Generating sales leads is the crucial starting point of the sales process. These leads can be obtained from multiple sources. Yet a primary challenge for salespeople is actually following up with leads. As explained by marketing strategist Christopher Risen, “Following up on sales is not the easiest of tasks. Many a fledgling sales professional or emerging business has found themselves hesitating at the keyboard and the phone pad.”
The hesitation to contact prospective or existing customers to promote a product or service is generally referred to as sales call reluctance. Individuals can struggle with different forms of call reluctance regardless of their level of sales training, product knowledge or sales experience. The most common form of call reluctance found across industries is the tendency to avoid contacting prospective buyers due to the fear of appearing pushy or intrusive. This fear can limit prospecting activity associated with generating and pursuing new leads. Fear can also be an underlying factor that enables salespeople to easily dismiss leads as unqualified rather than pursue such leads as opportunities to gain more information that might be useful later in the sales process.
The influence of sales call reluctance was further evidenced in a recent study of 866 companies that received lead requests for product information. In 77% of the cases, salespeople either did not respond at all or gave up after 1 or 2 attempts (Conversica, 2017 Sales Effectiveness Report).
In many cases where salespeople decide to follow-up with leads, they are likely to find that prospective customers are not ready to buy right away. Instead it may take 6 or more contacts to nurture a lead and build a relationship that results in a closed sale. During each contact, salespeople can increase their opportunities for success by adding value to each interaction with a prospective buyer, instead of simply “checking in” with them. However, fear of initiating customer engagement limits sales opportunities and can cause salespeople to give up too soon.
As companies seek innovative ways to generate more leads through marketing strategies and data analytics, it becomes equally important to also focus on underlying causes of inadequate lead utilization or management. The results from decades of call reluctance research indicate that overcoming the fears associated with initiating the sales process can significantly increase the ability of salespeople to convert leads to closed sales.
Do you want to increase your sales revenue and build your client base? Find out more about BSRP’s thought-leading practices, procedures for managing call reluctance and explore our range of assessments, sales training, and our latest research. Take our 10-question survey and find out your risk for call reluctance. To learn more contact us today!
Trelitha R. Bryant, is the EVP at Behavioral Sciences Research Press. Known worldwide as the original source of ground-breaking discoveries about how fear inhibits individuals’ abilities to make themselves visible, or “Call Reluctance®” in salespeople, BSRP has developed a variety of behaviorally anchored assessments and training interventions to assist in the hiring process and to help today’s professional “Earn What They’re Worth.”