5 Expert-backed Tips on How Top Sellers Get Over Cold Calling Anxiety

“I love cold calling. Cold calling is so much fun.”


In real life, palms are sweaty, knees weak, stammer is heavy. 

The thing is, all of this is part and parcel of every cold call. Most successful cold callers became pros after going through these phases, getting rejected a thousand times, and making peace with it. Also, now there are science-backed methods for managing this kind of anxiety when preparing to face scores of rejections.

So, we break down what the pros and science tell us how to overcome cold calling anxiety. Stick around further to find out how you can turn objections into opportunities, and face the infamous gatekeepers.

Why Does Cold Calling Give You Anxiety?

Most dread cold calling because they are afraid of getting rejected by prospects. So, when fear of rejection overpowers you, the reptilian part of your brain gets activated, forcing you into a flight or fight mode, where you are ready to do everything to not cold call. You find thousands of excuses not to cold call, from not being prepared to questioning if cold calling is still worth it.

But you are not alone. In fact, 1 out of 2 salespeople experience cold calling jitters, reports a study by Value Selling Associates, a sales training company. That means almost every salesperson experiences cold calling anxiety at one point or another but overcomes it. (How else would any business thrive if so many salespeople succumb to their cold calling fears?)

So, how do you stop being nervous about cold calling? We asked top sellers how they beat the sales call anxiety, and shared them here. 

Looking for an Ultimate Guide to Cold Calling like a PRO?

5 Tips From Experts on Overcoming Cold Calling Anxiety

i) Dissociate Yourself From the End Goal

Recreated image from Josh Braun's image from his LinkedIn
Image Credits : Josh Braun

Two truths you should come to terms with as a sales professional:

  1. Your worth isn’t tied to how many meetings you book
  2. Not booking a meeting doesn’t mean you are a lousy salesperson

Why? Because as Josh Braun, a sales expert, puts it, “you’re for some people, but you’re not for everyone. You don’t control how people interpret your message, how they respond, or if they decide to continue the conversation.”

When you stop obsessing over the end goal – the number of meetings booked, you handle rejections better. That means the next time you encounter a grumpy prospect, your first instinct wouldn’t be to take it personally but to think, “probably they’re having a bad day.” In the long run, you’ll also learn to think of every unsuccessful call as a bad lead you could remove, saving time and money.

Pro Tip: Start a Slack channel, “THE WRATH OF THE PROSPECTS,” where you and your sales teams can exclusively vent and laugh about calls with aggressive prospects. This further helps you understand how rejections are a part of the game and encourages you to move on instead of sulking over it.

ii) Set the Right Ambience and Mood

Find your ‘productivity corner’- a quiet corner or a room from where you can cold call in peace (or be relatively less worried). This is especially beneficial if the thought of your teammates overhearing your cold call bothers you.

  • “Favorite songs blaring”: Once you find the right spot, channel the right mood. For instance, for  Kandace Banks, Sr. Enterprise BDR at SetSail, jamming to her favorite songs sets the mood. “Do something you enjoy for 10 minutes beforehand. Then hop on the phone. When you do things to put yourself at ease, that will help you be more confident and have a relaxed tone when you start having conversations,” she suggests.
  • “The prospect is not a Kraken”: For Xavier Bordier, team lead SDR at Napta, a resource management tool, it is a mantra from his old rugby coach that helps, “The guys in front of me are like you, they have two arms and two legs, they are still human beings, they are not superior.” This has especially helped him when calling C-level professionals, he adds.
  • “Get in the groove”: Calling a friend or family member and then slowly easing into a cold call is how Gauri Manglik, CEO of Instrumentl, an institutional fundraising platform, prepares herself for a cold call. “Try calling a friend or family member and telling them about something going on in your life right now. Just keep talking until you feel more comfortable with it”, she says.
  • “Flex your acting chops”: This one’s a doozy. Dress up like your favorite salesman character to wade through an extra bad day. Alex Blazer, Founder of Seedlogic, claims in a Forbes article that dressing up in his favorite suit and pretending to be a character in Wall Street helps him push through a bad day. (More of a Don Draper guy? Well, pretend to be him.)

iii) Know Your Product and Prospect Inside Out

Before the call, you have no clue about how your prospects would react or the questions they might throw at you. Sometimes, what makes you dread cold calling is this unpredictability. And the best way to deal with it is to know your product inside out.

