Making sales calls is a fact of life for sales professionals. Heck, it’s a fact of life if you’re in business period. But particularly for sales professionals, call reluctance is an ongoing problem that is often difficult to eradicate.
If you’re struggling to make your own calls, or managing a team that needs help, here are eight common sources of call reluctance and a few tips for how to overcome them.
1. No confidence
The lack of confidence can take many forms and come from many places. Maybe you haven’t done a lot of selling before. You just got screamed at by your last prospect and aren’t ready for that again. You aren’t sure if your product or service is even any good. No matter what the reason, confidence may be the single-biggest driver of call reluctance. If this is the case for you, you’re just gonna have to dig deep. Positive self-talk, thick skin and just forcing yourself to pick back up the phone and dial again is what works best.
2. No icebreakers
Those first few moments on the phone can be awkward if you’re not prepared. You can’t script a whole phone call, but you can certainly script the first few seconds. How will you engage? What information have you learned about the prospect from a quick scan of Google and LinkedIn you can use to start the conversation softly? Get in, build some quick rapport, and move on. Having an icebreaker plan can give you some of that confidence you need as well.
3. No contact information
You’re far more likely to make the call if you have contact information in front of you. If you have to go hunt, that extra step is just putting you farther away from making things happen. Work with your sales operations and/or marketing team to develop a strong list with complete contact information up front. Or if you’re on your own for lists, try to get that information first, before sitting down to call.
4. No discipline
The best sales reps pick up the phone and make their numbers. They work their activities every day. It’s not just about working themselves up to do it on Tuesday. They’ve made it a daily discipline. Easier said than done, but that’s how it’s done.
5. No focus
If you need to power through a set of calls, turn off the distractions around you. No Twitter, no Facebook, email in offline mode. Put your cell phone in a drawer or your purse so it doesn’t distract you too.
6. No incentives
If you’re working on your own, set up a reward at the end of a series of calls. It can be something simple like a piece of chocolate or new cup of coffee, or maybe if you do a full week’s of calls you get something bigger. Whatever it is, come up with something that will truly motivate you. If you’re managing sales teams, consider similar incentives at minimum to juice the activity and help get your reps in the habit. In other words, use incentives to develop the confidence and discipline they need to call on a regular basis.
7. No value
Once you get past the icebreaker, what value can you provide? Does the product or service you represent do what it says it does? Do you really have value to bring the prospect? Obviously a bigger question here beyond superficial call reluctance, but it’s often an underlying factor that companies ignore.
8. No practice
Again, it’s about getting into the habit. Establishing confidence that you can handle different conversations. Developing the discipline to do it regularly. Practice makes perfect with sales calls too.
Curious to hear other causes of call reluctance you’ve seen or faced, and how you’ve gotten around it.