PeeWeeHermanIt happens to every salesperson I know.  Newbies, veterans, everyone.  And in my experience, call reluctance most often boils down to two things:

  1. Confidence:  Do you have confidence in the product or service you’re selling, the approach you’re about to take on the phone (or in email), and the conversation you can have with a live prospect?
  2. Process:  Specifically, what am I doing?  How do I track it?  And what do I do next?

Many companies put focus on training the first part above.  They do product training, apply a sales methodology, execute role playing, etc.  And all of that is important.

But more often than not, when you sit down and watch how salespeople work, they get bogged down in the execution.  Specifically, what…do…I…do…next?  And the answer to that question is really five answers:

  1. Who:  Do you know specifically who you’re about to call and why?  It’s not enough to have a company name.  You need the name of a specific decision-maker or sales target.  You also need their specific contact information to initiate contact.  This may sound basic, but way too many salespeople are given a phone book and/or simply a list of companies and asked to get rolling.  This bogs down their process and also creates artificial call reluctance that significantly deceases their activity and results.  Focus on providing your sales team with explicit lists, with accurate contact information.  It may cost a bit more up front, but the ROI on your sales team’s time and performance will be more than worth it.
  2. What:  What are you going to say?  What value are you going to provide to the prospect?  You can’t script a phone call, but you can certainly script a voicemail.  And a follow-up email.  Without these templates, it takes way too much time to work through a reasonable prospect list.
  3. Where:  I’m not just talking about physical location, but also channel.  Are you just calling?  Are you leaving a voicemail?  Are you following up with email?  A ping on a social channel?  Mapping this specific sequence is important not only to maximize the value and impact of those touchpoints, but also to make sure execution is swift & efficient.
  4. When:  Are you really trying to reach decision-makers on the phone in the middle of the morning?  When they’re all in meetings?  Are you really trying to call a bunch of East Coast prospects at 3:30 Pacific time?  Dayparting your sales activity is important, especially if you understand the work habits of your prospects.
  5. Why:  Think content.  Think teachable moment.  Think about why the prospect would want to spend time with you, and would get measurable value from the conversation.  This is a high bar, higher than just avoiding a product discussion up front.  But the more you can successfully build high value in the first sales interaction, the more confidence your sales team will have in what they’re about to execute.  It will reduce call reluctance, drive higher sales activity, and create better first impressions & value with your prospects.

When I execute our own sales process for Heinz Marketing, I have to do the same thing.  When I have the crisp answers to the above questions, I’m far more effective & efficient at working through my sales execution.  Curious to hear your perspective and/or experience as well.