Wednesday Sep 07, 2022
EP146: Calming Your Prospect’s Apprehension
"Every discovery call begins with apprehension,” says Chris Beall, our Market Dominance Guys’ co-host, who is back behind the microphone after a two-month absence. Chris goes on to say that you need to be aware that starting a discovery call by interrogating your prospect only increases their apprehension. If you’re going to have a meaningful, successful conversation, you need to use a kinder, gentler approach. Chris talks with his co-host, Corey Frank, about a couple of ways he knows to take a prospect from that feeling of apprehension and fear to a feeling of pride and openness. Then, and only then, will the atmosphere of the call be right for you to ease the conversation into one of mutual discovery, where you and your prospect can learn whether their company is a fit for your product. As the title of today’s Market Dominance Guys’ podcast states, this can only happen once you’ve succeeded in “Calming Your Prospect’s Apprehension."
Full episode transcript below:
Welcome to another session with the Market Dominance Guy, a program exploring all the high-stakes speed bumps and offramps of driving to the top of your market. With our hosts, Chris Beall from ConnectAndSell and Corey Frank from Branch 49.
"Every discovery call begins with apprehension," says Chris Beall, our Market Dominance Guys co-host who's back behind the microphone after a two-month absence. Chris says that you need to be aware that starting a discovery call by interrogating your prospect only increases their apprehension. If you're going to have a meaningful, successful conversation, you need to use a kinder, gentler approach. Chris talks with his co-host Corey Frank about a couple of ways he knows to take a prospect from that feeling of apprehension and fear to a feeling of pride and openness. Then and only then will the atmosphere of the call be right for you to ease the conversation into one of mutual discovery, where you and your prospect can learn whether their company is a fit for your product. As the title of today's Market Dominance Guys podcast states, this can only happen once you've succeeded in calming your prospect's apprehension.
Corey Frank (01:27):
Here we are. Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys with Corey Frank, and with me post-wedding honeymoon holiday bliss, the sage of sales, the prophet of profit, the Hawking of hawking, Chris Beall.
Chris Beall (01:43):
The Hawking of hawking.
Corey Frank (01:44):
So, welcome back from all points across the pond, Chris. Good to have this marital glow about yourself here and good to have you back in the co-host seat where you belong.
Chris Beall (01:56):
Thanks, Corey. I've really missed this part of the professional world. And we were having such a good time, Helen and I were, in, well, Iceland and Copenhagen and Norway and by the Russian border and eating crabs that would've preferred to eat something else themselves.
Corey Frank (02:12):
You missed this part when you talked about that part.
Chris Beall (02:15):
Yeah. I missed this part. We fell into this thing unintentionally some years ago now actually, in 2019. I've been watching them. You did a few while I was gone. Anyway, it's great to be back and hopefully I'll bring something because God knows if I got anything left.
Corey Frank (02:34):
Oh, well. Listen, I think you got a 911 call from Susan, our producer, saying, "You must come back quickly. Corey cannot do these by himself at all, and he needs you in the seat." So, I thought we'd jumped right into it, Chris. This had no easy topics that we're going to venture into on your first episode back. We want to get into the meaty stuff. And one of the things that's been on our mind, certainly here at the Branch 49 team working with some clients, is the discovery call, right? Seen a lot of stuff. The esteemed and prolific writer, commenter Gerry Hill of ConnectAndSell fame, right? I've seen so many postings for him on this topic. You talk about the cold call and we've done a number of episodes, right, Chris?
And if we've learned anything from you and your rantings and writings, it's that the natural state, the primordial state of a prospect when they receive a cold call is that of fear. I think we all know and all the listeners understand that. But when you set up a discovery... I set up a call for you as a prospect to meet with Gerry Hill next Tuesday at 10:00 AM. And here it is Tuesday at 9:58 and you are thinking about this. Should I make it, not make it? And you show up. If the state of a cold call is fear, what is the state, the insight into the prospect's mind on the discovery call, would you say?
