By: Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training


A while back I was speaking at the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table conference and at the end of the presentation, during our Q & A, an insurance salesman asked me, “How can I handle call reluctance?”

I was slightly taken aback. I really couldn’t imagine a salesperson (an insurance one especially) having call reluctance and being successful. That’s what I call an oxymoron. The two just don’t go together. I asked him if he meant ‘Call Rejection?’ He did not.

Call reluctance – the fear of picking up the phone – and making a cold call, is obviously not a great characteristic of a successful salesperson. On the other hand, I understand and can treat ‘call rejection.’

Well, you’re asking, what’s the difference between the two? Big time difference!

If you feel you happen to have call reluctance, for whatever reason, meaning you’re obviously reluctant to pick up the phone and make a cold call, start with little steps. 

  • Call for information at a local store. 
  • Call friends and talk with them. 
  • Call folks you haven’t heard from in a while. 
  • Set an achievable goal. Maybe 10 prospecting calls and stop for a while. Then, later, 10 more.

Hopefully, the fear of picking up the phone will be lessened and you’ll be able to move forward.

For those that are not comfortable using the phone to make COLD CALLS at all, perhaps they need to find another position.

However, I am comfortable helping those who have a fear of call rejection. That is solvable.

The number one reason, I believe, a salesperson has call rejection is he’s unsure about his product. He’s not confident. And, of course, he may not have all the answers to the objections he knows he’ll get. Call rejection is a form of FUD. That’s right, F-U-D. It’s something every professional salesperson has dealt with at one time or another. FUD:

  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Doubt

FEAR – Since we know fear is often from lack of product knowledge, we also know it can be fixed. Study up on your company, your industry, your product, your competitors; anything you can do to be sure you understand exactly what it is you’re doing, selling and talking about.

Once you’re secure in that area, some, if not all, of the fear will disappear. Think of a child, a 2 or 3-year-old taking his first swimming lesson. Most kids are fearful of putting their head and face into the water. Why? Because they don’t know how; they don’t know anything about it. But then they learn how to do it safely. Guess what? They swim. They had a form of call rejection. They had ‘swim rejection.’ Same principle.

 So, learn all you can about your industry, your company, and your competitors. It will help reduce, if not cure, your fear of being rejected and your customer’s fear about choosing the right product/vendor/ service which leads us to:

UNCERTAINTY – What’s gonna happen? If you’re in sales, you may have heard the old saying, “Nothing happens till someone sells something.” Or perhaps the other old saying, “Every NO is one step closer to a YES.”

When we pick up the phone to make a COLD CALL, we’re uncertain. And there are some who are even uncertain on how to ask for the prospect. Uncertainty is a major player in making cold calls.

If you’ve learned about your company, industry, and competitors, then we’re just uncertain about the outcome, right? Uncertain of what someone will say or ask you.

One way to help handle the uncertainty is to make a list of all the possible objections you might hear. Keep them near you; whatever they are. Write them down. Then jot down the answers to those objections. Keep the list in front of you while you’re on the phone. This way when the customer says:

* I’m not ready or

* I can’t afford it or

* It’s too expensive or

* That’s 2% more than the other guy or

* We’re buying from your competitor

Whatever the objection might be, you’ll have an answer ready.

It’s a rare salesperson that can bring up an immediate answer to every objection on the spot. There are some, but most are limited to what we can remember. By writing down all the possible objections and the answers to them, you immediately remove the “uncertainty” in F-U-D. You have the information right in front of you!

DOUBT – Doubt is usually what the buyer has. And often, even the salesperson has doubt. Are you the right choice? Is your company the best? The most well-known? The most respected?

Once you have mastered fear and uncertainty, it’s easier to eliminate the doubt in your customer’s mind and your own by your confidence and knowledge of your product or service. It’s the non-confident salesperson that brings DOUBT to a customer and himself into the conversation.

So, bottom line: Overcoming call rejection can be fixed; if you make up your mind to fix what’s wrong.

The hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In your case, you miss out on 100% of the calls you don’t make.

You can do it. There’s no F-U-D about that! Stay tuned for our next BLOG on 10 tips to making a cold call.

Thank you for sharing.

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.