Voicemail and Call Reluctance

I was listening to a webinar earlier today talking about Inside Sales Teams and Cold calling and naturally enough the presentation moved around to the subject of call reluctance.  It’s a topic that’s familiar to anyone who has either managed a sales team or made cold calls themselves.

Call reluctance is a huge problem that can mask itself in many ways. It can appear as a shortage of information, a lack of numbers to call, a need to be well prepared, a sudden irrepressible urge to catch up on call reports or any of a thousand different excuses.  Training, coaching and patience are usually fielded as ways for a manager to deal with this problem, although personally, the most effective management solution I’ve ever come across for call reluctance is the simple phrase “Pick up the phone”.

Lately its impossible not to hear that the reason sales people don’t want to cold call is that they keep running into voicemail, to which I say “**&&%!!!” (you can quote me on that).  The only reason that sales people won’t pick up a phone and cold call is good, old fashioned fear. They’re not afraid of dialing a number and ending up in voicemail.  They’re afraid of dialing a number and actually making a connection with a prospect….and blowing it.

Well the good news – in a twisted sort of way – is that the chance of connecting with your prospect is pretty slim. I think the average number of attempts to reach a contact is running up to around 12-16, so it’s not too likely that you’re going to actually get to talk to anyone unless you can make a lot of dials.  But, since you’ve made a dial and hit a voicemail box it only makes sense to leave a short (but relevant) message. So the next stumbling block, slowing down the flow of calls and the odds of making a live connection is call reluctance masked as the perceived need to do your pre-call research in order to leave a perfect voicemail that will talk to their needs.

I think that’s a waste of time. First of all, since you haven’t talked, how can you possibly presume to know what their specific needs are?  Better to segment your list into similar clusters of contacts and script out an intelligent (short) message that you can deliver well and will work for everyone on that focused list.  And now that you’ve taken it that far, why not farm out the delivery of those messages.

Why would you want to do that?

So you stop wasting your time dialing and leaving messages when you don’t connect. You can instead do a better job of making more dials – opting out of any call that terminates in a place other than with the contact you are looking to reach – and as a result of throwing a wider (and much more efficient net) making more live connections in your dialing hour than you’re likely making now.  Of course, now this means that a sales rep will actually need to acknowledge their call reluctance and deal with it. Seriously though, I’m not being at all facetious when I say that the best cure for call reluctance is to pick up the phone.

There’s another big advantage in farming out those voicemails and dedicating yourself to live conversations.  If you’re dialing yourself, a few hours of calling will likely produce only a few dozen (at most) voicemails and perhaps one connection. But, using a service like guided voicemail will deliver an exponential growth in your delivered messages to go along with your own increase in live conversations.  Voicemails aren’t as good as a live conversation, but you can accomplish a lot with an ongoing series of messages.

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