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Overcoming Call Reluctance: Part 1

If you watch Vulcan 7’s weekly video series, “Roadmap-How to Take 3 Listings a Week,” you know there are two primary characteristics that define top-performing agents:

  1. They focus on listings as their primary source of revenue-generation
  2. They are almost obsessive about their morning routines, almost all of which are anchored by dedicated phone-prospecting time.

In our next two posts, we’re going to focus on the real estate prospecting strategy of phone-prospecting.  Or, more accurately, a challenge that the vast majority of real estate agents grapple with: reluctance to phone prospect.

Call reluctance is an often-debilitating mental block that affects sellers across every industry. But in real estate it’s particularly pernicious. Consider: it is estimated that only 1-2% of real estate agents actively phone prospect on a regular basis. That means 98% of agents passively prospect, sending out flyers, waiting for calls to come in, sending an occasional letter. Of course, the silver lining to this statistic is that there is tremendous upside potential for any real estate agent who decides to overcome call reluctance to become a transaction-building machine.

In the next two posts, we’re going to look at the causes and signs of call reluctance, along with action steps you can take to capture your phone-prospecting mojo.

Here’s the one thing you need to remind yourself of: you’re not alone. Every real estate agent, even those playing at the top of their game, have experienced the anxiety of call reluctance at some point in time. You surely know the feeling: 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 Vulcan 7, hover your curser over the dialer and…. Freeze! You’re unable to move forward, to make that call. Your stomach tightens, anxiety sets in. You decide that a second cup of coffee would be a good thing to get your mind focused. And so, it goes!

Today, we’ll explore what causes call reluctance, as well as the signs that you may suffering from anxiety over phone prospecting.


There are countless reasons why sellers grapple with call reluctance, and these reasons vary greatly from person to person. But there are a few, obvious, over-arching culprits:

  • Fear of rejection

    This is the mother of all call reluctance factors, and one we’ve discussed in a number of previous blog posts. As a species, humans are hard-wired to seek positive group interaction, acceptance and approval. This hard-wiring runs counter to the nature of real estate prospecting, when you often (especially these days) sit in an office, alone, for hours on end, not getting that group acceptance you need. As such, the thought of rejection, in any form, precipitates a biological fear response, that ultimately urges us to retreat to a safe place, such as our Facebook feed.

  • Using unqualified leads

    If you’re not working with a proven lead/CRM system such as Vulcan 7, you’re likely making true “cold calls” to people who may have little interest or urgency to sell, let alone talk to a real estate agent. It’s difficult to feel confident if you’re working with second-rate information.

  • You’re uncertain of your value proposition

    To put it another way, you aren’t fully comfortable with the product (“YOU”) that you are trying to sell. Or, perhaps more dramatically, at a deep level you question your purpose in being an agent. Both of these factors fuel a certain kind of insecurity that makes the idea of phone-prospecting daunting in the extreme.

  • You haven’t practiced enough

    Surely, you’ve heard about the 10,000 hour principle, whereby you need to spend 10,000 hours to be great at any enterprise. Clearly, you don’t need to spend 10,000 hours to become a top-performing agent, but if you aren’t working at your craft all the time, it’s difficult to have the confidence to dive into phone prospecting.


Now that we’ve looked at the causes of call reluctance, let’s turn to the signs, the outward behaviors indicating that you, indeed, are suffering from a chronic case of call reluctance:

  • Procrastination

    This is the biggie, and the primary challenge to anyone who has to sell to make a living. Procrastination is linked to dread over a task you really don’t want to perform. Procrastination is a pesky foe because it can manifest in behaviors that we can easily justify as productive, even important: checking email, scrolling through our social media sites to see if anyone has engaged with our new-listing post, etc.

  • Over-preparation/over-analysis

    Yes, “paralysis by analysis.” It’s easy to become bogged down by over-preparing to make every call. Perhaps you’re preparing to call a new expired listing. You might spend more time than is necessary studying the file, looking at the previous listing, and immersing yourself in the details so that your confidence can bring insight to the call (instead of bringing the real you).

  • Negative emotions and self-talk

    Some might refer to this as “stinking thinking.” It’s the endless chatter about the future that fills us with dread, anxiety, or even debilitating panic attacks. It’s not unusual to even feel shame about what we do, somehow putting ourselves down, or comparing ourselves to our friends who seem to “have it easy.” The more incessant the chatter, the more likely it is you’ll find reasons to procrastinate in order to avoid (or suppress) the negative feelings.

Again, it’s important to remind yourself that nearly all real estate agents, at one time or another, battle the demons of call reluctance. One of the keys to moving past this reluctance is awareness of the problem, followed by acceptance. Once you move through awareness and acceptance, you can focus on an action plan to move through the mental blocks and start your journey to real estate success.

In our next post, we’ll help you identify some of those action steps.

Doug Spak has over four decades of experience as an advertising copywriter, agency creative director, blogger, and content creator. He joined Vulcan7 as a Content Specialist in 2016. In addition to ongoing website copy refreshes, Doug has produced over 300 blog posts while developing content for Vulcan7’s social media platforms.

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