EP9: How to Harvest Authentic Trust in your Discovery Calls
Ask 50 bartenders how to make the best Tom Collins and 48 out 50 will tell you: Pour 1 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 1/2 oz Gin, 2 oz Carbonated water and 1/2 oz Sugar syrup and shake. Now ask 50 sales professionals how to “make” the best Discovery call and you’ll get 50 different answers. Have an agenda. Build rapport. Establish time frames. Set a power frame. Identify a budget upfront or don’t do the call at all. Do a question stack. Talk a lot. Talk a little. It seems that everyone has their own recipe, and yet they are still calling it by the same name. Now sales discovery calls have been around at least as long as the vaunted and debonair Tom Collins. So why do they differ so broadly, and what ARE the necessary ingredients for creating a great Discovery session? In this session of the Market Dominance Guys, I ask Chris – a master mixologist in his own right – for the best additives – including trust, tone, and pace to earn a true confession in a Discovery. This is “The Confessional is Now Open – How to Harvest Authentic Trust in your Discovery Calls”
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The complete transcript of this episode is below:
Product is, how do I go about navigating putting the right steps, the mood lighting if you will, for a good discovery call to get them to feel ... confession isn't out in the open in church, right? The music's in the background and the curtain and there's the screen and I feel safe to talk about some of these issues because you are a white-jacketed professional who's already demonstrated to me that you've solved problems like this in the past. And, "I've never told anybody this, but here's the problem that I have. Maybe you can help." It rarely gets to that point of trust in most discovery calls I find. How do you get that spark going?
Chris Beall (03:22):
Yeah. So first is the very thing that you talked about. At the very top of the funnel we have to believe, truly believe, in the potential value of the meeting for this human being. And that's what we're selling. Now we're having the discovery meeting. So the very first thing we have to do, remember we don't have rapport yet with this individual. They've simply decided to take the meeting, so step one is to take that as sufficient trust for you to approach me and turn that into an opportunity for rapport.
There are tons of ways of doing this. There are a lot of people who are expert at it. I have my own way of doing it. I simply ask the person I say, "It really helps me to know where somebody is when I'm talking to them in this world where we're all removed from each other, where are you on the face of our blue, whirling planet right now?"
And the reason I ask it like that is twofold. One is I want them to have a picture, that classic picture of the earth from space, the one in which we're all together, because I want to bring us closer together. So the farther away the view, the closer together folks in the picture. So we're both in the same boat. Here we are. We're on this blue whirling planet. I want to see that Earthrise over the moon planet, that picture, right? That famous picture. I'm trying to get at that in their head because it takes this where you're over here and I'm over here and it pulls us together. And we're both in here. And that's why I say blue, because when you look at the earth from far away, it just looks blue, right? Because it's mostly ocean. And the fact that it's whirling, time is going by, we're spending our precious time together. So, where are you on the face of our blue, whirling planet?
And then they'll talk about where they are usually with pride. Almost everyone is proud of where they live. So they have an opportunity to express something that's a value to them, which is pride. That's why don't ask about the weather, because people aren't proud of their weather, they're proud of where they live, they chose it. They're making the best of it. They might be moving from there to somewhere else. They may have a story about it. So immediately some openness starts. And it's very rare that somebody won't speak for two or three minutes. Then they remember it, that they're dominating the conversation and then they politely ask, "So where are you?" And I always tell him something that's very personal. "Well, I'm here in Reno, Nevada. And what I'm actually doing right now is I'm trotting on this trail, because I love to get out and run while I'm talking."
"Wow, really?" And that's just ... it's different, right? So it causes them to remember this part of the conversation, it's just about people. So I want to go from the setting of it's about problems. I want to avoid that issue to start with and just have it be about two people having a conversation in some setting, the setting is we're far apart, but we're close together. You're in a place that you're proud of. I'm an interesting person because I'm doing something interesting or I'm in an interesting place and I'm proud of where I am too. Okay. So now we're done with that.
