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About This Episode
You probably don’t have a sales problem. You’re probably killing it, so you should stop reading right now.
This negative question sales technique for starting a cold call can produce surprising results.
To find out why, we spoke with Josh Braun, the Founder of SalesDNA, which helps companies generate a steady flow of meetings each month with qualified buyers and migrate them forward to the point where they buy.
The 5-Step Formula for Starting a Cold Call
- Have the right intent “The intent isn’t to book a meeting. The intent is to see if someone has a problem that you can help them solve,” says Braun. “And the answer might be no.”
- Understand the problem If you don’t know their pain, you can’t be their cure. There are two ways you can do this:
- Talk to some current customers and understand what they were struggling with before they decided to buy from you.
- Shadow current customers for a day If you don’t know their world, it’s going to be really hard.
- Get their lingo. If you’re using marketing fluff, it’s not going to be as effective. “At my last company, their sales pitch was ‘we save HR professionals time and money.’ That’s not how people talk,” says Braun. “When we interviewed them they said ‘we want it to be less frazzled during open enrollment. We want a fewer people banging on our door asking us the same questions about their benefits.’”
- Get into the cold call mindset “You’ve got to believe in your heart of hearts that what you’re doing can help someone else kick ass,” says Braun. “And if you don’t feel that very deeply, you’re never going to be as good as you can be.“
- You gotta have a little fun and be a Red X (See below.)
- Link what they told you to how you might be able to help
Becoming a Cold Calling Red X
When you’re cold calling, most likely, you sound like every other salesperson. Does this sound familiar?
“Hello, my name is X, I’m with Y, can I have two minutes? Did I catch you at a good time? How are you today?”
These typical openers are deadly.
“This is a concept by Dave Trott who was a really awesome big advertising agency guy,” says Braun.
“You’re a White Circle in a sea of White Circles. And so when you sound like every other salesperson, there’s a negative stereotype, like it or not, associated with salespeople. And so when you sound like a salesperson during those first three seconds, people have a tendency to shut off,” says Braun. “We have to work really hard to be a Red X, something that’s a little bit different so we at least have an opportunity to start a conversation.”
The best way to fight against people’s defensive barriers is to have an opener that is something that they haven’t heard before.
Braun loves beginning with a negative question. Here’s a generic example:
“I don’t suppose that’s a problem for you guys, right? You guys are good. You guys are crushing it. I should just hang up right now.”
This allows the prospect to relax and comment on whether they have solved the problem.
You can also begin with “I think you guys have a problem. If you promise not to get mad at me, I’ll tell you what it might be….”
The real reason to start with a problem is to gauge their motivation to fix it.
You may have the greatest solution on the planet, but if the prospect doesn’t think they have that problem or aren’t motivated to fix it, you won’t make the sale. You need to create your own motivation meter that rates prospect intent from zero to ten.
“When I call, the intent is not to book a meeting. The intent is to see if someone has a problem that you can help them solve. And if they don’t, we have to get off and go to the next person. The biggest problem is we book meetings with people that don’t have enough pain or problem to warrant spending time with.”
That doesn’t mean that a gifted salesperson can’t increase the prospect’s rating on the motivation meter. Let’s say you want to sell a new grill to someone with a grill that currently only lights halfway.
“‘If your propane is leaking, sometimes that means that only half of it is working and you can get a flare-up, which can burn your face. And here’s a picture of what that looks like.’ Now as an old scared Jewish man, I’m at a seven,” says Braun.
Also, prospects’ needs change over time. Sometimes you need to put a prospect who rates a four on the motivation meter on a nurture track and then go on to the next person. If your nurture track works, you may hear from them when their motivation increases.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Braun believes that one of the most underused tools in the sales repertoire is daily role-playing
“You don’t want to practice on your prospects,” says Braun.
He recommends starting the day with 15-20 minutes of role-playing with other salespeople. Deliberate practice is how athletes become superstars. The same is true for salespeople.
While a salesperson needs to know their lines, the practice shows them how to be loose with the content of the script without reading it word for word.
A Book For You: The Badass B2B Growth Guide
Josh has a book for you. Just go to http://salesdna.co/badass/ to get your copy of The Badass B2B Growth Guide.
“There are 67 plays in that book that I’ve used over the course of 15 years,” says Braun. “These are what I’ve used with my clients and what the top 1% performers are using. They’re all in the book and I add new plays every single month. Go check it out.”
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About The Podcast
The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.
Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.
The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.
Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.