Call Reluctance: Costs, Causes, and Dialer Technology

Rebecca Bender

February 8, 2024

7 min

Table of Contents

Summary

  • Call reluctance in sales leads to lower productivity, as SDRs avoid calls and engage in less effective activities, affecting sales conversions.
  • Stemming from fear and stress, call reluctance affects SDRs' morale. Overcoming these psychological barriers is crucial for team success.
  • Dialing technologies impact call reluctance. Manual and click-to-call processes increase hesitation, while multi-line dialers can lead to rushed and negative call experiences.
  • Power dialing balances speed and quality, reducing hesitation and keeping SDRs focused. It automates tasks like voicemails, enhancing productivity.
  • Our solution addresses call reluctance by streamlining calls, offering high answer rates, and ensuring natural call starts, thus keeping SDRs engaged.

Pipeline grows faster over the phone.

But phone outreach is challenging. 

The process can be time-consuming and repetitive, and rejection is a constant. 

It’s often said that “the path to every ‘yes’ is paved with ‘no’s.’”

So it’s no wonder so many SDRs suffer from call reluctance. Even veterans who are used to or even comfortable hearing “no,” can experience reluctance before sitting down to make calls… or, even more likely, during the course of getting through them.

And so they pause or procrastinate, stopping to take a walk, get a drink or grab a snack. 

It’s natural. 

But it’s costly too.

In today’s post, we’ll dig deeper into call reluctance and identify the costs and causes, and how different dialing technologies can magnify or help fix the problem.

Helping your team overcome call reluctance can save you money, grow results, and help your team perform better overall. Better yet, the technology that is available (such as our dialer workflow automation or power dialer tools) are surprisingly easy to adopt.

Let’s dive in.

What is Call Reluctance?

Call reluctance is a phenomenon where salespeople experience hesitation, anxiety, or avoidance behaviors when it comes to making outbound sales calls or contacting potential customers. 

This can be due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Lack of confidence in the product or in their sales skills
  • Feeling intrusive
  • Simply the stress associated with cold calling

Call reluctance directly affects the number of calls made, the quality of the sales pitch, and ultimately, the success in closing deals. 

Overcoming call reluctance is often a key focus in sales training and development programs, involving strategies like improving product knowledge, enhancing communication skills, building resilience to rejection, and employing positive reinforcement techniques.

The Costs of Call Reluctance

A number of costs are borne when call reluctance rears its ugly head.

The most obvious is productivity.

Procrastination inevitably means that reps take longer to complete their call campaigns. 

This directly impacts performance. Few sales activities are more valuable than live conversations. Unfortunately, to avoid making calls, SDR efforts are often ferreted away to lower value activities, such as conducting excessive research or sending emails.


What’s more, reduced speed-to-lead and fewer/slower exposures negatively impacts conversion KPIs, because good opportunities fall through the cracks.

Call reluctance has emotional costs as well.

Reluctance is driven from fear. And, we all know that fear causes stress.

While some call reluctance is natural, the more prevalent it is, the more damaging it can be to the morale of individual reps and the team as a whole.

Accordingly, sales leaders should do everything possible to help reps get call reluctance under control.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the barriers that need to be overcome in order to do that.

Psychological Barriers When Cold Calling

Sales calls can create a wave of emotions.

  • Frustration over low answer rates
  • Hurt from harsh words or hangups
  • Excitement over objections handled, or lessons learned
  • Elation from positive outcomes

But reluctance is particularly common. 

And that’s because it’s not only felt by SDRs before they sit down to conduct a session of calls, but throughout the process with every call that is made.

The time between each call resets these feelings.

A break in action allows doubt to creep in.

And that’s why more manual dialing processes can be particularly challenging. 

The termination of one call inevitably brings about a new decision to move forward.

Even if the decision is “yeah, let’s keep going”… that pull is constantly there, sapping energy and motivation little-by-little along the way.

This is why some reps are inclined to double/triple dial or intentionally call headquarter numbers to hit their call activity metrics (which, incidentally is why activity based metrics aren’t sufficient on their own).

Constraints With Only Using Click-to-Call

One of the great benefits of click-to-call dialing is that it improves productivity while preserving the human-centric 1-to-1 dialing experience.

In the case of one-off or low-volume prospecting processes, it’s a particularly helpful way to encourage call-based outreach while working within the CRM.

It can help with note-taking and recording of call-outcomes prior to moving to the next call task.

But as call volume grows, limitations arise.