The second question I tend to ask in discovery is this. I say, "I took a look at your website and I kind of think I get what you guys do, but I've learned the hard way that I'm always wrong when it comes to guessing about somebody else's business. So if you could help me out here, here's something that I'd find useful. If you have a perfect customer, everything's great, perfect client, perfect customer, perfect fit, your product is exactly what they need. They have the means to buy it. They're not pushing back on price. Your customer success people or support people are going to have a very easy time with them. They have the right attitude. When everything goes perfectly in your business, how does that change your customer's life?"
And I always ask it exactly like that, because now I'm [inaudible 00:07:11] mission, and everyone is proud of the mission that they're on, but they don't get to think about it very often. They're lost in the minutia of day to day, the challenges of not having enough time, enough resource or enough support to do their job as well as they think it should be done. After all, that's why they took the meeting. They took the meeting because they resonated with one of the three. They had an emotional or an economic or a strategic reason to take the meeting based on their personal experience, not on their problem.
Corey Frank (07:40):
But, Chris, you're talking about is you now have two questions that ... let me back up for a moment. We started with Sebastian Maniscalco and the company bit, and he was on Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld a couple episodes ago. And Seinfeld has a really insightful piece on the New York Times video magazine about how to write a joke. He calls it the pop tart joke. Seinfeld shows the actual, a browned yellow legal pad, free hand in a Bic number two blue ballpoint pen that he's written and crossed out and moved the words around. And he says, "I worked three years on this one joke to the point where every word is in the place where it needs to be." And he talks about chimps in the dirt, playing with sticks and how the tone and the syllabic transition has to be just right for the timing.
And what I hear you saying is, the blue, whirling world right now, right? That has been tested and retested and refined. You say it with an exuberance of an intensity of real curiosity, of intimacy, of empathy. And then the second question that you talk about where you struggle a little bit with the broken wing, as an amateur salesperson, I could say, "Oh, Chris is asking. So where you calling from?" [crosstalk 00:09:15] Chris, I did the same thing you did. And I could say, "So what exactly do you guys do over there? And I get different reactions." Wait a minute, Chris, I said the same thing you did. No, no, you don't understand. Yours reeks of empathy and true interest. And it seems like I could, as a sales person, feel like I'm doing the same thing you are.
"What do you mean? I'm building rapport. I asked them where they were, and I asked them what they did. Then I went and I said, 'Okay.' And maybe I didn't respond with an empathetic tone. I would say, 'Anyway, so let's just jump right into this.'" And the prospect feels like, "Did you care about my answer at all? Or are you following some sort of script?" And it's like, at that point, the call is dead. And now the product would have to really be fantastic for them to supersede a terrible opening that I just gave.
But nevertheless, we see that all the time. So this element of tone that you have, dropping your voice. I just think that, that is ... can that be taught? Does that take practice? Does that need real coaching behind that to make sure. Because even if ... my product demo could be off a little bit, but if my tonality in my empathy is at the level that you just demonstrated, it seems like that's going to buy me a little bit more time, because I'm now likable. I've connected. I've had a little bit of trust in that initial call. So, but I see that all the time.
Chris Beall (10:43):
Yeah. Can it be taught? Absolutely. Must it be coached? Yeah, because we drift, and we drift because our personal lives and our professional pressures cause us to get in a hurry and skip micro steps. That little step where you check yourself before you even start the conversation to make sure that you're sincerely interested and not just saying the words, that your curiosity is real.
Just like before you go on stage, if you were a Jerry Seinfeld. Jerry Seinfeld I'm sure has a checklist before he walks out on stage. And that checklist is run 95% inside of himself, because if he is not on, and that's what it's referred to in that business, as being on, if he's not on, he's dead and he'll find out how dead he is. In front of a comedy audience, you're dead within three or four seconds. Walk out there and then start talking, you run the checklist internally.
I run an internal checklist before every discovery call. I ask myself, how do I feel physically? How sharp am I mentally? How much do I care right now about our own business and about somebody else's potential to take advantage it? And how open am I to learning something new? Those are the four things on my checklist. It takes me five or six seconds to go through the whole thing. But I go through that checklist and I never initiate a call. As experienced as I am at this, I'm too experienced to initiate a conversation with somebody without going through my checklist internally. It's a 100% internal. I don't care about, do I have some materials? Have I prepped this or that? Am I ready to show them a demo? That stuff's all garbage.
