For a sizeable number of freelancers and solopreneurs, picking up the phone to talk with a client can be a terrifying prospect. Phone anxiety is a common fear and for business owners, it can be an extreme hindrance on the path to business success.
A great professional website and social media presence can go a long way to impressing potential clients. However, in the majority of cases, those potential clients want to speak directly with the freelancer before spending any money. People are hesitant about trusting just a name and a photograph. They want to hear the voice behind the brand and judge the character and trustworthiness of the professional in a more personal way.
Whether you like it or not, phone calls are an essential part of freelancing. When you can’t use the phone or you sound utterly terrified when talking, then it doesn’t matter how good your marketing and sales process is – you’ll find it difficult to convert interested prospects into actual paying clients.
And that’s sad. Because for many freelancers and solopreneurs who suffer from anxiety (which affects a little over 18% of the US population), self-employment is a great way to take control of your own destiny and work at your own pace.
Ways to Reduce Phone Anxiety
Luckily, like with many phobias and fears, there are ways to overcome the anxiety and tactics to push through with the required conversation. So how can you overcome phone anxiety and sound more relaxed and confident when taking a call?
- Practice general relaxation
Phone anxiety is generally a sign you’re naturally highly strung. By reducing the levels of your general or social anxiety, you’ll automatically reduce the fear associated with phone calls. It’s vital to practice relaxation techniques that calm your mind, relax your body, and enable you to feel more emotional balance. Mindfulness, deep breathing techniques, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise can all help.
- Actively target your ideal type of client
Not all prospects and clients are created equal. There are some types of people you’ll find it easier to chat to than others. Some clients soon become a joy to work with and you quickly forget your phone fears, while others are just downright scary and rude. Whenever possible in your branding and marketing, try to attract a particular type of client who you know will be easier to phone than others. Don’t be afraid to drop clients who make you miserable.
- Create a pre-call routine
Habits can bring about an increased sense of security and confidence. Create a little pre-call routine comprised of relaxation and confidence boosting actions. This routine might include repeating a series of positive affirmations about your past successes as a freelancer, looking at glowing testimonials you’ve received, listening to a favorite tune, or even sipping a tiny bit of sherry just to take the edge off.
- Prepare for the call
There’s nothing worse than going into a phone call with a prospect unprepared. When you have little information or knowledge about what type of services they need, what they do, and who they are, then it’s very easy for your nervous mind to just go blank. Spend a good amount of time before each call making sure you have researched the prospect, have ascertained via email what they generally want from you, and have prepared some questions.
- Write a little introductory script
A big part of phone anxiety is knowing how to begin the call. There’s a horror of suddenly finding yourself staring into a stomach-churning chasm of silence. To combat this possibility, prepare a little introductory script you can partially read from during the first few minutes of the call. Succinctly introduce yourself and tell the prospect what the call is all about and how you hope to help them. This will also put the other person’s mind at ease and create a more relaxed atmosphere.
- Keep all relevant information close to hand
Before the call, arrange all the potential information you might need and keep it close to hand. This info might include your rate sheet, your terms and conditions, a questionnaire, the client’s website, your website, a notebook and pen, and any notes you’ve already taken. Having all this information nearby will ensure you will never be stuck for an answer, especially if your mind goes blank with nerves.
- Talk slowly and with a smile
When you’re nervous it’s so easy to speak too quickly and fall over your words. You’re desperate for the call to end and the faster you get the information out, the faster you can hang up. However, this mindset just results in garbled words and an obvious sign to the prospective client that you’re feeling unsure of yourself.
Actively practice talking a little more slowly than you might otherwise prefer. Feel the fear but continue at a medium pace nevertheless and also put a little smile on your face, even if you have to fake it at first. It’ll make you feel better and also come across in your voice.
Finding your ideal clients by overcoming phone anxiety
Above all, remember that there are many other people who really hate using the phone, including the clients you talk to. Overcoming phone anxiety is genuinely possible. It can be achieved by actively practicing relaxation exercises every day, forging a positive mindset about your abilities and past successes, targeting the right type of freelancing clients, and pushing through the initial fears. By doing so, you’ll make it possible to work with friendly, interesting, and high paying clients.
The more you use the phone and the more successes you notch up, the easier making or taking a call will be. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Many successful and brave people have also suffered from phone anxiety and achieved business and life success regardless.