Call Reluctance: Definition & How to Overcome It

Having trouble making your daily call goals? Check out our article on call reluctance, including tips and strategies on how to overcome it.

Table of Contents

Call reluctance is one of the most common problems that cold callers experience. In fact, 48% of salespeople fear making cold calls, according to the Associated Press. The time investment, frequency of rejection, and dry spells in the sales process can make cold calling more monotonous and frustrating than it already is. So, the things we have to understand in order to solve this problem are as follows:

  • What Call Reluctance Is: What do we mean by call reluctance, and when does it become a problem that can affect our career?
  • Why Salespeople Feel Call Reluctance: What are the root causes that we need to remedy?
  • Signs of Call Reluctance: How do we know whether we just don’t like cold calling or we’re genuinely reluctant to do it?
  • How to Overcome Call Reluctance: What can we do to beat call reluctance once we’ve identified it?
  • Consequences of Call Reluctance: What are the negative effects that call reluctance has on the sales process?

Let’s dive into detail, starting with what call reluctance is in the first place and how it affects salespeople’s performance.

What Is Call Reluctance?

Call reluctance is the resistance, fear, or disinterest salespeople feel when making cold calls, ultimately resulting in fewer total calls or cold calls that go poorly. You can feel call reluctance for a variety of reasons, and common signs include a slow start to your day or a lack of energy on the phone. Luckily, if you’re experiencing call reluctance, strategies such as purposefully getting a head start on your day and creating a recovery ritual can help carry you through.

Why Do Salespeople Feel Call Reluctance?

It can be easy to say that sales professionals feel call reluctance simply because cold calling is not always fun. Cold calling can be arduous, but it’s important to address the root causes of this feeling. The three primary reasons that salespeople feel call reluctance are nerves, rejection, and fatigue. Below, let’s look more closely at each of these reasons.


Nerves are usually the first cause of call reluctance that salespeople experience. When you first get on the phone, everything is new and unsure. Compound that with the pressure to impress your employer and your livelihood depending on some level of success, and you’ve got the perfect situation for some serious nerves. Not only that, but speaking with people that you don’t know can be a nerve-racking experience. This makes the first call each day so hard.


Shortly after the nerves comes the rejection. Cold calling involves contacting a high volume of leads that may not be in the mood to talk business. As a result, you’ll be hearing a lot of “no,” “don’t call me again,” and many other unpleasant ways of conveying the same message. This can lead you to anticipate rejection before you get on the phone with a new prospect.

Now, we all know the conversion rate on cold calls isn’t very high. estimates a 2% conversion rate, which is pretty generous. This means that, at best, 98% of your calls are going to feel like you’re running into a brick wall. Even though these odds are generally well-known, it can still feel like you’re failing when you’re constantly being rejected by leads. It can often feel like the calls you have to make aren’t worth the time required.


Fatigue is a long-term effect of being a high-volume cold caller. Fatigue can be common, especially in call-heavy environments where you’re making 200-300 calls per day or week. Maintaining enthusiasm, following the right script, and thinking on your feet in many calls every day gets exhausting. It saps your energy and can make it tough to keep hitting the phone.

Signs You’re Experiencing Call Reluctance

So, how do you know when your disinterest has turned into reluctance? What can you look for in your day-to-day workflow to know whether you are experiencing it? There are a few common habits that are signs of call reluctance, so look for these throughout your workday to decide whether or not you have a problem with call reluctance:

  • Your Days Start Slow: You start calling later on in the day than you should.
  • You Always Have Something Else to Do: You find yourself prioritizing things that could wait until after your calls are done.
  • You Lose Your Energy on the Phone: You have trouble maintaining professional enthusiasm on your calls.
  • You Get Nervous on the Phone: You become overwhelmed with nerves before you even get on a call with a new prospect.
  • You Invite the Lead to End the Call: Instead of pushing for the information you need and calling your customer to action, you’re going through the motions and allowing calls to end without handling objections.
  • You Don’t Ask for Referrals: You are so set on getting off of the phone that you don’t ask customers for referrals after a successful call. 
  • You Never Make the “Extra” Call: Once you hit your mandatory call minimum, you don’t make another call, even if a sales opportunity arises.

Once these habits start to form, it can be difficult to unlearn them. They stem from the root causes we just discussed — nerves, rejection, and fatigue — and they make the cold calling experience less effective and even more monotonous. These signs can generate a decrease in success, which makes cold calling even more painful, and far less lucrative. So, let’s talk about how to conquer this reluctance.

