"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field."

~ Physicist Niels Bohr, quoted in the Harvard Business Review ~

Does Your Sales Office Have Swamp Fever?

The worst and most deadly sickness that can be found in a sales environment.…

The biggest and most damaging malaise in any sales office is Swamp Fever. It does not cause absenteeism, which occurs for myriad reasons, including migraine, stomach upsets, fractures, curry nights, sick children, sick pets, hospital appointments etc. By contrast, everyone comes to work with Swamp Fever, regardless of being ill.

Swamp Fever always occurs at work, never at home. You need to be present in the office to contract it. It is highly contagious, decimating an entire telephone sales team or striking one corner of the room only. If not swiftly treated, it can result in a painful, lingering and loss-making demise – sometimes even the Death of a Salesman. Curiously, though, the symptoms vanish completely at going-home time. Solved the riddle yet?

Swamp Fever is how I refer to Call Reluctance, that ubiquitous and potentially lethal condition all sales people suffer from at one time or another. My observation is that it assumes 20 forms. Simply getting on the phone is impossible for some people until they have been at work for over an hour - not advisable and highly infectious. But that's only one example. If you’re not familiar with all 20 and you want increased sales, then acquainting yourself with the rest is important, since, as I say, it's the most viral and most debilitating scourge of virtually any sales office.

One interesting and disguised form of the disease is ‘being busy’. Some sales personnel go to extraordinary lengths to make themselves too busy for cold-calling, even for returning missed calls from potential clients. The ‘too busy’ guys can be the single biggest headache in the sales office for many business owners. They include some of us all the time and all of us some of the time. Nobody really volunteers for cold-calling, after all.

Coaches, directors , managers, account managers, BDMs, anything you care to call yourself - we all consciously or unconsciously render ourselves ‘too busy’ to squeeze in the necessary number of cold calls and follow-ups needed each day, making cold-calling the most compromised activity in businesses the length and breadth of the land.

one of my most regular challenges in client meetings and individual coaching. What’s interesting is that nobody ever calls me up and says ‘Hey, Simon, the problem in our office is call-reluctance’. Nobody says ‘my team is just too busy to pick up the phone’. And the reason for that is you. You have somehow been sold the idea that your team is too busy and convinced yourself that this is the case. My mission, therefore, is to get business owners back on track with the following mantra: don't be mesmerised or deceived by call-reluctance. Don't be persuaded into thinking it's anything else than what it is. Hence, I challenge all owners on how many cold calls they actually make to those companies they know they should be doing business with.

As I’ve said, there are at least 20 identifiable forms of call-reluctance and they combine into There is a universal tendency to sweep this issue under the carpet. Owners do call me, but it's always about something else. It's about ‘renewing confidence in the team’, ‘a long time since our last training’, or ‘we don't have a sales manager qualified to coach’. In the end, though, it all boils down to several issues including the 20 forms of call-reluctance that can - and do - damage the productivity of sales teams every week.

So if you have a failing team, or one which is failing to recognise call-reluctance, you either have a manager who’s not spotting it or you’re thinking that just telling people to get on the phone will fix it. You have directors and owners who just can't fathom it. For a start, if all of them were first to recognise the problem for what it is and then pull in professional help, the revenue increase for a small- to medium-sized company reliant on outbound sales activity would increase by a healthy average of more than 17.5% in under-performing teams. I have dealt successfully with this time and time again. It's my special subject. Call reluctance: the single largest barrier to success. More so than negativity, which is the second largest. The two are connected, obviously.

The law of being reimbursed for one's efforts prevents this particular blog from becoming any longer. The potential increase is there - companies just need the expertise and guidance to extract and exploit it. Working with me you tap into 30 years’ experience of running teams, making calls myself and focusing on this particular aspect of sales. So maybe it’s worth a thought and/or a call? Calls are not conditional: you call and we chat (as the spider said to the fly).

My educated guess is that if you have read this far, Swamp Fever is rife in your office. Otherwise you would have switched off!

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