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Sales Call Reluctance

"Anyone in sales will relate to this excellent short blog on what is behind Sales Call reluctance and what you can do about it.".

 Deon Aldridge


"Sales call reluctance can destroy sales careers and affect anyone, be they new to sales or sales veterans. If you haven't experienced the emotional torture of being call reluctant the chances are you will do sooner or later. No effort you make - attendance at motivational seminars, the learning of sales techniques or ways to improve product and industry knowledge - will protect you from this debilitating experience.

Researchers in this field have found that call reluctance is responsible for 80% of


sales people's failure in their first year. Research has also found that it is call reluctance that accounts for over 50% of failures in the sales profession. Sadly 40% of sales veterans think about leaving sales because they are trying to come to grips with call reluctance. The financial and emotional costs are staggering.

Call reluctance can be likened to a contagious disease because it can be passed on by sales managers, sales trainers, fellow sales people and other internal support personnel.

What is call reluctance?
A call reluctant sales person feels immobilized to initiate new business sales calls either by phone or face to face. Other parts of the sales process such as avoidance of group presentations or asking for the order can be affected.

The mental and emotional energy required to sell and achieve sales outcomes is redirected to other more comfortable and 'safe' activities. These activities can include talking to others in the office, being tied up on phone calls or taking extended coffee breaks.

Call reluctance can be described as a fear of being assertive: the sales person believes in and acts on self belief excuses and thus fails to do what they know they need to do. In the process an emotional sanctuary is sought.

There are many different forms of call reluctant behaviours. The ones we have come across over the years are:

  • An increase in activity levels and a corresponding drop in productivity levels
  • Sales reports have twice the information when compared to a top performing sales person's report.
  • Complaining to get attention and attract like-minded people
  • Shifting blame to others and not taking personal responsibility
  • Use of excuses to spend time in the office instead of prospecting
  • Over-servicing of existing clients

What do I do if I am call reluctant?

Firstly, there is no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit to being call reluctant. What is most important is that you have admitted it, at least to yourself, and are now willing to reprogram your thinking and correct wrong beliefs.

The good news is whatever triggered your call reluctance was a learnt response and whatever you learnt you can also be unlearn. Whilst this may in the early stages be challenging it is worth it for your own self respect and your career in sales. Put simply it is done by replacing call reluctant behaviours with positive goal focused behaviours. Once the cycle has been broken and your proof will be new business and more sales you will feel uplifted and feel as if you have rediscovered your true self.

The proactive actions you can take are:

1. Set goals. For goals to have pulling power they need to be realistic and stretch slightly beyond your comfort zone. Being focussed on achieving your goals can reenergize you.

2. Get coaching. Find an experienced sales coach with whom you can speak to candidly. They may well have been through call reluctance themselves and can help you through it as well as teach you great skills.

3. Catch yourself. This means if you start thinking negatively become conscious that you are thinking this way and challenge the thought. Ask yourself "Why am I thinking like this?" You may discover the root cause of what started your call reluctance. "What is the worst thing that can happen when I approach this prospect?" For example "I'll be rejected". Accept it because you know you will live through it. Counter to this imagine with what good could come from the prospect call?

You may still feel uncomfortable as you challenge your thoughts but at least your feelings of fear won't be as intense as you gain greater control. As you catch yourself thinking self defeating thoughts, challenge them and follow through with positive action and you will get stronger and stronger. You may not be able to change the situation but you always have control over how you think and feel.

3. CRM. Good customer relationship management software can help you pin point where you could improve and if its call reluctance that is stopping you. It can be revealing and high light where you could improve in terms of how you manage you sales opportunities and a confronting experience self diagnosing if its call reluctance.

4. Build your armour. This is to build your resilience by networking with other professional sales people either face to face or via the internet where there are many good groups to choose from; fill your mind with good material on sales and biographies on successful people because they always had a struggle to achieve success; participate in webinars on sales and invest in your ongoing education on sales.

Watch out for others whose conversations are always negative. You know the ones, the "yes but…" and will counter a pleasant conversation with their doom and gloom. You may need to mentally exit or if appropriate excuse yourself and leave.

To rid yourself of call reluctance be conscious of any self defeating thoughts, challenge them and focus on following through with positive action." 

By Allison Ogden

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