The cure for “cold call reluctance”


If you are reading this, then you (or one of your salespeople) likely suffer from the common sales malady of cold call reluctance. The cure is simple, once we rule out common red herrings:

  • Your salesperson is lazy
  • Your salesperson is scared to make a call
  • Your salesperson is too chatty on inbound calls, so lacks time to make outbound calls

If you suspect these reasons, it’s time to prune your sales staff — or to be open to another reason for cold call reluctance: a lack of training. your sales person may not be meeting call quotas because they don’t know the value of setting a valid call objective.

Why setting a call objective is critical

  • Every outbound call made by your salesperson is an interruption to the person answering the phone.
    Stephen Covey devotees recognize this interruption as a withdrawal from your intended prospect’s emotional bank account. Therefore, having a good reason to call (a valid call objective) could be considered a deposit. Calling to “just check in” or “see if the client needs anything” implies a lack of preparation and/or simply trying (yet again) to stick a foot in the door. Those calls are the reason we all hate getting “sales calls” we don’t expect or want.
  • Salespeople are reluctant to call without a good reason.
    When there is a sale going on or a new product rollout, sales call volumes go up. Given a valid call objective, it’s easier to contact new prospects or current customers.
  • Without a valid call objective, your salesperson has no idea when the call is finished.
    Should they actually engage the prospect or customer in a conversation, the call will invariably go on too long, often with no advancement of the sales process. The best result is often a non-targeted continuation: the prospect or customer says, “I’ll check the website and get back to you” and your relieved salesperson (who couldn’t find the right note to end the call) replies, “Great. Give me a call with any questions.” What are the odds the customer will do so?
  • When a valid call objective has been achieved, documenting the outcome of the call is easier and more success oriented.
    For example: Objective – Business Solicitation Call. Outcome – Customer was busy but we talked for a while about how his business was doing. He asked me to call him in a month. Scheduled follow-up call. Compare that to: Objective – Called to discuss new product line as it related to customer’s core business. Outcome – Customer had not heard of this new product and asked that I send him quotes. Sent quote via email. Scheduled follow-up call to discuss quotes and ask for business.

Which outcome do you see most often? Which would you like to see more often? (We both know the answer.) Check your company’s Contact Relationship Management System: Has a salesperson missed contacting several clients by even a single day? If a valid sales objective was set for that date and the date passed, how important (or valid) was the call? Look for patterns before deciding whether the problem is personality based or training based.

To reduce sales call reluctance, remember (or inspire others) to do these three things consistently:

  1. Set a valid sales call objective for every call.
  2. At the end of every call, set a valid call objective for a follow-up contact (or don’t schedule a response).
  3. Document the outcome of every call as it relates to the sales call objective set.

That’s it. Nothing more to read here. Go set a valid objective and make a sale!

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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One Response to The cure for “cold call reluctance”

  1. RJ Gazarek May 23, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Shared this with our sales team at OneVoice – Interruptive Marketing or Sales is always a really tough sell, but the advice on having an objective in order to make a deposit into their emotional account is great. I’m always interested in tying in aspects of Psychology to sales and marketing – great post!

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