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Inner Game of Prospecting

Salespeople under perform because they don't sell enough. They don't sell enough because they don't have enough prospective buyers to sell to. And they don't have enough prospective buyers because they don't initiate contact with new prospects in sufficient numbers. For many low producing salespeople, initiating first contact is emotionally uncomfortable, so they avoid it, put it off or contort it into alternative and sometimes barely recognizable contact strategies such as colorful mail outs, deflected identities ("I'm here to advise you, not to sell you anything") or calling only on limited, emotionally "safe" segments of the market. This coping style is called compensatory prospecting. It is practiced by many salespeople and some entire sales organizations and businesses.

Regardless of how manicured a salesperson's presentation technique is, nothing gets sold unless and until contact is initiated with prospective buyers. Ultra-slick presentation skills, dazzling rapport-building techniques, detailed product knowledge, clever closes and expensive sales training all are potentially valuable. But they cannot and will not return a penny of profit if salespeople don't have prospects to sell to. First things first.
Prospecting is the one defining core competency that is absolutely essential for success in sales. Prospecting by itself does not confer success. But not prospecting guarantees failure.
What has been uncovered is a discrete pattern of escape and avoidance associated with establishing first contact. The hesitation to make the initial contact is an emotional twitch that impairs the ability of otherwise talented, capable people to establish first contact with other people. It can surface in any social contact situation from requesting a raise to networking events to asking for dates.

When the hesitation is found in salespeople, it exacts a spirit-crushing toll on prospecting behavior, placing an artificially low emotional limit on the number of calls one can comfortably make. When this happens, a salesperson experiences what we call Sales Call Reluctance.

Unlike popular designations like "fear of rejection" which is broad, sales call reluctance is highly specific. No one can reject a salesperson, unless they are rejecting themselves. Some call reluctant salespeople have trouble using the telephone as a prospecting tool. Others have trouble initiating contact with prospective buyers face-to-face. Still others can call on people with lower socioeconomic standing, but not higher. They "target avoid" rather than "target market." All of them already know how to prospect. The question is whether they will emotionally allow themselves to prospect.

Call reluctance can be present at the onset of a sales career, or it can strike suddenly, without warning, in highly productive sales veterans. Its origins are multiple and complex. There is no single source, no single germ-like "timidity" to destroy. But, call reluctance can be traced to three basic sources: personality predispositions, hereditary influences and exposure to others with Call Reluctance.

Some forms of sales call reluctance can be traced to a single, traumatic early selling experience. Sometimes the cause is over-tightened performance pressures or burdensome administrative procedures. In a surprising number of cases, highly contagious forms of sales call reluctance are inadvertently carried and spread by the sales training process itself. Type is Important

Sales call reluctance is not another buzzword. It has objective reality, which means that it exists whether you think it does nor not. And, using properly designed and calibrated assessment instruments, it can be objectively measured.

To complicate matters somewhat, sales call reluctance is a moving target with a multiple personality. It can assume twelve distinct prospecting-avoidant identities. That's one reason sales trainers, managers and psychologists have had such a difficult time dealing with it over the years. They presumed it was one thing and tried to correct it accordingly.

Knowing which of the 12 types holds you or your salespeople hostage is important.

1. Doomsayer: Worries, will not take social risks.
2. Over-Preparer: Over-analyzes, under acts.
3. Hyper-Pro: Obsessed with the image and looking good.
4. Stage Fright: Fear group presentations.
5. Role Rejection: Secretly ashamed of sales careers; deflects identity.
6. Yielder: Fears intruding on others.
7. Socially Self-Conscious: Intimated by up-market clients.
8. Separationist: Won't mix business and friends.
9. Emotionally Unemancipated: Won't mix business and family.
10. Referral Aversion: Fears distributing existing business or client relationships.
11. Telephobia: Fears using the telephone for prospecting.
12. Oppositional Reflex: Argues, blames, rebuffs attempts at coaching.

Call reluctance carries with it heavy emotional and financial costs.
Most cases of sales call reluctance are acquired. The good news is that, since these behaviors are learned, they can be unlearned with proper training and modern psychological countermeasures. But not all behaviors respond best to the same treatment. Thatís why proper diagnosis of type is essential.

For more infomation please visit

Sales Call Reluctance is a trademark of Behavioral Sciences Research Press, Dallas, Texas.

About the Author: Connie Kadansky, President of Exceptional Sales Performance, focuses on identifying and eliminating the emotional barriers that keep people from prospecting and self-promotion.

For more infomation please visit

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