While knowing the nitty-gritty of your product is obvious, your understanding of it should actually go beyond that. This style will also give you more confidence in your pitch. Here’s what else you should know about your product:

  • What difference does your product make in a prospect’s life? 
  • What’s the result it can deliver them? 
  • How would the results you deliver help them move closer to their revenue/productivity goals?
  • What would make a prospect choose your product?

These are the questions to which your prospects are looking for answers. Or as Jim Farell, VP of Sales at Solink, a cloud video surveillance software, puts it,

“Pitch the results or pain, not the how or solution.”

That means instead of starting your pitch with “we’re XYZ company that takes A and B and makes them a C” go with “other executives like you have saved 20 hours a month and over one million dollars by partnering with us to solve the pain of ABC”, he adds.

Pro Tip: Look into software marketplaces and sales intelligence tools to know your prospect’s pain points, challenges, and goals. Use these insights to craft your sales pitch. Use data to drive your decisions, don’t rely on assumptions. If you’re making assumptions, inform them that as a side note.

iv) Use a Cold Calling Script but Be Ready To Improvise

Cold calling scripts can be your best friend as long as you don’t read them out like you’re in 5th grade reading out an essay. Make the right pauses, control your pace, and speak with a downward inflection to give life to your sales script. Keep an objection-handling battle card beside you if it helps.

A script is more like a guide that maybe your boss wants you to follow in the name of building a standardized process, or you want to follow to not black out. Following it to the T is up to your discretion.

Here are a couple of other tips to ace cold calling using a script:

Perfect you call openers – Instead of starting with a generic introduction, use a question that’s hyper-relevant to the prospect, says Alister Wood, Director of VisitUs Reception, a visitor management software company.

Here’s an opener he uses that’s tailored to his industry:

“Hi! Do your guests get frustrated standing in your lobby for 20 minutes to sign into their room?”

Ask open-ended questions – Open-ended questions make your prospect let their guard down and open up. It also saves you from awkward situations when you ask a yes or no question and get an unexpected response.

Here’s an example from one of Josh Braun’s LinkedIn posts on how close-ended questions can backfire:

Adam: "Hi, Josh. It's Adam. I'm the PR agent for X. I sent you three emails. Did you get them?"

(Sidebar - No good can come from asking people if they received your email. 
Any answer ends awkwardly. And it makes people feel defensive.)

Me: "I did."

(Awkward transition.)

Adam: "The reason for my call is that I wanted to see if you'd be open to having John Smith on your podcast."

Me: "I'm not."

Adam: "Okay, thanks."

[End of call.]


Pro Tip: Don’t confuse sounding like a salesperson with being one. While you can avoid sounding like a salesperson, lying about being one is never an option. Be honest with your prospects and never lie about your identity or trick them into staying on a call.

Explore the 27 Best Cold Calling Scripts to Get a Meeting Booked

v) Learn From Your Mistakes

“If you aren’t sharpening your phone skills you will be getting hung up on! Role play every day. To become one of the greats, you have to practice, not just play”, says Grant Cardone, sales trainer and author of The 10X Rule, in one of his LinkedIn articles. This confirms that making more calls is the best way to get over cold-calling anxiety.

After every call, analyze why it was a success or failure. Here are some questions you ought to ask yourself after every cold call:

  • Did I speak too fast or slow?
  • Did I talk more or listen more?
  • What made the prospect react a particular way?
  • Could I have handled an objection another way?
  • Was it the best time to call them?/ Did the time I called have anything to do with how a prospect reacts?
  • What would you do differently if given a second chance?

Once you answer these questions, make a note of every aspect you want to improve. Keep a checklist of the frequently made mistakes beside you when you practice or make the next call to ensure you are mindful of not committing them again.

Pro Tip: Seek advice from your sales manager or a top-performing colleague on improving your cold-calling skills. Make them listen to your calls and get new ideas on how to do things differently because cold calling, after all, is about experimenting.

