Would you expect introverts to be good at cold calling? Oddly enough, they aren’t just good —they’re great! Today, we delve into why introverts make great salespeople in this second part of a four-part conversation between marketing and business consultant John Orban and our Market Dominance Guys, Chris Beall and Corey Frank. It turns out that introverts’ reluctance to push themselves forward makes them less likely to take over a cold-call conversation, and this allows prospects to talk. And when prospects talk — shazam! — we learn things about them that help us become partners on their sales journey. This insight sparked John to ask Chris the question, “What role do you think curiosity plays in the process of making a cold call?” Listen in to learn the whys and wherefores of this valuable cold-calling asset on this Market Dominance Guys’ episode, “ ‘Curiouser and Curiouser.’ ”
About Our Guest
John Orban brings his background as a MetLife sales rep and as an administrator of computer networks to his current career as a marketing and business consultant for creative professionals.
Full episode transcript below:
Corey Frank (01:18):
Formula we use for screenplay scripting, Chris uses the same one of iteration that creates millions of phone calls and tens of thousands of successful conversations a year has to do with that simplicity. When you have two competing theories, right? Chris. That makes exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is always the better one and until more evidence comes along.
John Orban (01:43):
But you've taken A/B tests to it to a completely different level. Your whole idea of taking an idea, get on the phone for a week and whether it's going to work or not. That's game-changing. I don't know why you're beating people away from the door, maybe you are. But seriously it, I could go on all day about that, but anyhow.
Chris Beall (02:02):
We've politely ask them to stand six feet away. Cause here, we live in splendid isolation in the pandemic and we [inaudible 00:02:16] Six feet away.
John Orban (02:16):
So I want to go one more step on this thing about the communication and what's inside the sales rep. It's not just the sales rep because he's got a sales manager, he's got a sales VP, a marketing VP. God knows how many steps to get to the CEO and every one of those have got problems. When I say problems, I don't mean like they're psychotic or anything of that sort. Although there may be one or two that are in there, but they're all dealing with this stuff. And you're trying to create this smooth path through all this thing. And there's got to be a simpler way to do it. And I think you're on the right track, you really are. You're thinking the right way to go on this. And it amazes me because I was in sales 50 years ago and they basically pointed at a telephone.
John Orban (03:02):
In fact, when I started, I started in the insurance business. I was one of the first group of sales reps that came through that was going to use this new marketing thing called the telephone. Up to that point, everything was door to door. Now I've done my share of door-to-door stuff too. And I know Chris has because you talk about it. I love listening to your stories by the way. And they basically pointed the phone. They gave me a piece of paper, which was a script and said, "Go get them tiger." And I learned everything on my own. And talk about fear, you talk about fear on the phone. I was so petrified. I would stare at that thing and just shake. But I made a couple of changes in my head. Finally, as I went through this process, it pulled me out of my introversion.
John Orban (03:48):
I was forced to get out of it. I ended up going to Dale Carnegie courses, both in New York and also when I came back home after I left the city. I actually worked for, well, I worked for a bunch of different insurance companies, but the first one I did, I was a group and pension specialist in New York City. And so I went to the Dale Carnegie sales course first. And that's where they taught you about the "Sales Burger". If you know anything about that, the hamburger is the benefit and the role is the features. And then you stick this toothpick through it and that's something else, I can't remember what that was supposed to be.
John Orban (04:22):
But anyhow, I did that and then I came back and I went through the Dale Carnegie sales course when I got into the insurance business again. I had a skin as a professional photographer in the interim, but I was terribly introverted. I had a lot of difficulty with it, but making those calls just forced me out of it. I had no choice it was either that, or I don't know. Go [crosstalk 00:04:41].
Corey Frank (04:40):
So you were an introvert by nature, John?
John Orban (04:42):
Oh yeah. (affirmative) And my brother's the same way. In fact, my brother still is, but I was that way. I'm not anymore.
Corey Frank (04:49):
Not anymore. No, you're not. But that's interesting. Chris, what do you make of that? You've hired thousands of sales folks, thousands of team members over the years in your companies. As John's experience a typical one that introverts turn into some of the best sales and what happens. Where's that Rubicon that they cross? What is it internally that sparks, "Hey, listen, I can actually do this. I'm actually safe here."
