Customer Experience News & Trends

Beat the 9 forms of sales call reluctance

Call reluctance limits what salespeople achieve by emotionally limiting the number of calls they make.

Research shows that 40% of all salespeople will experience one or more episodes of call reluctance despite their years of experience, product knowledge or current income level.

Here are the nine forms of call reluctance that sabotage sales opportunities:

  1. Over-preparation. Characterized by salespeople who spend too much time preparing what to say and how to say it, while spending too little time trying to find qualified prospects. These salespeople become encyclopedias of technical information with no one to make presentations to.
  2. Role rejection. Characterized by emotional resistance to mixing business and family. Salesperson usually finds it difficult to prospect for sales among personal friends or even to ask them for referrals.
  3. Yielding. Yielders have difficulty asserting themselves, particularly when it comes to prospecting. They’re afraid to incite conflict or risk losing approval. Yielders become too polite for the fear of appearing pushy or intrusive.
  4. Doomsaying. Characterized by energy being diverted away from contact with prospective buyers to over-vigilant preparation for low probability catastrophes. Doomsayers habitually worry about the worst case scenario.
  5. Referral aversion. For most salespeople, asking for referrals is appropriate and easy. For a call reluctant minority, it is difficult and distressing.
  6. Hyper-professionalism. Characterized by energy being lost due to over-investment in the mannerisms and appearances of success. Prospecting, is viewed as “demeaning” and “unprofessional.” Those views are accompanied by the over-stylized use of professional jargon, name-dropping and a reflexive need to appear better informed and more sophisticated that the “average” salesperson.
  7. Telephobia. Characterized by fear when trying to use the telephone for prospecting purposes.
  8. Stage fright. Characterized by avoiding or bypassing opportunities to prospect through group presentations due to emotional discomfort.
  9. Social self-consciousness. Characterized by emotional hesitation to initiate contact with up-market prospects. Habitually intimidated by persons of wealth, prestige or power. This reaction may be camouflaged by a verbalized, over-cavalier disregard for status.

One common symptom

All types of call reluctance have one symptom in common: procrastination. Yielders procrastinate. Over-preparers procrastinate. All call-reluctant salespeople procrastinate.

But procrastination is their symptom, not their problem. It’s how they deal with the real problem — call reluctance. They fear one or more of the activities necessary to initiate contact with sufficient numbers of prospective buyers.

So they put off these activities as often and as creatively as they can.

Overcoming procrastination

Here are four tips will help salespeople overcome procrastination:

  •  Set priorities and focus on one goal at a time. Establishing priorities focuses your attention on fewer, but more important things. Without priorities, you jump from task to task, ignoring major responsibilities while wasting time on trivial matters. This is the behavior that leads to call reluctance.
  • Set deadlines. A deadline focuses attention on a particular task. You can beat procrastination simply by setting a deadline and sticking to it.
  • Don’t avoid the most difficult problems. Attack the toughest problem first. Dealing effectively with a difficult problem may help you overcome fear, a major cause of call reluctance.
  • Don’t let perfectionism paralyze you. Perfectionists spend enormous amounts of time trying to improve results from 90% to 95% persistent. Salespeople who do this fall into the category of over-preparation, a major cause of call reluctance.

Final steps

Here are 6 steps to help salespeople push through any sales call reluctance:

  1. Be aware of where you’re avoiding making contacts.
  2. Set daily goals for making contacts you’ve been avoiding, and reward yourself when you meet your goals.
  3. Relax, recall past accomplishments and mentally visualize yourself easily managing those contacts.
  4. Tell yourself you can jump over the temporary fear and discomfort.
  5. Focus on your goals and why you’re making the contacts.
  6. Don’t wait for things to happen. This includes waiting for a callback from a prospect, waiting until a proposal is developed, waiting for a quote and waiting for a decision. “Waiting” wastes time and money, and contributes to call reluctance. Your job is to drive the sales process, not slow it down.

Adapted from: “The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance,” by Shannon L. Goodson, the president and CEO of Behavioral Sciences Research, a firm dedicated to predicting, preventing, diagnosing and correcting psychological barriers to prospecting in salespeople. 

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