Chris Beall (03:55):
Corey Frank (03:57):
Chris Beall (03:58):
Apprehension. It's not anxiety.
Corey Frank (03:59):
Not, "What did I just do?"
Chris Beall (04:00):
Anxiety is a little bit too strong, but apprehension. After all, when you show up for a discovery call, you're pretty sure that you're really showing up to be sold to. And if we go back to the cold call, the number one purpose, the purpose of the cold call, is to build trust. And as we've been instructed by people who are our betters, that trust will last forever as long as we don't blow it. And the best way to blow it is to sell to somebody. So, now they're going to show up at this discovery call expecting not to participate in discovery, but to be discovered, right? To be discovered at. They're going to have something done to them. And we don't like going into situations where somebody's going to do something to us. And it actually creates an opportunity to screw up whatever trust you managed to build in the cold call just by how you handle the beginning of a discovery call. So, just like the cold call, you've got to know the purpose and you have to have an underlying belief that supports that purpose.
And that underlying belief is in the potential value of this meeting you're offering, for this human being you're speaking with, in the case where you're never going to do business together. And it's those three conditions have to obtain inside of you in order to be able to sincerely execute on a trust-based cold call that starts an ambush that starts with the other party in a state of fear. So, now here you are. You've gotten past that very difficult situation and you're in a new situation and the strong temptation is to interrogate. And so the party, the other person, shows up. We'll call them the prospect, but that's not really the right way to think about them, in a state of apprehension that you're going to interrogate them in order to trick them into making a bad decision, a decision that's bad for them. Because you're the expert and they're not, and therefore you can lead them by the nose down to some bad decision and they have to resist.
You got a bridle on the horse and now you're going to tug them or you're going to offer them a little carrot, or you're going to say, "If I could show you how this hay over here is three times as nutritious as this hay, would it make you want to buy hay from me for the rest of your life?" Whatever is going to happen to you. And it's happened to all of us. And so apprehension is that base state. And we've talked a little bit about this, that as professionals we have an obligation first to not faint at the sight of blood, right? If we're going to be surgeons, we can't faint the sight of blood. But we have a bigger obligation now that we've controlled our own emotions sufficient to execute, which is we've got to get in there before we start making any changes. Heart surgery doesn't start with the heart. You got to get in there.
Now, maybe it's some modern technique where you thread something up their toe or something like that and jam it up an artery and go, but it could be that we're going to cut down there and we're going to crack the chest open and there's going to be noise. And that's part of the job too. And it's a big part of the job. And in discovery, we have that job ahead of us. And just like when we go to the doctor, we're apprehensive. When that prospect comes to us in a discovery call, they're apprehensive that we're going to do them.
Corey Frank (07:19):
So, how do we screw that up? Between you and I, certainly you more on the ledger side than I, we've listened to hundreds of thousands of phone calls and recordings in our career. So, what are some of those patterns that me as a rep, that I'm going to screw it up right from the beginning?
Chris Beall (07:35):
Yeah. Well, you start off making the assumption that the other person is ready to confess and you start asking questions in which, if they're going to answer them honestly, that they've got to trust you a lot more than they trust you already. And even worse, even more so, you don't treat their emotional state as the most important element of the conversation. In any conversation, the other person's emotional state, if you are a professional, their emotional state is your responsibility, not theirs. You're the one who put them in a position where, in this case, they're apprehensive.
You need to take them as best you can or help them go someplace that's more useful to both of you emotionally. And I think that ignoring the emotions and starting right in on, "So, Corey, how big's your sales team? How many reps do you got?" Right? "How much calling do you do? What's your budget?" Oh my God. You go in for that stuff. And then of course somebody's going, "Ask open-ended questions." Those are open-ended. How big's your calling team? I mean, it's open-ended. The answer could be zero, 300 or, "I don't really feel like telling you that quite yet." And it's in fact, no matter what they say, it's, "I don't feel like telling you that. Not yet anyway."
