When we think of “Call Reluctance” we picture a salesperson, sweating, fidgeting and hesitating with their finger poised over the numbers on the phone, trembling with fear, unable to make the call.
Call Reluctance is real, but it seldom manifests itself in such an obvious way. As professional salespeople we need to be aware of this insidious phenomenon and protect ourselves against it.
Dry Cleaning, Sales and Parkinson’s Law
We own two Dry Cleaners. We do approximately 300 shirts per day. We have three people who work in the shirt room. But the work doesn’t come in evenly. If we have 400 shirts on Monday, it takes 8 hours (24 man hours) to complete the work. If we have 200 shirts on Thursday, how long does it take? (without management) The same amount of time!
“Work Expands to fill the time available.” This concept was introduced in 1955 by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, an English civil servant, in his essay, “The Economist.” He was speaking of bureaucracies and how they will grow regardless of the work they have (or don’t have) to do.
What does this have to do with call reluctance?
In my own sales and working with salespeople I find that we disguise our call reluctance. Let’s introduce ourselves to the guests who often attend the “Call Reluctance Masquerade”:
A. Service of current accounts. This is the most common place to hide for the salesperson who doesn’t want to prospect. “I have to service my current accounts don’t I?” They will say, with an accusatory tone. (How dare we question their service relationship with their current customers!) Service to our current accounts is important, but many sellers are giving customers too much service or service the customer is not paying for! Customers will always ask for more. We must give them what they need and what we originally agreed to give them. All we have is our time, we must charge for it one way or another.
B. I’m the only one who can service my accounts. . I work with a great manager, Mike Mordel, who recently told me, “I tell my salespeople, if they don’t delegate service work, they are making a mistake. I understand that some service work has to be done by the account rep, but much of it can be delegated.”
We must keep demanding customers in check, or charge for our time. We must delegate tasks when possible
C. Detail work. Computer work. Bid work. Many salespeople hide behind the detail work or administration work of their jobs so they don’t have to do the most important and profitable part of their job – getting in front of the customer.
D. Talking to the boss-itis. Your boss may have time to talk to you, but that doesn’t mean you have time to talk to him. Kissing up to the boss in sales seldom works. The numbers tell the tale (and the boss isn’t buying, so…)
E. Whining about the economy. We are salespeople, not economists. Our job is not to predict what the economy is going to do; our job is to sell no matter what the economy is doing. A sales manager was preaching the doom and gloom to me the other day. I asked him, “The economy may have slowed some, but how many of your sales people are making forty outbound phone calls per day?” “Not many,” he said. That put an end of the “whining about the economy” talk.
F. Spending too much time with the wrong customers. Many sellers give an inappropriate amount of time to customers that will never be “A” accounts. They get along with the buyer – and the buyer will talk to them all day – so they give that buyer more time that they deserve, keeping the seller from calling new accounts and growing their business.
Who is in charge?
We are not victims. We are entrepreneurs or intra-preneurs. We are running our own business. We decide (and are responsible for!) how we spend our time. Call reluctance is real and can strike even the most experienced seller. The outbound sales call is our life’s blood as salespeople. The next time we receive an invitation to the Call Reluctance Masquerade, let’s decline and make an outbound sales call. Happy selling!