How to Overcome the Fear of Calling on Prospects

By Jim Cathcart

This blog post is one of a series that features insights from certified Peak Performance Mindset trainers and experts. – Sales 3.0 Conference Editors

Recently I taught an entrepreneurship class at the California Lutheran University School of Management and focused on the fear of making new calls on people you don’t know.

Here are some key points from that discussion.

First, fear is not a reality; instead, it is a reaction to your perception of reality. In other words, the way you think about something is what stimulates your emotional response.

If you see making calls on prospects you don’t know as an intrusion into their day, you’ll be apprehensive. Likewise, if you see “selling” as an act of manipulation and persuasion, you’ll feel a sense of guilt about it. In both cases, you are taking something from the other person – their time or money.

So the problem arises from how you were thinking. Premise selects conclusions. If you see prospects as targets whose money you want to acquire, you’ll treat them as objects…and they will feel your attitude. People can tell when you don’t respect or care about them – even if you mask your feelings.

On the other hand, if you see prospects as people you may be able to help via your product or service, you’ll treat them with more respect.

These attitudes grow from our mindset – our beliefs and assumptions (for example, the way you think about the purpose of business). If you believe the purpose of business is “to generate revenue,” you’ll feel and behave differently than if you see it as a way “to make life better for people.” If you feel that money is bad and profit is selfish, you’ll never confidently ask for payment.

The truth is that business is simply a form of providing products and services at a profit – mutual benefit so you can continue helping others. If no profit is made, then only one party benefits and the other has to stop helping due to lack of resources. There’s too much judgment around money and we need to start seeing profit as a good thing for both parties. You deserve to make good money from the good you do for others.

Now let’s return to the original topic: making calls on people you don’t know in hopes of selling your offerings to them. When you realize that business is a good thing and profit is a good thing, you can forget your inclinations toward guilt or reluctance. You can reach out with confidence and joy as you find new people to assist and serve. If someone cannot buy or benefit from your offer, you simply consider them as a new friend and move happily onward to your next contact.

One more thing: stop making “cold” calls. It is fine to make new contacts or calls on people you’ve never met, but there is no reason for them to be “cold.” And I’m not talking about the silly idea of “warm” calls. What I mean is that a new call isn’t cold or warm or anything except simply “new.” If you don’t know someone, it is inappropriate for you to immediately start “selling” to him or her. Instead, you should greet them, find out if they can benefit from buying, and either serve them or not based upon their needs and interests. Just make “new contacts.”

This takes the pressure off of you and places the focus on thinking about and learning how you might help them. Every contact you make can be seen for what it should be: a way to find new people to help so you can earn a profit for doing so. Isn’t that what you were thinking, too?

Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is the original author of Relationship Selling and one of the world’s leading professional speakers. Jim is a regular contributor to Selling Power and a certified Mindset Trainer. Contact Jim at

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