Conquer Call Reluctance

Have you ever found yourself “putting off” important sales or prospecting calls? This article will show you how to conquer call reluctance for good. You’ll learn five specific strategies you can use to approach prospects with confidence.

What is call reluctance? Whether you call it procrastination, wasting time or just plain avoidance, there’s no doubt you’re familiar with this problem.

Think of the salesperson who hangs around the office drinking coffee, talking to co-workers, reading emails and shuffling through papers. The real issue is what that salesperson is NOT doing. They’re NOT out in the field, they’re NOT making sales calls, they’re NOT making prospecting calls

…and consequently they’re NOT going to make any sales.

When you look at it objectively, it makes very little sense. Here’s someone who’s paid on commission and is avoiding the very activities that lead to a sale.

So what’s going on with this salesperson?

If you’re like most salespeople, you’ve probably had to face this problem at least once in your career, so you know that it’s not a matter of being lazy. After all, you get up early, get dressed, fight your way through traffic and come in to work with the best intentions of accomplishing something. And you’re not stupid. You’re certainly aware that hanging around the office won’t help you make any sales.

So what keeps you from charging out into the field to make sales calls? What stops you from making those important phone calls?

It really boils down to avoiding things that are unpleasant or uncomfortable. But since most people have a hard time admitting and accepting their own self-sabotaging behavior, the real challenge in conquering this problem is confronting it. There’s just no technique or motivational strategy that can help you overcome call reluctance until you acknowledge it and recognize it for what it is.

It starts with simply not feeling comfortable approaching a prospect. Usually, there’s something going on in your mind that’s making you believe that talking to that prospect will turn out to be a negative experience. So you put it off for a while and do some other things. But the longer you put it off, the more you believe the nagging idea that making the call will be a bad experience. If it goes on long enough, you may even start to believe that you’re just not capable of making that call… and if it becomes a pattern you may even start to believe you’re not capable of selling at all.

What’s happening is that your behavior is reinforcing your negative thought-pattern and at the same time your negative thought pattern is influencing your behavior. It’s a vicious, self-defeating cycle. The only way out is to make up your mind to change both your thought-pattern and your behavior. Just confronting the habit of avoidance with the determination to chase it out of your life is not only the first step, but a giant leap that will take you at least halfway toward reaching your goal.

Once you’ve made the conscious decision to think and act differently, here are five practical steps that are certain to help you get positive results, fast.

Step 1 – Choose Prospects You Can Feel Good About Calling On

Call reluctance is directly related to two variables that you can control. The first is how much you know about the prospect and the second is how confident you are that they’re likely to be interested in what you offer. Try to learn as much as you can about your prospect before calling him or her (without going overboard and using this as another excuse to procrastinate).

In your research, look for specific reasons that this prospect might be interested in what you offer and then plan your call around this knowledge. This strategy helps establish you as an insider. It also allows you to distinguish yourself from other salespeople, both in the mind of the prospect and in your own mind. Once you start focusing on why your prospects would be interested in talking to you, you’ll feel a lot better about calling on them.

Step 2 – Make Sure You Are 110% Sold On What You Are Selling

Ever heard the expression “Have the courage of your convictions?” It can be tough to have much courage if you have no convictions. The most convincing salespeople are the most convinced of the merits of their own propositions. Selling is all about trust. How can you possibly expect others to trust you if you feel untrustworthy?

It’s not surprising that salespeople who don’t believe in the superiority of what they have to offer – or doubt the importance of that offer to the prospect – would have a sick feeling in the pit of their stomachs when facing a prospect.

It’s absolutely essential that you build a genuine sense of pride in what you offer. You can start by examining how your product or service has benefited your current customers. Has it made their lives easier? Saved them money? Solved their problems? Helped them start or stay in business? You may be surprised at the tremendous positive impact that your product or service has for your customers.

