The Problem is NOT the CRM, It’s Call Reluctance

I know that sales reps the world over are going to hate me for this but, the truth is the truth!

Sales people lie to their management a LOT!

Please understand… I’m a sales person. I have spent my life learning about sales, selling, hiring salespeople, training them and managing them.
I love salespeople!

However, it happens way too often that an untrained or inexperienced sales person, and sometimes very experienced ones, find themselves having to make excuses to management for their lack of performance.

Sure, you can chalk it up to poor hiring or training practices on the part of management but, what’s really destructive is that management has a terriblehabit of believing these excuses!

I’ve seen it a lot first hand:

– In myself in my early career there were times when I wasn’t on my game and I sure wasn’t going to take the fall!

– In friends that tell me stories about their new sales job or the new salesperson they just hired.

– In my customers… In just the last 6 months, I’ve been contacted by a handful of customers with the same complaint: “My sales people are telling
me your system is hard to use. We may have to switch to another system.” Now, I take these complaints very seriously, of course. In all cases, these
are either personal friends that are also customers or very long time customers that have become friends.


Believe it or not, in every single one of these cases, the first thing I did was check the access logs for their CRM system and found that the salesperson
had hardly even logged on at all.

So, I decided I would dig a bit deeper to see what’s going on here.

Without going into the gory details of each situation, they all had the same theme: An underperforming salesperson that just hadn’t been doing the work.

In some cases they had been spending time looking for a new job on their current employers time. In most cases, they were just stuck in a vicious cycle of poor performance, low confidence and the killer disease of selling – call reluctance.

So, shame on my customers for not managing these sales reps by measuring their daily behavior through the CRM. That’s what a CRM is for right?!

And of course, shame on the sales people for lying to their employers!

But, I can’t come down too hard on them for call reluctance. It’s a serious problem that kills salespeople’s careers and is surprisingly difficult to overcome.

There is a lot of research on the subject and most sales training programs have specific modules and course focused on helping salespeople show up and do the work day in and day out.

What is call reluctance?

It’s essentially a mental construct that traps the salesperson in a cycle of fear and worry about the success of the next call that keeps them from making the next call. The result is that where you might expect a salesperson to make 25 calls a day, they’re only making 5 or 10 or even none.

Of course, if those calls are supposed to be identifying new prospective customers or moving current prospects toward a purchase, if you don’t make thecalls, you’re not going to make the sales. So, this is literally “the death of a salesman.”

What is the cause of call reluctance?

It seems like such an easy thing to fix. Just pick up the phone and dial it! But, I’ve personally seen salespeople spend an entire day finding other thingsto keep themselves busy in order to avoid making a call. Why?

It’s usually a terrible cycle of fear. They may have financial problems and therefore really NEED a sale. Sales is always a balance of attitude in the
face of frequent rejection but, when you have to have a sales today in order to pay your rent, each voicemail you get is like a punch in the gut.

You begin to question your own capabilities and blame yourself. “Maybe it’s me… Maybe I’m just no good at this…”

Here’s a good article on call reluctance that points out that it can also
be the result of lack of confidence in the product or service you’re selling.

Bottom line is that “as many as 80% of all salespeople who fail within their first year do so because of insufficient prospecting activity.

This type of vicious cycle of fear is an epidemic that affects people in all walks of life and keeps them from reaching their full potential. Our inner
brains are hardwired with the fight or flight response. When fear takes over our thoughts, we’re in big trouble. Breaking through that is not so easy.

Og Mandino said it in his great book, The Greatest Salesman in the World – “I will Act Now!” Each of us has to develop the ability to recognize when our
minds have fixated on the worst case scenario and to take action that leads us toward the best case scenario. For more on how to do this, check out
the assessment at!

As a business owner or manager, you have the ability to impact the lives of salespeople AND reach your sales goals with one simple act. You just have to:

  1. Measure how many calls are getting made on a daily basis.
  2. Manage based on that information.
  3. Reward reps that exceed their calling goals, regardless of their actual sales numbers.
  4. Let those that don’t hit the calling numbers know that it’s unacceptable.

By doing this you’re helping them overcome this self-defeating cycle in their own lives!

In order to do it well, you have to develop a filter that stops the excuses in their tracks. For someone that manages 5 or more salespeople, this is simpler because there is usually at least one person doing the work. “If they can do it, so can you.”

For smaller businesses, it can be tough. Salespeople are good at making you believe them. If you need help figuring out what the right expectations are
and what the process should be, take a look at this video.

Believe me, the reason salespeople are not hitting their calling numbers is not the CRM! I mean really… good salespeople used to do it on paper.
Now with a good CRM, you click once to dial the phone and you click once or twice more to log what happened. How can that keep you from making 50 or
100 calls in a day? It can’t.