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Call Reluctance

I have to admit that calling on new prospects is not my idea of fun. I know I'm not alone on this.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to make this more bearable? - by Jackie
Just curious, the calls to new prospects that you are uncomfortable with, are these made face-to-face or by phone? Do you do an introduction by phone before meeting in person? - by Doc MC
Just curious, the calls to new prospects that you are uncomfortable with, are these made face-to-face or by phone? Do you do an introduction by phone before meeting in person?
Face-to-face.

My job is to basically walk into a business cold, ask to speak with the owner, and then convince him/her that it's in their best interest to pay a consultant from our company to come in and evaluate their business. - by Jackie
:eek: That's tough, cold calling isn't easy most people that have never worked in sales couldn't even think about cold calling. One thing I try to do even if I can't get past the "Gate keeper" (receptionist) is to try and make everyone that I talk to happier than when I first saw them. Many people hate their jobs, if you brighten their day a little you might be suprised at what you get out of it. It will not only make them feel better, you will feel better also.:) - by Doc MC
Does anyone have any ideas on how to make this more bearable?
Change your mental image of what you think you're doing. Seriously. This is a vital skill in life and sales. ;) - by Jolly Roger
:eek: That's tough, cold calling isn't easy most people that have never worked in sales couldn't even think about cold calling. One thing I try to do even if I can't get past the "Gate keeper" (receptionist) is to try and make everyone that I talk to happier than when I first saw them. Many people hate their jobs, if you brighten their day a little you might be suprised at what you get out of it. It will not only make them feel better, you will feel better also.:)
Doc, I LOVED this answer! - by RainMaker
Jackie,


I have a lot of admiration for you already! That's not an easy thing to do! As an "old" sales guy, I have been trained to approach that kind of situation in the following ways:

1. You don't get paid to sell (tell yourself this), you get paid to knock on doors because eventually, odds are, you'll get a buyer. Figure out what those odds are (i.e. 1 in 100) and what commission you make and divide that commission by the number of "knocks" it takes to get it. That's how you get paid per "knock". Try thinking of your pay as per knock, not per sale and set knock/prospecting goals, not sales goals.

2. I've seen essentially a couple of different techniques for selling business owners. One is to go in with arrogance and total confidence EXPECTING the owner to want to talk to you. ASSUME he/she needs what your selling RIGHT NOW, get your order form ready, tell him your company is going to solve his problems and tell him to approve the paperwork to get the process started.
Some have used this approach in ways that are very aggressive including sweeping all the papers/etc off of the owner's desk while telling him if he doesn't take action now, he'll be out of business!! I don't necessarily advocate that much aggressiveness, but I will say that assumptive selling is powerful and absolutely necessary when a one call close is the order of the day. Confidence sells!

The second approach is the bubbly, excited, confident fun approach. You get yourself in a real positive, fun, upbeat state of mind and walk into the business with a "Hi!!, I am here" greating.

I guess it depends on you and your body type and look. (I don't think gender really matters) If you are large and can look forboding or old like me and can look distinguished or just plain old -- use the arrogant/confident approach, if you are small, naturally bubbly or "cute" use the bubbly/confident approach. The common denominator is confidence however. Assume the sale either way if it's a one call close! Good Luck - by malibu
Malibu, thank you very much for your input. That makes a lot of sense. ;) - by Jackie
Hey Jackie, I remember your response to my very first post (about approach) and you described a job you had PREVIOUSLY that was similar to the one you are describing in this post. I'm curious, did you decide to go back or this another company? This type of sale is similar to what I was trying to do, so I am just asking because I am curious if you are getting pretty good results. - by RainMaker
Hey Jackie, I remember your response to my very first post (about approach) and you described a job you had PREVIOUSLY that was similar to the one you are describing in this post. I'm curious, did you decide to go back or this another company? This type of sale is similar to what I was trying to do, so I am just asking because I am curious if you are getting pretty good results.
No. I was responding to Malibu's post. However, I do know more than a few people who cold call on small businesses. I've noticed a high turnover rate with this type of position so I would imagine that a large percentage of salespeople in this position are not experiencing the results they had hoped for. :( - by Jackie
I have to admit that calling on new prospects is not my idea of fun. I know I'm not alone on this.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to make this more bearable?
It's all about your 'mindset' if you beleive that it is not your idea of fun then it wont be, and it will become more of a problem day in day out.
The huge advantage you have personally, is the fact that you can motivate yourself to make the call. Many of your competitors will have the same mental block on cold calling. So consider this, although you cant see them, play a game in your mind, visualise that you are beating them to the call. Its you or them and im sure i know which one you would rather it be. Talk loudly, rapidly with enthusiasm. GET EXITED. Then each call you make thereafter will be more fun.
Why? Because you should find that it starts to become a pleasure for them to see you, which in turn will make you feel happier with c,calling. - by empathy
I would imagine that a large percentage of salespeople in this position are not experiencing the results they had hoped for. :(
Jackie, do you have any flexibility to try other marketing approaches? Maybe dropping in isn't the most effective way for you to make a first contact. My experience has been that small business owners are usually too busy to talk to someone who just dropped in. Even if someone might be interested, they may just not have time at that moment.

