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What to do when you get phone call anxiety on a sales call

4 min readJanuary 14, 2020

Phone call anxiety is a real thing. In fact, research shows that 40 percent of salespeople will experience some sort of anxiety when making calls.

Whether it be picking up the phone, struggling with a script, trouble booking a demo, or grappling with rejections, call anxiety can have a paralyzing effect on a rep’s sales success.

The phone is a true relationship builder. Nothing gets a prospect’s attention like a call, and all of the most significant sales moments happen during conversations. Phone calls have the potential to not only bring deals over the line, but to develop significant and lasting relationships like prospects and clients through the power of conversation.

Since many reps have and will experience phone call phobia, here’s what causes it and what you can do about it.

Causes of phone call anxiety

Fear of the unknown

When making a phone call of any type, you are projecting yourself into an unknown situation. In a sales context, you are blind to what the receiving party is doing, and since it is your job to call them and perform perfectly in that unknown situation, that fear of the unknown is magnified.

Pressure to perform

When you make a sales call, you are under pressure to execute perfectly within that unknown situation. Every conversation during the process is crucial, and no one wants to say or do anything that causes a deal to go bad. Since a phone call intrinsically features so much unknown, the pressure to perform in an unfamiliar situation can be immense.

Sales reps also face pressure from their managers and peers to meet goals and this scrutiny can also cause phone call anxiety.

You’re facing a time constraint

Particularly on a cold call, prospects want to know why you are calling and what it means for them. That creates pressure for sales reps to quickly deliver an effective value proposition as soon as the phone is picked up.

Furthermore, you likely don’t have all day to make calls and need to complete a list within a certain amount of time. This places further pressure on reps as they attempt to hit a particular number of activities each day.

Fear of being judged

Calling into strangers can also lead to a fear of judgment. Cold call recipients usually are not afraid to speak their minds, and sometimes can be a bit harsh. Reps who experience phone call anxiety may fear what the person on the other end thinks about them, if they are judging their pitch, or even their product.

Solutions for phone call anxiety

So there are several causes for phone call anxiety in sales, luckily once you understand why it happens, you are already halfway to solving it. Here’s who you can overcome call anxiety and increase your sales performance.

Create a positive environment

The first is to create a positive working space for yourself. This includes both your physical and mental space. Read, watch, or listen to something motivational beforehand. Take a moment to relax, and remember the end goals of why you are making these calls. Understand that the outcomes or what others think will not actually harm you.

Decorate your working space with things that make you happy, or move to a different space altogether when you make calls. Preferably, find somewhere with natural light and a window.


Before you actually make calls, you can roleplay with a peer, experienced rep, or manager. You can rehearse worst-case scenarios and ask for feedback, or ease into it to get a positive feel for calls before actually making them. Go over your scripts and fine-tune them to make them as easy to deliver as possible.

Seek support

If you are truly struggling to pick up the phone, reach out to someone you can trust who will understand the feeling. Work with a manager, peer, or coach to overcome the fear. Have them join you for a few calls or practice different exercises to put you at ease.

Have an outline or script

A script can do wonders for someone with call anxiety. It provides a guide you can go to when you find yourself getting nervous and it can become an easy, repetitive task to dial a number, deliver the script, and so on.

Be wary of over-scripting your calls though. Rather than a word-for-word dialogue, create an outline with a certain point you need to deliver or questions to ask. This will prevent you from sounding too robotic and make you more personable.

Do lots of research

Knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have about a prospect, their company, and their situation, the more confident you will feel. Knowledge is often the difference between cold calling and warm calling. Understand who you are calling, their role, and their needs.

This way you will have some visibility into the situation are dialing into and can impress the recipient with your understanding.

Embrace the rejection

Rejection is a part of sales. No matter what you do, things won’t always go the way you want to. The best thing you can do with rejection is to accept it. Sometimes, prospects just aren’t a fit, others are taken by competitors, and more others just don’t want to buy. There are infinite reasons why people don’t buy, and many are not your fault. Don’t take the losses too hard, embrace them and learn from them.

Keep moving

Most importantly, keep going. Use your support systems to keep pushing through. It is much harder to stop and start again than it is to keep moving. If you can maintain some momentum, you’re already on your way to overcoming call anxiety.