how to deal with media sales call reluctance

Prepare for your sales calls so you’ll look forward to getting on the phone!
1957, State Library and Archives of Florida.

That’s right. Everyone, no matter what industry you are working in, has anxiety about failing that can turn into paralysis and loss of motivation and intensity. That anxiety leads to what is widely known in sales management circles as “call reluctance.” This is true in media sales for sure. Your boss has had it, his boss has had it, and you know you have had personal experience with it sometimes as well.

The big issue here is that call reluctance, unchecked and not managed correctly, will contribute to eventual failure in your sales career. Nothing good happens if you are not energized, focused, and engaged in talking to the right prospects about your products and services. How you address and manage your call reluctance is an important key to a long and successful career in sales.

Let’s take a look at a few things to consider when attempting to work yourself through periods of call reluctance.

1. The first step is to acknowledge it.  Realize that at times you are not as motivated, focused, or intense as you need to be. This is natural, but limiting those periods of reduced productivity is a critical first step in getting yourself back on track.

2. Analyze why you have the reluctance. What is really bothering you that is leading to the malaise? Is it a lack of understanding about your television or radio stations capabilities? Are you confident in the return on investment that your station can deliver for a customer? It can be pretty frustrating if you do not have that confidence. It makes making tough calls even harder, because you think it will be a one-and-done scenario and the outcome won’t be positive, so you assume no renewal. I would submit that no matter who your viewer or listener is, the key is in finding the “right fit” between that viewer or listener and identifying which clients need that type of person in his or her business for that business to be successful.

Think about WalMart for a minute. WalMart changed the landscape of retailing over the last 20 years, yet Target and other retailers still thrive. Why? Because price is not the number one consideration for every person in the world when it comes to a retail experience. So believe it or not, WalMart is not always the “right fit” for every shopper, and Target loves that fact. So, if you can concentrate of finding the right fit for you, you should be more confident in approaching a client, because you “know” from previous success that you can deliver. Confidence makes you a lot more committed.

3. Prepare to be productive. Have you researched the client and understand his or her business category and/or overall marketing strategies? Have you observed other marketing and or media they are using to get the message out to consumers? Have you really thought through the questions you may ask when you get face to face with the decision maker? Active and thoughtful preparation is key to feeling confident and energized, which again reduces and anxiety. You know you have done the heavy lifting preparing to make it a successful call with the client.

4. Admit right now that every business in your market area is not a prospect, and that your job, your success, is tied to the act of sifting. Yep…sifting through all the possible suspects to find those few real prospects. Realize and accept that every call will not result in a sale yet will get you one step closer to a viable client given your fit exercise from above. Hunting with a bow and arrow is by necessity much more targeted than hunting with a shot gun, so prepare to hunt as efficiently as possible. The anticipation of discovering a client that really needs you to walk through the door as much as you need to can be really satisfying.

5. Work on warming up calls before your initial contact. Send them information that they may find beneficial to their business with a business card attached. If your station has a capabilities brochure, send one of these along with focused category info as well. This helps establish who you are and will begin to show the client what it is like to do business with you. Then, when some anxiety begins rising up, know that this is not a cold call, but one where you have already had some positive and helpful interaction with the client and have started to build a positive brand image for yourself.

6. Finally, you have to keep track of your work so you know where you are and how are progressing. Using media sales CRM and analytics software is perfect for this task. Visit current key accounts and explore new needs that may have surfaced since you last spoke. Call clients that have received good ROI from you in the past and ask for an introduction or a letter of recommendation. Being around positive feedback from clients can help you get focused and motivated again.

Call reluctance is something every seller at some point in time has to face, so face it head on and try the tips above to get you moving forward in your sale career.

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