Do you have any other alternatives? Could you give a bit more information on how you target the businesses you stop in to see? Maybe if we had a bit more info, we could suggest some alternatives to go along with the great posts about making cold calls more enjoyable.

Kathleen - by KSA-Mktg
Jackie, do you have any flexibility to try other marketing approaches?
I'm no longer working with that particular company. With that said, I would still be interested in learning more about making cold calls more enjoyable.

To answer your question... I think that many agents cold calling businesses have flexibility when it comes to marketing approaches. What do you have in mind? - by Jackie
Jackie,

You've got a very popular thread here! I was amazed that you'd changed jobs already, but then I looked back over the thread and realized it had been resurrected a couple times!

I think marketing alternatives vary based on what you're selling. I've known reps selling copiers who had some success just starting on the top floor of a building and knocking on doors all the way down. But, they didn't necessarily need to talk to the business owner, so from that standpoint, it was a bit easier. And, a lot of the time the "gatekeeper" they first met could easily tell them if the copier was driving everyone nuts by breaking down all the time.

What caught my eye was your saying that you were selling consulting services. I think in that situation, you have a much greater opportunity to identify some target markets. You could identify markets based on industry, company size, revenue, length of time in business, etc.

Then, you could cold call on the telephone. That is still a pain in the ah neck, but at least you're making better use of your time. You can make a lot more phone calls in a day than personal visits. Then, when you're going out in person, you have an appointment with a human being who has set aside time to talk to you.

You could also join the local Chamber. Having something in common is a great ice breaker. You can call the contact for your targeted companies, explain that you're calling them because they are the Chamber contact for their firm, explain what you have to offer and ask them who in their organization you should talk to. Its a warm call to start with, and a lot of the time people are very willing to help you out.

Guess I could go on and on, but you'd get bored. That's the type of thing I was thinking of. But, again, it really depends on your product and your market.

What alternatives have you used in your new position? Is any of the above applicable to what you're doing now?

Kathleen - by KSA-Mktg
Is any of the above applicable to what you're doing now?
Not at the time no.

When I worked for that company I did use the phone to find out what companies met our minimum requirements. This saved a lot of time.

As for personal visits, that was the job description. Talk about school of hard knocks! ;) - by Jackie
It's all about your 'mindset' if you beleive that it is not your idea of fun then it wont be, and it will become more of a problem day in day out.
I agree 100%. For anyone facing "Call Reluctance" I would say jump in with both feet and make a few calls. Before you know it you'll be in the swing of things. ;) - by WobblyBox
This seems to be a well traveled thread about a popular term in selling, call reluctance. I've been hearing that term for years. Maybe I'm just thick, but I don't understand it exactly. It seems, though, that it probably is being used here to describe either of two things.

Is call reluctance a convenient term for call avoidance? Okay--I think I could understand that. I know reluctance means unwillingness according to Webster. So if a person has a job in sales and is unwilling to approach new prospects, then that person would have to work either a warm market of people they know or meet through networking, or, have a job in sales calling on existing accounts only. But if their job function included going after new business as in cold-calling, and they were unwilling to do that--well..the job would certainly be in serious jeopardy.

Or...is call reluctance being used to describe doing something reluctantly because you have to do it but you hate it. Who wants to do that? I wouldn't want to do something that I hated to do unless I had no other choice. Now if someone put a gun to my head I wouldn't have a choice. But I think we have more than one choice as to how we make a living.

