We first came across the Behavioural Sciences Research Press (BSRP) and The Sales Preference Questionnaire™ (SPQ*GOLD®) when we worked at the Prudential’s National Sales Training Centre in 1996.
The programme was piloted with the top 100 sales people out of a total sales force of over 5000 with, it must be said, some skepticism from the senior management team.
They, understandably, believed that only poor performers would suffer from this newly introduced condition called “Sales Call Reluctance” (SCR) – they were wrong !
The performance of the first group of delegates was tracked for six months, during which time they received no other development … and the result was a significant 16% uplift in sales in that time.
At this stage we got licensed as ‘in-house’ facilitators as we wanted to learn more about this new training material which appeared to actually make a measurable difference to sales !
We then met the authors, George W. Dudley and Shannon Goodson, and we began our long relationship with them; even closer ties were forged in 2000 when we set up ReMap.
The BSRP team has always been generous with their support and they continue to share their findings and expertise with us as they are continually building on their initial research, stretching back over 40 years.
We always recommend everyone reads their sector leading book ‘The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance – Earning What Your Worth in Sales’ to get to the heart of this subject, however in the meantime here is a little bit of background to get you started.
Inhibited Social Contact Initiation Syndrome (ISCIS) is an aggregation of emotion-based escape and avoidance behaviours particularly associated with the act of initiating first social contact.
It was originally postulated by Dudley and Goodson in the 1970’s and is distinguishable from broader concepts such as social anxiety by the type, degree, onset and limited specific nature of the symptoms.
ISCIS symptoms are provoked only by behaviours associated with meeting new people and typically subside or cease altogether once first contact has been successfully established.
It can be observed across contact dependent life and work settings such as business, government, academics, fundraising and others, including dating (!), in which an individual’s likelihood of moving closer to self selected goals is directly linked to the frequency and quality of new social contacts.
When ISCIS limits the contact initiation behaviours of direct salespeople, called sales prospecting, it is termed Sales Call Reluctance®.
Although sales environments can, and usually do, differ radically from setting to setting, success in sales invariably requires the generation of new business, ultimately measured by increased revenue.
Thus, contact initiation with prospective buyers is a core competency for salespeople, and failure to prospect consistently for new business is the most frequently cited reason for poor sales performance.
Neural network studies using only SCR measures and unambiguous, objective outcome measures such as pounds / euros / dollars of commissions earned have shown that contact initiation with prospective buyers, or the lack thereof, can distinguish high and low sales producers with up to 73% accuracy. So far, 12 distinct forms of SCR have been identified.
Contact initiation with prospective buyers is necessary but not sufficient for success in sales. Other factors become equally if not more important once first contact is made. However, contact initiation comes first. Initiating contact with prospective buyers on a consistent basis must occur before sales can be made, regardless of product sold, sales training provided, production incentives, sales supports or market conditions.
The Sales Preference Questionnaire™ (SPQ*GOLD®) is a limited purpose self-descriptive instrument used to assess the presence, predisposition, and degree of SCR in individuals in sales positions.
It is also used to provide assessment-based support for training and developmental applications with existing salespeople.
SPQ*GOLD® measures all 12 SCR types, three call reluctance “impostors,” and three scales used to detect nonstandard attitudes toward completing the instrument.
One scale, the “Brake” score, is a statistical composite computed by aggregating scores from the 12 diagnostic sub-types, and is interpreted as an overall estimate of the effort which could have been available to support sales prospecting but is instead diverted into nonproductive coping behaviours intended to reduce emotional discomfort associated with prospecting for new business.
SPQ*GOLD® has been the subject of extensive research efforts aimed at establishing its utility when used as intended.
These studies, many of which are proprietary to the sponsoring organizations, make SPQ*GOLD® one of the most validated applications for assessing salespeople in use today.
It is the most widely used diagnostic instrument for assessing sales call reluctance® in the world. Summaries of some of the most recent studies are available for review online at www.salescallreluctance.com.
2012© Behavioural Sciences Research Press, Dallas, Texas, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. SPQ*GOLD and Sales Call Reluctance are federally registered trademarks, and the Call Reluctance types are trademarks of Behavioural Sciences Research Press.