When you’re making a cold call, is the voice you’re using an effective voice? Or could it use a little fine-tuning so that you can engender trust with your prospect — the trust needed to secure a discovery meeting? Donny Crawford, Director of Conversation Optimization at ConnectAndSell, joins our Market Dominance Guy, ConnectAndSell CEO Chris Beall, to walk you through how to find your most effective cold-calling voice. In previous episodes of this podcast, you may have heard our guys talk about ConnectAndSell’s Flight School cold-call training program. In today’s episode, you’ll get a mini–Flight School lesson all your own, presented by master instructors, Donny and Chris. Not only will you get a tried-and-true script, but more importantly, you’ll hear detailed instructions on how to use your tone of voice to achieve cold-calling success. As Donny says, you’ll learn to bring out your “friendly voice,” and when you do, you’ll see how that voice can make some magic happen. All this — and so much more — in today’s Market Dominance Guys’ episode, “Finding Your Cold-Calling Voice.”
About Our Guest
Donny Crawford is Director of Conversation Optimization at ConnectAndSell. With the expertise developed as a former customer and as Customer Success Manager at ConnectAndSell, he operates as chief instructor of Flight School, a structured program designed to help cold callers find their voice.
Learn more from Donny Crawford on these Market Dominance Guys’ episodes:
Hi. My name is Gerhard Gschwandtner. I'm the founder and publisher of Selling Power Magazine, and welcome to our webinar. Thank you for tuning in. We have two experts today that will talk about the topic of how to conduct a fail-safe free discovery meeting, and that's a vital part of the sales funnel. And I want to welcome Chris Beall. He's the CEO of ConnectAndSell, and also Donny Crawford. He is the Flight School director with ConnectAndSell. Welcome, Donny. Welcome, Chris.
Donny Crawford (02:13):
Hey, Gerhard. Thanks.
Chris Beall (02:14):
Hey, Gerhard and everybody. Great to be here. So Donny and I are here from ConnectAndSell. For those of you don't know what ConnectAndSell does, we let you or one of your reps push a button and have a conversation with somebody on your list with no effort whatsoever. So all that dialing, navigating phone systems, hanging up on voicemails, yapping with gatekeepers, all that stuff that 95 times out of 100 leads nowhere ... and by nowhere, I do mean voicemail ... goes away. You push a button. You wait a little bit. You can have a cup of coffee, write an email, pet your cat, whatever you want to do. And then bloop, you're talking to somebody on your list.
Chris Beall (02:53):
So I'm the CEO of ConnectAndSell, been around this company for 10 years, used to be a product guy. Donny Crawford ... His title has actually just changed. He is our director of conversation optimization, and there's a little background that's required here. Donny's been with us for longer than I have in that he was a customer of ConnectAndSell, a user, end-user, a cold caller and follow-upper sales rep back in the day. And he was famous for refusing to take a job unless they would get him ConnectAndSell. So he'd go all the way through the interview process, and then when they'd make the offer, he'd say, "Great, happy to do it and come to work for you. However, I have one requirement." And eventually, when he had done that often enough, apparently somewhere along the way, we were smart enough to beg him to come to work with us. And he worked as a customer success person for a long time and then became our chief Flight School instructor.
Chris Beall (03:52):
And Flight School doesn't make sense what ... The name of it doesn't quite tell you what it is. Flight School's a program, structured program that helps a set of rep together, five or more of them, to go from their current state regarding their skill and their competence, their confidence with regard to cold calling to the top 5% in the world. And they do it through a series of blitz and coach sessions where Donny or one of Donny's colleagues actually coaches them live while they're talking to real prospects. So this isn't role play. This isn't lecture. This is live fire under pressure.
Chris Beall (04:30):
And the reason that Donny teaches this is that the key to first conversations, cold calls, or any conversation is the human voice, right? Almost all the information in a conversation is in the emotional part, which is handled by the voice, not the words, and what is required to get people to be really great at performance with the voice is they have to practice under pressure. Anybody can sound great in a role play. Nobody sounds quite so good when they're talking to a real prospect, and that's what Flight School lets you do is learn to be great. And that gives you confidence, and that's kind of a virtuous cycle. So that's what-
Gerhard Gschwandtner (05:08):
Chris, let me ask you a question because I find the term conversation optimization very interesting. And what you seem to be saying is that in Flight School, you learn just to communicate content but to pay close attention to how that content is delivered in an emotional atmosphere that's optimized.