John Orban (05:12):
Chris Beall (05:14):
I think introversion has to do mostly, according to researchers, I don't know if I believe them or not. With kind of where do you get your energy. Do you get when you're hanging out by yourself? Do you feel better later? Do you get out when you're hanging out with a bunch of people? My definition of an introvert is somebody who goes to a party and has one deep conversation with one person they meet there and then they go home, right? That's me, by the way. People are shocked when they find out that I'm fundamentally introverted because I can also be an entertainer. I can entertain at a party with no problem whatsoever, but then it's a completely different game because those people aren't people, they're an audience. So they turn into something else for me and basically it's a toy that I play with.
Chris Beall (05:57):
And it's not a nice thing to say, but it is what happens, right? Introverts have a huge advantage in sales. And it's really simple advantage, which is they've spent a lot of time with themselves, not recovering from whatever it is that was going on. But actually going inside themselves naturally and thinking through stuff about themselves and about situations, about what they've just encountered. They have that alone time and knowing yourself is the key to being able to be empathetic. It's impossible to be empathetic unless you know what it is to be yourself. You have to have some sense of what the pieces and parts are in there and which ones are in play. What bothers you and what doesn't? I think you come out of that into sales, by doing what John just said, which is you get in a catapult and you get flung or you fling yourself.
Chris Beall (06:49):
It's like bungee jumping. You go to where you were so uncomfortable going and then you realize you didn't die. I have a personal example of this just from my life. I used to be a very afraid of heights and not unnaturally so, but like a normal person. Normal people are afraid of heights. It makes sense by the way. And then I took a fall and it was a big fall, not a little fall. It was about 800 feet. And 800 foot fall that takes a long time. There's plenty that goes on during an 800 foot fall inside yourself. It's not like you think it would be actually. It's one of those, "Really? I didn't know that would be like that." And of course, if you survive, then you get to think those thoughts, otherwise you kind of forgot. [crosstalk 00:07:29]
John Orban (07:29):
Was it in slow motion? Did you experience that?
Chris Beall (07:31):
You bet. I got to do things like watch a piece of ice rip a chunk out of my arm and I got to watch in [crosstalk 00:07:39] slow motion. The little drops of blood going out and sparkling in the sun.
John Orban (07:45):
I was riding my bike one day and a dog ran out in front of me. And I went over the top of the handle bars and I had my helmet on, thank goodness, and everything was in slow motion. I came down, I felt my head hit the ground and bounced back up and it was amazing.
Chris Beall (08:06):
It's a remarkable experience. But for me, what it did was it offered me a bridge to a world where I embraced doing things that involved heights. And I became a very serious mountaineer rock climber. In fact, I climbed that very mountain that I fell down later that day because the guys I was with foolishly left me unattended and went fishing. Thinking that any sane person would just hang out and camp with his concussion and his hand that was opened up with the bone exposed and his leg that was rather blue and yellow. But I looked at it a different way. And this is, I think an introvert, its way of looking at things, which is I know myself well enough. I was only 14, but I knew myself well enough by then to know that if I didn't actually attempt to climb that mountain again right now that I would end up as the person who was stuck on the other side of that fear. I had the same fear of the telephone by the way.
Chris Beall (08:59):
So when I got my first job in industry at NCR, I'd done a fair amount of stuff by then. I was pretty old, like 26 years old. And there was this phone and I'm supporting this 10 state area. And I've got to talk to all these different people about the problems they're having with their computers, which by the way, all I had was a manual. I didn't even have a copy of the computer. So I had to walk people through stuff by reading it and then asking them what they saw on the screen because back then you couldn't screen share. Try that by the way, with somebody in the Navajo Nation. Where the cultural issues around just speaking up spontaneously when you're being supported on a computer are really, really interesting. I learned a lot about that. But I had to learn to pick up that phone to do my job.
