Call Reluctance

by Cheryl Vallejos, CPBA, CPVA

What Is "Call Reluctance?"

The notion that call reluctance is a single condition is a venerable piece of nonsense which has largely been discredited. Twelve different types have been identified so far and there are probably more. They are:
  • A. The Doomsayer: Characterized by habitual worrying about the worst case scenario.

  • B. Over-Preparation: Characterized by energy being over-invested in analyzing at the expense of prospecting.

  • B. Hyper-Pro: Characterized by energy being lost due to over-investment in the mannerisms and appearances of success. (Talking the talk)

  • C. Stage Fright: Characterized by avoiding or bypassing opportunities to speak to a group about ones product.

  • D. Role Rejection: Characterized by energy being lost due to unexpressed and unresolved guilt and shame associated with selling.

  • E. Yielder: Characterized by hesitating to prospect for new business due to a reflexive fear of being considered selfish, intrusive or pushy.

  • F. Social Self-Consciousness: Characterized by emotional hesitation to initiate Contact with up-market prospective buyers.

  • G. Separationist: Characterized by emotional resistance to mixing business interest with friendships.

  • H. Emotionally Unemancipated: Characterized by emotional resistance to mixing Business and family.

  • I. Referral Aversion: Characterized by emotional discomfort associated with existing clients for referrals.

  • J. Telephobia: Characterized by fear when trying to use the telephone for Prospecting purposes.

  • K. Oppositional Reflex: Characterized by high approval needs and low self- esteem.

How can one overcome the basic fear attributed to a reluctant caller?

Now that a person has been exposed to the reluctant caller viruses, what are the prescriptions for a cure?

While there have been many, many books written on the subject, the pros have determined that there are only four steps to overcoming call reluctance of any kind.
  1. You must admit you have symptoms of the virus!
  2. You must determine which type you are infected with.
  3. Determine your countermeasures
  4. Massive action and follow up
What you say to yourself about prospecting has a powerful impact upon what you feel when prospecting. What you feel when prospecting has a powerful impact on what you do about prospecting.

Is fear of self promotion a symptom of the call reluctance virus?

You work hard and perform your job well. You can, and should, take pride in that. God also knows you have integrity, talent and ability. Not a bad audience, that.

But if you want to be recognized and financially rewarded for your contributions, you must first make those contributions visible. Visibility precedes recognition, and it's much too important to be left to accident or chance.

Only when your contributions are recognized can you be rewarded. Not until. Rewards like money, attention, power, and prestige are the aftermath of recognition.

This arrangement is not necessarily fair. It's not the way we were raised, nor is it the way we would personally prefer. But it's the way big incomes are earned. Competent craftsmanship may or may not result in visibility. But visibility attracts recognition, and recognition draws rewards.

In sifting through dozens of available guidebooks, I have uncovered a few gems. These offer straightforward, practical advice on achieving and managing visibility:

Speak For Yourself, Published by the BBC

Marketing Yourself, Dorothy Leeds

PPR (Personal Public Relations) John A. Chestara

Guerilla P.R., Michael Levine

High Visibility, Rein, Kotler, and Stoller

How does the symptom of procrastination affect the reluctant caller?

Procrastination sounds worse than it is. For all of its five syllables, procrastination is not some anti-social act or a taboo sexual practice. It is simply an acquired taste some of us have developed for deferring to another time things that need to be done now.

Procrastination is like paying the interest on a loan, never the principal. A short-sighted tactic, sooner or later the note must be paid off.

All call-reluctant people procrastinate. But procrastination is their symptom, not their problem. Procrastination is one of the agents they use to deal with the real problem - call reluctance. They fear one or more of the activities necessary to initiate contact with sufficient numbers of prospective clients. So they put off these activities as often and as creatively as necessary. The solution of their problem is likely to come about when they remove the root cause, the virus causing the problem, call reluctance.

How does the inability to ask for referrals reflect a symptom of the call reluctant virus?

Referrals are names of potential customers you don't know that you get from people you do know. Most sales trainers agree that referrals are the fastest, most direct route to increased sales and earnings. They can be obtained before the sale, during your presentation, after the close, when the order is delivered, and any time after delivery. But you have to ask.

Most satisfied customers are willing to provide you with the names of other people to call on. Many will actively endorse you and your product if given the chance. With few exceptions, most people expect to be asked for referrals. Some would be offended if they were not.

