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Coping with call reluctance (part 2)

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Last month we broached the topic of call reluctance and aversion, the anxiety many salespeople experience in making cold calls to try to find new business. The first step in dealing with call aversion is recognizing specifically whether you have it and how it may be harming your income. While there seem to be many types of call aversion, four stand out as the most common. We’ll examine these over the next few columns.

The analytic
This type occurs in sales producers who are overly sensitive about being swept away by their emotions. Afraid to show their true feelings, they preoccupy themselves in highly technical matters. “Analytics” keep their feelings in the deep freeze, fearing rejection if they reveal themselves. They over-analyze and under-act, appearing reserved and restrained in interpersonal conversations.

When giving sales presentations, they tend to stress technical details while neglecting relationships. They sometimes even seem to downplay the value of interpersonal skills. When losing a sale, they blame it on the products they offer instead of solving the real problem: getting better at developing relationships.

When I was a stockbroker, I knew an analytic type named Ken. He had been with the firm for about five years and was very knowledgeable about the bond market. In between my daily load of 150 cold calls, I would pop into his office for inspiration and advice. I would often see him looking over a bond value history or working on one of his performance illustrations.

I was shocked to learn that out of the 15 or so producers in the office, he was 15th. He tried to avoid making phone calls by preoccupying himself with computers and technical illustrations. He rationalized, at least unconsciously, “Possibly when people discover how competent I am, they’ll ring me.” This form of call aversion often occurs in highly educated and professional people. Often physicians have a built-in call aversion, as do attorneys and dentists. This is probably one of the reasons why engineers rarely become salespeople.

I once attended a class on entrepreneurship when the professor said, “If you want to bring a product to the marketplace successfully, you need to learn how to use the technique of ‘ready, fire, aim.’” Once you have introduced your product, correct it, streamline it, make it better and then fire again. The worst thing to do is prepare yourself to the point that you never fire.

Granted, if you have a breakthrough product that no other competitors possess, customers will beat a path to your door. But your technical competence may be lost on the majority of your clients. Prospects buy your trust first, products and services second.