Bandalier’s Learning and Development team launched a new initiative in mid-2022: our Charity Calling Project. With all of the improvements we made to Bandalier University last year, we were more confident than ever in our reps’ communication skills. However, we noticed one common obstacle that was slowing our new team members down: call reluctance.

What is Call Reluctance?

Every inside sales representative has experienced call reluctance during their career. There are plenty of different definitions of the term floating around. Generally speaking, call reluctance is an aversion to making cold outbound phone calls. It’s no secret that cold calling is challenging. Navigating the rejection that often comes along with those calls can be tough – especially when folks are new to the field. Call reluctance can manifest in a lot of different ways. Reps may develop a fear of calling, and delay their calls in favor of excessive research. They may also lean into alternative communication channels. If call reluctance is left unchecked, or goes unnoticed, it can have major implications for that sales rep’s long-term success.

How Can You Avoid Call Reluctance?

We wanted to find a constructive way to address the issue early. All of our team members are highly resilient, but many of them are adapting to a brand-new workflow as they ramp up with Bandalier. To support their new skills, we wanted to present them with a modest challenge – something simple to talk about, but tough to ask for, and something that creates a net positive impact on the world.

It took us a few tests to find a structure that worked. Our first idea, suggested by our Senior Director of People Operations, Daniel Pressman, was a version of the Agoge Pizza Challenge. The challenge sounds simple: cold call someone and sell them a pizza. Set up the delivery for them. Reps receive a script and a lead list, and then they have a limited time to sell as many pizzas as they can. However, this challenge wasn’t quite right for the Bandalier team. Our prospects aren’t always located near a major pizza chain, and it can be tough to generate lead lists for projects like this. We found that these wins were hard-won at the best of times. So we went back to the drawing board.

Calling for a Cause

In the second iteration of the program, we started thinking about calling for charity. Our Senior HR Lead, Kaitlyn Chandler, was the one who recommended it, and we loved the idea! Initially, our team members asked folks to donate to charity directly. However, we found that this program didn’t bring the results we were looking for – it was tough to track wins, and tougher to get folks to agree to donate. So it was time for another switch.

That brought us to our current iteration of the program. Our People team collaborated to develop a program that blended their past ideas. Reps have a limited amount of time to reach out to prospects, but rather than ask for donations directly, our team members ask for permission to donate on their behalf. Once the listener agrees, we send an email confirmation before making the donation in their name.

Even with this structure in place, we’re watching for pieces that need to be tweaked. With Lilia, our Senior Manager of Learning and Development, leading the program, we’re excited to see how it keeps changing over time. We’re considering new charities to support, and looking at different ways to change up the program to suit our newest team members’ needs.