Top 10 Ways to Overcome Phone Sales Anxiety
How do I overcome phone sales anxiety?
Here are top 10 ways to overcome phone sales anxiety:
- Breathe Deeply
- Get in state
- Understand your prospects deeply
- Understand your value prop
- Do incantations
- Embrace failure
- Understand it’s not personal
- Be prepared for the top 3 objections
- Have a script
- Practice awareness through meditation
Cold call or phone sales anxiety (or nervousness) is something that’s completely natural.
It’s something that stops a lot of people from getting into sales, and thereby improving a human area of their lives (personal interactions and being able to engage with other people).
Before I get into the details of the top 10 ways of overcoming sales anxiety, let me be upfront and honest with you.
You (may) never 100% get rid of your phone sales anxiety, specifically when it comes to cold calling prospects.
Everyone is different, but from my experience, even after doing it for years, it never really goes away 100%.
Sure, I feel much more confident than when I first started, but it’s like seeing a gorgeous lady (or handsome man) while you’re out and about and you have this feeling in your gut that you just have to go and say hi.
I’ve done this many times too, and having done this and had some “successes,” while I may feel more confident or be more skilled than when I first started doing it – the “butterflies” never really go away.
And I kind of like it like that.
I recently read Ed Mylett’s book, “#MAXOUT Your Life.”
He talks about the concept of “chasing butterflies,” and how…
“All the greatest memories in your life happened right after the butterflies. In fact, God gives us those butterflies to let us know we are on track to our dreams and our destiny.”
All the greatest memories in your life happened right after the butterflies.
How true is that?
Like the first time you leaned in to kiss a girl, or gave a speech in front of your class…
Those moments are special.
After you have some experience making calls, your anxiety level will absolutely go down.
It comes through practice and experience, but those butterflies will never completely go away, and…
That’s a good thing.
Reframe the anxiety as excitement
We already touched on this, but it’s important to understand that anxiety and excitement are very similar.
You might not appreciate this now, but you will in time.
You will in time learn to appreciate that “anxiety” as butterflies in your stomach, or as something exciting about to happen.
You’ll learn to embrace the uncertainty and lean in to it.
You’ll learn that in that edge of nervousness, and excitement – is where all the special moments come from.
That it’s where all the growth comes from.
And at the end of the day, it’s what separates you from the people who are alive but no longer living.
The people who just carry on with their robotic lives and are not willing to lean into the excitement.
At the end,
of the day… are you willing to do what others are not? In order to get what others won’t?
If the answer is yes, then learn to embrace that discomfort and know that no matter what, you will not die.
And the person on the other side of the phone is a dude…
Just like you.
Not a saber tooth tiger.
No matter what your 2000 year old brain thinks.
So onto our list, here are the top 10 ways to overcome phone sales anxiety.
1. Breathe Deeply
Often times when we are very anxious or nervous, it’s because we have stopped breathing.
When we were babies, we all knew instinctively how to breathe properly, but due to modern work habits and stress, we’ve often forgot the art of deep belly breathing.
Very often right before and after a call, it’s helpful to just take a few deep breaths.
Eastern philosophy has long linked our breathing patterns with our thoughts, and our biochemistry.
This is where the whole concept of Yoga and Breathing Practices come from.
a 5-minute breathing practice every morning when I wake while I’m still lying in bed.
The whole idea is to condition yourself to do deep-belly breathing.
The breathing practice is here as follows-
5-min breathing practice:
- Lie down on a flat comfortable surface (bed or yoga mat)
- Begin to breathe in by first filling your lower belly with air and puffing your belly out
- As you fill your lower belly, begin to fill your mid-stomach area with air
- Finally fill your chest and the top of your lungs with air
- As you breathe out, keep your belly puffed out and exhale first from your chest and top of your lungs
- Then let out the air from the middle of your chest
- And finally exhale the air from your belly and deflate your belly
- Repeat over a 5 minute period
This simple daily breathing practice will train you to naturally breathe deep from your belly throughout the day, naturally easing your anxiety overall.
Especially when you notice yourself tensing up or getting anxious, remember to take a moment to breathe deeply before that phone call or even after a sales call.
Deep breathing is one of the most powerful techniques to help alleviate anxiety whether in sales or life in general.
2. Get in State
This is something that I learned directly from Tony Robbins.
