Cold Call Burnout? Here’s How to Keep Your Team Motivated


It’s happened to all of us: you hang up the phone and you just want to scream.  Or cry.  Or both. 

But if this is happening to you at work, and a big part of your job is picking up that phone and making cold calls, then you might be experiencing what we call burnout. 

Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tips on how you can not only reverse the effects of cold-call burnout, but actually work to prevent them from ever happening again:

Remember: This Is Normal

Eight out of ten.  That’s how many U.S. employees experience burnout at one point or another, according to a recent survey from Deloitte.

That means that if you’re not experiencing burnout, you’re in the minority of workers in the U.S. 

Often times we can feel a sense of guilt—maybe I’m just not passionate enough about my job, this isn’t the right work for me, or I’m just not contributing in the way that I should. But, as the survey goes on to tell us, that’s hardly the case: nearly 90% of respondents actually said they are passionate about their work. 

Here’s the thing: this isn’t about the job itself. It’s about how we’re going about doing it. So whether you’re in your dream sales job wondering why you’re not happy, or you’re a concerned inside sales manager who sees her sales team starting to disengage, we’ve got a few practical solutions that you can employ right now. 

Make Some Time To Talk

Let this sink in: according to that same study from Deloitte, the leading factor that employees attribute to feeling burnt out is the “lack of support or recognition from leadership, indicating the important role that leaders play in setting the tone.”

Employees: if you’re feeling like you’ve got the candle going at both ends, and a very limited amount of wax left, you need to tell your manager. Remember: they want you to be operating at your best—they know that it’s in everybody’s best interest for you to not be burned out, and actually engaged with your work. 

Don’t be afraid to open a dialogue and start simply by asking for help.  Managers: don’t wait for your employees to crash and fail. Be proactive about sensing and recognizing burned out employees. Especially in the world of cold-calling, we need to do everything we can to keep our teams happy, engaged, and motivated. 

It all starts with good leadership. 

Reorganize Your Calendar

Something we talk a lot about here on the blog is goal-setting. Setting the right goals is important on two fronts—long-term and short-term. 

And while there’s plenty of blogspace dedicated to long-term goals, what we believe is especially important for combatting cold-call burnout is short-term goals:  How many leads do you want to follow up with every week? How many cold calls does you manager think you should be making every day/week/month? How many customers are you hoping to convert in a given sales period? 

By mapping out concrete, short-term goals, and tracking them through some sort of digital sales platform or leaderboard, you can start to think of tasks not simply as nebulous parts of your job—they’re events in your day.  This presents you with the opportunity to completely shift your paradigm. You’re not thinking, “Oh [probably any expletive in the book], how many more of these do I have to do?” You’re thinking: “All right, one more hour of this, then I’ll tackle my emails. 

That sort of change in mindset is transformative for a disengaged worker, and can be just the kind of reset a burnt out employee needs. 

Prioritize Qualified Leads

Let’s face it: sometimes it’s just plain tough getting rejected. And with rejection after rejection, a handful of bad experiences can really add up. 

So rather than simply focusing on simply getting a sale off the other end of the phone, start using cold-calling as an opportunity to qualify leads. 

The “Sell To Win” staff over at Nutshell put it perfectly, rounding out some solid advice with data to boot: “Discussing 3-4 problems in your initial call with a customer correlates to an over 80% likelihood of closing that sale. View yourself less as a salesperson at this point and more as a customer advocate. When you focus on truly providing help to a customer, they’re more likely to trust you.” It’s easy to get caught up in the game of wins. But when you stop thinking of cold-calling in terms of wins and losses, you’ll find that the losses start to fade away on their own. 

Switch Up The Script

Einstein’s infamous definition of insanity was to do the same thing over and over again, all while expecting a different result. 

If you’ve been reading off the same prompts for months, or even years, and it’s driving you nuts, that’s not likely to change simply by reading it more.  If your manager allows for it (and, managers reading this, it’s certainly in your best interests to do so), take some time to take apart your call script: what parts make sense to you, what parts don’t, and what areas you’re just absolutely sick of saying. 

Once you’ve got the basics broken down, turn it into a script that works for you—something natural, refreshing, and that you aren’t already repeating in your sleep.  Sometimes just putting on a fresh new word-outfit was all you needed to feel a little less stiff. 

Hang Up

Now here’s some advice that you probably wouldn’t expect to hear: pull the cable out of the back of your phone, get up from your desk, and go home. 

No, we’re not telling you to quit. Please don’t do that.  What most of us are reticent to admit is that burnout simply comes from working too much. We all have our reasons: we want to provide for our family, make a better life for ourselves, impress our bosses. And all of those are great aims, when we’re going about them in a healthy way.  Remember: this all starts with a conversation. Talk to your boss about how you can use your time in the smartest, most efficient way possible. And remember: good rest is a part of being your most efficient. 

Prioritize your health and wellness, and the results will flow into every area of your life—especially your work.