There’s an agent on my team who, less than 12 months ago, was literally terrified of making phone calls

I vividly remember days with this agent when I would sit next to him and dial the phone for him with his follow-up calls. His fear ran so deep that he would sometimes freeze, and I’d have to step in and take over the call. 

Turns out, there’s an actual name for that: Telephonophobia

Telephonophobia is a condition that causes anxiety when talking on the phone. While most people experience milder forms of phone anxiety, some can experience stronger forms. 

For most people, this manifests as one or more of the following:

  • Reluctance to make phone calls
  • Inability to answer calls
  • Panic during the call
  • Anxiety when the phone rings

I’m sure most of us have experienced this in a mild form at some point or another. And most of us have probably used it as an excuse to not make calls

But, what if I told you that same agent with telephonophia is now making amazing calls, on speakerphone at the office on a regular basis? (And yes, he’s converting on these calls, too.)

It might just make you think again about your own phone fears. 

Phone Anxiety

For me, the feeling and degree of phone anxiety has varied throughout my career. It’s usually strongest during times when I’m starting a new type of call or when I’m working on a new script that I’m not totally comfortable with. 

Despite the fact that most agents (and most people) are almost constantly connected to phones these days, it seems the fear of the phone or hesitation around making phone calls is more prevalent today than it was even just a few years ago. 

A study conducted in 2023 found more than 80% of millennials experienced phone anxiety. We’ve all become so accustomed to texting, DMing on social media, and even FaceTiming that it’s easy to avoid the phone:

  • No need to call the pizza shop to place an order; an app on your phone can do that. 
  • Scheduling doctor appointments can also be done online. 
  • Most customer service issues are easily handled via chatbots on websites or apps. 

All the things that used to force us to use the phone are essentially obsolete or non-existent. It’s crazy to think about it that way. 

That said, working within the sales-based industry, we all know if we want to connect with our customers and earn additional business, phone calls are an essential part of the job. 

And whether your fear of the phone is fleeting like mine, or much more deeply embedded like the agent I mentioned, there are some quick strategies you can use to help yourself navigate your way through those feelings of anxiety around phone calls. 

Ask the question, “What am I really afraid of?”

When you feel an overwhelming degree of anxiety when you’re on the phone or about to make a phone call, stop and take a moment to ask yourself what you’re really afraid of. 

Name the fear. Typically, it’s one of these four things:

  1. Fear of rejection
  2. Fear of failure
  3. Fear of verbal abuse
  4. Lack of confidence in what you’re selling

#1—Fear of rejection

First up is the fear of being rejected. Understand that rejection is better than avoidance. In reality, what’s the worst thing that can happen on any phone call? They say “no.” So don’t sweat it. It’s not that bad. You will probably never see or talk to that person again. 

They won’t call you and say, “Oh, you’re that agent I didn’t want to work with.” The worst result is them turning you down and leaving you in the same situation you’re in now. 

One of the things I used to do while battling this fear with outbound prospecting was to make up a name and pretend that I was an assistant or someone calling on behalf of myself. 

As ridiculous as it sounds, it made me feel a hundred times better that no one would be rejecting me. They would be rejecting my alter ego. 

#2—Fear of failure

The next fear is related: fear of failure. But rejection doesn’t mean you’ve lost; you just haven’t progressed yet. But you’ll never progress and make a sale if you don’t ask. You miss a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. 

So if you ask and they say, “No,” at least you can move on. 

#3—Fear of verbal abuse

Another fear has to do with the potential for a strong negative reaction on the part of the person you’re calling. Some folks are scared of people being mean. Well, let’s face it, some people are mean and nasty, but do you really want them as customers anyway? Probably not. 

So if they’re rude, shake it off and move on. A rude no doesn’t leave you in any worse condition than a polite rejection. 

Let go of the emotional attachment to these brief prospects. Delete them from your call list and move on. There is massive power in simply being able to say, “Next.” 

#4—Lack of confidence in what you’re selling

Oftentimes we’re scared of the phone because we’re not confident in the product that we’re selling. 

Wait, did you all hear that? 

We’re not technically selling a product. What we sell is ourselves—or, more aptly put, we sell the experience of what it’s like to buy or sell a home with us. 

I promise you, the product you are selling is one of the best out there: You deliver amazing service while sharing your exceptional knowledge of the market and the process of buying and selling homes. And provided you keep learning and leveling up your skills, you can achieve superhuman results

If you really believe that in your core, you’ll carry confidence in your voice, attitude, posture, stance, and persistence. 

The last thing I will leave you with is to remember not everyone will be their best working with all types of calling. And that’s okay. You don’t need to master it all. 

Maybe expired listings are your thing. Maybe they’re not. Maybe you’re a circle-prospecting fiend. Maybe not. 

For me, those were never my jam, but I slayed it working old leads. 

Why? Well, because in my head, it was a thousand times easier to make calls to people who had at some point raised their hand and said that they were interested in either buying or selling real estate. 

The reality is, when those hand-raisers have been neglected for years and no longer remember submitting the inquiry, it’s no different from any other cold call. But in my head it was, and that was all that mattered. 

That gave me the confidence to begin making other types of calls. 

So, while I may not have convinced you to love the phone, or even to dedicate time to making outbound prospecting calls today, I hope I sparked a little fire in you to give it some thought.