In Tony Robbins, Unleash the Power Within seminar, he spends a significant amount of time teaching the crowd how to “get in state.”
This is just another way of saying how can you get in the right mental, emotional mindset to get you ready for a sales call.
This is usually an explosive physical move accompanied by a…
Loud War Cry.
Now, if you’re in an office setting, it’s okay to do a slightly toned down version of this so your colleagues don’t think you’re crazy.
Your physiology (the way you use your body) is directly correlated to your mental state.
This is one of the reasons why we feel so good after physical exercise.
Some things I’ve done in the past before an important sales call to get me in the right frame of mind is to clench my first and yell,
Like I won a competition to get in the right frame of mind.
This might sound silly or cheesy, but remember…
Successful people will do what unsuccessful people won’t.
3. Understand Your Prospects Deeply
Often times the reason people feel anxious before a cold call is because they are unprepared.
Why are people unprepared?
One primary reason is because they don’t understand who it is they are calling on.
If you understand who it is you’re calling on, that will alleviate much of the nervousness or anxiety you might have.
For example, if I’m calling on an SVP of Sales – I need to understand who this person is.
I need to understand what this person cares about.
Fairly simple, but most salespeople don’t do this.
You can do a quick Google search, and see that…
SVP’s of Sales care about:
- Increasing revenue
- Maximizing production of their sales people
- Implementation of sales processes and strategies
- Training and development of sales reps
- Understanding product positioning and differentiation amongst competitors
Once you understand who you’re talking to, and what they care about, you’ll be able to much better align what your company does – to that.
Sales is all about aligning your agenda and objectives with your prospect’s agenda and objectives.
You can do this with any role or seniority level.
Let’s take the example of a Director of Procurement. What does a Director of Procurement care about?
Directors of Procurement care about:
- Cost savings
- Minimizing risk from suppliers and contracts
- Delivering value to their business units
You can also seek to understand the individual at a personal level.
What it is they are interested?
What hobbies might they have?
What background might you share with them?
You can use these points to develop rapport with the person you’re going to connect with.
One question I like to ask people if I’m being referred to someone else is, “What is it that you admire or appreciate about this person?”
By hearing what it is your referrer likes or admires about the person he or she is referring, it automatically puts you in a receptive frame of mind to like that person as well!
And that’s a great way to start a relationship 🙂
4. Know Your Value Prop
This alongside not understanding prospects probably account for the top reasons why sales people feel unprepared for a sales call.
Alongside knowing who your prospects are and what they care about, you must also understand your value proposition and how it helps them!
It’s like a plug and a socket.
Your prospects are the socket and your value proposition is the plug!
By value proposition, all I mean is you must understand exactly how your product will help people.
It doesn’t really matter how cool your product is, or what kind of features it has.
don’t buy features, people buy benefits and what those products do for them.
Does your product make people feel more cool?
Does your product give people more time back in their day?
Does your product provide people a peace of mind?
Does your product provide people a competitive edge?
Does your product teach and educate people?
Does your product help people satisfy a particular desire or need?
People buy benefits.
People buy what products can do for them, how it makes them feel, and what’s in it for them.
It’s not about your product; it’s about what your product can do for them.
Alongside understanding that, you must also understand how your product is different from the competition.
You must understand be able to explain clearly how your company’s product or service is better is some way than the competition, and…
It has to be true.
Understanding points 3 and 4 in this article are absolutely critical in helping you overcome phone sales anxiety.
If you know who your prospects are, what they care about, and exactly how your product or service can help them and how you’re different from the competition, that will go a long way in providing you a sense of ease when reaching out to your prospects.
5. Do Incantations – winners will do what losers won’t
This is another practice that I have learned from Tony Robbins that has been absolutely life changing.
Incantations is another word for affirmations on steroids.
You see, standard affirmations where you just say something doesn’t really work.
Tony Robbins says that if you do incantations, which is an affirmation that engages your physiology and your entire nervous-system, done repeatedly will rewire your brain and nervous system.
Personally, for a span of over a span of 3 years, for 15 mins a day, on my drive to work, I would chant the affirmation:
“I, Tommy Jia, see, hear, feel, and know that I am COURAGE, I am FAITH, I am DETERMINATION, and I am PASSION!”
I would chant this at the top of my lungs while driving.
I would use my arms and my hands.
Truthfully, I would be seem sometimes and people probably thought I was crazy.
