensitized to the initial discomfort. We will be able to listen with a detached manner that focuses on spotting highlights, errors, and corrections.
Remember, You’re Helping, And Not A Nuisance
Many sales professionals with anxiety around making calls are also empathetic and caring. They know what it’s like to be intruded upon by a telemarketer or salesperson. This is why they have a tendency to think of themselves as that irritating individual who is interrupting a busy prospect. That type of thinking permeates the atmosphere of the conversation. The person you’re calling picks up on that negative energy, and it’s all downhill from there.
No surprise at all when they reject you then, is it? They’re just picking up what you’re putting down. But if you shift your thinking from intrusion to assistance, you can change that energy and be more confident in sales calls.
Note: Don’t Be An Order Taker
Remember, buyers want their sales reps to be trusted advisors and bring value – not just order takers. Put yourself in that mindset – you know your offering and how it solves problems for your customers. You’re not being a pest. You’re helping them alleviate an issue that’s been bothering them far more than you ever think you could.
Framing your thinking to one of helping prospects and customers not only makes for more positive energy, it reduces the stress and pressure on you. While you’re of course trying to qualify or convert them, your primary focus should be one of advising. It’s a much less stressful experience for both you and whoever you’re calling. After all, if they reject you, that’s cool – they just opted not to take your advice right now.
Conclusion: Call Anxiety is Not The End-All
Call anxiety is a common problem, with a variety of logical causes. But there’s also plenty of ways to reduce, and eventually vanquish entirely that fear. Just follow these guidelines, and you’ll be cheerfully chatting away to customers and prospects, converting and closing with your advisor-first stance.