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Overcoming Call Reluctance


Michael Beck - Expert Author

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Everyone in marketing faces it at one time or another - reluctance to pick up the phone and make calls. Logically, it makes no sense to feel that way. We believe in our product or service. We have a script thatís either been given to us or one that weíve carefully written out. We have a list of prospects that are at least somewhat targeted. We know that when someone says "No", itís not directed at us. And stillÖ the phone weighs a ton.

OK. You decide that the pain of being broke is greater than the pain of "cold" calling, so you commit to making calls each and every day. Or at least commit to try. Or try at least some days each week. For a while anywayÖ

Weíve all been through all of this before, and guess what? IT DOESNíT WORK! Weíre still reluctant to make the calls we know we need to. So whatís the deal? Are you just "bad" at calling? Is it that calling only works for some but not most of us?

The answer, of course, is that calling can work for any one of us. Itís a matter of finding the right "key"(s) to open that door of calling success. We need to address why the typical "cold" call isnít effective. Weíll start with the obvious issue. Calling strangers causes most people some amount of anxiety. Why does it make us feel so anxious and apprehensive? Iíve found that there are four reasons that cause people to feel anxious about calling. If any one of them exists, anyone would feel anxious about making a call. Here they are:

1) We feel that we sound like a telemarketer. Somewhat unprofessional and/or insincere. 2) We arenít sure how to effectively start the call. 3) We arenít sure how to effectively steer the conversation. 4) We arenít sure how to comfortably and professionally end the conversation.

Letís look at each one of these issues separately and find out how to put them behind us.

1) We feel that we sound like a telemarketer

What makes a telemarketer sound like a telemarketer? Think about it for a moment. You know the drill Ė weíve all received telemarketing calls both at home and at work. What is it about that call that marks it as a telemarketing call? There are several factors that make us cringe at these calls. First off, telemarketers are either overly friendly to start with or they sound completely disinterested. Both make the caller sound insincere. Secondly, telemarketers talk and rarely ask. The call is all about their product and service and not about the person who received the call. Thirdly, they usually plow through their script, not allowing us to get a word in edgewise. And fourth, itís always evident that theyíre reading a script to you rather than speaking to you as a person. Those four factors generally mark the call as a telemarketing call.

How do you keep people from viewing you as a telemarketer? Simple. Donít do those things!

a) When you call, donít be overly enthusiastic and donít be disinterested or matter-of-fact in your tone. Speak in an appropriate, natural tone and manner. b) As you get into your conversation, ask questions. Be consultative. Remember, this is about your prospect, not about you. c) & d) Practice your script so it is as conversational as possible. I always write out my script so it reads as naturally as possible. Itís usually not perfect writing but it is always natural and easy to say.

2) We arenít sure how to start the call

The thing that annoys most of us when a telemarketer calls is that they dive right into some sales pitch without even knowing whether we have the time or interest in hearing about what they have to say. The most effective way to be viewed as a professional is to act like one. As an example, here is the way I start my marketing calls:

"Bob? Good Morning. This is Michael Beck. How are you today? (pause) Bob, Iím an executive coach (pause Ė I want to make sure they understood what I just said) and have worked with insurance managers for a number of years. Do you have a few minutes to chat?"

As simple as the above exchange is, it serves a number of important purposes:

a) In short order, Iíve told him who I am and what I do. b) I said his name two times. (People love to hear their own name. Read "How to Win Friends and Influence People") c) I began to establish credibility. ("Iíve worked with insurance managers for a number of years.") d) I asked permission to take some of his time.

3) We arenít sure how to steer the conversation

We ended the start of our phone call with a question: "Do you have a few minutes to chat?" There can only be three answers to that question Ė "Yes", "No", or "What is this about?"

ē If the answer is Yes, youíre off and running. ē If the answer is No, you could say youíll call back or ask when a good time to call back would be, but why not use the opportunity to get more information? Since youíve already told him who you are and what you do, why not ask: "Would you like me to call back?" The answer will either be Yes or No! Either way you should be happy. Either youíll know not to waste your time trying to reach a disinterested prospect or youíll have a somewhat pre-qualified prospect on your list! ē If the response is, "What is this about?", have a short explanation of why youíve called prepared, something like: "I wanted to share some of what I do, find out what your initiatives are, and see whether what I do could help you reach your goals faster and easier."

Pretty straightforward isnít it? Ö

If you approach the meat of your conversation in a way to see if you can help your prospect, rather than sell them something, itís quite easy to have a stress-free, effective conversation.

No matter what the goal of your call is, at some point the discussion needs to draw to a close with a "trigger" question. "Can we set up an appointment to go over this in more detail?" or "Hereís what we should do nextÖ"

4) We arenít sure how to end the conversation

How you handle the end of your conversation will determine you well you protect your attitude. We ended the middle of our conversation with a question (see a pattern here?). There can only be three answers to your question Ė "Yes", "I need more information", or "No"

ē If the answer is Yes, again youíre off and running. ē If the answer is a request for more information, have a simple process ready to provide prospects with additional information and/or credibility-building materials, get a commitment for a follow-up call, and set it up as an appointment in both your calendar and theirs. Donít leave the follow-up as a vague process. Inotherwords get a phone appointment and avoid endless voicemails and phone tag. ē If the answer is No, my preference is to thank them for their time and candor, ask them if theyíd like me to give them a call back in 6-12 months, and then hang up!

Let me close with a couple of perspectives that have served me and others well over the years.

One perspective is that if you find that any one prospect means a great deal to you, itís a sure sign that you arenít finding enough prospects. Put in more effort. Then everything else takes care of itself.

The other perspective that I have found helpful pertains to rejection, and is illustrated in this story:

Imagine you have a recipe for fantastic chocolate chip cookies and bake them to perfection. Theyíre absolutely delicious! You take a tray of these cookies around to people, asking them whether they would like one. The first person takes one and loves it. The next person you offer the cookies to declines - they are full, donít like chocolate, or donít want sweets. Here is the key question: "Does the fact that the second person didnít want your cookies affect the quality of the cookies or the skill of the baker?" Clearly the answer is no. Their decision doesnít have anything to do with the cookies or the baker. Their decision was about whatís going on in your their life, not yours.

When you create an effective phone process Ė knowing how to get into and out of conversations Ė and understand that a "No" truly is not about you at all, calling becomes more comfortable and it becomes easier to make many more calls. The result? Financial Success!

© 2006 Exceptional Leadership, Inc.

About the Author

Written by Michael Beck, an Executive Coach and Strategist specializing in employee engagement, executive development, and leadership effectiveness. Connect on LinkedIn: and visit to learn more.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-12-29 01:56:18 in Marketing Articles

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