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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=Research'>Research</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Tips and techniques'>Tips and techniques</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Prospecting'>Prospecting</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Call Reluctance'>Call Reluctance</a>
Sales Leadership
Aug 1, 2009 | Ian Segail lock

* Do your salespeople make excuses instead of getting out and developing new business?
* Do your salespeople spend more time "being busy" than making contacts?
* Do you have salespeople who always seem to be "putting out fires" rather than prospecting for new business?
* Do they always have something else to do other than make prospecting calls?
* Can your salespeople give you a dozen reasons why the market is down?

If these questions rang true for you then your poor sales results may be more a problem of call reluctance than a failing economy!

More than competition, price or a failing economy, repeated studies have demonstrated that call reluctance is more responsible for underperformance in sales than any other factor (Walsh, 2004).

In this current economic climate where sales have to be made as opposed to customers just buying, an old sales enemy has reared its ugly head. Call reluctance!

The truth is that this problem has never really gone away, but because, in general, sales have been relatively easy to come by, this curse was able to lurk at the fringes of sales society. Over the past ten years of economic growth, only the heaviest sufferers of this psychological malady were really impacted. Today however, is different. Call reluctance has become very prevalent within sales teams, especially amongst those teams that have had it relatively easy for a long time. Did you know that even your top producers and most experienced sellers can struggle with this issue?

The phenomenon of call reluctance may very well be killing your sales production right now, much more so than the turbulent economy. If this problem is plaguing your sales team, it means the difference between you meeting budget and dropping further behind!

So, if you or your sales team are not getting in front of enough new prospects and creating new demand, you need to keep reading further!

"Hundreds of salespeople interviews across many nations and tens of thousands of psychological assessments and a large body of scientific research have conclusively shown that sales call reluctance is not some moralistic protest against the nature of the sales process. It's the result of fear: physical, personal, career-paralyzing fear."- The Hard Truth About Soft-Selling by George W. Dudley and Dr. John F. Tanner.

The first step in combating this sales destroying roadblock is to firstly diagnose it and then to name it:

Just What Is Call Reluctance?
Most people who have ever been in sales have experienced sales call reluctance at one time or another. Sales call aversion is the number one reason people fail at selling. This issue even limits the careers of the more experienced and otherwise self motivated, goal-directed sales producers for two main reasons:

Firstly, avoiding new business sales calls creates mounting anxiety and pressure which results in immobilization.

Secondly, because they haven't had to rely on making new business sales calls to achieve their sales targets. This has caused them to become complacent about prospecting for new business, effectively choking off their new business pipeline. With no new business coming in, sales pressure mounts and exacerbates call reluctance even further creating a downward spiral of fear and immobilization.

In 1979, research scientists Dudley and Goodson originated the theory which is technically known as "Inhibited Social Contact Initiation Syndrome" (ISCIS) (Baker, 1998). Many of their findings were published in the 1986 book The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance: Earning What You're Worth in Sales. The authors called this aberrant cocktail of self defeating thoughts, feelings and behaviours that salespeople use to in order to deal with the strain and anxiety of new business generation, the "fear of self-promotion."

At its essence, sales call reluctance is the experience of a heightened level of fear which inhibits the number of sales calls a salesperson will make. This intense feeling of apprehension can be so overwhelming that it renders the individual incapable of selling at all. As Connie Kadansky, principal of Exceptional Sales Performance, whose business it is to help salespeople overcome this problem, points out, "Call reluctance can reduce a salesperson's knowledge, skills, abilities, and talents to a point where he or she is almost useless."

About the Author:

Ian Segail As one of Australia's leading authorities and coaches in sales management.  Ian is the author of Bulletproof Your Sales Team: The 5 Keys To Turbo-Boosting Your Sales Team's Results and a number of business articles, business reports and white papers.

© Ian Segail, 2009.  Reproduced with permission.

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