HomeKnow-HowHow startup founders can overcome their fear of cold calling

How startup founders can overcome their fear of cold calling

Everyone struggles when they start doing cold calls. It is an unpleasant task. Who likes to pick up the phone and call random people to get one rejection after another?

People hate cold calling and most people are not good at it either. Most approaches are too timid and therefore they give up too soon. In my trainings and coachings I see it all the time, people hate doing calls to drum up business.

But you can be sure that everybody has that. Everybody has that initial resistance to calling strangers out of the blue.

Why is that?

Let’s dig deeper. What is the Fear of Cold Calling? If you ask yourself what are you actually afraid of while doing the calls? What are you actually afraid of when you think about talking to strangers?

It is the negative reaction from other people we fear. We fear being rejected! But what is it about a rejection that triggers the feeling of fear in us?

Well imagine you call someone ask them for something and they say NO! You hang up and then? Life goes on. You are still alive.

You are one step closer to finding out how to sell your product. You learned how to pitch differently. You got a bit more practice. You followed through and did the cold call after all. You can be proud of yourself.

Your fear of cold calling, your fear of rejection is coming from your stem brain, the oldest part of our brain. It is involved in all our emotions, reflexes and instincts. It’s only programmed to do two things; to survive and to reproduce.

Research shows that before doing the cold call or anticipating rejection, the same areas in your brain gets activated than when you fear death. It is an ancient hardwiring of our brain. Which doesn’t make anymore sense in nowadays society. Your life does not depend anymore on the goodwill of the people around you.

So now that we understand where this fear is coming from let’s talk about how to overcome this fear. I found a series of tools working best for me, which I want to share with you:

Change your state

When you start, you want to get into an “action-taking” state, a confident state in which you feel good about yourself.

Physical activity: Get physically active. get pumped. Doing physical activity gets your blood flowing and puts you into another state. I sometimes do push ups or fast breathing exercises before important calls. Here you’ll find an example of a breathing exercise I do.

Visualisation: Think about the last time you were feeling absolutely positive, “in the zone”. How did it feel? What kind of sensations did you have in your body. What did you do? What did you see? What did you smell?

Expand your comfort zone: The first 1-3 calls are ways to get you into state. So see them that way. They are not that important. It is okay if you fail or if your pitch is not yet on point. They are means to prepare yourself.

Do other things beforehand that expand your comfort zone, throughout your day. On your way to the office talk to strangers. Do things that make you slightly uncomfortable, but are less uncomfortable than doing your important call. That way you literally expand your comfort zone and your important call feels much less of a stretch.

Analyse your fear and change the objective

Ask yourself: What is it really that I am afraid of? Is it the actual cold call? Or is it the fear of failing? Or is it the rejection? The fact that you analyse your fear alone will begin the process of overcoming it and it will begin to feel smaller.

Then make the thing you are fearing the objective. Change your focus. If you fear the rejection make the rejection the objective.

If you do that the new goal is much easier to reach.

Make it a routine

The more often you do something uncomfortable the easier you find to do it. When you do something regularly your brain sets up routines, and you have to apply less willpower to do the task. You basically already decided to do it. We all know that from doing sports. If you are on it 3-6 times a week, it is easier to go but if you go on holiday for a few weeks and interrupt that routine, it becomes much harder to get back to it. With cold calling it is the same. Your brain begins to come up with all types of excuses. But after going a few times the routine kicks in again and it becomes easier.

It works best if you apply all of the techniques together, here a quick sum up:

  1. Analyse your fear: What are you really afraid of?
  2. Change the objective: Make the aim the rejection
  3. Get into the state: Change your mindset
      1. Visualisation
      2. Breathing
      3. Push ups
  4. Repeat: Make it a routine

The cool thing is you can apply that not only to sales, but you can apply that to literally anything that makes you feel uncomfortable but is worth doing.

I am curious please share your stories and experiences so we can all let go of our fears to make our lives more exciting and successful 🙂

Florian Eberhart
Florian Eberhart
Florian is a Berlin-based entrepreneur who is working on B2B Sales Acceleration for venture-backed startups. He is an advisor to several startups and also a mentor at the Founder Institute.

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