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Why Younger Salespeople Don't Like the Phone. And What To Do About It.

First, I'll admit it...I'm generalizing here, so forgive me for that. A lot of younger salespeople don't like to use the telephone. Younger salespeople enter the job market with more knowledge of technology than the people they're replacing. This can be a tremendous asset. Effective sales technology improves time management and makes every step of the sales process much easier. However, that comfort with technology is a double-edged sword: It can also be a crutch. I hear a lot of sales managers saying something like...

If I can only get these younger salespeople on the phone, we'd close more deals!

Or

Why won't these young reps do more than email their prospects?!

Shake a real hand!

 

Younger B2B salespeople, it seems, turn to an email or text when a good-old-fashioned phone call would do. They prefer technology to human interaction. That's short-sighted because technology will never fully replace a B2B salesperson. Making that argument is, in my opinion, hogwash. Of course, I’m also not going to argue that younger salespeople will spell the end of professional selling. As Plato said 2,500 years ago, "I fear the coming generation." He was wrong then. And, if I said it today, I'd be wrong, too. Instead, I’m going to recognize a reality (they don't like the phone) and offer a solution (at the end of this post). Simply telling younger salespeople to get on the phone isn't enough. Gen-Yers (born in the 80's and 90's) need to understand the WHY behind every HOW. So, when asked to get on the phone, younger salespeople say, "My prospects don't want to be bombarded with calls." And they're right. Cold calling is stupid. But the best managers go on to explain that, if you're bringing value, you're not bombarding anyone and your calls will be warmly received. But that's not really the problem. The real reason that younger salespeople don't like to make phone calls is that they've never had to do it! For virtually their entire lives, instant messaging, email, and texting have been more legitimate modes of communication than actual conversation. Their resistance is nothing more than call reluctance. It's that they don't really know what to do on the phone. Sales managers should help them get more comfortable using this simple, five step process:

  1. Choose prospects you can feel good about contacting: Only call prospects who have expressed interest in what you're calling about. It's a lot easier to talk to someone who wants to talk to you than someone who's never heard from you.
  2. Be 110% "sold" on what you're selling: Having the "courage of your convictions" gives you a much greater chance of winning more deals. If you believe in the value of what you're selling you begin to believe that someone who chooses not to buy from you is the one who loses.
  3. Recall past accomplishments: Great athletes do this. So should you! If you believe that you can't win deals it's likely because you're forgetting about the victories you've experienced in the past. Don't lose sight of them.
  4. Mentally rehearse: Practice success. Imagine a great call. What happened? What did you ask? What did you hear? Plan your call, but don't script it. The best sales calls are really just conversations.
  5. Relax: As basic as this sounds, a lot of call reluctance relates to nervousness (especially if you haven't made a lot of calls before). Just relax. What's the worst that will happen?

Am I wrong? Why do you think Younger Salespeople tend to resist the phone? - @JebBrooks