How to Overcome Your Call Reluctance

Since we have identified the signs of call reluctance, we should talk about what to do about them. Addressing these signs as they come up will increase your level of success on the phones, and they’ll make your cold calling process more efficient and enjoyable. 

  • Get a Head Start on Your Day: Start your calls earlier and chip away at your daily goal.
  • Prioritize Calls During “Power Hour”: Call when your market is the most available.
  • Fake Energy to Make Energy: Generate more energy by speaking with enthusiasm.
  • Go Back to the Script: Follow your script when you lose energy to cover key points.
  • Create a Repeatable Routine: Keep your days predictable and comfortable.
  • Create a Recovery Ritual: Create a quick set of behaviors to relax and recover.
  • Meditate: Give yourself time to clear your mind, breathe, and reset to reduce stress.
  • Create Alternate Scripts: Draft a few scripts that switch up your delivery.
  • Focus on Your Successes: Instead of dwelling on rejection, celebrate successful calls.
  • Just Pick Up the Phone: When in doubt, grab the phone, dial a number, and get going.

So, let’s go sign-by-sign, reason-by-reason, and tip-by-tip to discuss solutions.

Get a Head Start on Your Day

The best way to make a big call goal look smaller is to take a huge chunk out of it before your first break. If you work in a time zone that allows for it, the moment your butt hits the seat, start calling. Get as many as possible done in your first couple hours without sacrificing quality, and set a solid pace for the day.

You’ll have done so much during the morning hours that you can have a little grace with yourself near the end of the day as you get tired. Use that time to get paperwork done, chat with coworkers, or whatever else you do that isn’t as active as the prospecting process. Use your energy while you have it, and you’ll be much better off.

Pro Tip:

When I was doing 200 calls per day, I tried to get 100 of them done by the time I took my first break. My desire to take my break incentivized me to just pick up the phone and get them done, and it gave me peace through the rest of the day to know I'd gotten such a solid start.

Prioritize Calls During “Power Hour”

Depending on your time zone, you’ll have different prime hours for cold calling. West Coast salespeople should be hitting it hard as early as possible, because the rest of the country is already up and ready to go. Professionals on the East Coast might want to prioritize calling around 11 a.m., when businesses to the west start to open up.

Prioritizing calls during these hours will increase your success on the phones, resulting in a more rewarding cold calling experience. More success tends to generate more motivation, and this will help you get more excited for your calls.

Fake Energy to Make Energy

Losing energy in the workplace is usually more mental than physical. If you give in to the fatigue and drop the energy in your voice on your calls, you’ll lull yourself into what we call a “cold call coma.” This means that your calls are essentially useless because you’ve simply accepted that you have no energy left to give to them.

To avoid this problem, fake a little energy by lifting your tone and speaking with enthusiasm. By raising the energy level of the conversation, you often do the same for the response from the customer. As a result, you end up with a much more interesting and engaging conversation. Not only that, but you’ll also build rapport and increase your conversion rate.

Pro Tip:

Usually, you’re looking to match your lead’s energy on a cold call. In these moments, though, crank up the dial and overdo it a little bit. Keeping yourself energized is the priority here, so don’t worry too much about going overboard.

Go Back to the Script

Too many salespeople get tired of cold calling, and they begin to actually want the customer to rush them off the phone. If you find yourself in the “if they hang up, they hang up” mood, accept that you are not in the zone to improvise in that moment. Your natural inclination when you’re in a mood like that is to accept rejection the moment you catch a whiff of it.

To avoid the self-sabotage that comes with this attitude, bring out your script. Read it word-for-word, and don’t worry about it sounding too robotic. Trust me, in that mood, sounding robotic is much better than letting fatigue kill every single call you make that day. Give your calls a fighting chance by sticking to the script when you find yourself inviting the lead to reject you.

Additional Reading:

If you want a more in-depth look at creating a quality script, check out our ultimate guide on writing a cold call script that sells. There you’ll find a step-by-step process, including tips and examples to help you along the way.

Create a Repeatable Routine

Making sure that your workdays involve a standard routine will reduce the number of barriers between you and your goal. This means deciding on the coffee or food you grab in the morning, the time you get into the office, and the time you start calling. Keeping your days similar will get your brain in a comfortable space, reducing stress and streamlining your workflow.

Create a Recovery Ritual

When you’re hit particularly hard with fatigue, nerves, or rejection, it’s okay to take some time to bounce back. The best way to get this done is to establish a routine that only takes a couple minutes and helps you get yourself relaxed and ready to go.