Chris Beall (09:43):
And it felt like that fall. That is, "Hey, I survived." And I think when you get to the other side of it and you realize, "Oh, there was really, there's something there to be afraid of, but it's not bad. It's something completely different." And you know yourself well enough than to actually be able to use all those, that self-knowledge in slowing down the conversations. And I think introverts naturally when they get going in a conversation, their inner monologue, so to speak, their inner responses tend to be a little slower. They're not looking for the next thing to say quite so fast. And in sales that desire to say the next thing in order to push your agenda is ironically what destroys sales conversations. Sales conversations among people who are going to do business together over time, they're most effective.
Chris Beall (10:35):
If you're actually going to be together down the road, because you're going to stay together. The idea is to form a relationship. And I don't mean a relationship like buddies. I mean like in the modern world, there's nothing interesting that we sell that we don't end up partnering with our customer. Those things don't exist anymore. Everything's got so much software in it. Everything has so much interoperability that's required. Everything has so much adaptation and learning that needs to be done. That you're really partnering. Whereas, sales itself was invented at the crossroads. Sales is a byproduct of one set of strangers going one way, "Hi, we're on the silk road and we're headed off on an adventure. We're going to get some silk, some salt." Whatever it is, right? And then somebody else who's got some stuff that came from some other direction, right? Some supply chain as they call it nowadays.
Chris Beall (11:25):
So they've got that and they've assembled it in the inventory and they know it's in their inventory and you don't. They know the quality and you don't. They know that there's some that's showing up tomorrow and you don't. Or that there's none that's showing up tomorrow and you don't, because you got to get going. So one party's under time pressure, that's the buyer and the other is it's got superior knowledge. And so sales was always about the extrovert pushing their agenda, which is, "Buy the crappiest stuff I have at the highest possible prices. Sayonara, Sonny Lee, get out of here. I will never see you again because they're going to kill you out there." And if you come back anyway, who else you going to buy from? A dude over here is no better than me.
Corey Frank (12:10):
Well, Chris, you talked about that. I think in one of our earlier episodes about, even with the advent of the internet, is that as a salesperson, I used to have this idea that I am the single sole purveyor of information of market intelligence of product features. And so you have to deal with me. Now, the internet, and so more often from an Oren Klaff cold cognition world. I, as a salesperson, would spew these set facts in these set features in the hope that would engender some sort of trust. John, you come from the insurance business for what, 25, 35 years. Financial sector. So man, you are as sage and I'm looking to you to take my little 401k and go from here to here or make sure that my family is taken care here to here.
Corey Frank (13:01):
How do you kind of square that circle then, John and Chris, where I'm an introvert and I'm in sales today, but now right. "Hey, do you really kind of need me because I have all this inform available." So what's a guy to do? I can buy insurance online now. I can buy a Salesforce license online now. If I have 300 reps inside, I can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year with the Salesforce, a CRM, never talk with the Salesforce cause I don't have to. Where is our role then? Does that mean that a lot of the extroverts are here to stay? The introverts are here to stay? How does it kind of change the landscape a little bit of sales and how will it continue? Do you guys think?
John Orban (13:43):
I had a thought about that actually this morning when I was walking the dog and it came from out of our conversation. When I realized you could do a hell of a lot better job than me. But my friend doesn't know about you, but I do. All I got to do is hook the two of you together, I've done my job. I don't even have to know anything. All I got to know is the right people to hook them up with. And to me that would address that.
John Orban (14:50):
Address that. But I wanted to go back to something that Chris was talking about with sales reps and introversion, that kind of stuff. What role do you think curiosity plays in that whole process, about the person being curious?
Chris Beall (15:02):
That's funny. That's what I was thinking about this morning is that a curiosity is the ultimate vulnerability. When you're curious, you are being vulnerable in a dimension that people are really reluctant to be vulnerable in, especially in sales. You're saying, "I don't know." Or as Tom [inaudible 00:15:23] says to me many, many times a day, he's my data concierge. He was on Market Dominance Guys. Guy's incredible. He says, "Let's take a look." It's let's take a look. I love the way he says it, by the way he always says it the same. I say, "Tom, what about this?" And it's some crazy question to ask us. "Let's take a look." And what he's saying is, I don't know and you don't know. "Let's go find out together." And it's that the thing curiosity gives us in sales is.
