How Much is Sales Call Reluctance Costing You?

by Connie Kadansky

Connie Kadansky is a coach, trainer and speaker specializing in overcoming Sales Call Reluctance. She offers effective tools and training to diagnose Sales Call Reluctance and assists salespeople in prioritizing profitable prospecting. She can be reached at 602-997-1101 or Sales Call Reluctance is a registered trademark of Behavioral Sciences Research Press, Dallas, Texas.

If you aren’t meeting your sales goals, you may be suffering from Sales Call Reluctance. Connie Kadansky of Exceptional Sales Performance explains this dilemma, how it affects even the most talented salespeople and gives advice on how to diagnose the problem so you can get back to selling.

“Today, I’ll make 50 prospecting calls.”

John drives to the office, feeling confident and ready to hit the phones. The moment he arrives, his manager accosts him¬ she’s questioning his most recent activity/pipeline and is in urgent need of John’s feedback. He spends 25 minutes explaining his strategy.

Now it’s time for his morning coffee. He walks into the lounge and glances at the headlines of the newspaper. He’s got to read this one story, because it is relevant to his business.
Coffee in hand, he proceeds to his office, where he sits down to check his e-mail. He has 27 new messages. By the time he’s ready to prospect, it is 10:30 A.M. and he’s got to prepare for his luncheon meeting across town with a client. Despite John’s best intentions, still another morning has passed without a single prospecting call.

What’s John’s story? He is a mid-career finance sales guy. He knows how important prospecting is to his pipeline. Is this poor time management? Lack of motivation? Burnout? Or could he be experiencing Sales Call Reluctance?

The emotional hesitation to contact prospective clients causes more failures for salespeople than any other single factor. Why? Because if you don’t approach enough people, it makes little difference how thorough your expertise is. Without a steady flow of prospects, your magnetic personality, credentials, product knowledge and perfect presentations won’t make much impact. Inactivity on the prospecting front nullifies your ability to engage these other strengths.

Successful selling usually involves five steps:

  1. Identifying prospective clients (includes vendors/end users/strategic alliances)
  2. Initiating contact with potential entrepreneurs that may be looking for funding
  3. Introducing yourself, the services you provide, brief history of your company (time in business, other clients you’ve helped like them)
  4. Informing prospective clients of how you can solve problems
  5. Influencing the prospects to buy from you

Many salespeople are uncomfortable with steps two and three, initiating and introducing ¬but without them, informing and influencing can’t happen. Ultra-professional negotiation skills, dazzling rapport-building, detailed product knowledge and clever closes cannot and will not return a penny of profit if you don’t have enough prospects. The math is simple: Successful salespeople consistently initiate contact with more prospects than their less-than-successful counterparts.

Fear of initiating contact can become so great that it limits one’s ability to connect with potential new clients. Many salespeople find making that first contact so emotionally uncomfortable that they avoid it, delay it, or fake it with ineffective strategies like sending out emails, collateral material, deflecting the identity (“I’m not selling anything”) or calling on only limited, emotionally safe segments of the market. I’m just checking in and seeing how you’re doing without asking for the business. When they do this the busy entrepreneur will see that as an exit to get off the phone.

All this hesitation falls under the category of Sales Call Reluctance. It’s common, but it’s potentially catastrophic to any career with a sales component. Sales Call Reluctance can be present at the onset of a sales career, or it can strike suddenly in highly productive sales veterans. Its origins are multiple and complex, and there is no single source to root out and destroy.

What causes Sales Call Reluctance?

What causes the discrete pattern of escape and avoidance associated with establishing first contact? Why do so many experienced salespeople with otherwise superlative skills and abilities develop escape routes to avoid prospecting?

For one thing, there is a fear of the unknown when you prospect. You do not know how you are going to be received. This uncertainty alone can be a powerful saboteur. The assumption that you’ll have to leave another voicemail. And of course, there is the fear that you will not be received well ¬— that you will get…gasp…rejected!

But there’s more than even a flat-out fear of rejection underlying the avoidance of prospecting.

Sales Call Reluctance springs from a combination of three sources: personality predispositions, hereditary influences, and exposure to others with Sales Call Reluctance. In fact, in a surprising number of cases, highly contagious forms of Sales Call Reluctance are often spread inadvertently by the sales management and training process itself.

There are 12 most common types of fear that can cause salespeople to avoid the very first thing they must do to achieve their goals. It is vital to know which of the 12 types of Sales Call Reluctance is holding your sales career hostage. Do any of these seem familiar?

  • Doomsayers will not take risks. This type of Sales Call Reluctance can be lethal to a sales career.
  • Overpreparers tend to overanalyze and avoid action. They’re busy, busy, busy people-busy with current clients, admin work, organizing files and studying the latest trends, which keeps them from meeting qualified prospects.
  • Hyper-pro salespeople are obsessed with the image, but when it comes to their presentation skills, they’re no better than the next salesperson. They look good, but they confuse packaging with prospecting.
  • Stage fright causes many salespeople to default on prospecting that would lead to opportunities to present before groups.
  • Role rejection plagues those who are secretly ashamed of any kind of selling. These are the salespeople who deflect any association with being a salesperson. They tend to believe that society dislikes salespeople, and they themselves get irritated and annoyed when salespeople solicit them.
  • Yielders fear intruding on others. They have a strong need to be liked and are habitually waiting for “just the right time” to make contact. Of course, that time rarely arrives. Yielders can also have close reluctance, as they are not comfortable asking for the business.
  • Socially self-conscious salespeople are intimidated by up-market clients. They feel inferior in terms of wealth, education, status, or prestige. They do not contact the CEO or high-level prospects, they are more comfortable with influencers.
  • FriendShield: uncomfortable mixing business and friends. Won’t leverage friend relationships for business purposes.
  • FamShield: uncomfortable mixing business and family. Won’t leverage family relationships for business purposes.
  • Referral aversion affects those salespeople who selectively forget to ask for referrals out of fear of disturbing existing relationships.
  • Telephobic salespeople are uncomfortable using the telephone for prospecting.
  • The oppositional reflex characterizes salespeople who tend to criticize or blame others for what goes wrong with their careers. Even though they are usually gifted, talented and intelligent people, they don’t take responsibility for themselves and often don’t get ahead.

There are four steps to Overcoming Sales Call Reluctance:

  1. Become Aware that you are not making enough calls and that you are not making the kind of money you want to make.
  2. Assess your call reluctance. Here is a free assessment. Only your first name is required.
  3. Admit your call reluctance. This can be the most difficult step. One must surrender to the fact that you are experiencing call reluctance. It rarely gets better without admission and intervention. Once you admit, you are on the road to solution.
  4. Apply proven techniques to overcome call reluctance which requires a conscious shift in perspective.

Stay tuned to next month’s article on How to Overcome Sales Call Reluctance.

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