Click-to-call platforms do little to help (and can even contribute to) call reluctance among SDRs. The termination of any call immediately prompts a decision:

  • Should I make another call?
  • Can I do it later?
  • Is there something else I can do instead?

Furthermore, some click-to-call platforms do little to tackle repetitive tasks that make dialing feel like a chore - such as repeatedly leaving voicemails. And when prospects call back, or request an email or more information, it can further disrupt the calling workflow.

“It’s like driving in traffic,” says PhoneBurner SDR Katy Klimovitsch. “You step on the gas, you step on the brake. You go. You stop. It’s mentally taxing.”

If you’re only making a few calls, no big deal.

But, when you’ve got a lot of calls to make, that’s another story. It’s the difference between getting through a busy intersection, and driving in traffic for an hour.

The Paradox of Multi-Line Dialers

Multi-line dialers bring serious speed into the equation. 

They achieve this by dialing many numbers at once, and only transferring calls to agent when someone answers.

This method does eliminate the down-time and decision making between calls when the pull of call reluctance is strongest.

That’s a plus.

But this benefit comes at a serious cost, and can increase call reluctance in other ways.

Notably, contacts called with a multi-line dialer hear an awkward pause at the start of each call as the call gets transferred to the agent.

This infamous “telemarketer’s delay" negatively impacts the start of the call, heightening skepticism and increasing prospect frustration (and hangups).

Understandably, these negative outcomes take an emotional toll by exacerbating feelings of rejection - a major driver of call reluctance.

Two other drawbacks of multi-line dialers - lower answer rates and dropped calls - can further contribute to SDR frustrations that good leads are being wasted.


Finally, reps using multiline dialers frequently cite frustrations about feeling rushed.

Because this technology calls many people at once, agents don’t know who they are speaking with until they are live on the call.

With no time to prepare, review notes or history, reps often feel under or unprepared which heightens reluctance and can lead to inferior call outcomes.

Fortunately, there’s another option that solves for these shortcomings.

The Power of Power Dialing

If click-to-call is too slow (giving reps time between calls to procrastinate), and multiline dialing is too fast (giving rise to more negative call outcomes that cause reluctance), power dialing strikes that "just right" balance between the too.

Productivity is a widely-known benefit of power dialing, empowering reps to get through calls faster while spending more time engaged in quality conversations.

But the impact on call reluctance - while often overlooked - is just as powerful.

Power dialing with PhoneBurner eliminates one of the biggest drivers of call reluctance: those quiet moments in between calls when SDRs must decide to keep going.

Leads are pre-selected prior to dialing. 

Dispositioning one call immediately initiates the next. 

There’s no time for doubt to creep in, and SDRs are fully focused from the first call on the list to the last.

Plus, because PhoneBurner handles tedious tasks like leaving voicemails, sending email follow-ups, updating the CRM, and other post-call workflows, distractions are gone too.

As Kevin Biagi of Unishippers put it…

“We were struggling with call reluctance. With PhoneBurner, once you pull up a queue, it doesn’t really allow you to take your foot off the gas.”

As the only dialer with a Tier 1 carrier, PhoneBurner’s high answer rates help as well. 

Reps get more “at bats” so they’re able to book more meetings in fewer calls, keeping call reluctance at bay.

Finally, in stark contrast to multi-line dialers, every call with PhoneBurner starts naturally. There’s no beep. No pause. No delay. The experience is as seamless as if you’ve dialed your contacts by hand, so calls start with promise.

Reps are less rushed too. Unlike multi-line dialers they know exactly who they’re calling and can review notes before the contact gets on the line.

It’s the best of both worlds.

Over to You

Cold call reluctance is natural, even for the most experienced sales reps among us.

But given the costs, it’s important for sales leaders to make a concerted effort to help their team alleviate and overcome call reluctance as much as possible.

The right dialing technology can be very effective.

As PhoneBurner BDR James Hanzimanolis puts it, “You wouldn’t ask Gordon Ramsey to score his roast with a butterknife. You wouldn’t expect a NASCAR driver to win in a Prius. To the same respect, you shouldn’t expect your reps to hit quota if they don’t have the right tools.”

Compared to click-to-call, power dialing eliminates the time between calls when reluctance is most likely to seep in, keeping SDRs locked in from the very first call in a queue to the last.

By streamlining tasks and post-call workflows, reps can reduce distractions even further and remain fresh and focused on quality live conversations.

Compared to multi-line dialing, power dialing can dramatically reduce call outcomes that contribute to call reluctance such as unanswered calls, dropped calls and hangups, with a delay-free experience that promotes trust, authenticity, and more positive outcomes.

