As a sales manager, do you feel like some of your veteran sellers struggle with new business development? It’s no secret that the recent downturn in revenue has shifted the focus to new business sales initiatives. Unfortunately, many sellers are struggling in this area of new business development. They are showing signs of call reluctance—the fear of taking a step in the sales process, fear of rejection, and fear of the unknown.
Call reluctance is very common; in fact, studies show 40% of salespeople will experience episodes of call reluctance, despite their years of experience or product knowledge. And while this anxiety feels unbeatable, you can help sellers overcome it by determining its root case and building a strategy.
What Causes Call Reluctance?
Producing revenue via new business development is part of the job description for salespeople. The truth is most sellers struggle in this area and suffer from a high level of call reluctance. Even veteran sellers suffer from this affliction.
For many sellers, the lack of business development has always been there; however, it was harder for managers to notice because of the high volume of revenue produced via transaction business. Additionally, sales managers are reluctant to address this issue with sellers because they don’t have a better option (a replacement seller). Too often, managers kick the can down the road and look the other way.
The underlying cause of call reluctance varies from salesperson to salesperson, but according to Forbes, call reluctance springs from three sources: personality predispositions, hereditary influences, and exposure to others with call reluctance. Working with sales managers that have experienced this problem for decades, we have found there are four primary factors that fuel call reluctance.
Four Factors That Fuel Call Reluctance
1. Not Properly Qualifying Leads
Sales is a step-by-step process, and the first step is most crucial. The first step of the sales process is to identify high potential accounts. Sellers determine the best categories to target and ways to find and qualify leads. Often overlooked sales prospecting techniques include not properly qualifying leads and letting account researching get in the way of actually making the calls.
2. Diminished Skills
Call reluctance is a mental condition that prevents salespeople from picking up the phone and prospecting. For many veteran sellers, it has been a long time since they have developed a new customer from identifying a prospect to closing the business. This lack of use causes hesitation when it comes to new business development.
3. Negative Attitude
Do you have salespeople that think reaching out to new customers is “below” their pay grade, and “it is what the new sellers should do?” This is a primary example of exposing others to call reluctance and other sellers “catching” a bad attitude.
Many sellers have a large base of business and spend a great deal of time serving clients—this leaves little time for new business development (and also hides their high level of call reluctance).
How Sales Managers Can Help with Call Reluctance
As a sales leader, one of your many roles is to coach and inspire your salespeople. There are several ways to help your people cope with call reluctance, but remember every individual requires different tactics to help minimize the impact of their problems. Here are some ideas:
- Address call reluctance issues with each seller individually and focus on taking the first step with clients
- Replace sellers who cannot get over this hurdle
- Hire sellers who have the talents, experience, and desire to be business developers
- Change compensation plan to motivate sellers to connect with new prospects
The lack of new business development due to high levels of call reluctance will not take care of itself. Fixing this problem is a task that sales leadership and executive leadership need to tackle.