“Everybody lives by selling something,” according to Robert Louis Stevenson. But, for many agents, working the phones is still one of the most difficult tasks to face.
An agent I was working with told me they found it hard to call people. When I asked why this was, they said they felt uncomfortable ringing people they didn’t know or had not spoken to in some time, including their buyers and vendors.
Even though this person had a database of 1,200 warmer contacts, they still stumbled at what is the most valuable task for an agent: calling and staying connected. This had a major impact on their business. In fact, this call reluctance is one of the main reasons many agents fail.
Agents know that it is important to do open call-backs, work their database, do anniversary calls, past appraisals, buyer and vendor management and a host of other business-building calls, yet most simply don’t.
The fact is that every great agent attacks the phones every day to connect, and builds relationships and strong pipelines for future business in the process. Look at the majority of top performers and you will see a strong correlation to very high call and connect volumes via the phone. This is the heartbeat of their business and is the most consistent dollar-productive activity they produce. Leads, appraisals, listings, sales and referrals all come from an original connection point, mostly a call.
WHY DO AGENTS HAVE CALL RELUCTANCE?
- The fear of being pushy or intrusive with people.
This fear is based on the assumption that people will not want to be contacted.
- Fear of what others think about them, being rejected or having conflict. This fear is an assumption based on the misconception in the public arena about real estate agents not being trusted.
- The lack of visibility management. This is the fear of letting people know who you are and what you do well. Dudley and Goodson talk about this in their book The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance, based on their studies over 30 years with more than 500,000 sales and non-sales people. It shows that at the heart of call reluctance is the agent’s inability and fear of promoting themselves or making themselves visible.
- Agents don’t know what to say. This is very common; you would be surprised at the number of agents who don’t know what to say when calling prospects.
- The agent is not cut out for sales. It’s hard to say, but it’s true. For many agents who have trouble prospecting and have call reluctance, real estate sales is the wrong industry for them. It is not part of their DNA and they will always struggle.
HOW DO YOU OVERCOME CALL RELUCTANCE?
- Understand the reward you get from not calling is actually stronger than the reward for calling. It sounds strange, but when you don’t make the calls you should you are actually getting a reward. The problem is it is a non-resourceful reward. The reward might be that you avoid potential conflict or rejection or failure, so it’s easier not to call. However, there is a greater reward in calling yet it is not as strong. You need to continually connect to the reward for calling – a possible new client or sale or lead or listing – and focus on the benefit to make the calling reward the strongest.
- Be prepared. It’s all in the set-up. Set a time and place with no interruptions. Plan whom you will call, how many calls you will make, what you will say and what outcome you want. Have a way to measure the calls and block out 45-minute call sessions at a time. Call with a team or a call partner. When you have structure you have purpose, and when you have purpose you execute at higher levels.
- Stop the negative head noise and mind game assumptions. Go from thinking ‘fear of failure’ to ‘potential opportunity’. Reframe the call to a positive, not a negative. Ask yourself, what is the best possible outcome from this?
- Get your mind and body into the game. Before you call, get yourself into a positive, happy state mentally, emotionally and physically. In other words, get pumped up and then start calling.
- Start your calls early. Rory Vaden, New York Times bestseller, talks about diminished intent in regards to call reluctance. The later you start calling in the day, the less likely you are to call at all. Start when your intention is strong in the morning.
- Start with the easiest calls first to get some confidence and momentum. There is an old approach that says you should start with the hard calls first. I think you need to start with the easy ones first to build confidence and get some momentum going.