But I didn’t care.
I knew this started working because in my teenage and early adolescent years, I felt a lot of fear.
I remember I was acutely anxious of social interactions so much so that asking the waiter for some ketchup at a restaurant induced fear and anxiety in me.
Anyways, after a few weeks or months of chanting this incantation, I knew it started working when I was attending a stand up comedy show in Hollywood, when during the break the DJ was playing some rap music, and I was bumping my head to the beat. The DJ saw me, could tell I was feeling the music, and told me to come up on stage and start freestyle rapping… and I did!
I was like,
Like I had surprised myself!
I can confidently say that this incantation helped me move through a lot of fear in my early days in sales and making cold calls.
As corny as it sounds,
It’s not about not having any fear.
It’s about the willingness to move through that fear in the face of it.
And that didn’t come natural for me, I had to work at it.
I’ve been on sales floors where for hours it seemed like the entire floor was quiet because seemingly people couldn’t get prospects to connect on the phone, or truth be told, people were just scared to pick up the phone and sound stupid on the phone when they messed up.
Tony Robbins says that anything repeated aloud after the phrase,
“I am…” starts to become your identity.
So what do you want your identity to be?
What incantations will you use to rewire your mindset to shape you to become the person you were meant to become?
6. Embrace Failure
To the degree you get good at sales and improve your ability to interact with people will be the exact degree you’re willing to fuck up.
So often times analysis paralysis stops people in their tracks before ever taking any action!
Overthinking of the worst possible case scenario prevents people from every picking up the phone!
Don’t let this be you.
A good way to deal with this is just give yourself the permission to fuck up.
Prior to making the call, give yourself permission to make mistakes.
By you picking up the phone, calling, and let’s just say that the prospect hangs up on you.
You have to understand that is a better outcome than not having taken any action at all.
The reason is because you did something.
You’re in the game playing.
You’re taking shots.
It’s so easy to over analyze before making a cold call.
Catch yourself and take action.
The second reason is that when you make a mistake, when you something doesn’t work out…
you can learn something.
Many times in sales conversations when you say something, and it doesn’t generate a desired response, you can calibrate.
Maybe it was your tone, or maybe it was your ego, or maybe you were slightly defensive.
Whatever it was, only by doing it, can you learn to calibrate the nuanced aspects of that interaction.
You can’t get better if you’re not willing to do it.
So embrace failure; be willing to mess up.
Sales is important.
What other areas of your life do you think will improve if you improved these skills?
7. Understand It’s Not Personal
This is so key.
I went over this in depth in my other article, so I’ll just summarize it here.
You must understand that sales is not personal.
What I mean by this is if an interaction doesn’t go your way, you must understand that it doesn’t mean you personally are inherently a bad person.
You see, in sales, when something doesn’t go your way, it can mean any number of things.
It can mean:
- Your prospect was having a bad day
- He was in a bad mood
- Your product is not a good fit for him/her
- The timing isn’t right for your product
- His girlfriend could be upset at him
- His teenage son just started using drugs
- You didn’t clearly convey the value proposition
- You didn’t pick the right prospect to call
- Or any other number of reasons
Whatever it might be, you cannot take things personally.
And I get it, it’s hard.
Our natural reaction is to treat rejection like a sabertooth tiger threatening our very existence… but it’s not.
You want to remind yourself of that. That it’s not personal.
Sure, you might need to improve your objection handling responses.
Or you might need to better identify who is an ideal prospect.
Or you might even need to practice your pitch more so you’re more comfortable with it.
But at the end of the day,
it’s not personal.
That heavy, nasty, dreadful feeling we have inside after the face of rejection is the feeling of not good enough.
And I don’t mean not good enough in terms of skill set, but I mean not good enough in terms of your innate worth as a person, and that’s just not true.
So when you’re out there in the front lines, and things get tough, as things inevitably will… remind yourself that,
it’s not personal.
The prospect doesn’t know who you are.
They don’t know how you treat your family and friends.
They don’t know what charitable societies you contribute to.
They don’t know what your passions and interests are.
They don’t know your values.
They don’t know anything about you, so how can it be personal?
So remember that next time you’re making sales calls.
8. Be Prepared for Objections
Another thing that will help ease anxiety before calls is being more comfortable with objections.
Most people see objection handling as this arm wrestling competition you have with your prospects.
That’s not my style.