Okay..so maybe I'm not so thick. I think back to the time when I first heard the term "call reluctance". It came out of the mouth of a sales manager. And come to think of it, I'll bet the next twenty times I heard it, it was either from another person in management or from some sales author telling people how to overcome it. But, you know, I don't think inexperienced salespeople invent that term to describe what they have. I think we have been fed that.

I'm just thinking out loud here because advice has been labeled the greatest of all conversation stoppers. And--I don't want to see the thread stop. But-what would happen if we pretended that we never heard the term, call reluctance? What if we took the attitude of hey--I didn't invent those words--some guy behind a desk did? Maybe the same guy who coined the phrase "attention deficit disorder" and started a freakin' movement. - by Gary Boye
IMO, the sources of "call reluctance" are many (fear, laziness, etc.) but the term represents a lack of inclination towards making a sales call, for whatever reason. - by SalesGuy
Okay..so maybe I'm not so thick. I think back to the time when I first heard the term "call reluctance". It came out of the mouth of a sales manager. And come to think of it, I'll bet the next twenty times I heard it, it was either from another person in management or from some sales author telling people how to overcome it. But, you know, I don't think inexperienced salespeople invent that term to describe what they have. I think we have been fed that.
Gary, at the risk of being a tired cliche....a rose (or in this case, maybe more aptly a STINKWEED) by any other name... I don't have the benefit of formal sales training, and actually, I never heard the term 'call reluctance' before visiting SP, but the minute I saw it, I knew that feeling it was describing..."oh, just for once, can't all my customers just CALL ME???" [yeah, right!]

If you like I will be happy to officially rename it for you....but I fear the effect will be the same. OK, how's about telephone torture, phone phobia...um...calling consternation...hang-up horror...dialing dread, tele-terror.....:p Well, you get the idea.

Truthfully, when I first started out on my current project, I was sure I was going to be primarily cold canvassing. Someone had told me not to call first because it's too easy to get shut out, but after only about 4 or 5 days with that approach, I quickly rethought my strategy. Cold calling is KING in my book, now. I don't find it that unpleasant because it always pays off. - by RainMaker
If you like I will be happy to officially rename it for you....but I fear the effect will be the same. OK, how's about telephone torture, phone phobia...um...calling consternation...hang-up horror...dialing dread, tele-terror.....:p Well, you get the idea.
Those are great! I love it! :D

Cold calling is KING in my book, now. I don't find it that unpleasant because it always pays off.
Two things... first, "long live cold calling." :p

Second, I believe you hit the nail on the head. You have a "mental concept" of cold calling that encourages not discourages the activity. IMO, that is the remedy for "call reluctance." ;) - by SalesGuy
For anyone facing "Call Reluctance" I would say jump in with both feet and make a few calls. Before you know it you'll be in the swing of things. ;)
I have found this to be true for myself. Of course, that first step is a doozy! :p - by Liberty
I have found this to be true for myself. Of course, that first step is a doozy! :p
Yes, it sure is. But the good news is the FIRST step is actually the worst. As I have found true with most things in life that I dread, the actual event is rarely as bad as my own imagination:rolleyes: . - by RainMaker
Yes, it sure is. But the good news is the FIRST step is actually the worst. As I have found true with most things in life that I dread, the actual event is rarely as bad as my own imagination:rolleyes: .
I'm only a newcomer here, but I'll add my 2 cents worth.

I'm no fan of cold calling , but as a consultant, I still do it. One approach that I use from time to time, is to pick my target market, send an ice-breaker letter with an attention grabber attached, and a few days later call the business owner. Because of the format that I use, 9 out of 10 times the letter gets read, and this is a good lead in when I start talking to the business owner. To a certain extent I have already pre-sold them on what I am going to talk about, and in some cases I get the appointment without even having to say much.

Stephen - by Stephen
Stephen,

Welcome to the forum - from another relative newbie.

Your approach sounds like it works extremely well. What type of an attention grabber do you send with the letter?

Kathleen - by KSA-Mktg
Stephen,

Welcome to the forum - from another relative newbie.

Your approach sounds like it works extremely well. What type of an attention grabber do you send with the letter?