Ready to combat call reluctance once and for all?

Start your free trial of PhoneBurner today.

Summary

  • Call reluctance in sales leads to lower productivity, as SDRs avoid calls and engage in less effective activities, affecting sales conversions.
  • Stemming from fear and stress, call reluctance affects SDRs' morale. Overcoming these psychological barriers is crucial for team success.
  • Dialing technologies impact call reluctance. Manual and click-to-call processes increase hesitation, while multi-line dialers can lead to rushed and negative call experiences.
  • Power dialing balances speed and quality, reducing hesitation and keeping SDRs focused. It automates tasks like voicemails, enhancing productivity.
  • Our solution addresses call reluctance by streamlining calls, offering high answer rates, and ensuring natural call starts, thus keeping SDRs engaged.

Pipeline grows faster over the phone.

But phone outreach is challenging. 

The process can be time-consuming and repetitive, and rejection is a constant. 

It’s often said that “the path to every ‘yes’ is paved with ‘no’s.’”

So it’s no wonder so many SDRs suffer from call reluctance. Even veterans who are used to or even comfortable hearing “no,” can experience reluctance before sitting down to make calls… or, even more likely, during the course of getting through them.

And so they pause or procrastinate, stopping to take a walk, get a drink or grab a snack. 

It’s natural. 

But it’s costly too.

In today’s post, we’ll dig deeper into call reluctance and identify the costs and causes, and how different dialing technologies can magnify or help fix the problem.

Helping your team overcome call reluctance can save you money, grow results, and help your team perform better overall. Better yet, the technology that is available (such as our dialer workflow automation or power dialer tools) are surprisingly easy to adopt.

Let’s dive in.

What is Call Reluctance?

Call reluctance is a phenomenon where salespeople experience hesitation, anxiety, or avoidance behaviors when it comes to making outbound sales calls or contacting potential customers. 

This can be due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Lack of confidence in the product or in their sales skills
  • Feeling intrusive
  • Simply the stress associated with cold calling

Call reluctance directly affects the number of calls made, the quality of the sales pitch, and ultimately, the success in closing deals. 

Overcoming call reluctance is often a key focus in sales training and development programs, involving strategies like improving product knowledge, enhancing communication skills, building resilience to rejection, and employing positive reinforcement techniques.

The Costs of Call Reluctance

A number of costs are borne when call reluctance rears its ugly head.

The most obvious is productivity.

Procrastination inevitably means that reps take longer to complete their call campaigns. 

This directly impacts performance. Few sales activities are more valuable than live conversations. Unfortunately, to avoid making calls, SDR efforts are often ferreted away to lower value activities, such as conducting excessive research or sending emails.


What’s more, reduced speed-to-lead and fewer/slower exposures negatively impacts conversion KPIs, because good opportunities fall through the cracks.

Call reluctance has emotional costs as well.

Reluctance is driven from fear. And, we all know that fear causes stress.

While some call reluctance is natural, the more prevalent it is, the more damaging it can be to the morale of individual reps and the team as a whole.

Accordingly, sales leaders should do everything possible to help reps get call reluctance under control.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the barriers that need to be overcome in order to do that.

Psychological Barriers When Cold Calling

Sales calls can create a wave of emotions.

  • Frustration over low answer rates
  • Hurt from harsh words or hangups
  • Excitement over objections handled, or lessons learned
  • Elation from positive outcomes

But reluctance is particularly common. 

And that’s because it’s not only felt by SDRs before they sit down to conduct a session of calls, but throughout the process with every call that is made.

The time between each call resets these feelings.

A break in action allows doubt to creep in.

And that’s why more manual dialing processes can be particularly challenging. 

The termination of one call inevitably brings about a new decision to move forward.

Even if the decision is “yeah, let’s keep going”… that pull is constantly there, sapping energy and motivation little-by-little along the way.

This is why some reps are inclined to double/triple dial or intentionally call headquarter numbers to hit their call activity metrics (which, incidentally is why activity based metrics aren’t sufficient on their own).

Constraints With Only Using Click-to-Call

One of the great benefits of click-to-call dialing is that it improves productivity while preserving the human-centric 1-to-1 dialing experience.

In the case of one-off or low-volume prospecting processes, it’s a particularly helpful way to encourage call-based outreach while working within the CRM.

It can help with note-taking and recording of call-outcomes prior to moving to the next call task.

But as call volume grows, limitations arise.

Click-to-call platforms do little to help (and can even contribute to) call reluctance among SDRs. The termination of any call immediately prompts a decision:

  • Should I make another call?
  • Can I do it later?
  • Is there something else I can do instead?

