In 1986, behavioral scientists George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson released a slim, unassuming book titled The Psychology of Call Reluctance: How to Overcome the Fear of Self-Promotion. Although it was marketed as a self-help book for struggling salespeople, within its pages was actually the beginning of a quiet revolution in defining, predicting and overcoming obstacles to success in sales and beyond.
Dudley and Goodson had studied the factors leading to success or failure in professional salespeople for years…and had come to a somewhat unoriginal conclusion: Selling is a numbers game. The more customers you see, the more you sell. Fortunately, that was just a springboard to the research that would make them among the most respected practitioners of serious sales psychology in the world. What they discovered and presented in their first book was this deceptively simple, two-pronged behavioral premise:
- Closed sales are directly correlated with the number of contacts salespeople initiate with prospective buyers.
- Many potentially successful people experience fear that limits their ability to initiate those contacts consistently and comfortably.
At that time, Call Reluctance – emotional discomfort with prospecting – wasn’t being addressed in most sales training programs. Selection tests, employment interviews, and less formal vehicles like self-help books and workshops were designed primarily around a well-worn model of what “good” salespeople were like: gregarious, aggressive, articulate, money-motivated. Presumed experts from human resources professionals to motivational speakers focused on sales strategies that exploited those traits. But those strategies were overwhelmingly based on an unspoken assumption: That these archetypical superstars could and would consistently seek out prospective customers to sell to.
Dudley and Goodson found that not to be the case. In fact, through hundreds of studies with thousands of salespeople, they tripped back the archetypes (some would say the stereotypes) to reveal the widespread, toxic effects of fear on otherwise motivated, goal-oriented professionals. They developed accurate tests to diagnose it. And they presented effective countermeasures to enable salespeople to overcome the fears that held them back.
The revolution had begun.
That first slim volume described nine distinct forms of Call Reluctance. Dudley and Goodson’s next book, Earning What You’re Worth? (1992), incorporated three additional types discovered in the course of their ongoing research. It also helped broaden the scope of their work beyond sales, helping people in all walks of life to recognize the importance of visibility management and tackle the emotional discomfort that keeps them from promoting themselves and their interests.
Over the years Dudley and Goodson’s research begat other books, other career assessment tools. But Call Reluctance remained their primary focus. Today there are 16 recognized types. Sales organizations around the world utilize Call Reluctance applications to hire and train employees who consistently prospect for new customers. Countless careers have been transformed via psychologically sound techniques to overcome self-limiting fears.
- What is the goal of Relentless: The Science of Barrier-Busting Sales?
This book aims to bring decades of research, and results, into the 21st Century. It’s designed to speak to young adults who weren’t even born when The Psychology of Call Reluctance was published, as well as to seasoned pros who were prospecting before millennials were a gleam in a marketer’s eye. Unlike Dudley & Goodson’s previous books, Relentless presents Call Reluctance research as the settled science it is. If you’re new to the visibility management party, a wealth of research-based evidence is still available in those seminal works, as well as in the workshops we present all over the world. If you’ve followed Dudley and Goodson for a while, this book streamlines and updates their work in what we hope is a fresh, focused format for the modern professional.
- Why another book about Call Reluctance now?
The business world is a very different place than it was when Dudley & Goodson began their research. It’s more diverse, more internationally-focused and more willing to adapt and evolve to stay competitive. The landscape of selling has also changed, shaped by technology, global economics, societal norms and arguably Call Reluctance research itself. The idea that the foundation of success is a culture of prospecting rather than a cult of personality has taken root and flourished in forward thinking sales organizations everywhere.
- Is the research still relevant?
Dudley & Goodson’s ground-breaking research remains relevant because its rooted in science, and reliably immune to self-help fads and feel-good hyperbole, the psychology of Call Reluctance has applications that reach far beyond traditional “selling”.
- Who are authors Suzanne C. Dudley and Trelitha R. Bryant?
- Suzanne C. Dudley is the CEO of Behavioral Sciences Research Press, Inc., but Suzanne C. Dudley literally grew up with the company. From an early age she worked on the “family farm” alongside acclaimed call reluctance researchers George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson. Eventually striking out on her own, she earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas. After a successful career as a CPA she returned to BSRP in 2004 as Director of Finance, moving into the CEO role in 2018. Along the way she learned to conquer her own emotional barriers to success. Today Dudley’s real-world business acumen and no-nonsense approach add an invaluable practical dimension to the data-based sales and management solutions for which BSRP is renowned. She enjoys sharing her struggles and breakthroughs with others and is grateful every day for the opportunity to help change the lives and careers of success-seeking professionals around the world.
- Trelitha R. Bryant has a passion for helping organizations redefine success once they have identified and removed their barriers. As the Director of Research for Behavioral Sciences Research Press, she has completed hundreds of statistical studies on the influence of fear on the performance of salespeople and other professionals who rely on visibility management to achieve their goals. Her rock-solid research background allows her to provide needed clarity in the sometimes-hyperbolic galaxy of sales training and self-help programs. She offers credible insight into topics related to sales personnel selection, psychological assessments, and multi-national research. Bryant has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Creighton University, has completed graduate coursework at Southern Methodist University, and has been a valuable part of the BSRP family since 1998.
- Who are George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson?
Suzanne C. Dudley said, “We could not have produced this book without the extraordinary work of George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson, the pioneers of Call Reluctance research and co-founders of Behavioral Sciences Research Press, Inc. They started the business with $100 and a ground-breaking discovery (during a recession!) and we are still at it 40 years later.”
- George W. Dudley
Co-Founder of BSRP, M.S., author of Influence of fear on the behavior of people at work, Dudley is the director of BSRP’s Scientific Advisory Board and Co-founder of BSRP. He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in research psychology. His work is extensively published in the popular and trade press. Each year, Dudley has the opportunity to present his work in a variety of capacities, including large group, radio, and television.His pioneering research on the influence of fear on the performance of people at work, especially sales professionals, is recognized internationally. Many of the psychological constructs he discovered, such as “Recruitment Reluctance,” the 16 types of “Sales Call Reluctance®,” and “Hyper Professionalism” have become part of the standard lexicon of growth-oriented organizations.Dudley and Co-author, Shannon L. Goodson, have written several psychological tests, including the Sales Preference Questionnaire™ (SPQ*Gold/FSA™), Recruiting Preferences Measure™, Career Styles Inventory™, Selling Styles Profile Analysis™, and Meeting People Questionnaire™. Dudley’s research papers—many based on large, international samples—span a variety of topics, including: the relative tendency of salespeople in different countries to exaggerate their answers when completing psychological tests, differences in motivation to sell by country, how sales Call Reluctance® differs from social phobia, low self-esteem, anxiety and other more generic diagnoses, and which selling styles tend to be most susceptible to Sales Call Reluctance®. His biography is included in honorary publications, such as Who’s Who in Science and Engineering and Who’s Who in America.
- Shannon L. Goodson
Co-Founder and CEO, BSRP, Author, Women and visibility management in the workplace. Although Goodson has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in psychology, it was her natural business ability that made her the guiding force behind the successful growth and development of BSRP’s product array and international operations, which now include more than a dozen countries.Goodson has published scholarly articles and presented scientific papers dealing with women’s issues, sales productivity, psychological testing, and other topics. She is listed in several honorary publications, including Who’s Who of American Women. Goodson and Co-author, George W. Dudley, have written several psychological tests, including the Sales Preference Questionnaire™(SPQ*Gold/FSA™), Recruiting Preferences Measure™, Career Styles Inventory™, Selling Styles Profile Analysis™, and Meeting People Questionnaire™.
- George W. Dudley