Chris Beall (15:49):
First, it allows us to be vulnerable without weak. We're universally vulnerable because we're universally ignorant and that's a wonderful thing. Second, it allows us to legitimately go on an adventure of exploration with the other person. Where now what we know and what they know in the circumstances we're facing and what we're trying to learn are shared, we're peers. We get to go to each other, we're two outriggers on the same boat and the reality is the boat. And so we're going to keep the boat from tipping over. Boats without riggers are easy compared to those cruise ships. We don't know if they're tipping over or not. But are pretty confident that each one of us has got something that we know. And now we can go forward together confidently because we have shared ignorance and shared ignorance is expressed as curiosity. Salespeople, like all people, are curious, but you have to agree when you're being curious that you don't know what's going to happen.
Chris Beall (16:45):
You don't know the outcome. This is the great irony of sales to me. And that's actually the great irony of entrepreneurship, but of sales in particular, as a class of entrepreneurial activity. The key to success is admitting you don't know what you're doing. And that allows you to partner early with somebody. And given that other person is concerned about who's going to bamboozle them. They're concerned about who is competent, but not on their side. So as a buyer, my worst case is the competent expert who is not on my side. The second worst case is the incompetent idiot who is on my side. An okay case is the incompetent idiot, who's not on anybody's side except their own because I get to dismiss them and walk away. And the only good case is the competent person who is on my side. So the common case is the salesperson presents themselves as competent.
Chris Beall (17:39):
Whether they borrowed the competence or they actually have it. Collateral is borrowed competence. I'm going to act like I know what these pieces of paper say, because I can reach over and hand them to you and act like that's a form of knowledge exchange. So I can fake the competence or I can be competent. Who knows? But your nightmare case is the buyer, is that I'm not on your side. And that's what you need to get beyond as a buyer at some point. So by being curious, by being genuinely curious and admitting we don't know how this is going to turn out. We don't know, we're going to explore together. You form immediate partnership. And that's why the breakthrough script that we teach people, which we stumbled across through curiosity, is a script that people emphasize trust. They go, "Well trust the cool thing, right?" Trust is actually just a little platform in that script.
Chris Beall (18:33):
It happens to be durable. It's the one durable asset in a relationship. Once you get somebody's trust that Chris once told me, you get to keep it until you blow it. Now you're your number one job in sales is don't blow it. Don't blow the trust. You just got it in seven seconds. Don't blow it."So now I know what not to do, but what do I do?" Well, let's see if we can get curious together. Let's see. And so there's the elements of the breakthrough script that are about curiosity are this: I believe that's the only part that's not about curiosity. That's an assertion, but it's an assertion about something I can be sure, my belief. I can confidently assert that I believe something. And you can confidently feel like this guy sounds like he actually believes it. Therefore the tone of voice is really important.
Chris Beall (19:22):
I believe not like I believe it's going to rain today, that's an expression of uncertainty. I believe and then we go all curious all the time. "I believe we've discovered a breakthrough." The "we've discovered" is very light. The voice is very, very gentle. It's basically saying we're done with the assertions. Now let's be curious. So what can we be curious about? We, because people are curious about people. I say this all the time. I'll say it again. There are Americans. You may not believe this. Anybody in the audience may not believe this, but there are Americans who have a deep and abiding interest in the British Royal family. Now, last time I checked the British Royal family became an relevancy to Americans in significant ways, either in 1776 or just after the war of 1812, kind of depending on how you look at it.
Chris Beall (20:21):
So there they are completely irrelevant yet fascination. Fascination abounds, even in the heartland, I knew people in Des Moines, Iowa, who were fascinated by the British Royal family. Now they were also fascinated by corn and pigs and all sorts of other cool stuff. But they were fascinated by the British Royal family. I was like, "Why?" Well, because it's built into people. We're curious about people. There's a magazine that you can hardly believe exists called People magazine. It has no content whatsoever, other than stuff that's about people who are doing things that you're supposed to be curious about and you get interested, right? There's a whole industry about celebrities. There are these people called paparazzi. We ask them to stand six feet away. So we've discovered, discover, that's curiosity. We didn't make it. We didn't grow it. We're not inventors of it. We're not big and strong.