Opening a Cold Call Is Tough, so Here Are 3 Opening Lines That Top-performing SDRs Use

i) The ‘Cordial’ Opener From Ashley Dees of Metadata

"Hey, Kim! Ashley from Metadata. We haven't spoken before. Do you have a minute
to chat?"

"It sounds like it's not a great time. Sounds like you're driving and I don't want to bother you. Is it okay if I call you back tomorrow afternoon?" (If the prospect is in a noisy environment)

Why it works: When you respect your prospect’s time and ask their permission before proceeding, they let their guard down.

ii) The ‘Pain Point Driven’ Opener From Sam Holeman of Momence

"We're a studio suite platform. We've worked with a lot of people who have 
used {competitor} in the past and just haven't been happy with their software 
or looking for something more modernized. I had this idea for you. Are you 
using automation right now?"

Why it works: When you open with a pain point, they can’t help but pay attention to you.

iii) The ‘Mind Reader’ Opener From Alastair Chamberlin of Zinc

"Hello, I know you weren't expecting my call. But if you've got a minute, I 
can tell you why I'm calling. And then, we can decide if it makes sense for us 
to continue the conversation."

Why it works: This addresses the main question that crops up in your prospect’s mind when they get your call- Who is this, and why are they calling?

Want to know more about how these reps are consistently hitting quota? Read our SDR X factor series.

Explore the 7+ Best Cold Call Opening Lines to Boost
Your Success Rate

3 Objection Handling Techniques From Top Sellers

i) Objection: “We Already Have a Solution in Place.”

Here’s a technique Sam Holeman, SDR at Momence, shared when we interviewed him for our SDR X Factor series:

Our goal isn't to make your transition. Nor is that my job, actually. My job is to reach out to you, and talk about your business and see if we can maybe 
provide a solution for you, make your life a little easier. Our other goal is, 
we want to show you the platform and show you why people are using our platform, and then transition is up to you'

Why it works: One of the best ways to lower the resistance from your prospects is to let them know you won’t push them for sale.

Check out Sam Holeman’s Objection-Handling

ii) Objection – “I’m Busy Right Now.”

Here’s a technique Joel Thomas, SDR at Almabase, uses to tackle this objection:

'When would be a good time to call you back?'

'Can I take 30 seconds to tell you why I called?' (Once the prospect gives
a time, ask this)

Why it works: A bait to weed out the wrong prospects. The chances of anyone picking up your follow-up call when they can’t listen to you for at least 30 seconds is close to zero. (But again, pay attention to verbal cues and decide accordingly.)

iii) Objection – “I Don’t Have the Time.”

Here’s a technique from Nikita Solberg, SDR at Deel on how they deal with this objection:

'That's exactly why I'm calling! You say you don't have time and I think 
our solution could help you save time. Setting up a 10-15 minute meeting
could potentially save you hours down the road, and I think that's why we 
should keep chatting.'

Why it works: The classic ‘fighting fire with fire’ approach! This unexpected response catches the prospects off guard and evokes curiosity in them.

In a Nutshell

Cold-calling anxiety is normal. It is okay to stammer or stutter and embarrass yourself. Because that’s the only way to get better. But equip yourself with the tips we’ve shared, practice well, and then just like Josh Braun says, “Do It Nervous.”

Related Resources:


How Do I Gain Confidence in Cold Calling?

Here are some tips to gain confidence in cold calling:
1. Know thy prospect: Research your prospect well with help of social media and sales intelligence tools
2. Have confidence in your pitch: Have a thorough understanding of your product and how it can help prospects
3. Arm yourself: Use cold calling scripts but be ready to improvise
4. Keep on keeping on: Analyze every cold call you make and learn from your mistakes

Why Does Cold Calling Give Me Anxiety?

Cold calling gives you anxiety because you fear rejection. So, when fear of rejection overpowers you, the reptilian part of your brain gets activated, forcing you into a flight or fight mode, where you are ready to do everything to not cold call. You find thousands of excuses not to cold call, from being prepared to questioning if cold calling is still worth it. To beat it, you should stop being afraid of it. Humanize the cold calling process, and make peace with the fact that failing in front of a prospect is okay.

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