Overcoming Call Reluctance

Every marketer has experienced it at some point. It is reluctance or inability to pick up the telephone and make calls. It makes no sense, logic-wise. We believe in the product or service we offer. We either have a script given to us, or we’ve written it ourselves. We have a list that is at least partially targeted. We know that when someone tells us “No”, it is not meant for us. Yet, the phone still weighs a lot.

Okay. So you decide that the pain and inconvenience of being broke are more painful than the pain and inconvenience of cold calling. Therefore, you make every call possible. You can at least promise to try. Try to do it at least once a week. You might try it for a while…

All of us have been through this before and we know what it is like. It doesn’t work! We are still reluctant to make calls that we know we must. What’s the deal? Is it possible that you are just not good at calling? Are you just “bad” at calling?

Answer is simple: Calling can work for anyone. Finding the right key(s) is what will allow you to call with success. It is important to understand why the “cold” calls aren’t working. Let’s start with the obvious. Most people feel some anxiety when they call strangers. It makes us anxious and apprehensive. There are four main reasons people feel anxious calling. Any one of these reasons would make anyone feel anxious about calling. These are the names of these people:

1) We feel like a telemarketer. We are unprofessional and/or insincere.

2) We don’t know how to start the call.

3) We don’t know how to steer the conversation effectively.

4) We don’t know how to end the conversation professionally and comfortably.

Let’s take a look at each of these issues individually and see how we can fix them.

1) We think we sound like a Telemarketer

What makes a telemarketer sound like one? Let’s think about this for a second. We all have received telemarketing calls at work and home. What makes a call telemarketing? These calls are often a result of several factors. Telemarketers can be overly friendly or seem completely uninterested. Both of these make the caller seem insincere. Telemarketers are known for talking and not asking questions. It is not about the person receiving the call, but about their product or service. They also tend to read through the script quickly, not allowing for us to finish it. Fourth, it is always obvious that they are reading a script to us rather than talking to us as people. These four elements are what generally make a call telemarketing.

How can you stop people viewing you as a Telemarketer? Simple. These things are simple.

a) Don’t be too enthusiastic or disinterested when you call. Use a natural, appropriate tone of voice and manner.

Ask questions as you engage in conversation. Always be open to discussion. This is not about you, but about your prospect.

c) & D) Make sure your script is conversational. My script should read as naturally as possible. Although it’s not always perfect writing, it is natural and easy to read.

2) We don’t know how to begin the call

Most people find it annoying when a telemarketer calls. They dive straight into a sales pitch, without asking if we are interested in what they have to share. To be perceived as a professional, you must act like one. Here’s how I begin my marketing calls.

“Bob? Good morning. This is Michael Beck. How are you today, Michael Beck? (pause) Bob. I am an executive coach. (pause – I want them to understand what I just said). I have been working with insurance managers for many years. Would you be willing to take a few moments to chat?

Although the exchange above is simple, it serves many important purposes.

a) I have told him my story in a short time.

b) I repeated his name twice. People love to hear their names. Learn “How to Win Friends & Influence People”

c) I began to establish credibility. (“I have worked for many years with insurance managers.”)

d) I requested permission to use some of his time.

3) We don’t know how to direct the conversation

The call ended with a question: “Does it take you a minute to chat?” You can only answer that question with three options: “Yes”, “No”, and “What’s this all about?”

– If you answered Yes, you can go.

If the answer to your question is no, you can say that you will call back or ask when it would be a good time. But, why not take advantage of the opportunity to find out more? You’ve already explained who you are and what your business does, so why not ask him: “Would it be okay for me to call you back?” You will get a Yes or No answer. You should be happy in either direction. You’ll either be able to tell the difference between wasting your time trying unsuccessfully to reach disinterested prospects or having a pre-qualified prospect to add to your list.

– Ask the question “What’s this all about?” If you get the answer “What is this about?”, give a brief explanation. For example, “I wanted to share some things I do, learn what your initiatives are and see if what I do can help you achieve your goals faster and more easily.”

It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t he ?…?

It’s easy to have a productive conversation if you are able to help prospects rather than trying to sell them something.

Whatever the purpose of the call, the conversation must come to an end with a “trigger question”. “Can we make an appointment to discuss this further?” Or “Here’s the next thing we should do

4) We don’t know how to close the conversation

Your attitude will be reflected in how you deal with the end of your conversation. The conversation ended with a question. (See a pattern?). Your question can be answered with only three options: “Yes”, “I need more info”, or “No”.

– If you answered Yes, you can go again.

If you are asked for further information, prepare a simple process to give prospects additional information or credibility-building materials. Get a commitment for a follow up call and schedule it as an appointment on both your and their calendars. Do not leave the follow up as a vague process. To put it another way, schedule a phone appointment to avoid endless phone tag and voicemails.

If they answer No, I prefer to thank them for their honesty and time. Then, I’ll ask them if it would be okay for me to call them back in 6-12 month.

Let me conclude with some perspectives that have been very helpful to me and others over the years.

One view is that if any prospect seems to be very important to you, that’s a sign that you’re not finding enough prospects. You must put in more effort. Everything else will take care of itself.

Another perspective I found useful is rejection. This story illustrates it:

You have a recipe to make delicious chocolate chip cookies. Now bake them! These cookies are absolutely delicious! These cookies can be passed around, and you ask people if they’d like one. One person chooses to take one, and they love it. If the person who you are offering cookies to declines, they may be full, not like chocolate or not interested in sweets. The key question is: Does the fact that the second person declined your cookies impact the quality of your cookies or the skill level of the baker? The answer is clearly no. Their decision has nothing to do with the cookie or the baker. It was about their lives, not yours.