Don’t Fear The Phone
Do you remember your first cold call?
How did you feel when your hand moved to pick up the phone (or load up your digital dialer)? Nervous? Excited? Some combination of the two?
For a lot of reps, that feeling of anxiety, fear, and discomfort doesn’t go away quickly. Depending on their mindset, training/guidance, and management, it might never go away. And we know that you know that neglecting the phone entirely is a bad look for (virtually) all reps.
So how can you get over that fear of picking up the phone and start making cold calling a regular part of your outbound motion?
We asked out guest, Christian Erba, how he turned his fear and reluctance of cold calling into his greatest weapon as both an SDR and AE.
Christian talks us through his early struggles as an SDR, how he shifted his mindset to love cold calling, and the advice he has for anyone experiencing the same feelings he did when first starting out.
When you first started as an SDR, how did you feel about cold calling?
Did you know it was important? Or did you try to limit how much you did it?
Did you try to get good at it? Or did you focus on other skills before investing time into upskilling your cold calling?
When did you realize that cold calling was “where the money is” as an SDR?
In our pre-show, you used this quote: “You can read a billion books on how to fly. If you don’t actually try and fly a plane, you’ll never do it.” Talk about that mentality – getting your hands dirty and learning by doing.
Why did it work for you? Can it work for everyone?
Are you doing anything different from other AEs that makes you successful?
You leverage LinkedIn a lot – both as a consumer and creator. How has that helped you develop a cold-calling process that works?
Top 3 Takeaways
😱 I mean, the first thing that I had to get over was the fear, right? Because fear just doesn’t make anything enjoyable.
We won’t beat around the bush – cold calling can be scary. But it doesn’t have to be.
But the longer you wait to address that fear, the harder it will be to actually pick up the phone and start making calls.
It’s like we said in our last episode with Charlotte – eat the frog. If you don’t get over your fear of the phone early, it will just get bigger and slimier every day until you simply won’t do it, no matter how beneficial it is.
When you actually enjoy cold calling, that’s when you can really start having fun.
💡 For more advice and insight on helping SDRs get over the fear of cold calling, check out the course we produced on Strategic Sales Development & Types of Sales Channels.
🧠 Numb yourself. That’s the kind of mindset I had. It’s like, if I mess up a lot now, I will benefit from it. I will benefit down the line. But with each failed call, I learned a little more.
As far as mindset goes, this is one of the more beneficial ones to adopt. We’re well-documented fans of valuing growth and curiosity and believe that it’s one of the biggest separators between A and B players.
The more you fail the more you learn. The more you learn the more you grow. You just have to be ok with stomaching the failure and using it to push forward rather than keep yourself stuck in the same place.
And apparently, Christian failed a lot. His “a ha” moment is worth listening to.
🔀 I would definitely say time block and cherish that time. That’s the money time right there as an SDR. So really cherish that time and, and make it fun, right? Make a game out of it with your colleagues, bet on it.
This is especially interesting because in our first (non-recorded) conversation with Christian, he said that he doesn’t time block…
Jokes aside, his attitude shift is very telling. Previously, he thought “If you’re only job as an SDR is to prospect, you’re likely making dials all day anyways. So why bother time blocking?”
As Christian made the transition to AE, he realized the importance of making time specifically for cold calling. He sets aside 2 blocks of time during the day where he only cold calls. That allows him to better compartmentalize that activity and give himself enough time for other AE-related activities.
We couldn’t agree more – effective time management is a key skill that all SDRs can benefit from. Knowing how to structure and organize your day can make a serious impact on your results. After all, organized schedules get organized results, while sporadic schedules get sporadic results.
💪 And this is one thing that I noticed about a lot of the theory behind cold calling and the research that people do…is that then they don’t actually practice it. I mean, if you compare it to athletes, they practice all the time, but the game is just an hour, right? And you look at it in the game and they’re like, oh my god, these guys are amazing. Sure, they’re amazing because they’ve practiced and practiced and practiced.
Do we consider SDRs to be athletes? No. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t prepare like them.
The best cold callers are the best because:
A) They do the basics day in and day out. The best reps have strong foundations they continue to build on and default back to those foundations when things get tough.
B) They practice. They put in the reps (pun intended). They have a similar mindset to Christian where every time they pick up the phone they treat it as a learning opportunity. Each dial is another notch of experience in their overall body of work.
The more reps practice, the more comfortable they get with cold calling. And the more comfortable they get, the more creative they can get. And (in Christian’s words), “that’s when it gets really fun because then you’re not repeating the words of someone else. Then you’re adding your own flair.”
🤳 Pick up the phone and you’re 50% of the way there. Just you acknowledging, “okay, I’m gonna do it. I’m picking up the phone…” You are way more ahead than you think. And no matter how much research you do and how much practice you do in doing mock calls…that’s great, but just pick up the phone and great things will follow.
Another podcast, another guest suggesting that the best way to get good at cold calling is to pick up the phone and do it.
💡 ICYMI – Charlotte shared similar cold-calling advice in our last episode.
Obviously easier said than done, but reps will have to take the plunge at some point. Managers can make that a lot easier by providing guidance, a clear strategy, and the right mix of tech.
Encouraging/demanding them to pick up the phone only goes so far. There’s comfort in executing similar activities on a repeated basis, so help reps find a comfortable cadence they can use to consistently win with the phone. Coupling their dials with a video or LinkedIn connection can make the act of picking up the phone easier and more natural.
Hey there! AJ here 👋
Christian really opened up in this episode, and I appreciated the heck out of it.
Talking through his early struggles with cold calling and how he was able to turn that fear & anxiety into his greatest weapon as a salesperson was entertaining and educational. Because I know he’s not alone – there are likely thousands of SDRs out there who feel exactly the way he did when starting out, and could really benefit from seeing his transformation.
A few things really stuck out to me during our conversation:
Christian talked about having to hit “rock bottom” to realize that he could learn to love cold calling. Because once you experience the worst thing that can happen to you ( a grumpy VP, someone yelling at you, a prospect telling you to “suck eggs”) it can only get better. Overcoming that mental hurdle was huge for him, and I hear a lot of other SDRs share the same sentiment.
Calling has the lowest barrier of entry and is the fastest way of getting an answer (good or bad) from your prospects. Those facts alone highlight its importance as an outbound channel.
Theory into practice was a theme that kept coming up. Christian looks at LinkedIn as a gold mine of information – but simply copying and pasting what other people do won’t net you consistent results. Instead, understanding the theory behind why a particular tactic works helps Christian break it down into foundational components and build it back up in his own style. I don’t think enough reps do this.
Final thought – Christian is very much a “practice what you preach” kind of guy. So it made perfect sense that at the end of our chat, he offered up his time for reps looking to practice their cold calling. If you can find his number online and cold call him, he promises not to hang up (provided it’s good 😅). I highly recommend taking him up on that offer – one of the best ways to level up as a rep is to practice with and learn from peers. Don’t let an opportunity like this slip you by!