For most professionals, asking for referrals is appropriate and easy. For the call reluctant minority, however, it is difficult and distressful. They think that asking for referrals will threaten a just-closed sale, damage delicate rapport with their current clients, or appear grasping and exploitive. They cope by hesitating, putting off the request for referrals as long as they can, or avoiding the situation altogether by never asking. Although the manner of coping may differ, the result is always the same. Failing to follow through with the entire sales process, including asking for referrals, they default on the bridge to their next client.

When the presentation is complete, what stops a person from asking for the business?

All of the above! None of the above! You pick it; however, as the politician once said, "everyone wants to be asked for their vote." The client simply wants to be asked for their business, so, ask early and ask often. This is not a symptom of call reluctance; this is simply part of the process. Your reward comes with the agreement, that is, when both parties agree. When the agreement takes place one has only to determine when to deliver the goods. Most of the time, the professional is so intent on the message they fail to listen for the buying signals. How do you determine what is a buying signal. Your client might ask, "Can you assist me in reaching my career transition goals?" Your response might be, I have assisted many people in achieving their goals beyond their wildest dreams, when do you want to start achieving yours?"

If you were to write a prescription for the call reluctant virus, what would it be?

Aside from those qualities already mentioned, I believe that excellence is contagious. When I consul families with children in crisis and ask them to describe when they first noticed their child was going over the deep end, most of them would say when they noticed their child was hanging around with the wrong crowd.

I have never known a successful person who was not surrounded by many other successful people. Excellence wears off and is contagious, just like the call reluctance virus, excellence can be the cure by observing and modeling those people you admire and are the leaders in your industry. Where would you find those people?

What are some of the techniques we can use to protect ourselves from the call reluctance virus?

Let's try "Thought Realignment" as a reliable technique. When you are faced with a real culprit in the form of mismanaged emotional energy, take a minute to think about it. If every time you have the opportunity to initiate contact with a prospective client you silently shout to yourself, "Red Alert, Will Robinson!" Danger Ahead! Escape Immediately! What do you expect to experience? Feelings of Peace? Joy? Serenity?

Try realigning your thoughts to a different reaction. Be conscious of your thoughts and feelings. Observe them from a different prospective each time you observe them and treat them each as a new experience. You do this by reminding yourself 1) that there is no Reason to be afraid or 2) that you can be afraid and still make contact anyway. Then, you immediately put your best self-persuasive efforts to work by acting as if you are not afraid. This is personal power at its best!

It is the combination of first dealing with the source of the feeling and then practicing new goal-supporting behaviors which separate Thought Realignment from the "just make calls anyway school of sales management.

You mentioned something called "Thought Realignment" as a permanent solution, just what is that?

Thought Realignment is a word-based procedure. The technique, and the philosophical basis from which it grew, is not new. It asserts that most, if not all, of our distressful feelings are caused by the view we take of things and situations in life, not the things and situations themselves.

Greek philosopher Epictetus: "Man is disturbed not by things but by the view he takes of them."

William Shakespeare: "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."

Thought Realignment is an easy-to-learn, three-step procedure. First, you will learn to identify counter-productive messages hidden in the way you describe prospecting to yourself. You will then learn to control feelings that interfere with prospecting by changing how you describe what it means to prospect. And finally, you will apply what you have learned by intentionally putting yourself into emotionally difficult prospecting situations while you practice emotional self-management skills that support our career goals.

Guiding Principles behind Thought Realignment
  1. You are motivate to improve
  2. Your motivation is directed to specific unwanted distressful feelings.
  3. Your feelings can either enhance or impede the flow of goal-directed behavior
  4. What you think about influences how you feel about it
  5. Thinking (reasoning) is based on the selection and use of words.
  6. Thoughts can be false and disabling.
  7. The counterproductive feelings which accompany call reluctance in any form are learned and reinforced with each use. They can be unlearned and extinguished by non-use.

Cheryl Vallejos is a certified in Law of Attraction practitioner who imparts her wisdom on attracting happiness, success and prosperity - mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Cheryl is author of "Injecting the Juice into Leadership" and "Time on Your Side" is a professional business coach and consultant with over 22 years experience in business leadership. She works with professionals who are ready to attract more success, happiness and abundance in their life as they combine The Law of Attraction with business building techniques. Click here to sign up for the FREE electronic book,"Using the Law of Attraction for Personal and Professional Success" or contact her for more information:

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