Chris Beall (05:32):
If I tried to say it better, I would stumble all over the place, so I'm just going to stick with that. That's fabulous. Donny, I mean, tell us. You were just a regular rep at one point in your life, struggling through the world, probably not thinking you were particularly good would be my guess, knowing you, because you don't go around thinking you're great. And then somewhere in there, you got introduced to this ConnectAndSell thing, and somewhere else, you must have had this kind of aha that said the how that we speak with somebody and how they receive it emotionally turns out to be not just important but maybe the key.
Donny Crawford (06:07):
Oh, absolutely. When I first used ConnectAndSell, it was probably 14 years ago at a little startup company, Electric Cloud. And I was a part of a team of really dynamic reps. They were all different personalities, very interesting guys and gals that I was working with, and their voices were really interesting to listen to. And because you're having conversations in a bullpen together, you get to hear a lot of different styles of reps speaking with people. But then ConnectAndSell came to the team, and then we were having more conversations. And so we were exposed to a lot more of these experiences of interacting with people. And at first, I think all of us are stiff when we are kind of reengaging in cold calling and trying to get out there and talk to a marketplace, but there is a moment in our career when we find our voice and we find how comfortable we can be on these conversations that we're having with people.
Donny Crawford (07:06):
And it's that moment that it clicks, and you're like, "Hey, this is my voice. I can be friendly. I can be assertive. I can sound like an expert, but more importantly, I can really make a connection with people." And when you find that voice and within yourself, it's amazing how from then on, it's just going to be magic, and then you can improve little pieces of what you say and how you're saying things. And so I found that to happen probably 13, 14 years ago.
Donny Crawford (07:32):
And then in Flight School, we get an opportunity to work with all of our customers who go through Flight School and their teams of reps who go in there, and they find their voice. And it's fascinating to be able to hear when that moment happens, when it clicks, when it's not just a script they're following anymore, but they've internalized it. And they like it, and they get the friendly voice out there. And they're able to actually make some magic happen on these conversations. It's a neat moment when that actually occurs.
Chris Beall (08:00):
Wow. You just gave us the tagline for Flight School. Our tagline for ConnectAndSell's always been around, right? Conversations matter. Flight School ... Find your voice.
Donny Crawford (08:10):
Finding your voice, totally.
Chris Beall (08:12):
Wow, find your voice. I love it. Thank you. We don't need the rest of this webinar. Thank you, everybody. We've gotten our little piece of marketing development done today. Find your voice. That is what it's really about.
Gerhard Gschwandtner (08:23):
Chris Beall (08:25):
I'm an old computer scientist, right? And I'm a physicist mathematician by background, so I always think about things in terms of what's really going on under the covers. And just for everybody in the audience, just to think about this, an email contains about 5,000 bits of information. And if you want to get the rough calculation, it's about 10 bits per letter, per character. Some people would say eight, but given all the emojis and everything, we got up to 10, right?
Donny Crawford (08:51):
It's averaged to 10 now.
Chris Beall (08:52):
[crosstalk 00:08:52] 10 bits per character, and there'd be maybe 500 characters in an email. It's something on the order of 70 words, 80 words, something like that, maybe less. So when you kind of think about that and go, "Wow, 5,000 bits, that sounds like a lot," the human voice carries 20,000 bits per second. That's four emails per second, and every one of those bits will have an impact inside of that other person, because our response to the human voice is entirely involuntary. We can't decide whether in advance, when Gerhard speaks, am I going to end up feeling like I trust him or like him or know him or not? I can't do anything about that. That's something that happens inside of me well below the conscious level. And so while I might be preconditioned ... I've been told Gerhard's a great guy, and so when he speaks, maybe I have a little bit of more of a positive bias. Fact to the matter is, his voice is either going to captivate me, or it's not.
Chris Beall (10:49):
And that's at a rate of ... For those of you who send emails, in a seven-second conversation, you have just sent and had received and paid attention to the contents of 28 emails. But of that, 95% of that information is emotional information. It's carried in the tone. It's carried in the pace. It's carried in things we can't even really put a finger on, but they put a finger on us right in the middle of our brain.
Gerhard Gschwandtner (11:17):
I want to add something. This is really fascinating to me. It's so interesting that you focus on what resonates with other people. There is actually brain research when two people have a conversation that is constructive, that's enjoyable, that is productive, then their brain regions, the same brain regions that light up in the speaker light up actually in the receiver. So when a salesperson or a customer have a productive conversation, the same brain regions light up. However, when you say something that does not resonate, nothing lights up, and there's no communication.
