Market Dominance Guys

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How to Make Fear Your Friend in Cold Calling

February 19, 2020


Seth Godin, of Purple Cow fame, writes, “Trust and attention – these are the scarce items in a post-scarcity world.” 

I’m obviously fairly partisan on this issue but would certainly add “Fear” to his list as well. Or, specifically, how do you embrace and leverage “fear” in your systematic effort towards Market Dominance?

No one said Market Dominance would be easy. It’s diligent and deliberate…it’s a three-year marathon where one of your end goals is that you end up having discovery meetings with 60% of your market. It’s both ambitious and arduous to set a course for market dominance. But the results are irrefutable…IF your inputs are consistent. For instance, understanding that the constraint of your sales system is not headcount, sales methodology, or even price point.

It’s the flow rate of conversations with relevant people that you have at the top of your funnel that is so commonly the real constraint to success. 

But as entrepreneurs and Sales Leaders, knowing what we need to do to fix this top of funnel constraint is often a dreadful and fear-inducing exercise. Because we know what this real constraint is called: It stirs in the bellies of sales professionals everywhere. It’s not the bogeyman, or Baba Yaga or Pennywise; it’s the “Cold Call.” This king of all top of funnel constraint leads many teams to displacement…or the simple avoidance of what truly needs to be done by doing something seemingly easier or far less friction. 

Like sending email. 

Or better yet, sending an email campaign. 

Or doing SEO, lots and lots of SEO...

Anything but jumping on the phone and talking to strangers. 

Even in our own sales community on LinkedIn, there are countless and doggedly argued threads every week where a new sales “expert” likes to wax on about the final death knell of the cold call. Or that having your reps Cold Call is a colossal waste of both capital and goodwill. 

They’ll spin compelling data about pick up rates, dial to conversion rates, and even quote rep turnover percentages to win minds to their side. Cruelly enforcing this medieval and antiquated exercise in futility must stop in our sales craft. 

Because “Fear.” Fear of employing a practice that is seen as dated. Fear of people leaving your organization. Fear of doing something that doesn’t get results. 

And mostly, though, we fear the experience of making cold calls ourselves. But if we’re committed to be Market Dominant, we'd be wise to let fear play its healthy role with our competition. Let your competitors embrace that fear and refuse to use an indispensable tool like the cold call. Fine.  

But we are also wise to let fear play its role in the cold call itself. With the prospect. Because we want to use it to create tension in a relationship that we can then resolve. 

And, according to the Van Helsing of GoToMarket strategies – my partner on the other side of this microphone, Chris Beall - the way you properly run a cold call is acknowledging you that you start from a position of fear. Because the other person is indeed afraid of you. They're afraid of you because you're an invisible stranger and an invisible stranger is the worst possible thing in the environment of evolution. Those are the people from across the river paint their faces wrong…they put a bone in their ears, instead of their nose…and maybe they even talk funny. Their drumbeats don't sound quite like yours …and you would really prefer they stay on the other side of the river where they belong. 

We have this inherent fear with invisible strangers. And when we cold-call somebody we trigger that fear and they may express that fear in “pushback.” Feelings like annoyance, anger, dismissiveness… whatever it happens to be. But when we're afraid, something interesting also happens, too; We tend not to run away. We want to get away, but instead, we put a little defense mechanism…a little squid ink, so to speak. And that’s the point where we need to embrace fear in the call. And so this episode, we learn from Chris how to properly use fear and how to ultimately turn that fear into trust…and then that trust into curiosity…and then that curiosity into real commitment. 

So turn off all the lights, light a candle, and cue the macabre organ music…This is The Market Dominance Guys and this week's episode entitled, “Don’t Look Under the Bed: How to Make Fear your Friend in Cold Calling.”

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