Regardless of how long you’ve been in the real estate business, you’re familiar with a few basic characteristics common to top performing agents:

  1. They focus on listings as their primary source of revenue-generation. They tend to be “listing agents.”
  2. They are almost obsessive about routine, especially morning phone-prospecting.

This is the first of a two-part blog series dedicated to one of the biggest challenges agents have with regard to phone prospecting: call reluctance.

Sales professionals in all industries struggle with the often-debilitating malady known as call reluctance. Yet, it seems more pervasive in real estate sales, where it is estimated that only 1-2% of agents phone prospect on a regular basis. To that end, more than 98% of agents rely on passive prospecting strategies, such as direct mail postcards, flyers, door knocking, or waiting next to the phone for a nibble.

In this blog series, we identify the causes and signs of call reluctance, while providing pointers that might help you work through call reluctance on the way to 100+ transactions a year.

When it comes to call reluctance, you should take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Even top performers occasionally experience the anxiety of call reluctance. Does this sound familiar: you get up early, determined that today’s the day you’re going to turn things around. You sit at your computer, put on your headset, log-on to Espresso Agent, hover your curser over the dialer and…. NOTHING!  You freeze, unable to dial the number on your screen. Anxiety manifests as a rapidly-tightening stomach, shortness of breath, perspiration. You get up from your desk and head to the kitchen; surely another cup of coffee will help you get your mojo back. And, so it goes for many agents.

What causes call reluctance? What are the signs you may be struggling with this particular mental block? Let’s take a look.

WHAT CAUSES CALL RELUCTANCE?

Sellers grapple with call reluctance for any number of reasons. Let’s look at some of the biggest reasons:

  • We fear rejection: Fear, something we’ve discussed in previous posts, is paralyzing. Humans, and especially sales people, are genetically hard-wired to seek the comfort of group acceptance and approval. Which, of course, runs counter to the life of a modern real estate agent, sitting alone in an office for hours on end. There is very little group acceptance and support in this environment. As such, the thought of being rejected is magnified into a high state of anxiety, often prompting us to “retreat” to a safer place, like our social media feeds.
  • We often use unqualified leads: Unless you’re using a proven system like Espresso Agent, you might be making true cold calls to people who have little interest or urgency to sell. You can’t feel confident working with second-rate information.
  • We aren’t sure of our value proposition: Our mind can play nasty tricks on our psyche. You may not feel totally comfortable with the unique product that is Worse yet, you might possibly question your purpose as a real estate agent. Combined, these factors can create an insecurity makes you avoid phone prospecting at all costs.
  • We don’t practice enough: You don’t need to conform to the “10,000 hour” expert principle to be a top-performing agent. However, if you aren’t always practicing and working at your craft, you won’t be confident enough to work the phones day in and day out.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CALL RELUCTANCE?

Now, let’s take a look at some of the behaviors that manifest as call reluctance

  • We tend to procrastinate: People procrastinate when they dread a difficult or unwelcome task, something they really don’t want to perform. Most of know when we’re procrastinating: obsessive email checking, an increase in social media scrolling. Anything, and everything, to keep us from having to make those dreaded prospecting calls. Procrastination is the biggest threat to anyone who has to use the phone to make a living.
  • We over-prepare: Otherwise known as “paralysis by analysis.” You allow yourself to get bogged down preparing for your next call, studying the file, immersing yourself in the details of the previous listing, etc. Your hope, of course, is that over-preparing will give you the confidence to sound like an authority on the phone. But in the process, you lose the real you, which is what you really need to make an honest connection with a prospect.
  • We invite negative self-talk: Are you somebody who gets caught in bouts of “stinking thinking,” that endless chatter about the dreaded future? Unchecked stinking thinking can magnify our dread and anxiety, possibly leading to debilitating panic attacks. We might compare ourselves to other, more successful agents or even successful close friends, which leads to shame. Everyone seems to have it so easy. What’s wrong with us??

Again, remind yourself that you’re not alone. Call reluctance is something that most real estate agents deal with at some point in time. One of the most important steps to overcoming call reluctance is awareness of the problem. Only when you become aware can you begin to forge strategies to fight the demons of call reluctance.

Next week we’ll discuss some of those strategies.