Chris Beall (12:01):
Wow. Wow. So we have a podcast episode on the Market Dominance Guys Podcast. I don't know which episode it is. Maybe somebody will find it and put it in the notes. The title is Your SDRs are Brain Surgeons, and that's what it's about. Well, let's jump into this a little bit, and it basically kind of comes down to this. And I'll give you an overview, and then I'm going to turn it over to Donny here, who's the expert.
Chris Beall (12:26):
So there's a view that we have at ConnectAndSell just kind of founded on a fair amount of experience. We've been doing this for, as Donny said, 15, 16 years and at a pretty decent pace, about 3 million conversations per year that we connect for people. So we have a lot to study, and here's what we've learned, is that in sales, we're taught to lead with value. And we actually imagine something that, when you think about it, is crazy. We imagine somebody sitting there waiting for us to call them and tell them how to do their job, tell them that here's something of value you are not paying attention to, and that's kind of an odd conceit when you think about it.
Chris Beall (13:06):
An alternative to leading with value would be to recognize that trust is the key in business-to-business especially for a number of reasons and that if we can begin with trust, then everything else that follows works better, is easier. It's within a trust relationship. If Donny calls me and I don't know Donny and he has a brief conversation with me and I find myself trusting Donny ... I don't even know I trust Donny, and then he sends me an email. And he sends me an email afterwards. I say to Donny, "Donny, I'm just too busy. I got to go. I got to go." And he says, "Well, okay." And he lets me go because he has ConnectAndSell, so he knows he's going to talk to me someday. So he lets me go.
Chris Beall (13:52):
And then he sends me an email that has the only subject line in email that will actually be open and paid attention to 100% of the time. Thanks for our conversation today. Thank you for our conversation today. That's the ultimate subject line in the world of B2B but not if you haven't had a conversation. So a trust-building conversation, which takes about seven seconds according to Chris Voss, the author of Never Split the Difference, the FBI hostage negotiator guy ... He told me one evening, "We have seven seconds to get somebody to trust us in a cold call. By second number eight, it's too late."
Chris Beall (14:30):
So what this webinar is about is, okay, so say you accept that. Say you accept that beginning with trust and then not blowing it, by the way, which is the other key, because you blow it and you start to sell to somebody, try to corner them with your clever questions ... If I showed you a way to save 23% on the blah blah, what would ... That's all those trap questions we ask them. You can blow the trust that way. Feel free. Salespeople do it every day of the week. They trade trust for the off chance of a lucky commission. They do it every day.
Chris Beall (15:07):
But once you get trust, it's precious enough that you might consider conserving it and preserving it through the rest of the relationship, which might take years. It might take years for an interesting reason we'll share in just a moment. So whether it's email, digital, content sharing, future conversations, meetings, phone, video, you meet somebody to conference, if you've had a trust building conversation with with them, you're ahead of all competitors. And by the way, any competitor that comes and tries to displace that trust will themselves not be trusted. We do not trust people who ask us to not trust people that we already trust. So become that person. We call it paving the market with trust.
Chris Beall (15:53):
So here's why. There's a big idea in here. So if you're selling a B2B product, the replacement cycle for your category of product is about three years. It might be two. It might be four, but in general, in B2B, if we just bought something yesterday, we're not looking for something that does the same thing today. We just aren't. We're not looking to discard our products and services that we buy and solutions in favor of something else because our reputation depends on them actually working. If we're the decision maker, we recommended that solution. You recommend ConnectAndSell, by gumbo, it better work, and you're not going to look for anything else for three years.
Chris Beall (16:33):
So three years is interesting. That means only 8.3% of your total addressable market is in market right now of your perfect market, 100% perfect. You've done every kind of imaginable research, and you know it's dead center bullseye perfect. And guess what? Guess what? 91.7% of them aren't in market, not this quarter. So what are you going to do about that?
Chris Beall (17:01):
Well, there's two alternatives. You can just try to grab them when you got them in front of you, choke them to death, whatever, get them to buy right now, and you can get 8.3% of the market if you're perfect if you had 100% market share of those in market those quarter. But what about the 90 whatever it is, 91.7%? Well, if you build trust relationships with everybody in the first seven seconds and nurture those relationships over that three years, you can dominate your market. That's why my podcast is called Market Dominance Guys. It's not puffing up your chest. It's like math.
