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.”

“I feel like I’m bothering
people by calling them.”

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 surmount 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.  As consumers, we have been trained from birth to be suspicious of and resistant towards sales people.  No wonder it doesn’t work.

But top salespeople have found ways to drill into and dismantle their own 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 his coach is depending on him and will be checking in with him on a weekly basis makes this the most powerful element of using an Accountability Partner.
  • 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:

  • Pick up a copy of Jacques Werth’s book, High Probability Selling.  It is available at their website, or at
  • 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.

Elizabeth Blane is a Sales Accountability Coach and lives in San Diego, California.  Phone 858-240-7730

Highly Successful Salespeople Do What Unsuccessful People Are Not Willing to Do

Do you really know what the most successful ones actually do?

by Jacques Werth and Carl Ingalls

Most salespeople say they will do “whatever it takes” to make a sale.  They think this means they should work longer, harder, and be more persuasive.  The vast majority of average performers believe in and practice some form of persuasive selling.  They do it the best way they know how and they work very hard at it.

However, that is not what the most successful salespeople do.  They sell very differently from the rest, and they do it with much less effort. 

We have observed and documented the practices and attitudes of hundreds of the most highly successful salespeople – the top one percent by sales volume – in twenty-three industries.  We watched and listened while they interacted with nearly two thousand prospects and customers, and we took careful notes.  We discovered that very few of them can articulate their sales processes and attitudes because they sell intuitively and “do their own thing”. 

We analyzed our notes to determine what the most highly successful salespeople actually do that the rest of the salespeople do not do.  We compiled their methods and attitudes into a process that can be taught to other salespeople.  We call this High Probability Selling. 

We have found that many of the less successful salespeople truly are not willing to do what the most successful salespeople do.  They are not willing to abandon their beliefs in persuasive selling, and adopt the practices and attitudes of the most successful salespeople. 

But some are ready for a big change.

Favorable Front of the Mind Awareness

An earlier version of this article was posted on Business Insurance Agents on 12 March 2009.

Suppose you are watching a James Bond movie and Agent 007 says to another character, “Tomorrow I am going to pick up my dream car.”  If you know much about Agent 007, you will immediately have a mental picture of a gleaming white Aston-Martin hardtop.  If you are not familiar with the James Bond character you will probably picture your own “dream car” whatever it is;  perhaps it’s a Porsche, Corvette, Ferrari, or Lexis.

That describes a powerful marketing concept called “Front of the Mind Awareness.”  A refinement of that concept, which is applicable to excellent telephone prospecting, is “Favorable Front of the Mind Awareness.” 

Get a list of six hundred prospects that meet the demographic criteria of companies or individuals that buy the type of products and services that you sell.  You can call those people every three to four weeks, providing that you change your prospecting offer every time you call.  The first time you call the list, about seven percent of them will ask you not to call them anymore;  so don’t.  That leaves you with about 560 prospects on your list.  It is easy to contact that many every three to four weeks.

If the way you do your prospecting leaves those people feeling good about each call they receive from you, you will be developing Favorable Front of the Mind Awareness in most of their minds.  That means that anytime they are exposed to marketing, advertising, or cold calls about your type of products and services, most of them will immediately have favorable thoughts of you.

If you call them more frequently, a higher percentage will become your customers.  However, if you push them for an appointment or try to engage them in a sales conversation, that will create the opposite effect. 

People buy in their own time, for their own reasons. They do not buy because you need to make a sale this week. It is important that you are in frequent contact with your whole list so that you are there when they want to buy what you have to offer. The more often they hear from you, provided that your calls are very brief, informative, and free of any pressure, the greater positive affect it will have on your prospect’s minds.  That will continuously increase Favorable Front of the Mind Awareness. 

The end result is that almost all of your appointments will be with people who want to buy what you have been offering them.  After they become your customers, provided that you continue to call them at the same intervals, they will be loyal clients for years to come.

You can learn more about this kind of prospecting by going to

10 Tips for Prospecting Success

by Jacques Werth

The ability to prospect efficiently, effectively and enjoyably will enable you to meet with prospects that need, want and can afford your products and services – now. Your confidence will soar and empower you to develop a consistently superior income stream.

1. Start with a highly targeted telephone prospecting list, consisting of people or companies that are most likely to buy your type of products and services. Use a highly reputable list broker to find such a list. Start with a list of no more than 600 names. You cannot afford to develop your own list; It is much too time consuming. If you already have a book of business, follow this prospecting process with your existing clients as if they are new prospects.

2. Call every name on your list every 3-4 weeks. Understand that only a small percentage of your list will be ready to buy the first time that you call. Many more will be ready each successive time that you call. People buy in their own time for their own reasons; not because you have to make a sale this week. Calling them frequently is vital to prospecting success.

3. Present a “prospecting offer” of no more than 45 words that clearly states who you are, what you are selling, and two features of your product or service. Finish up with “Is that what you want?” Each time you call, change the two features. That will prevent most prospects from getting annoyed. It will also eliminate most of the rejection that is caused by traditional cold calling.

4. If the prospect says “No” or “I am not interested,” you say “Okay, good bye.” Do not press for an appointment. Do not try to engage the prospect in a conversation or ask any questions. This will be the most pleasant sales call they ever get. It will assure that very few prospects will ask you not to call again.

5. Schedule your prospecting sessions for 3½ hours. Take a fifteen-minute break between each hour. This is more productive than five prospecting sessions of one hour each.

6. Tape yourself. Use a tape recorder with an open microphone to tape your side of each call. Start the tape when the prospect answers. Listen to how you sound. The goal is to hear yourself using your usual conversational tones. Do not try to sound like a professional salesperson. Do not come across as overly enthusiastic, unusually friendly, or enticing. Just relax and present your offer without persuasion.

7. Always be in a “Disqualification” mode. Be determined to spend your selling time only with High Probability Prospects. Disqualify Low Probability Prospects quickly and courteously. Don’t allow desperation or anxiousness to deter you from your mission. If the prospect says “Yes,” you ask “Why?” Let the prospect convince you that he/she is a High Probability Prospect.

8. Accept the fact that prospecting really is a “numbers game.” The most important numbers are your Dials per Hour and the ratio of prospecting Offers to Dials. Most agents dial at least fifty numbers per hour.

9. Keep accurate records of your prospecting sessions. We have trained thousands of agents to be successful prospectors. The most successful keep accurate records. The least successful don’t. The act of keeping records will enable your subconscious mind to constantly improve your results.

10. Most top producers make fewer appointments, but close most of the prospects they meet.

You can learn more about efficient, effective, and enjoyable prospecting by going to

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