We all know that sales success depends on keeping our prospecting funnel filled with qualified buyers. Sometimes, we get in our own way, or at least our call reluctance does. Our call reluctance is a result of our perceptions. It is like our car mirrors on the passenger side which give us a distorted view of the road. We need the distortion to improve our driving visibility. Unlike the mirror, call reluctance doesn’t help our selling. We can deal with call reluctance by changing our perception and our behavior.
First things first. To address your immobility, you first have to identify the cause. We feel call reluctance for different reasons. For some people, fear of failure makes the task overwhelming. Understand that you are never expected to know everything. Selling is more than making sales. It’s learning how to do better. Doing the best you can when you are new to the sales field (and also a seasoned sale professional!) is the true goal. This does not eliminate the need for preparation. This just means that you don’t make it more difficult for yourself by having unrealistic expectations. You can have high standards, but don’t make them impossible to achieve.
Start Small. For some, the reluctance comes from being overwhelmed with how to approach a prospect. The account may be large, significant and complex. You may find there are many decision makers. You need to do research before you make a sales call. See how your product can benefit the customer. Pick one department to focus on. After you establish a relationship with one decision maker, ask for him to recommend you to another department decision maker.
If the size of the account overwhelms you, begin with prospecting for slightly smaller sized accounts. Once you increase your comfort level, move on to the larger accounts. Remember, you could be working just as hard in a smaller account as in a larger account.
Make a game of it. When there’s a payoff to do something, we somehow find the will and energy to get the job done. We all have things we enjoy. Think of something that you enjoy and use it as a way to reward yourself after you have accomplished something especially challenging.
The rewards don’t have to be big. If just making the phone call to a prospect is daunting, you could tell yourself that your reward will be a drink from your first cup of coffee (or other preferred beverage) that morning. After your second prospecting phone call, you reward yourself with your second sip. If food isn’t your thing, substitute a token for your reward. The token is an object which represents the reward. A paper clip could be a token representing each call you make. Your reward is 15 minutes of relaxation time when you get home. Your objective is to tie the pleasurable experience to the unpleasurable one. Try to make your new behavior a habit by receiving your reward (the token or candy) immediately after you perform the task.
Just as the objects in our passenger side mirror are distorted, the distortion of our perspective impacts our selling. For our driving, the distortion helps our performance. In selling, the distortion of call reluctance hurts our performance. When we learn how to modify our behavior and refocus, we can turn our reluctance into winning performance.
Reprinted with permission from Strategic Selling. Copyright Maura Schreier-Fleming