Picking up the phone: The trepidation for making a call

Smartphones have changed human lives forever. They’ve changed the way we take photos, videos, and capture our experiences with the world. They’ve changed how we share those experiences with friends; how we eat (Deliveroo, anyone?); how we travel; even how we pay for transactions.

But more than anything, smartphones have changed how we communicate with everyone and everything; with friends and family, colleagues, brands, businesses, and, more recently, with our other possessions.

Instant messaging applications like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger now connect billions of people each day, allowing for lightning quick, free communication across different timezones and countries. But has this increasing reliance on text-based communication (Whatsapp usage has grown by 500{abe26f58d681493381c742ae5300607f24f557f0dc5643dce2e8a695e04c7168} to 1.2 billion active monthly users in four years) stifled our ability, or desire, to hold actual verbal conversations over the phone?

Studies would suggest that the answer is a resounding ‘yes’, with research in 2015 highlighting that 25{abe26f58d681493381c742ae5300607f24f557f0dc5643dce2e8a695e04c7168} of people in the UK do not use their smartphone to make calls on a regular basis. This research is now two years old so the percentage has more than likely increased substantially since then, especially given that it stood at just 13{abe26f58d681493381c742ae5300607f24f557f0dc5643dce2e8a695e04c7168} in 2013.

Millennials, the largest demographic for smartphone usage, are thought to be at the forefront of this phonecall-phobia. It makes sense, millennials have grown up with written communication as standard in both the workplace and their personal lives – and they’re good at it. This has had an impact on business practices too; it’s no surprise that strategies for social selling, the process of developing a relationship with a potential customer, now often include the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as key cornerstones.

Nonetheless, phone calls are an important part of a company’s sales strategy. Very important in fact, cold calling still represents one of the absolute best routes for generating leads and growing a business.

As an example, Uber, one of the world’s largest start ups from San Francisco’s much-famed Silicon Valley, made an effort to cold call as many potential new drivers as they could during the early days. Travis Kalanick and his team would constantly pitch drivers their idea in an effort to recruit new employees and thus launch the business in various cities around the US. Fast forward to today, and despite its recent controversies and Travis Kalanick’s recent resignation as CEO, Uber is considered to be worth upwards of $69bn. Well worth the time and effort put into cold calling.

We regularly come across a growing aversion and trepidation to phone calls in our line of work, but it’s important to remember that sometimes there is no substitute for verbal contact. Building a relationship with potential customers is hard work, but it’s done much easier in an organic conversation with instant back and forth.

And in an ultra-competitive business climate, sticking to one form of communication – text or verbal – over the other just won’t cut it. Companies that want to succeed will require ‘telephone heroes’ – employees who are comfortable on the phone – to help them grow, just as much as they require people who can develop relationships over social networks. As such, we strongly recommend evaluating the skill level of your staff at making cold calls to build business relationships, set meetings, and secure orders, before providing relevant and appropriate sales call training as required.

In summary, verbal based communication, and cold calling in particular, remains an important part of any balanced sales strategy. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to recognise the shift towards text based communication in order to take the appropriate actions and ensure that all business channels are delivering growth.


Photo by Jakub Gorajek on Unsplash