Most sales professionals hate cold calling.  Following up with existing leads sometimes isn’t much better or easier.  Even the best salespeople often have a strong case of call reluctance that’s difficult to shake.

But once successful salespeople get rolling, they often find it easy to keep that momentum and generate results – live contacts, interested prospects, new sources of closeable pipeline.

Here are five ways to get past that case of call reluctance and get more of your leads moving towards a sale.

Script the first 30 seconds:  Oftentimes call reluctance comes from a concern that the beginning of a conversation may be awkward.  Get past that fear by writing down, visualizing and even practicing the first 20-30 seconds of the call.  Have a specific script you will use printed out and next to your phone.  It’ll give you confidence that each call will be easier to warm up, and get right to the conversation you want to be having.

Have a great voicemail script ready:  Let’s face it, most of the calls you make will result in a voicemail.  Many sales pros leave a long, rambling voicemail with no direction, no urgency and no call to action.  Have a great voicemail script ready beforehand, and use it every time.  Leave something that’s no longer than 40-45 seconds, had a good pace, a sense of urgency, and a strong offer or call to action to get your prospect to call back quickly.  When you have a voicemail script like this, that you know works, it’s easier and faster to get through more of your calls (because you know those prospects will be calling back)

Turn off all other distractions:  You’ve done it too – you make the first couple calls, get a kernel of momentum, then check your email or Facebook page and it’s all gone.  When you’re ready to make those calls, turn off everything – email, your Web browser, RSS feeds, notifications, everything.  Get yourself into a zone where you’re making those calls and nothing else.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you get through the list, and drive results for yourself.

Get momentum, and keep going:  On a related note, have a strong list to call and keep going until you’re through it.  Do it at a set time, perhaps the same time of the day every day, and make sure those around you know you’re staying focused.  This can take discipline, even if you don’t have distractions.  You leave a couple good voicemails, maybe have a good conversation that moves a prospect along, and you want to get some more coffee.  Tell your manager.  Avoid these things, and make the next call.

Do it early, or do it late:  When you first get into the office in the morning, make those calls.  There won’t be firedrills, you won’t know what’s awaiting you in your email, and you’re more likely to get call-backs later that day from the voicemails you’ve left in the morning.  Next best strategy is to schedule those calls late in the day.  After 4:00, you’re more likely to catch your prospect in their office, doing their own catch-up before leaving for the day.  You’ll either reach more people live, or leave voicemails that will be returned first-thing the next day (getting your next sales day off to a great start)