Fear of Phoning
by Wendy Priesnitz

Q: I run a relatively new and quite small home business. My problem is a fear of calling people on the phone. Getting up my nerve to pick up the phone is really difficult and I procrastinate a lot. Then I think my nervousness must really turn off potential clients. How can I overcome this problem?

A: Reluctance to cold call is common, so you can take heart in the fact that you’re not alone! Plus, you have an advantage over many other cold callers in that your office is located at home - within your physical comfort zone. So take advantage of your familiar surroundings and relax.

Consider the worst thing that can happen to you during one of these phone calls. If someone is rude and doesn't want to talk to you, they may simply hang up. That doesn't mean you or your business are bad; it just means someone didn't want to take advantage of your help in solving a problem or filling a need. And that would be their problem not yours.

You can all but eliminate that sort of situation by being well prepared. Phone only qualified prospects - that is, people who have a legitimate need for your product or service and who have the authority to make a buying decision.

Before making any of your calls, be certain you know your industry well and be prepared to answer questions. I don't recommend a fully scripted presentation because it can come across as phony, but it does help to jot down in point form the basics of what you want to say.

If you are really nervous, practice your presentation in front of the mirror or - better yet - with a well trusted friend or family member. Have them ask questions ("dumb" ones are great) in order to test your knowledge of your product and to help you practice various responses.

When you practice, try to sound sincere, relaxed (remember to breathe) and happy. It is better to communicate those feelings over the phone than to share your nervousness.

If you are the type of person who likes to talk with their hands, consider using a phone headset. This will free your hands and help you speak more naturally. During particularly tense telephone conversations, I like to use a portable phone so I can work off stress by pacing while I talk.


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