Brace yourself! Sales management, sales trainers and motivational speakers are the number one carriers of Sales Call Reluctance. This was the finding of George Dudley and Shannon Goodson of Behavioral Sciences Research Press. This is not to say all sales managers, trainers, and motivational speakers carry sales call reluctance; however, the reason they do might be more obvious than you would think.
Sales Call Reluctance is the emotional hesitation to prospect and self-promote. It is much more than the cold call. It can neutralize any career. It affects follow through, asking for the business, asking for referrals, recommending a higher-priced option, prospecting the upscale center-of-influence, creating relationships with strategic alliance partners, closing the sale and more. Sales Call Reluctance is fear — a mental response to a perceived threat.
There are 12 types of Sales Call Reluctance. One type, and the most contagious, is Role Rejection Call Reluctance. This is where salespeople are actually rejecting the fact that they are in sales. They are actually embarrassed and feel uncomfortable selling. They have bought into the negative stereotypes about salespeople. They say to prospects, “I’m not selling anything. I’m here to educate.” If you are solving peoples’ problems for profit, you are selling! Embrace it.
Yes, we have all been exposed to inexperienced, unethical salespeople and some executives put all salespeople in that category. It is very unfortunate to have that mindset. There are many salespeople who are extremely effective from start to finish.
One company that retained me to train their salespeople assessed all their salespeople, sales managers, including the CEO. Guess what? Role Rejection Call Reluctance was throughout the organization starting from the top. The CEO was open and confident enough to take the feedback. He was amazed at the insight he got and how Role Rejection Call Reluctance was costing big bucks.
The message to the salespeople was: “Get out there and sell today, but don’t be a sleazy salesperson.” He made a committed effort to change their culture within the management and sales team to be proud of being effective salespeople and making it “okay to solve problems for people for profit.”
A Senior VP of Sales admitted that he started new orientation training of his financial advisors with: “Now people do not like being called on the phone.” Think about this, he was contaminating the very people he intended to inspire. It is not true that people don’t like to be called on the phone. When he become aware, he shook his head in disbelief of what kind of call reluctance he was creating on day one of new advisor training.
Follow these steps to ensure that your sales managers and trainers are not contaminating your salespeople with their call reluctance:
- Invest in them by having them take an assessment that measures call reluctance.
- Agree at the board level that it’s okay to solve people’s problems for profit – which is selling.
- Always train salespeople on what you want them to do. Many times I find that in training they are telling their people, “Whatever you do, don’t be a salesperson, or don’t say this, don’t do this.” Trainers often train more on what “not to do” than on what to do. Be a role model and train on best practices and what you want salespeople to do.
- Take calls from salespeople who call you. Stop hiding behind the gatekeeper. Some executives say, “I’d be on the phone all day with salespeople.” That is not true. Take at least one call a day and be present. Notice the style of the salesperson and their value statement; appreciate them for their courage to make the call. You want other executives to take your salespeople’s calls right? Why not be a true leader and take a few calls from salespeople? You don’t have to make any commitments or buy anything, just give a salesperson the opportunity to speak with you.
Sales is an honorable profession and effective, courageous salespeople are undeniably valuable. Create a culture of value around selling.
Sales call reluctance is the registered trademark of Behavioral Sciences Research Press (BSRP). Connie Kadansky is authorized licensee of BSRP and works with in US, Canada, and the Caribbean.