Chris Beall (21:13):
We're innocent. We discovered it. That means we can partner a breakthrough. Who wouldn't be curious about a breakthrough. But all that saying is a breakthrough might be on your side. So now I'm emphasizing, this could be on your side. It could be of utility to you. So we're curious about things that we could use. If somebody brings you a pointy stick and you're an eight-year-old boy, you're curious as to whether the pointy stick will make the dog jump. So you poke the dog with the pointy stick and there you go, right? So curiosity is the number one thing that we can bring to bear. And it's the number one thing that salespeople can't bring themselves to use because they feel like they're out of control. They want to be [crosstalk 00:22:01]
Corey Frank (22:00):
Is that an ego thing, Chris? Is that a humility and ego thing where it's difficult for me to say those words probably more so if I'm an extrovert, because I had this illusion that I'm uncomfortable in large places, I'm on stage and I always have the answers.
Chris Beall (22:14):
And I think it's, I don't know about ego per se. I think it's a protection thing. I think people protect themselves quite rationally by exuding certainty. Extroverts tend to exude certainty about lots of things. Most of which, if you get them in a private conversation, get a couple drinks at them they'll admit, "You know, actually I'm not a hundred percent sure of that." Some of them take a lot of drinks. Some of them, they get a little rowdy at that point. They tell you they're really sure and they hit you with a bottle, but there is a protection to be had for yourself by simply asserting that you know stuff that you're great. And this is what we teach people in sales to do. We teach them to say, "We've helped companies alike." Then you start naming these companies. "We're great."
Chris Beall (23:02):
"I'm great." "I'm great," might work if you're selling to somebody heading out in the silk road and they're trying to get one great thing that they got to take with them and they're really afraid of their future circumstance. But if you're going to go with them, that assertion of greatness, they're going to kind of want to check it out. What does this mean exactly? What's this guy going to do to me? That is I'll call it the extrovert's dilemma in sales. The extrovert finds it easy to pick up the phone, relatively speaking. The extrovert finds it easy to walk up to somebody and shake their hand. They find it easy to turn to that person they're sitting next to on the airplane. They find that easy. What they find hard is being curious, because being curious means you got to let go of what feels like control. It turns out you, here's how you do it.
Chris Beall (23:48):
If you're an expert, any extrovert's watching this, this is how you do it. It's an act of faith. The act of faith is, "If this is good, it's good. It's not, it's not. So let's find out, right. Let's find out because I want my time back." So when sales experts tell you, your time is super precious, what they're telling extroverts is go ahead and get it over with. Get it over with, let it run its natural course and you'll get your time back. And the best way to do that is just to be curious. But you know, it's hard.
Corey Frank (24:19):
You know, Chris and John, I wrote an article recently about disfluencies, in a screenplay, a sales screenplay that we're producing for prospect. Chris has performed his thousands of times in their ConnectAndSell Flight School. They teach it and to the right frequency and tonality and pregnant pause, it is ran into them and works. And it works because the math says that it works on the dial to connect, connect, conversation rate, et cetera. But I was curious, we had a guest on a while ago, Jason Bay. And I remember one of the things that he talked about was he had such a great tone. He does have a great tone. Like butter, just certain folks are just bestowed by the gods themselves to just have the right vocal chord toneage and it's just. I could listen to Jason read the phone book as I told him.
Corey Frank (25:16):
It's a beautiful thing. Naturally, tonality and pacing and cadences are attractive or sway folks from listening to certain people. Think of the attorney in My Cousin Vinny. Who gets up and he stamers through the first cross examination. Think of somebody on a talk show who can't quite get the words out and stammer. Think of the Bob Newharts of the world. For those going back, who had the natural stammer that was part of the comedic timing. So I wrote this article about disfluencies and that certain ahs and ums and ers helped build trust. And I got a couple of academics that responded to this, talking about articles in academia. That when you use these disfluencies, that it actually projects engenders more trust. In the example I gave is one of my mentors always told me, "Never trust a man who doesn't walk around with a little bit of a limp." No one is that fluid. No one is that much of a silver tongue devil. And that ties in a little bit, Chris, with those words that you used, right? Let's take a look.