Corey Frank (08:48):
But they showed up for the call. They showed up for this. The premises are incongruent. "I thought I was going to get X. And you, as the salesperson, are trying to feed me Y," right?
Chris Beall (09:02):
Yeah. Right. I came out of curiosity. If it was a good cold call, it was only curiosity that got me here. So, I'm curious. What am I curious about? Well, I'm not quite sure. I mean, that's what curiosity is about. If we knew the answer, we wouldn't be curious, right? So, I'm curious enough to show up and I'm hopeful that I might learn something that's of value to me. But I'm apprehensive. And it's very hard for two emotions to be inside of a person working at the same time. In fact, that's the nature of emotions. Emotions, they dominate one after another after another. They don't coexist. We can't be apprehensive and excited or joyous at the same time. We can't do that.
Chris Beall (10:33):
Emotions are funny like that, right? We can see two colors more or less at the same time, but we can't experience two emotions at the same time. So, it's fascinating to me. So, And I think there's some simple ideas and actual techniques, very similar to... You know how people got fixated on the 27 seconds thing? It's like, "Oh, it's about the opener in 27 seconds." It never been about the opener in 27 seconds. It's just anything that one could say in order to handle the second part of somebody being afraid of us and getting to that next stage.
And the next stage is emotional. In the cold call, we try to take somebody from fear, they're afraid of us, to trust immediately. That's the shock. The shocking thing is we can go from fear to trust like that. More fear sets us up for more trust, so to speak, because there's more fear to relieve. And there are ways to do that. In the discovery call, there are ways to do it also and they work on the same principle. The principle is emotional substitution. You as a professional are going to help this other person, help them substitute a more useful emotion. So, it can't be idiosyncratic. It's got to be a fairly universal emotion. Well, here's the universal emotion. Pride. It's totally antithetical to apprehension. It's almost the opposite of apprehension. When we're apprehensive, we pull back. And when we're proud, we come forward. And so the prospect is in a pulling back emotion when we start the conversation with them.
So, what can we do to get them to express pride? Well, there's a funny thing that people have as almost a universal source of pride, oddly enough, and it's where they live. And it's because they chose to live there. So, one thing you can do, and I know people will fixate on this and go, "Oh no, it's those words exactly." It's not those words exactly. But here's what I do. I just ask a simple question. First, I want to make it clear that I'm looking for help. I'm not in charge here. I'm not running the show. I'm not making things happen to somebody else. Because they're apprehensive that I'm doing that. So, I say, "Corey, it just helps me a lot to know where somebody is when I'm talking to them. I don't know. It's just a peculiarity of mine. Where are you right now on the face of our blue whirling planet?"
And the reason I say blue whirling planet is actually to give us a sense of togetherness. There's a classic picture that was taken from the moon of Earth, that the Earth is this blue marble hanging in space. And we all know it's spinning except for certain people who think that it's flat or something like that. But they still use GPS. They still use GPS. Why not? Believe the Earth is flat and use GPS. It's a miracle. But anyway. So, that gives us a sense of togetherness. But what I really want to do is then, I've asked for help. It wasn't an interrogation question. It was a please help me question, because this is something I need in order to be able to have a good conversation with somebody. And I want this to be a good conversation. So, I just ask that question. And then it's like, "Where are you?" And it's very different from, "So, where do you live?"
Corey Frank (14:29):
Chris Beall (14:30):
It's very different. So, where are you right now? Now, most of the time they're in their home. Some of the time they're on the road. That could be. But in any case, they're probably where they want to be unless you're having discovery calls with people in prison or something like that. And I think that's unusual. There's not a lot of buy-side activity in the B2B world going on. [inaudible 00:14:53]-
Corey Frank (14:53):
Not a lot of TAM. Not a big TAM there.
