I am careful about using the phrase “call reluctance” and you may need to be, too. Here’s why.

First, I want to introduce you to Shannon L. Goodson and George W. Dudley, the authors of The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance: Earning What You’re Worth in Sales. It was Dudley who coined the phrase “call reluctance” – maybe as far back as 1943.

The phrase is also trademarked, which means we shouldn’t use it without permission. Hmm…considering how common the phrase is, do Goodson and Dudley care? They might!

Some years ago, I was asked to observe their training program (delivered by someone else, not Dudley or Goodson) and was given a copy of their book. The goal was to bring me up to speed because I’d deliver my cold calling workshop to the same group the next day. As I sat quietly in the back of the room, I naturally critiqued the training and looked through the book.

I have some education in psychology (completed a BA) and love to rip apart research and its results. On the one hand, the research portions of the book were very well-done and relevant to some concerns people sometimes have about making calls. On the other hand, the authors’ belief in deep-seated emotional issues, and their methods for addressing the issues, were and are way off base. However, their silly training premise isn’t the point of this article.

We Are Warned

Their book and training materials include many pages on which the authors emphasize their ownership of “call reluctance,” and issue stern warnings about using it. Many, many, many pages. The warning is everywhere, indicating Dudley and Goodson (or whoever currently owns the trademark) feel strongly about it.

But that’s not what inspired me to be more careful to avoid the phrase. The inspiration was having my own trademarked and copyrighted stuff ripped off.

The experience didn’t move me to add warnings on every 12th page of books and other materials, but I understood why Dudley and Goodson did and decided to respect that.

Since then, I’ve made efforts to avoid the phrase “call reluctance,” including removing it from articles, training materials and my own books. This has proved tough to do for one reason: it’s a perfect phrase. And that is the point of this article.

Well Done, Dudley

So here’s a shout-out to George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson. “Call reluctance” is concise, evocative, and clear. Others may use it with no thought to the artistry that created it, but I celebrate its creation. The phrase is as elegant as e = mc squared and as beautiful as any of Da Vinci’s sculptures.

(And if you catch me using the phrase in other articles, please let me know.)