I don’t like to force things on people, nor do I like being forced to do anything.
Do you like having things forced on you?
Objection handling in my eyes is more about answering questions and asking questions of prospects.
When a prospect has an “objection,” typically that’s just a question that they need answered.
For example, if you called a prospect and they said,
“Oh, we’re already using competitor X…”
In my mind, I’m reframing that statement into a question as if they are saying,
“I’m using competitor X, how does your product differ from them?”
And then I’d reply,
“Oh that’s great, I’m glad you’re using them, they use quality materials.
The reason I’m calling you is because we complement them well.
The way they …..we’re actually able to ….”
And then describe how your product is different or better than the competition.
In that way,
you’re not being combative and telling the prospect he’s wrong, but you’re getting on the same side as your prospect, agreeing with him, and then sharing what’s different about your product.
Another way to respond to an objection is simply with a question.
For example, if a prospect says
“Hey, this isn’t a good time right now…”
Instead of combatting them, acknowledge that very well might be true, respect their perspective, and simply ask them,
“Oh no worries at all, what would be a more appropriate time for you?”
Because you’re acknowledging what they’re telling you, they will generally provide you a more appropriate time because they told you it’s not an appropriate time now…
therefore there must be a more appropriate time some other time.
Once they tell you, let them know you’ll be sure to reach out then… and,
follow up at that time!
This is subconsciously teaching your prospect 2 things:
- You respect their viewpoint- which in turn will make them that much more inclined to respect your
- You’re a professional- As you follow up, at the agreed time, it will show to your prospect that you’re a professional; that you’re not just a pushy sleazy fly by night con-man.
by having some already prepared responses to how you’re going to respond to the most common “objections” you’ll get…
you’ll feel much more confident and at ease when making sales calls.
Also, by knowing that you’re not a pushy con-man… that will also make you more at ease knowing that you’re a professional.
Will will make you feel more confident.
9. Have a Script
This falls in line with the previous point about preparation.
I believe the best sales conversations are natural, value-added, inquisitive conversations.
However, when you’re starting off, and especially for cold (warm) calls,
it helps having something pre-scripted to get you through that pitch.
just having something to read and hold your finger to will help you actually get THROUGH the pitch… and not stumble or forget your words mid-sentence.
this is extremely crucial especially when starting out.
As you gain more experience and as you become more skilled, you can absolutely let go of the script and be more natural in your conversations.
This depends on the type of sale, the selling context or environment and other factors.
Sometimes a script may not make as much sense, and bullet points might be a better idea.
Think of it as training wheels when you first start selling.
Sometimes when you get more advanced it makes sense to take those training wheels off, but when you’re just starting out, having a script makes it easier for you to feel confident and prepared when heading into a sales conversation.
10. Practice Self-Awareness Through Meditation
Finally, the last point is self awareness.
As you might notice, many of these strategies are not only useful in a sales context, but in life overall. That’s because sales is life.
A great way to ease anxiety or nervousness, is simply to be aware of it.
Once you’re aware of that feeling, which all it is, is a feeling, then you’re no longer controlled by it.
You’re no longer at the mercy of it and you’re able to act and choose your action.
In other words,
by having more self-awareness… when you’re feeling anxious, you’re able to notice it and make the call in spite of it.
You’re able to take action in the face of it.
How valuable of a skill would that be for you throughout the rest of your life?
What would you pay in order to develop that skill? What would it mean to you?
It’s very powerful, so if you haven’t tried or kept a meditation practice, I highly recommend it.
Just like sales,
it will not only help you in your professional life, but it will help you in every area of your life.
You don’t need anything fancy, just setting aside 7-10 minutes a day will do.
All you have to do is close your eyes, focus, and feel the breath hitting your upper lip as you breathe in and out.
If your mind wanders, good!
It’s supposed to do that!
Just bring it back to the sensation whenever it wanders, and that’s how to develop more self-awareness.
Alright guys, so in conclusion, those were the top 10 ways to overcome sales anxiety.
There is no magic wand to making sales easy,
But there are definite ways to prepare yourself to be more confident and prepared for your sales conversations.
I hope this article added value to your life, and will help you in achieving and becoming the person you were always meant to be.
Please feel free to drop a note or email me, and I’ll definitely get back to you.
Please leave a comment and subscribe, and let me know what other topics you would like me to cover.
Until next time!