Chris Beall (14:56):
No. So, sadly there is a big Tam. But anyway, let's leave that Tam alone. But what you get is an opportunity, a very low-cost opportunity, for the other person to replace their apprehension with pride of place. And pride of place has a wonderful quality. And that is, it's not personal, but it is about the person. It's associated with the person. But none of us actually created the city that we're living in or the place we're living in or created our neighborhood unless we have big real estate development chops or something like that. So, most of us, we have various feelings about where we live, but when we're talking to a stranger, the feeling that comes out as pride. And I'll let somebody talk out of a 30-minute meeting for 27 minutes about where they live.
Corey Frank (15:54):
Right, right. So, that's the key, is to acknowledge, understand that their state is apprehension, and making them feel at ease as much as possible. Because if I want the deep confessions, the ones that will drive my traditional discovery, my BANT, if you will, to determine if they're part of a POC or is there any there there, I need to address that. And if I don't, what happens typically?
Chris Beall (16:24):
If I don't, I get a very confusing conversation, which is oppositional. I ask questions and they try to avoid answering them. And they might answer them in a halfway kind of fashion. The answers to my questions are irrelevant. That is, I'm an expert at what I offer. They're the expert of their problem. Whatever their problem is, is deeply theirs. It's peculiar, to use my mother's favorite word. It's peculiar to their situation. It's about things they know about that I don't know about. And until they're ready to share those other things that they know about that I don't know about, we actually can't explore. I mean, I'll call this real B2B. So, say you're selling coffee beans or whatever. Maybe it's easier. I don't know. I've never sold stuff like that. I've sold complicated products like Fuller Brush, spider spray, you know how it goes, right? So, we have to accept their world is deep and rich and not about us, right?
It's deep. It has all sorts of things going on. There's all sorts of constraints, situations. There's timing. There's how are they already solving the problem that you would like to help them solve in a different way. All that stuff's at play. And if we just skip this emotional transition to something else, and I like pride of place, and then I go from pride to place, by the way, my next question is to pride of mission. Because then we're at the heart of it. Because everything they're doing in their job has to do with the mission of their company. They don't think about it like that, but why do they keep that job instead of going to some other job? You don't talk to a lot of people who are basically iron shackles got to work at company X, Y, Z. They're making a daily choice, especially now.
I mean, now as Helen Fanucci's new book coming out, Love Your Team, says, "Your top talent can walk out the door without taking a single step." So, it's a different world now. You're dealing with somebody who's there because they want to be there. So, what's that attachment to mission? And there's a personal element. You don't make it personal. It's like, "What do you do that's so great?" But what I like to ask is the simple question. And again, it's a help me out question. So, I always try to understand somebody's business as best I can before talking with them, because it seems like a good thing to do. I go to the website and I read and I think, and then I always get it wrong. Always. 100% of the time. I like to ask this question, which is, "When everything goes right, when everything's fantastic..." Remember, we're trying to get to problems, right? So, I don't want to go anywhere near the problems quite yet because the problems are live wires. You could get hurt down there, right?
Corey Frank (19:18):
Chris Beall (19:18):
So, I want to stay in a safe zone for the moment, which is to remind somebody, why do we all do what we do? Deming said, "We work for pride of workmanship." Who do we work with and where do we work? We work to do good. I mean, that's kind of it. If we thought it was bad, we probably wouldn't do it. If it was evil, maybe some people are like that and we sometimes run into them. But in general, most people are in tune with what their company does. They think it's a good thing.
So, I just ask, "When everything goes right, when everything goes right, when the customer's the right customer and the solution's the right solution, the budget is there, the timing is right, all of the support people and people on both sides do the right things, everything clicks, how does your company or your product change your customer's life?" And I'm really specific. It's changed your customer's life. That other person's life. It's not, "Did it make a buck? Did it add shareholder value? Did it blah, blah, blah, blah, blah?" It's about somebody's life. And there's a little reminder there that I've never had somebody fail to answer that question. Ever. They always answer. It's almost like, "Huh. Wow. Yeah, we do something cool here."
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