Chris Beall (17:38):
Here's the math. Build trust with everybody in your market in seven-second conversations. See if you can get a meeting. Why not, right? You're in a conversation. Sometimes they're in market now, and sometimes they're willing to learn more. Own that market as long as you don't blow it. How do you blow it? Either sell to them inappropriately or neglect them. So this is the big idea, right?
Chris Beall (18:04):
So now imagine you embrace this approach. So you're using sales correctly. You're searching the market for those that fit your TAM. They're your ideal customers, but most of them aren't ready. And for those that are in market now, how are you going to find out? Well, you'd actually have to set up discovery meetings. Now, they're usually called discovery meetings because you want to discover that they need your product. You're all guilty of this, by the way. You have this hope. I sure hope this meeting leads to a deal, right? If you can abandon that hope and actually just have an honest discovery meeting, what I call time in the confessional, where you let them know what it is that you think you do of value you or provide a value and they let you know what their circumstance is and you explore that together, some pretty amazing things can happen.
Chris Beall (18:57):
Andy Paul has, by the way, written an entire book. I'm going to hold it up here. Anybody who hasn't bought Sell Without Selling Out by Andy Paul ... just came out February 22nd. Go by this book. Read this book. Then go get the audiobook, and listen to this book. And then go back and read the book again, and then examine your soul because there's some stuff in here that he's talking about that's really, really simple. Let's make a connection. Then let's go to curiosity, our curiosity. Be curious. Let's truly try to understand, and let's be generous. Now, I didn't blow the book. There's more to read in there, but that's kind of it, right?
Chris Beall (19:34):
So how do you find out who's ready to go forward with you from curiosity to understanding? Well, in what we call a discovery meeting, we might be able to achieve some understanding by asking questions and truly listening, not just hearing but listening, and not listening for what we want to hear but listening for what they actually say and then trying to understand. So here's where we start. We start in a funny place. This person's a stranger. We're a stranger. We're a bad stranger, by the way. We're that tiger. You're the tiger, right? So you're going to ambush somebody. Why? Because there's no alternative mathematically. That is, if I'm going to have a second conversation with somebody, I got to have a first conversation. That's just math. It's damned hard to count to two unless you first count through one.
Chris Beall (20:27):
I know lots of folks would love to skip the step. Can't we just have them come to us out of the woodwork, out of the wild for discovery? Won't they be looking for us? Yes, you and every competitor you have, every alternative, they'll be looking for them too. So your chances of building trust before they have a chance to build trust goes way down unless you're willing to do the hard thing, and the hard thing is to be an ambusher, to ambush somebody. It's just the way it is, and I apologize to all of you who don't feel that ambushing is okay. It's not okay to ambush somebody.
Chris Beall (21:04):
My friend Scott Webb, who is a chief growth officer over at HUB International, he's a pretty dynamic sales guy. He told me once, said, "When I go in to a session with ConnectAndSell to ambush people and talk to them, here's my mindset. They're about to step in front of a speeding bus. I'm going to stop them. They'll thank me. And I don't care if it hurts them a little bit to slap them in the middle of the chest and keep them from walking in front of that bus." So what is the avoidance of the bus? It's the attendance at the discovery meeting.
Chris Beall (21:38):
Now, we call it a prediscovery meeting because it's kind of funny only because discovery, like cold calling, has a funny connotation. It means I want to discover that you need my product soon so that I can make my quota. That's what it normally means. This is a little different. So imagine you have this ambush conversation, and in the ambush conversation, you use five simple sentences, all based on sort of an emotional journey that you believe that you can help somebody go on from their ambush-state fear of you, fear of you to a state where they're actually trusting you in seven seconds, then to a state where they're curious about why it is that you called them and what you're talking about and to where they actually commit to saying they'll come to a meeting.
Chris Beall (22:35):
So this is what Donny teaches, and I'm going to turn it over to Donny at this point. And I'll tell you a story about Donny. I called Donny one day when I was in the Orlando airport. This is an embarrassing story, but it's not really. It's got a great ending. So I said, "Donny, I've really become convinced ..." This was many years ago. "I've become convinced that there's a different way of holding these first conversations that is 100% reliable with regard to getting somebody to trust, and that's helpful for them because it takes them on a journey to actually learning about whatever or it is that we offer that might be able to help them and that learning is the value that we want to offer in the meeting, not the product but just the learning. So I think that this is something we can embrace." And Donny said, "It's a script. It's a terrible thing." And then I took him through what it was, and he said, "It's worse than I thought."
