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Why is cold calling so scary?

Revenue Blog  > Why is cold calling so scary?
3 min readApril 8, 2020

Cold calling is undoubtedly challenging. You must master an array of skills like a natural sounding tone and sales script. You need to learn objection responses, develop product knowledge, and learn proper pre-call research. All of this adds up in a way that makes 48% of business-to-business salespeople afraid of making cold calls. It takes time to build your confidence so prospecting will feel less daunting.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” A lack of belief in yourself and your abilities makes it much more difficult for you to succeed.

Fear is a powerful emotion. It manifests itself in various physical ways with an increased heart rate, sweating, uncontrollable worry, anxiety, and nervousness. Fear makes it more difficult to successfully complete prospecting calls because being afraid decreases blood flow to the part of your brain responsible for logical thinking and planning.

It becomes mentally difficult to make cold calls when you are fearful because short-term rewards excite the emotion-related area of the brain while your logical brain understands the future consequences of your current actions. So, you’re fear of making cold calls decreases blood flow to your logical brain and makes it seem reasonable to avoid the discomfort of dialing.

Beyond the physiological reasons, what are we so afraid of?

Fear of Rejection

One fear associated with cold calling is fear of rejection which, interestingly enough, results in actual pain. The pain of rejection is felt by the same part of the brain where physical pain is experienced, and therefore the body often cannot differentiate between the two. Research has even revealed that headache medicine provides temporary relief from the pain of rejection.

Although the cause for fear of rejection varies by individual, we may be afraid that rejection confirms our worst fear —that we’re unlovable, destined to be alone, or have little worth or value. As reps, rejection is a daily occurrence when cold calling, with all the “no’s” or objections from tough gatekeepers and prospects. This then translates to the terror that these rejections confirm your deepest fears of being bad at sales and destined to fail.

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is essentially a fear of shame because it makes us feel deep shame. It gives us a bad feeling about who we are. Shame gets to the core of our egos, identities, self-esteem, and feelings of emotional well-being. Plus, perfectionism can result in fear of failure and procrastination if you become overwhelmed and stalled by self-imposed impossible standards.

Many of us are afraid of failing, at least some of the time. But fear of failure is allowing that fear to stop you from doing the things necessary to achieve your goals. Some signs that you have fear of failure include a reluctance to take action, procrastination, lack of self-confidence and perfectionism.

Fear of Success

Fear of success often stems from a belief that higher expectations and greater responsibilities will result from succeeding. Success means change, even if it’s a change you want. When you try something and fail, you go back to your comfort zone, even if you’re not happy about it.

When you try something and succeed, things change. It may put in you the spotlight and create more pressure to continue performing at a higher level than before. It could mean being in a position where more people depend on you and look to you as an example. This could also put you under increased scrutiny and exposure.

Those are some of the things that scare those who fear success. And, as a result, self-sabotage is a common symptom of fear of success that stands in your way. The biggest challenge is that we often don’t realize that we’re doing this to ourselves.

If cold calling scares you, chances are that you’re struggling with fear of rejection, failure or success. Once you determine which one it is, you’re in a position to fight your demons and move past them. Remember, with 48% of us afraid of cold calling, you’re not alone.