Chris Beall (26:36):
Just like this, "Let's take a look."
Corey Frank (26:38):
That's so beautiful.
Chris Beall (26:40):
Corey Frank (26:41):
So John, insurance, life insurance, you've had a lot of reps who work for you over the years and life insurance. Man, that must be a tough thing to engender trust in. "I'm a 21 year old, newly minted life insurance agent. And you're going to sit down with an old guy like me and my wife and tell me about my future?" How do you build that trust? I'm in your living room, right? I'm over the kitchen table. How does that dynamic work? How did you teach and what did you learn over the years of the nuances that some of your reps use to leverage, expedite that trust?
John Orban (27:20):
Well, there's a lot going through my head thinking about what you just said, because one of the things about curiosity that pops into my head is when you're doing that, you're really in a collaborative relationship with that person. You're not trying to sell them, they're not trying to resist a sales close or something like that. I remember one case that I walked into with my sales manager, right at the very beginning when I got started. And I wasn't sure we were going to get out of that house alive. Because he was so mad at us because of something the company had done to him or a former rep had done. I mean, he greeted us at the door and was yelling at us. As soon as we walked in. When we walked out, we had sold him something. And basically what we did was we just allowed him to talk and we just sat there and listened to what he had to say.
John Orban (28:08):
We agreed with him when he was right. We corrected him when he wasn't exactly right. And that really made an impression on me in the way that I was going to deal with people going forward. Now, as you found out, Chris, because you keep talking about it on the podcast, for some reason, people don't want to accept that. They still keep going back to the magic bullet. It was like, again, on, on another one of your podcasts you were talking about, or you were talking about the speech that you gave. And it said, "Never give that speech again, because what they want are tips and tricks." So I thought when I go out with my granddaughters on next Halloween, I'm going to go to the door and say, "Tip or tricks."
John Orban (28:50):
But that's what they want. Everybody wants silver bullet. There are very few people that can pull that off. You really have to develop a relationship with that. You have to listen to what they say. If you just let people talk, you will find out everything you want to know. You may have to prompt them with a couple of questions along the way. But Chris, when you started talking about the sales process is not by the quarter or whatever, you're looking to develop a long term relationship. There was a lot of lip service to that when I first got started, but it was Thursday night. What are you going to report tomorrow? Friday? I mean, every week we didn't have a quota after quarter, we had a quota every week. And so Thursday night was when you wrote the Thursday night special, you went out and found somebody if they were breathing and they could write you put their name. Now I never did that.
John Orban (29:36):
But a lot of people in the office did because that's just the way it was. So I think listening is such a key thing that has to be done. And going back to the curiosity thing, I developed after a while on the phone, I got really curious about what the next call was going to be like, because I had had so many interesting phone calls up to that point. Some were sales, some were appointments, some weren't anything. But it was always fascinating to talk to people and I could talk to them because by then I'd read a hell of a lot of books. And I really felt comfortable with knowing what I was going to be talking to these people about. And I could talk on a wide variety of subjects, which I think is something that a lot of sales reps, if all you're going to read is sales closes.
John Orban (30:22):
You're not going to get the kind of depth that you need when you're sitting down in front of that executive and trying to get them to move along or to learn more about what they've got to say. I remember when they'd talk about rapport. And I remember when I first heard the term rapport, I'd walk into an office and I'd look around, is there a photo of them playing golf? Or is there a trophy on the wall or that kind of just anything that I could grab a hold of. And then it dawned on me that the whole point of rapport is so that you can ask questions and they'll respond. And if you've got good rapport, you can ask much deeper questions. And like I told you, Corey, I got people to the point where they were telling me things I didn't want to know. It wasn't like it didn't have anything to do with the sale process. It was like, I was a priest in a confessional and they were confessing to me and that really freaked me out.
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