“It’s just a conversation. What’s getting in the way?” I recently asked a business owner that question.
For weeks, Chris’s prospect list has included a CEO that Chris has known for several weeks. As members of the same organization, they see each other twice a month at meetings and have a friendly relationship. Chris is normally outgoing, proactive and confident. He believes the CEO could benefit from his company’s services. Yet, twice a month, Chris passes on an opportunity to approach the CEO. Why is he so reluctant to take the next step?
Chris is like many successful business owners and salespeople: sometimes he hesitates to reach out to a prospect. Call reluctance isn’t unique to sales newbies. According to Dallas-based Behavioral Sciences Research Press, 40 percent of the experienced, high-producing sales professionals the company has surveyed readily admit to feeling call reluctance. One of the ways to overcome call reluctance is to amp up your ask. These steps can help.
Calculate Your Risk
When we probed Chris’s reluctance to approach the CEO, he admitted: “I don’t want to lose credibility. I see this executive every two weeks. For me, that’s more pressure than calling someone new.” Whether your prospect is someone you know or a new contact, you are only asking for a conversation—an opportunity to ask questions and understand your prospect’s perspectives. Questions to consider are:
- What’s the risk in asking for a conversation?
- What’s the worst that can happen?
- What happens if you don’t ask?
Believe in Your Story
Like Chris, you need to build and believe in a story that is compelling for yourself and your prospect. Here’s how Chris built his story.
- Dollarized Value // Chris identified how his services would increase income for the CEO, compared to the CEO’s current results with his current provider.
- Engagement // Chris’s customer service includes proactive, calendar-specific touch points.
- Focus // Unlike the current provider, whose services were an add-on, Chris would deliver better results because his services are focused in his area of expertise and his clients’ results were his priority.
Once Chris developed his story, he felt confident about asking for a conversation.
Remember Your Successes
Make a list of your top five sales successes. Replay how you felt and thought during these high points. For example, several years ago I closed a major sale to a global beverage manufacturer over the phone. I never met the executive who made the buy decision in person, and that sale is one of the high points for me. Make your own success list to review daily.
For athletes, it’s called a slump; for authors it’s writer’s block. Call reluctance is the sales person’s version of a temporary performance blip. If you’re hesitating to make that call, try amping up your ask.
Elizabeth Usovicz is principal of WhiteSpace Consulting®, specializing in top-line revenue strategies and business development for high-growth companies, new ventures and business units within established companies; keynote speaking and strategy session facilitation. She can be reached at email@example.com or (913) 638-8693.