What’s causing the downturn in the housing markets? Well, as of February in the East… it was the freezing weather. In California… it was and is the drought. In the Mid-West? I don’t know, maybe… wind? And is it raining too hard down South? I absolutely love this stuff… blaming the weather.
Just think how many obvious factors you have to overlook in order to land on weather patterns as the reason for people not buying homes.
In Tennessee… it’s the twangy Country & Western music. In Mississippi… it’s racial tension. In Michigan… it’s Detroit. In Oregon… it’s the free-range, organic, grain-fed chicken. In Massachusetts… it’s Harvard. In Seattle… it’s the coffee. In Florida… it’s muggy. In New Jersey… it’s Chris Christy. In Ohio… it’s Cleveland. In Arizona… it’s gay rights. In North Dakota… there are no problems ever.
It’s always something, I suppose.
So, let’s talk about “call reluctance.” It’s the reluctance to call prospects and customers in the hopes of generating some business… no matter what you do for a living. No one likes cold calling, but that’s only part of it. The truth is that no one likes calling period… cold or otherwise.
Salespeople much prefer it when people call them, except that the people who call are usually unqualified… or just looking and not serious… or just shopping for the lowest price… or something else that’s not resulting in a sale.
Type “call reluctance” into Google and you’ll get more than 1.7 million hits, many of them books on the subject or software solutions, but there are also more coaches and trainers than you can imagine, and plenty of lists, such as “5 Steps to Overcoming Call Reluctance.” Let’s take a look at the five ideas that were on the first site I checked out…
Choose prospects you feel good about contacting – Great idea, but the only prospects I feel good about contacting are those that already bought, and they’re not going to buy again because I call them.
Be 150% sold on what you’re selling – Oh great… I was sold on what I’m selling, but now I’m not sure. Now I need to look for a new job.
Recall past accomplishments – That just makes me sad… what’s happened to me? Will the market ever be the same as it was?
Use Mental Rehearsal – I’m picturing someone hanging up on me, or telling me to call back in six months.
Relax – Good one… maybe I should take a walk… to the nearest bar and have a drink.
Yeah, you know what those are? They’re great tips for overcoming the urge to look online for tips for overcoming call reluctance.
Then there was the 30-Minute Rule for Overcoming Call Reluctance.
The idea here is to pick up the phone and talk into it within 30 minutes of arriving at your office. Except that you won’t because if you could do that, you wouldn’t have call reluctance in the first place.
I’m not kidding, the 30-Minute Rule for Overcoming Call Reluctance is to not have call reluctance. It’s positively brilliant. The people behind this rule also say that call reluctance comes from the Fraud Factor, Repeated Failure, and Fear of Rejection.
Once again, the Fraud Factor means you need to look for a new job because you don’t believe in what you’re selling. And people that never worried about what they’re selling only started worrying about what they’re selling after reading about the Fraud Factor.
Repeated Failure is when you fail repeatedly. Prospects continually slam doors in your face and each time it happens, it makes it harder and harder to pick up the phone. And according to these folks, this can become a negative cycle… and I’d imagine that’s true. Do you feel like calling now?
And finally there’s the classic Fear of Rejection. According to these experts, salespeople often meet some level of resistance on the other end of the line, and if this rejection is taken personally, it can lead to call reluctance. Well, it’s all so clear to me now. So, don’t be scared and get on the phone and start calling everyone!
Another site says that “despite extensive sales training, expensive sales supports, generous commission schedules, effective advertising support and competitive products, they don’t sell enough. Why? Because they don’t have enough prospective buyers to sell to. For them, prospecting is emotionally uncomfortable, so they can’t, don’t or won’t initiate contact with prospective buyers on a sufficient basis. The outcome is predictable.”
Is that all it is… that salespeople don’t have enough prospective buyers? And it’s all because they’re emotionally uncomfortable? Well, get emotionally comfortable, damn it.
Another expert in the field of call reluctance says that research has found that call reluctance accounts for over 50% of failures in the sales profession. What causes the other 50%, I wonder?
This guy has his own list of what salespeople can do to overcome call reluctance.
Set goals – My goal is to be less reluctant to call?
Get coaching – Find someone who can tell you not to be reluctant about calling?
Catch yourself – Don’t think negatively. Be positive that you don’t want to call anyone.
CRM – Good customer relationship management software will not make calls for you.
Build you armor – Don’t let negative thoughts get into your head. Again, be positive.
Okay, so those were all the experts on page one of Goggle search for the key words, “call reluctance.” Problem solved, right? Not even close.
Back in the latter part of February, Frank and Brian on The National Real Estate Post tried helping their viewers with call reluctance by using a tip from Zig Ziglar, and according to Zig… “84% of all salespeople have some sort of call reluctance.” (Personally, I think 84% of sales people are reluctant to listening to Zig Ziglar.)
The answer from Zig? Consistency. I’m not kidding… consistency is the cure for what ails you when you’re reluctant to make calls to your prospects. Frank and Brian point out that they post their 5-minute video every day, no matter what, and that’s what has made them successful. Maybe they’re right about that, but I don’t know what it has to do with call reluctance. Nonetheless, they seemed quite pleased with it as an answer, so it’s fine by me.
In the video, Brian then says he recommends that you write your own personal mission statement and read it to yourself every day. Daily affirmations? Because you’re good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you? He claims to know people who do that every day… but I just don’t believe him. I’ll bet you anything that he doesn’t actually know a single person that does that every day or even every year.
