Call Reluctance . . . The Career Killer

Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture? Or just let it slip? His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy. He’s nervous, but on the surface, he looks calm and ready. To drop bombs. But he keeps forgetting what he wrote down. . . He opens his mouth but the words won’t come out. He’s choking. Now the clocks run out. Times up, over!

Does this sound familiar? Maybe? Maybe not? It part of the opening verse to the song Lose Yourself  by Eminem. But it also metaphorically describes the symptoms of sales call reluctance.

Yes, the silent sales career killer, Sales Call Reluctance. It can seek up on anyone at anytime and it can happen before you even know what hit you. In fact research shows that approximately 40% of all sales people will have one or more episodes of call reluctance serious enough to threaten their careers. That’s a  pretty scary thought. To fully understand how big a problem it really is, look no future than a recent study that showed of 84,000 sales people interviewed, 90%  had sales call reluctance strong enough to serious impair their prospecting ability.

Even if you’ve made hundreds or thousands of sales calls you to can suffer from sales call reluctance. It can be both reluctance of making phone calls as well as the reluctance of making person to person calls. Most will want to hide or deny they have have a problem. If you have sales call reluctance or manage people that have it, recognition is critical. Some warning signs are:

Staying in the office instead of getting into the field.

On the computer instead of on the phone.

Making excuses instead of making calls.

Blaming, complaining, or whining for not prospecting.

Spending time and effort on “safe” activities instead of sales-producing activities.

There are many different types and hundreds of different reasons for sales call reluctance but what it really come down to is a lose of confidence caused by the FUD! Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

So how do you overcome the FUD and sales call reluctance to get you sales back on track?  First, be aware of it, recognize it, and acknowledge it. Then have a plan. The following is a simple five day plan that I have used with my reps to get them back on track. You can also use this plan as an individual contributor to your mojo back.

Day One: Schedule field travel with another rep. Sometimes just getting out in the field, observing, listening, and learning can make all the difference. Listening to  to what others are saying, seeing what clients reactions are and learning different approaches or talking points can make all the difference in the world.  At the end of the day write down your perspectives and observation.

Day Two: Schedule “safe calls” or customer care calls to several of your top customers. Keep it general. See how things are going and what if any problems or assistance they might need. Also, make sure to ask if anything has changed in the organization, any new initiatives, new opportunities, etc.

Day Three: As a manager (or ask your manager) have them travel with you on some customer visits. Take them to a counts that aren’t theirs. Talk with them in the field, in the car. Talk to them about their challenges, issues and their activities. Many times it can be something outside of work that is causing the problem. Review their activities. Go over the calls they are making, how they are making them, and who they are talking too. Keep it casual. Listen and learn about them, what’s going on in their life, let them know that you’re all in the boat together.

Day Four: Schedule appointments with prospects that are in the early stages of the sales cycle. Check in, provide follow up information, maybe provide a case study or white paper or even an interesting article.  Seek new information from the account, try to pick up at least one new tidbit that you can use to help move the prospect along.

Day Five: Schedule a half day of cold calls. Yes, cold calls. Friday mornings is a great time for cold calls. I found that people are much more respective to meeting new sales folks and are usually in a good mood since the weekend is almost here.  Schedule a lunch meeting with the rep (or ask your manager) to discuss the weeks activities. Make sure to understand the reps perspectives on the week. Talk about all the progress they have made during the week. Review what they learned with all the different engagements and the follow ups required. Make sure that they have a plan for scheduled calls for the following week.

After lunch, sit down with the rep and fully document 3 of their greatest sales successes. What they did right and what the results were. This is an important step! Call reluctance and the FUD that accompanies it, usually comes from a lose of confidence. By reviewing past successes it reinforces their success and the confidence required so that they can be successful. Remember success breed success. Once they are convinced of their value, the process of making call becomes much easier because they are “sold” on themselves.

Sales call reluctance can happen to anyone at anytime. Little or no activity resulting in fewer contacts made, and consequently, fewer sales. It can kill your confidence or even worst your career. The key is to recognize it, acknowledge it, and plan for it.

Has it ever happened to you or to someone you know?  Do you have a plan?

Feel free to share your comments.



Categories: Sales

2 replies

  1. When I am seized by the “FUD” syndrome when I’m on the road, I make a couple of in-person cold calls that I refer to as “throw-aways”. I don’t expect to get anything out of them but it helps me get in the groove. Sometimes I even make some progress.

    • Jeff,

      Thanks for your comment. Your “throw-aways” calls are every bit as important in keeping on track. I have an upcoming post on how to leverage these types of calls to your advantage. If it’s ok with you I would like to use your term in the post.

      Thanks again for your comments and for stopping by.

      Happy Friday!

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