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Coping with call reluctance (part 1)

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Don prides himself on being a professional. But he’d like his sales production to be a little higher. He’s tired of watching new producers outperform him. It’s obvious they aren’t as knowledgeable about their products. Don sees himself as consistently prepared for his fact-finding interviews and knows exactly what to say.

The problem is, he doesn’t say it often enough. He’d rather spend time analyzing than acting.
Bob considers himself successful. He is conscious of how he looks and knows how to act. After all, customers like to deal with professionals who possess style and class.

Bob believes he has to be the best producer around or he is nothing at all. His self-image is woven into his level of success. But he doesn’t prospect much because he feels it is beneath him.

To avoid the risk of humiliation for low sales and preserve his self-perceived status, he dedicates much of his time to industry organizations and professional groups. He rationalizes networking is better than prospecting. He would rather let others refer prospects to him through word of mouth.

Unfortunately, this technique has rarely paid off. But at least it is better than hitting up potential clients who might think less of him for making an unsolicited phone call.

Jennifer enjoys selling. She likes helping people solve their problems. She realizes that selling, while extremely profitable, can also be uncomfortable. She doesn’t like to prospect through referrals’ contacts or make cold calls. She is afraid of being thought of as pushy and intrusive.

She frequently apologizes when calling prospects for interrupting them. She procrastinates making cold calls, waiting for the “right time.” Jennifer realizes she doesn’t make a lot of calls, but she is unwilling to take the risk of appearing too forward.

Identifying call aversion
Have you identified with any of these people? They all possess a self-sabotaging psychological malady described as “call aversion.” If your sales activity is too low, you may have this self-promotion disease. As a call-averse professional, you may find it emotionally difficult to force yourself to prospect and thereby achieve your goals.

According to researchers George Dudley and Shannon Goodson, more than 40 percent of the salespeople questioned reported experiencing severe bouts of what they call “call reluctance” that nearly ended their careers.

The first step in dealing with call aversion is recognizing specifically whether you have it and how it may be harming your income. In the next series of columns, I’ll talk about the four different types of call aversion and how to overcome the behavior entirely.