Frank then suggests to make an appointment with yourself in order to make a call at the same time every day. That way, I suppose you can be reluctant on a schedule. And then Brian comes back to tell us to use your phone more often, which was of course very helpful. And after that, well… I just couldn’t listen anymore because they went back into the weather, the drought, and something about… hang on… umm… shoot… I can’t even remember.
Okay, so obviously no one knows the answer to this call reluctance thing. I mean, Frank and Brian do five-minute videos, so usually I can stay with them as they to get to the meat of whatever they’re talking about, but this one seemed about four minutes too long.
So, I feel obligated to help here since I do know the cure for call reluctance, and watching Frank and Brian on that video was painful for me… so I can only imagine how they must have felt while making it. Okay, are you ready? Here goes…
Salespeople become reluctant to call because… they have no reason to call.
That’s it and that’s all. Salespeople aren’t fearful of rejection. They have goals. They don’t need to tell themselves how great they are before calling someone. None of that stuff makes any sense at all, and Zig Ziglar hasn’t sold anything since the Fuller Brush man was going door to door…. except maybe a seminar or book of redundant sales techniques.
Salespeople become reluctant to call prospects when they have no good reason to call. It’s the same reason we all don’t call people all the time… because we don’t have a reason to call them. Once we have a good reason to call someone, then we’re absolutely fine with picking up the phone and calling. See, it’s not rocket surgery.
If you think about it, Frank and Brian are so reluctant to call prospects that they’ve created and produced their daily five-minute videos, and spent years posting them online, just so that people would call them instead.
It’s completely normal. If you have no reason to call, then it becomes obvious that you’re calling to see if the person you’re calling is now ready to buy something from you, which is probably the same reason you called the prospect last time when you had no reason to call. And by calling again for no reason, you get to both sound ridiculous and teach your prospect that you’re desperate for business at the same time! Who wouldn’t be reluctant to do that?
So, if you’re a sales manager of some kind, you need to give your salespeople reasons to call their prospects all the time, and if you’re a salesperson, you need to create reasons to call your prospects.
What are good reasons to call? That’s easy… let’s just listen in on this call from a salesperson working as a loan originator that knows how to create a reason for calling.
“Yes, this is he.”
“Hi, Harold, this is Tom Jones calling from First National Fidelity Security. We spoke a couple of weeks ago… listen I’m actually calling because I just read an article on the housing market that I think you’ll want to see. If you remember the last time we spoke, we were talking about whether people were being affected by some of the negative stories that keep appearing in the press about how it’s so much harder to get a loan. Well, this article I just read does the opposite… it’s lists eight reasons why now is a great time to buy, and I thought you might want to even post it on your site or send it out to your prospect mail list or whatever. It’s really good.
“Wow, well sure… I would like to see that. Can you email me a copy or a link?”
“Of course, that’s why I’m calling. What’s your email again?”
“Oh yeah… I have that right here… that’s a great domain name and email address. So, tell me… while I’ve got you on the phone, what have you been seeing out there in terms of first time buyers, are they picking up in number at all?
“Somewhat, I mean, it’s still slower than I’d like it to be, but I think we’re starting to see some additional movement from the younger crowd.”
“Well, listen I’ll also send you some information on rates and special programs for first time buyers that are starting to pop up from different lenders around the country. Wells even announced that they’ll go down to a 600 FICO on FHA.”
“No kidding, I might be able to use that with one couple in particular…”
And now we have a conversation that might lead somewhere. But, had there been no reason to call, the whole thing probably wouldn’t have happened.
The point I’m trying to make is that you can always make your own reason to call, even when your company doesn’t have any news to share. The Internet is full of information, but information has no value today… it’s free and it’s everywhere. But information that’s been processed by the human brain becomes knowledge… and knowledge is highly valued by everyone in business today.
When you transfer knowledge to your prospects you make them smarter, you improve their capability to succeed, and when you do that… you turn prospects into customers.
Spend some time researching the true thought leaders in your industry and subscribe to their sites so you get updates on their latest posts. Find out who the academics are at major universities that focus on subjects related to your industry or your prospect’s industry.
There’s always something new going on, and by scanning your news feeds and emails every day you’ll almost always find something worth sending along to someone you’re talking to.
Articles, white papers, lists, podcasts, videos, news of an upcoming industry event… any and all of these can provide you with a very good reason to call, and when you know you’re calling for a good reason, you’ll see how fast your call reluctance vanishes.
And not only that, but when you set a disciplined way of reviewing the latest industry information regularly, you’ll find that doing so makes you smarter as well, and that makes you more valuable as far as your prospects are concerned.
Years ago, when I was just starting out in my career as a consultant to large companies, I was always in the process of pitching clients in several industries. I’d come into the office an hour earlier than everyone else, and spend that hour reading everything about those industries that I could find.
Then I’d cut out the most important stories and send them either by fax, mail or email, to my prospects and follow-up later with a call to make sure they’d received what I’d sent and I’d try to get them engaged in a discussion about the topic. It didn’t even take me six months before I had my first major client and my billing was over $2 million by the end of my first year.
And that was before the Internet… just think what I could have done with today’s tools.
Call reluctance isn’t some psychological problem that you can cure by talking to yourself or by being coached to pick up the phone within 30 minutes. You know why you’re not calling your prospects… it’s because you have nothing to say.
So become more knowledgeable and make it easier for your prospects to do the same, and you’ll quickly find that you can’t wait to pick up the phone… and once your engaged in a meaningful dialog, the only thing your prospects will be reluctant to do is say goodbye.
And once you’ve built it… sales will come, because everyone wants to do business with someone that makes them smarter.
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