Donny Crawford (23:31):
Oh my word.
Chris Beall (23:33):
"It's the most terrible thing."
Donny Crawford (23:34):
This is painful.
Chris Beall (23:34):
"This sounds terrible. This sounds awkward. I couldn't do that." So for two hours, I walked around the Orlando airport. I thought security was going to come and start talking to me like I was a piece of abandoned luggage or something. They're looking for somebody who had left their child who's 6'1" and 215 walking around, because he doesn't know how to get on an airplane. And I'm talking intensely to Donny, and finally, he says, "Well, okay, I'll try." And then the next day, he calls me up and goes, "Oh my god, this is magic. This is magic." He said, "The first time I tried, it was really awkward. And then but there was a little something. Something resonated."
Chris Beall (24:11):
It turns out there is a way of talking to folks that you ambush that is magic, and that's what Donny teaches in Flight School. But it comes with a consequence, and the consequence is now you got to keep the promise that you make within those five sentences. And the promise is that you're going to share something with them. So Donny, at that, I'm going to turn it over to you.
Donny Crawford (24:32):
Well, let's talk about the five sentences. And you're right, it felt super awkward to begin with. This was back in 2016 when you wanted us to field test it. And so me and James Townsend, our VP of customer success, we hit the phones. I was actually in Klamath Falls, Oregon, this little town in Oregon, Southern Oregon, visiting my sisters, and I was sitting on the bottom bunk in my niece's bedroom, making cold calls with this script that you handed over to me, Chris. And it was awesome, actually. It was a really interesting experience.
Donny Crawford (25:02):
I'm going to recite the five sentences, and we'll go through of what they are. But if I were cold calling and I was reaching out to someone, I would start off ... If I was selling ConnectAndSell, it'd sound like this. "Hey, it's Donny over a ConnectAndSell. How's it going?" They're like, "Good. What can I do for you?" "I know I'm an interruption. Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called?" And at that point, they're like, "Sure, I'm a nice guy. I'll give you 30 seconds. How about that?" "Perfect. I appreciate that. So here at ConnectAndSell, I believe we've discovered a breakthrough that eliminates all the frustration and the waste that keeps your best sales reps from being effective on the phone, maybe even been using the phone at all. And the reason for my call is to see if I could get 15 minutes on your calendar, share that breakthrough with you. Do you happen to have your calendar available?" Those are the five sentences.
Donny Crawford (25:50):
Now, it sounds like I went through a whole weird pitch or something like that, a monologue, but the reality is there is some engagement there. And as long as you're using the right voice during each little play, each little sentence that you're delivering, it actually gets someone comfortable enough to ask the question, "Yeah, I do have my calendar, but what is this, right? What do you want to share with me? What's this breakthrough?" And the word breakthrough actually has a really interesting power to it because it elicits curiosity from someone to learn something about something that they potentially could use. They would benefit from it.
Donny Crawford (26:28):
And we're putting it in the context of being able to say, "Hey, there's something really important that we'd like to share with you, and if you give us that opportunity, no big deal for 15 minutes. It's really something everyone can consume. But if you give us that time, this is something that could be really beneficial to think about and to learn from us."
Donny Crawford (26:50):
Now we don't want to be salespeople. We want to actually be advisors. Chris, I've heard you say one of the less trusted professions, probably grouped around politicians and lawyer, are sales people. We want to be more like the nurses, like the therapists, the teachers in our lives, who we trust a little bit more, and us shifting from being a salesperson to being an advisor is actually something that we want to accomplish.
Donny Crawford (27:19):
So in an ambush conversation, we need to treat them appropriately. These people are afraid of us when we've come out of the blue. We caught them off guard. They don't even know why they answered the phone most of the time. They're running into another meeting. They're jumping on a plane. They're picking their kids up from school. They don't know why they answered the phone, but you have them there. And a lot of times, we think of these as cold calls. But the reality is, a cold call just means it's rigid and frozen, and there's not a lot of information around it. But we do have a lot of information about them. They're the right type of person at the right type of business that potentially our breakthrough can make a difference for them.
We're going to end the first part of this webinar right here. In our next episode, Donny will continue to take you through those five sentences and give you more background and ways you can implement this that maybe entice you to want to sign up for Flight School. Join us again for the next episode of Market Dominance Guys.
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