Once you have an understanding of how vital and valuable your offering has been for your existing customers, you can use your creative imagination to build a vision of what you can offer to your new prospects. In order to successfully sell your product, you should have such a sense of the superiority, worth and importance of it that you can’t wait for the next opportunity to tell someone about it. If you are trying to sell something you cannot feel that way about, you should probably think about finding something else to sell.

You’ll also want to make sure that you’re 110% confident in what you personally have to offer to your customers as a sales professional. Can you be proud of the level of knowledge, expertise, integrity and personal enthusiasm that you offer your customers? Are you confident in your communication ability and your persuasive talents?

How do you see yourself – as a beggar, pleading for a little bit of time and attention from a busy decision-maker or as a highly skilled, appreciated and respected expert? As an “order-taker” or a customer-oriented problem solver? Do you see yourself as being at the bottom of the business totem pole, or as one of the most important people in the corporation as well as the driving force of the American economy? Do you consider yourself at least an equal of the prospects you are calling on and the clients you are serving?

If you don’t like the answers to these questions, you may need to work on improving your knowledge, skills, customer focus and self-image in order to feel more confident about calling on prospects.

Step 3 – Recall Past Accomplishments

If you’re in the habit of living fearfully or skeptically, your self-image is probably wallowing in your frustrations, disappointments and failures. That can make it very hard to approach a prospect. It can also mean that you approach prospects “knowing” that you’ll meet failure. The result? You’ll prove yourself right every time.

On the other hand, if you constantly visualize your past successes, and focus on the times when you were able to overcome challenges, you’ll feel more confident about making sales calls that you might otherwise dread making. If you replay these successes inside your mind a sufficient number of times, you are sure to start feeling confident and successful. This sense of confidence will most certainly help you overcome call reluctance, as well as avoidance in other areas of your life.

Step 4 – Mental Rehearsal

What if you’re new to selling, or at least new to certain selling situations, and you don’t have lots of past accomplishments to recall? How can you build on your positive experience if you lack experience? The answer is to manufacture “synthetic experience.”

One of the greatest gifts of the human imagination – and possibly also the greatest liability – is the fact that your entire system, mind and body can be as affected by synthetic experience as real experience. It’s really a matter of what you choose to “feed” your mind. Think of the hypochondriac whose mind is focused on every ache and pain, whose imagination magnifies every symptom… With these thoughts poisoning their mind, it’s only a matter of time before that person starts feeling physically ill.

Mental rehearsal involves perfecting an experience in your mind down to every detail until it becomes a very vivid mental movie. Then you can play that perfect scene over and over in preparation for the real experience. This technique is commonly used by all kinds of people whose success depends on outstanding performances – athletes, trial lawyers, negotiators, fighter pilots, surgeons, actors and entertainers.

In sales, it is helpful to mentally rehearse any and all questions that the prospect may ask, so that when these questions arise, you will be prepared. If you perform this step often and well enough, when you actually make the call you will feel like you’ve already done it.

Step 5 – Relax

If you show up full of stress and anxiety, your prospect’s natural reaction is to meet you with resistance. How can you put prospects at ease if you can’t tame your own tensions?

Think of how you feel when you call or visit a friend. There’s no tension, no fear or dread involved. But consider for a moment how successful you would be at making and keeping friends if you approached your friends the way you sometimes approach prospects: with reluctance, anxiety and apprehension.

Now consider the reverse: how successful would your sales calls be if you were able to approach every prospect with the comfort and ease that you approach a friend? It’s easy to see that what you bring to the situation sets off a chain reaction that determines the outcome.

Relaxation can be a difficult thing to achieve, especially when you’re under pressure to make a sale. You can start by focusing on ridding your body of tension – relax your shoulders, unclench your fists, stop grinding your teeth and smile… Once you relax your body your mind will automatically begin to relax as well.

Whatever the reasoning behind your reluctance to make certain calls, applying these solid steps can surely help get you in front of your prospects with confidence. But the first step lies in making the conscious decision to change your thinking and take action. As soon as you stop avoiding unpleasant or stressful situations, you can start feeling, and being, a lot more successful.