Phone Anxiety at Work: How to Overcome Call Reluctance


Aoife Daly

Phone Anxiety at Work: How to Overcome Call Reluctance


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Phone Anxiety at Work: How to Overcome Call Reluctance


Aoife Daly

Content Marketing Manager, Operatix

Building a team of confident sales development representatives can be far more difficult than it seems. Once you have found the talent, you may notice their performance and sales statistics start to decrease. Maybe you’ve noticed that they’re suspiciously quiet while sat at their desks, typing away rather than picking up the phone and connecting with prospects. The common cause? Call reluctance.

Having phone anxiety at work is far from uncommon, but it can halt your businesses’ growth and cause you to lose valuable leads. Understand how to help your team overcome phone anxiety at work with our tips below, as well as the common causes behind it.

What is call reluctance?

Sometimes referred to as phone anxiety, call reluctance is the fear and avoidance of telephone communication. Symptoms typically include overpowering negative feelings such as guilt, anxiety and panic before making a call, as well as procrastinating.

While surprisingly common in the sales industry, phone anxiety at work can have a significant impact on employee morale and business growth. A prospect may lose interest due to lack of personal contact, as well as your team becoming burdened with the side effects of stress. 

What causes call reluctance?

The cause of call reluctance varies per person, but often it boils down to a lack of confidence, experience or training. Otherwise, it could be a confidence issue, a previous bad experience or a fear of rejection.

Understanding why you’re experiencing anxiety around phone calls can help overcome it. You may find that an SDR who has worked from home for an extended period freezes up when in the office for fear of people overhearing their calls, or they may have had a bad experience with a previous call both inside and outside of work. 

how to overcome call reluctance

How to overcome call reluctance

Unfortunately, if your team doesn’t nurture leads and build a relationship with them, someone else will. While you should remain empathetic and understanding with those experiencing phone anxiety, you should do your best to empower them so they can get over this fear. 

1. Thorough training

A well-structured onboarding process is essential in getting the very best out of your team, ensuring they are knowledgeable and confident in their abilities – both of which are essential in tackling phone anxiety in a sales environment.

Show them examples of successful calls, talk them through issues that may crop up, and discuss solutions to the aforementioned issues. Provide them with a toolkit and plenty of insight into what is expected of them to ensure they get off to the best start possible. Allocate an initial 90 days to ramping up your SDRs, dedicating time to each different channel – such as email and, most importantly in this scenario, cold calling – to ensure they feel confident and comfortable. 

If you find that one of your SDRs is developing call reluctance after the onboarding process, you may want to invite them on a refresher course. This could simply be restarting the onboarding, or you could hone in on the aspects of cold calling that they’re nervous about. 

2. Create a script together

A common cause behind call reluctance in a sales environment is not knowing what to say, causing them to panic and freeze up. Rather than writing a script for each of your sales development reps, slot some time into their day to listen to calls and write up their own based on this. Go through it together and see if there is anything you would adjust, including answers to questions that may crop up.

You may want to remind your SDRs that the script is more of a safety net in their toolkit rather than following it exactly. Personalising calls rather than sounding robotic is essential in connecting and building rapport with prospects, but a script can be a great starting point to get the conversation flowing for those feeling nervous. Consider common questions and topics to peak the interest of the prospect when writing a sales script, as well as inserting some personality into it so it reads naturally.

 3. Remind them of the value

A fear of cold calling tends to stem from the assumption that they’ll be rejected or that they’re disturbing someone. In actuality, they’ll be calling with a solution to a problem the lead may have and are therefore helping rather than being a nuisance. 

Remind your SDRs of the need for the service they are pitching – that confidence can help them snag a lead, as well as overcoming their call reluctance. Ensure they understand exactly what it is there selling, the value behind it and how it can help businesses thrive. A change in attitude can do wonders; help them anticipate the ‘yes’ rather than assuming rejection is on the cards.

That’s not to say that rejection won’t happen, of course. No matter how good the product or service is, some prospects simply may not be interested. Sales reps must remember that this isn’t personal, nor is it anything to fear. 

call reluctance

4. Encourage them to try again

While it can be difficult, confronting the fear rather than avoiding it is the best way of overcoming it. A team member may start actively avoiding using the telephone and start focusing on other channels of communication, such as email when experiencing the dreaded call reluctance. 

You should encourage them to get back on the horse and keep trying, as phone calls are usually a much more effective way to get the business message across. A prospect can delete an email without so much as reading the first sentence, whereas a phone call grabs their attention straight away. Provide them with qualified leads who have shown interest in the services to give them an initial boost of confidence

Be encouraging and enthusiastic rather than forceful in your approach when trying to help them overcome call reluctance, otherwise, you’ll likely make them feel more anxious.

Interested in outsourcing your sales? We help B2B software vendors accelerate sales and increase revenue. Get in touch with the Operatix team here.

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About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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