Kathleen
Hi Kathleen

At different times I have used silver coins, chocolate coins and scratchy lottery tickets. They all work effectively, because whoever opens the mail, they are instantly drawn to the grabber. If it is not the business owner, the person feels compelled to pass on the letter. If it is the business owner, they read the letter because they think if this person is going to use this clever type of marketing, then perhaps they have something useful to say.

Stephen - by Stephen
send an ice-breaker letter with an attention grabber attached,
Stephen
Can you elaborate on this? What do you mean by "attention grabber attached?" (also it is a letter in an envelop as opposed to a postcard...etc.) - by RainMaker
Can you elaborate on this? What do you mean by "attention grabber attached?" (also it is a letter in an envelop as opposed to a postcard...etc.)
The idea of the attention grabber is to physically stick some object to your letter so that it stands out. I mentioned in my reply to Kathleen that I use silver coins, chocolate coins and scratchy lottery tickets. I then say in the first line of my letter - "The silver coin attached to this letter is to get your attention, to focus your mind on a question: are you getting the best return for your advertising and other marketing efforts?" Then I launch in to the rest of my letter.

This idea works well.....but it is not the be all and end all. In other words, it will not overcome the whole process of cold calling. In some cases it will help you gain an appointment with the business owner straight away.....but in most cases you still need to have a good script to get your point across.

However, when it comes to cold calling, for most people, every little edge that you can give yourself helps!

Stephen - by Stephen
The idea of the attention grabber is to physically stick some object to your letter so that it stands out. I mentioned in my reply to Kathleen that I use silver coins, chocolate coins and scratchy lottery tickets. I then say in the first line of my letter - "The silver coin attached to this letter is to get your attention, to focus your mind on a question: are you getting the best return for your advertising and other marketing efforts?" Then I launch in to the rest of my letter.


Stephen
How intereesting. I LIKE it. Well, maybe except the chocolate coins...I live in FL, they might win me a dry cleaning bill or two! :p - by RainMaker
How intereesting. I LIKE it. Well, maybe except the chocolate coins...I live in FL, they might win me a dry cleaning bill or two! :p
Yeah, fair point. Most people laugh but I have had a few that weren't happy when chocolate crumbled in their lap. I stick to silver coins now! - by Stephen
Hi!

A few questions to ask yourself b4 you make your first call:

1) Why are you calling them - what do you hope to achieve - appointment, sale, lead, survey etc

2) Prepare answers to some objections b4 they arise - enabling you to think on your feet!

3) Why would YOU purchase what you are selling - never forget your Unique Selling Point (USP)!

4) Understand the ways that your prospect can benefit from your product/services - cost less, better quality, leading-edge, saves time, easier to use, reduced costs, improves productivity, better ROI etc etc

5) Set yourself small targets - after calling 10 prospects, after calling 25. Also set targets for outcomes - "Today I am going to aim for 5 appointments" or "Today I am going to get 10 sales" etc. You may not always hit them, but you focus more on little successes (which builds confidence in you and makes you feel like a winner) and less on how you "feel" when you make them.

Finally, remember what you can achieve when you get those sales. What are you goals in life for this week, month, year? What will you spend you money on - remember the goal after the goal. Why are you willing to do what 90% of people are not willing to do? What floats your boat?? Good luck ;)

Tony D - Sales Journey - by Tonyd
Excellent points Tony...I agree with you.

If I could add one more thing along these same lines.

A sales mentor of mine has said that you should practice your cold calling script out loud at least 50 times before you make the first call. Practice it in different accents, loud, soft etc....all with the purpose to train your voice and give you the confidence to roll out the script in a natural tone when you start using it. - by Stephen
5) Set yourself small targets - after calling 10 prospects, after calling 25. Also set targets for outcomes - "Today I am going to aim for 5 appointments" or "Today I am going to get 10 sales" etc. You may not always hit them, but you focus more on little successes (which builds confidence in you and makes you feel like a winner) and less on how you "feel" when you make them.
I especially like this one. :) - by Jolly Roger
I have to admit that calling on new prospects is not my idea of fun. I know I'm not alone on this.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to make this more bearable?
Since we are not supposed to post URL's to this forum, you might want to ask Jeff to post my article, or it's link, titled "Eliminate the Fear of Cold Calling and Rejection."

Like everything else that we do, it's based on what has been statistically validated to work best for most (not all) salespeople. - by JacquesWerth
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