Try incorporating some of these strategies to help recharge mid-workday:

  • Take a Lap Around Your Office: Getting off of your butt and walking around can help break up the monotony and get your blood flowing.
  • Grab a Snack and/or Drink: If you’re looking for a good excuse to grab your next cup of coffee or a bag of chips, your recovery ritual is the perfect time for a little refueling.
  • Stretch: Extend your arms above your head and let out a big breath to release tension.

Easy, quick, and repeatable methods like these help you create a two-to-three minute recovery ritual that can get you back on track. These rituals break up the monotony of the day, get your body moving, and help you clear your mind after a tough call. You can even take these actions on your regularly scheduled lunch and breaks if you find something that works well for you.

Pro Tip:

Personally, I recommend keeping your ritual the same every time. The habit-forming parts of the brain seem to respond well to familiar patterns that provide some kind of reward. So, if your brain notices that the same sequence of actions gets you in a better mood, it’s more likely to work again in the future.


Sometimes, two or three minutes won’t be enough to get you back on track. On days like these, use your break to try meditating. You can use a guided app like Calm or Headspace, or you can look up some free guided meditations on YouTube. Taking this time to just close your eyes, focus on yourself, and recuperate from your day can be effective in turning your workday around.

Create Alternate Scripts

If you are the type to stick to the script at all times, but get exhausted with saying the exact same things over and over again, consider creating some alternate scripts that deliver similar information in a new way. Change a few details for each of them that don’t take away from the end goal, like these:

  • The Way You Introduce Yourself: Some prospects will respond better to casual introductions, whereas others will be put off if you don’t speak with the utmost professionalism.
  • The Initial Prospecting Questions You Ask: Some questions can be asked multiple ways. For example, “What problem are you looking to solve?” can easily be “What’s your goal?”
  • The Call-to-Action: If you normally offer a more general time slot, like 1-3 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, try a direct offer of one specific time slot, like “Can you do 3 p.m. tomorrow?”

You don’t need to completely reinvent each detail, but you can add a little flavor to it. For smaller businesses, you can have a special script that uses more casual language so you don’t feel so stiff on every call. For businesses that fill a specific niche that you run into often, you can create a specific script that changes up your delivery to suit their needs. This builds more rapport with customers while also switching up your rhythm to avoid too much repetition.

Focus on Your Successes

One thing that helps boost a salesperson’s spirits is to recognize their success. So, when you have a good call, write it down and take it in. Every time you make a solid contact, set an appointment, or close a sale, document it on a piece of paper or Word document. When you start to feel like cold calling just isn’t working, or you might not be good at it, take a look at your “success sheet” and remember that you are making progress, even if it feels slow.

Sales is an emotional rollercoaster for both the customer and the salesperson. So, leaning in to the emotional aspect of it to pick yourself up is key, because there will be times that it pulls you down whether you like it or not.

Just Pick Up the Phone

It can be easy to get lost in prevention strategies and take up a lot of time trying to force yourself into a better mood. Whenever you find yourself stuck and wasting too much time, just pick up the phone. Sometimes your mood won’t turn right away, and it’ll take a good call to get your engine running again. So, grab your script and punch in the next number.

Negative Impacts of Call Reluctance

Why do we need to address call reluctance in the first place? Well, there are many ways that it can negatively affect your work. Each of the following can have impacts on how much money you’re able to make, and how satisfied you are with your job:

  • You Don’t Make Enough Calls: Obviously, being reluctant to make calls will typically result in you making fewer calls. 
  • Your Calls Don’t Last as Long: Since you’re in a rush to be off the phone, you won’t put in the effort to keep your calls alive.
  • You Convert Less: A lack of interest will result in cutting corners, and that will mean that you won’t make as many sales over the phone.
  • You Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: As your results decline, calling will feel even more pointless, making you even more reluctant to call.

Not only will you end up with bad results on your calls, but you’ll also be contributing to a negative feedback loop that continues to make the problem worse. At the end of the day, each of these negative impacts, if left unchecked, can easily end with you quitting or losing your job. This is why taking the above steps to fix the issue are vital to having success as a salesperson.

Bottom Line: Call Reluctance

Call reluctance is one of the most common issues plaguing salespeople during outbound lead generation. It can result in significant downturns in productivity, and make you really hate your job. The bright side is that we’ve laid out some effective ways to curb the issue before it becomes a potentially career-ending problem. So, keep an eye on your habits and implement these tips, and you’ll be able to push through call reluctance every time it comes up.

For more information on overcoming call reluctance and maximizing your cold call success rate, check out our ultimate guide on cold calling.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on print