Sales Development Reps and Cold Calling Anxiety: A Rundown
If you’re a sales development representative (SDR), you’re probably all too familiar with the bitter chill of cold calling anxiety.
Pacing around the room before a phone call, practicing your pitch over and over, wondering what the prospect on the other end of the line will say (or if they’ll say anything at all) - this process certainly rings a bell in your brain.
Guess what? Research shows that a whopping 40 percent of sales reps will experience intense anxiety about making cold calls at some point in their careers.
Luckily, there are many ways to address cold calling anxiety head-on while in an entry level position to minimize its impact on the success of your sales career down the line.
By the end of this article, you will have a solid understanding of three crucial ways for any sales rep to begin thawing out their cold calling anxiety once and for all. First and foremost: adopting the right mindset.
For anyone in sales, getting into the right frame of mind is crucial to thawing out cold calling anxiety.
You Are Not Alone
Having anxiety about making cold phone calls is perfectly normal. Even some of the best sales reps in the world have experienced this sort of anxiety.
In fact, A recent study found that 50 percent of sales development representatives on a global scale deal with cold calling anxiety.
Unfortunately, the anxiety leads many sales professionals to believe that there is something wrong with them.
If you find yourself completely paralyzed by anxiety before making your first few sales calls, remember the statistics - It's perfectly normal. You’re not alone.
Stay Focused and Push Forward
When you let these kinds of thoughts get into your head, it can be very easy to become discouraged and lose focus on the task at hand: making sure your sales career is running as smoothly as possible and taking in as much money for yourself and your company as possible.
The truth is, being anxious about making cold calls is not a sign of weakness - after all, we’re only human! The key here is to push past this anxiety by adopting the right mindset.
This will allow you not only to make more sales calls but also to leave fewer sales opportunities behind. Is that cool or what?
Have a Positive Outlook
Stop thinking of cold calling as a “scary” thing. Cold calling is simply a form of marketing - in fact, everyone who is trying to sell something could be considered a sales development representative.
If you are afraid of constant rejection, do your best to separate yourself from this feeling and think about it more as an opportunity instead. You have the ability to turn every “no” into a “maybe” or even into a “yes.”
What’s even better: every “yes” leads to money being put in your bank account for years to come.
Try to treat every call as a win/win situation regardless of the outcome (e.g. one prospect’s “no” is just another step closer to another’s “yes”)
There are no negative outcomes unless you make them negative. No one likes rejection, but it’s just part of being a business development representative - let it motivate you!
After all, this is just a part of your job; you simply need to fight the anxiety to make money, and making contact with prospects is the first step.
Don't Take Things Personally
If you're faced with a bad interaction or a prospect is nasty toward you, it isn’t your fault; you aren’t responsible for another person's actions. You can choose to let it affect you or just move on to the next.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t take it so personally. Cold calling is just a necessary part of the sales process for any sales rep.
Your sales career doesn’t depend on one call or even a hundred calls - rather, your success as a sales development rep relies on your ability to avoid giving up after 100 rejections and keep moving forward.
That said, rinse and repeat until you reach your sales quota!
Stay Grounded in Reality
You likely won’t make a sale or book a meeting on the first call. In fact, it will ideally take 6 phone calls to win a sale.
As far as initial meetings go, some sales reps are able to land 5+ meetings in their first week making sales-related phone calls, but most struggle to even get 1.
If you can verify that the prospect you're speaking to is an actual person and possibly discover a pain point of theirs (that you can solve), that alone is a huge win in sales.
The bottom line here: remember that the person on the receiving end is a human just like you, a human you’ve never even met before, so you have very little to lose in the worst case scenario and everything to gain at best.
Understand Why You're in Sales and What's in it For You
Remember: low stakes, high rewards. The worst thing that can happen is you get hung up on, while the best thing that can happen is that someone listens to your pitch or moves toward closing.
Don't let your desire to make money be clouded by the fear of getting rejected.
To get over this and keep your focus on the end, think about how you can benefit from making sales calls as a sales development representative:
The more potential buyers you talk to, the better chance there is that qualified sales leads will start coming in.
You make more money when you get people on board and book meetings with them. This means you could potentially rake in some additional cash if they sign up for your company's software or services!
By speaking with more people, you gain more exposure and credibility within the sales development community. This makes it much easier to get promoted to other positions within your organization in the future!
Practice! You've Got This!
The more that sales development representatives get used to picking up the phone and talking to qualified leads outside of their network, the less anxious they’ll feel about it.
Once a sales rep gets used to the feeling of communicating with strangers on the phone every day, it becomes more and more natural over time.
Remember the previously-referenced research: your goal isn’t to make sales on every call, but rather practice your spiel and build your confidence one step at a time!
After all, if you aren't giving it your all when talking to decision makers, you are losing out on some of the most valuable opportunities for learning through direct feedback.
Taking a strategic approach to sales is key to tackling cold call anxiety.
Remember: First Impressions Count
Your first 30 seconds of talking to a potential buyer will set the tone for how your entire prospecting call will go.
Focus on winning over a lead in whatever small way you can using one or all three of the following techniques:
1. Be Relevant
Yes, you want to be engaging, but it’s also important to remember that you are there to promote what your company sells – don't be wasting time. Stay focused on the sales process (but don't get too "sales-y").
Be helpful by offering tips relevant to what the person you're speaking with is going through and how your company can help them out.
This will demonstrate empathy and make the prospect feel like they can trust you before they even consider listening to more of your sales pitch!
2. Be Funny
People love to laugh, so give them an opportunity.
If you have any funny sales stories about yourself or people in your company, weave them into the conversation and see how your prospect responds.