Furthermore, some click-to-call platforms do little to tackle repetitive tasks that make dialing feel like a chore - such as repeatedly leaving voicemails. And when prospects call back, or request an email or more information, it can further disrupt the calling workflow.

“It’s like driving in traffic,” says PhoneBurner SDR Katy Klimovitsch. “You step on the gas, you step on the brake. You go. You stop. It’s mentally taxing.”

If you’re only making a few calls, no big deal.

But, when you’ve got a lot of calls to make, that’s another story. It’s the difference between getting through a busy intersection, and driving in traffic for an hour.

The Paradox of Multi-Line Dialers

Multi-line dialers bring serious speed into the equation. 

They achieve this by dialing many numbers at once, and only transferring calls to agent when someone answers.

This method does eliminate the down-time and decision making between calls when the pull of call reluctance is strongest.

That’s a plus.

But this benefit comes at a serious cost, and can increase call reluctance in other ways.

Notably, contacts called with a multi-line dialer hear an awkward pause at the start of each call as the call gets transferred to the agent.

This infamous “telemarketer’s delay" negatively impacts the start of the call, heightening skepticism and increasing prospect frustration (and hangups).

Understandably, these negative outcomes take an emotional toll by exacerbating feelings of rejection - a major driver of call reluctance.

Two other drawbacks of multi-line dialers - lower answer rates and dropped calls - can further contribute to SDR frustrations that good leads are being wasted.


Finally, reps using multiline dialers frequently cite frustrations about feeling rushed.

Because this technology calls many people at once, agents don’t know who they are speaking with until they are live on the call.

With no time to prepare, review notes or history, reps often feel under or unprepared which heightens reluctance and can lead to inferior call outcomes.

Fortunately, there’s another option that solves for these shortcomings.

The Power of Power Dialing

If click-to-call is too slow (giving reps time between calls to procrastinate), and multiline dialing is too fast (giving rise to more negative call outcomes that cause reluctance), power dialing strikes that "just right" balance between the too.

Productivity is a widely-known benefit of power dialing, empowering reps to get through calls faster while spending more time engaged in quality conversations.

But the impact on call reluctance - while often overlooked - is just as powerful.

Power dialing with PhoneBurner eliminates one of the biggest drivers of call reluctance: those quiet moments in between calls when SDRs must decide to keep going.

Leads are pre-selected prior to dialing. 

Dispositioning one call immediately initiates the next. 

There’s no time for doubt to creep in, and SDRs are fully focused from the first call on the list to the last.

Plus, because PhoneBurner handles tedious tasks like leaving voicemails, sending email follow-ups, updating the CRM, and other post-call workflows, distractions are gone too.

As Kevin Biagi of Unishippers put it…

“We were struggling with call reluctance. With PhoneBurner, once you pull up a queue, it doesn’t really allow you to take your foot off the gas.”

As the only dialer with a Tier 1 carrier, PhoneBurner’s high answer rates help as well. 

Reps get more “at bats” so they’re able to book more meetings in fewer calls, keeping call reluctance at bay.

Finally, in stark contrast to multi-line dialers, every call with PhoneBurner starts naturally. There’s no beep. No pause. No delay. The experience is as seamless as if you’ve dialed your contacts by hand, so calls start with promise.

Reps are less rushed too. Unlike multi-line dialers they know exactly who they’re calling and can review notes before the contact gets on the line.

It’s the best of both worlds.

Over to You

Cold call reluctance is natural, even for the most experienced sales reps among us.

But given the costs, it’s important for sales leaders to make a concerted effort to help their team alleviate and overcome call reluctance as much as possible.

The right dialing technology can be very effective.

As PhoneBurner BDR James Hanzimanolis puts it, “You wouldn’t ask Gordon Ramsey to score his roast with a butterknife. You wouldn’t expect a NASCAR driver to win in a Prius. To the same respect, you shouldn’t expect your reps to hit quota if they don’t have the right tools.”

Compared to click-to-call, power dialing eliminates the time between calls when reluctance is most likely to seep in, keeping SDRs locked in from the very first call in a queue to the last.

By streamlining tasks and post-call workflows, reps can reduce distractions even further and remain fresh and focused on quality live conversations.

Compared to multi-line dialing, power dialing can dramatically reduce call outcomes that contribute to call reluctance such as unanswered calls, dropped calls and hangups, with a delay-free experience that promotes trust, authenticity, and more positive outcomes.

Ready to combat call reluctance once and for all?

Start your free trial of PhoneBurner today.

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