Everyone loves a good laugh (and if they don’t - you might not want to do business with them).
3. Be Relatable
Everyone has problems that sales development representatives can solve; making calls is all about finding those problems and addressing them in order to make a sale.
That said, find something common between yourself and the person on the other end of the line, whether it be hobbies, interests, or anything else. Then ask questions based on these similarities.
Be Careful in Your Approach
Think of a cold call as an "informational interview" and you're simply building a relationship. You'll feel less intimidated about the call this way, and it will come across in your pitch.
Practically speaking, this means you can ask someone why they use certain software or services without being so focused on the sales aspect that you're only coming across as annoying.
Remember: if you can get through that first awkward conversation with someone, then there are likely no more barriers for moving towards closing deals with them in future conversations.
Detach From the Outcome
Too many SDRs focus on what a prospect thinks of them.
Simply put: care less. This is easier said than done, yes, but if your emotions are tied to the end result, then you’re more likely to get anxious and not say what you need to say on the call.
Try to remove the risk of someone not liking you as a potential outcome, because who cares if they don’t? Just move on to the next lead in stride.
Even if the outcome is dial tone, so be it. Always remember that if you get hung up on, it’s not on you personally - the prospect is likely rejecting the concept of a cold call.
Optimize Contact Opportunities
Below are some of the best ways to optimize opportunities for contact when sales prospecting.
1. Strategize timing
Find out the best time of day to call so that a prospect is more receptive to potential business opportunities. Research suggests that the best time of day to call is Monday through Friday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
The reason for this is that during these times - according to Hubspot - people are more likely to be available, less likely to be distracted by meetings or appointments, and more relaxed (increasing the odds that you’ll get their full attention).
2. Stay in touch
It's also important to stay in touch with qualified leads through email or social media; if you do this, they'll have an easier time remembering who you are when they're ready for closing business with you.
Another thing that helps is to start small. In other words, start with sales leads that are not your main target market, but have some connection to them.
For example, if you are targeting C-level executives in the healthcare industry, start with a middle manager or other person who has worked with that target market in the past.
As a sales development representative, this will warm you up to cold calling and set you up for greater sales success as you move on to bigger deals down the road.
4. Stay positive
Even if you don't make a sale this time, they might refer you to someone else who will buy from you!
Get Them Talking
Don't be afraid to ask questions about the prospect's business. You are calling as a sales development representative (SDR) - a sales professional - after all.
In addition, stop with an open-ended question so that they start talking ASAP. This helps the call flow more easily, minimizes your stress, and allows you to listen freely in order to identify any pain points that you can address.
Pump Yourself Up
For anyone in sales, it is crucial to pump yourself up before a day of cold calling so that you perform to your best ability and open the door to closing deals with new customers.
Music: An SDR's Best Friend
For sales development representatives, listening to music that relieves stress and anxiety prior to starting the day is a must.
Research found that Weightless by Marconi Union reduces levels of stress and anxiety by 65 percent, and produces a greater state of calm than any other music tested to this day.
Stand Up While Calling - Assume the "Power Pose"
One study from a former Harvard student suggests that assuming a power pose (e.g. open posture) is likely to make you feel more powerful and perform better in an interview than if holding a more submissive posture.
Though there has been some debate over the research in recent years, over 55 studies have suggested a link between expansive posture and feelings of power, so apply it to making cold calls!
Stand up and maintain an open, confident posture while on a call.
Even more, talk yourself up before every call while you're in this position - tell yourself that “you’re the man/woman,” and give yourself plenty of positive affirmations.
Even for a shift from home, if you dress the part, you’re setting yourself up for success.
Multiple studies suggest that dressing well increases job performance, and this most certainly applies to sales development representatives.
Prepare Your Sales Pitch in Advance and Practice It Out Loud
Below are some must-know preparation tips for sales development reps:
Have your intro down and know it by heart - the first 30 seconds of a call is worth gold.
Know exactly how you plan to build rapport, how you plan to get the prospect to hear you out, and how you will position your solution to their problem.
If you're feeling anxious, dive in and start making calls - don't wait for it to build. This is just a part of outbound prospecting. If nothing else, see the first few calls as practice!
Be confident and persistent, but not pushy or annoying
Research has shown that a salesperson's personality and mood can be a major factor in how they are perceived by others (and how successful they are at making sales).
Becoming confident on the phone is an important part of building rapport with potential qualified leads and maintaining your relationship with them in order to move toward closing business.
When you're speaking with people, let them know that you're friendly, understanding, helpful, knowledgeable - people trust these qualities in sales reps more than those who are pushy or impatient.
That said, don't talk too much. Making sales isn’t just about talking – it’s about knowing when to listen. If you talk over your prospect or don’t genuinely listen to what they have to say, they may lose interest in the conversation.
Call prospects on speaker phone - it’s less intimidating this way
Try to keep up momentum by calling from a direct list of at least 10 numbers at all times - avoid having to wait around for a prospect to pick up.
Take regular 5 minute breaks to get the blood flowing and reset yourself.
Be prepared - have their number dialled ahead of time, and once you’re ready, hit send
Sales prospecting is like getting into a cold pool - nothing to it but to do it, so jump right in to best combat the anxiety!
So, What's Next?
By this point, you should have a strong understanding of how to thaw out your cold calling anxiety and become the most successful SDR you can be!
So, what comes next?
Below are some essential questions to ask yourself:
Have I adopted the right mindset to conquer this anxiety and excel in sales?
Am I being strategic rather than taking a prospect's reaction personally?
Am I pumping myself up before a day of calls? Do I believe in myself and my ability to make sales?
Follow our tips and you'll be on your way to mastering the sales cycle!