All that really counts and the strategy within the discovery conversation is that we go from sufficient trust that the person is willing to approach me and come to the meeting to actual rapport. Rapport means we're doing things together. We're not moving and having to check each other. We begin to move in the same way. True rapport. We're walking side by side. Our steps are matching. When I speak, they listen. When they speak, I listen. That's rapport. Rapport is in an emotional state. Rapport is an operating condition that can be achieved between two people. When we're in harmony, in sync with each other, it's very intimate. In a sense, it's very mechanical. But to get to the point of being in rapport, you have to practice it with each other. So you need a safe place to practice rapport. So where are you on the face of our blue, whirling planet? And every word counts. Where are you on the face of our blue, whirling planet?
We share it. It's blue. It's vast. We're tiny. We're here together. It's whirling. Time is going by. It's a planet. It's not just some dirt. If I give somebody that to say, 100% of the time, they'll make up some other words and tell me it's the same thing. That's right. We just had one just for the 27 seconds that was funny, a call yesterday with somebody who will remain unknown, and he's the owner of the company he's personally calling.
So they changed the 27 seconds to 17 seconds. And then say, "Well, nobody stayed on. People were hanging up on us. We said the same thing." No, you didn't. You change 27 seconds to 17 seconds. So you actually sounded like you weren't serious. Like you were lying. Because nobody could get something done in 17 seconds, so you weren't credible. Simple mechanical issue. You only put 23 pounds of pressure in a tire that needs 38. And you're wondering why the car doesn't handle it correctly. Well, there was some PSI in there. Isn't that good enough? No, it's got to be a right amount.
Corey Frank (14:25):
The new Top Gun trailer just came out and it reminded me, I used to do a bit where I'd teach some of the sales reps that, remember the movie, Top Gun. They're in the bar and they first see the villain in the movie, Val Kilmer, Iceman. And Goose is re-introducing Maverick to Iceman, "Hey, why did they call him Iceman?" Said, "Because he flies ice cold. He waits for the other person to make a mistake. He is an automaton. He is a robot of efficiency."
The skill then is, how do you do these things? I have no doubt, Chris, that when you say, "Hey, where are you in the face of our blue, whirling planet, Corey?" Right? The pauses, the staccato, the musicality is exactly the same. If I track that on an oscilloscope for your last 100 calls, there would be almost zero deviance in there. And that's locked in, and you are now the Iceman when it comes to that bit. And if I can put the little mini steps where I just aced that, and then I ace the opening and then I ace the next rock and the next rock and the next rock. Before you know it, I've created so much positive momentum that it does become very predictable.
Chris Beall (15:45):
Yeah. What's funny is, all you're trying to get to is a state where the person is comfortable confessing.
Corey Frank (15:52):
The state where the person is comfortable, yeah.
Chris Beall (15:54):
That's all you're trying to get to. And you do that with what you say and how you say it, and with what's inside of you that supports what you say and how you say it, which is actually the key. And the openness is the real internal key, because if you're not open and curious, then it comes out in your voice and nobody's going to want to confess to you. People want to confess where they will be heard. They don't want to confess to somebody who has an agenda. So if your agenda, in fact, this is why I do not open discovery calls with an agenda. Because as soon as I've been an agenda in place, I'm saying my purpose is to get you to a condition where you're more likely to buy from me, no matter what the agenda is.
And if you need to talk more, I'm not going to listen because I have my agenda. But a confession is a confession. We don't know how long it should take. Here's how that actually goes in time. Those first two parts, the first one will take about a minute and a half to two minutes, and somebody will talk about where they are. And then they'll ask you, because after two minutes, they get uncomfortable with dominating the conversation, because now they're flowing and they think, "Oh, I shouldn't do that. That's impolite," and they'll ask you where you are, which is the immediate rapport. You're back and forth. You're actually, this is like a warmup to play a game of tennis with somebody. You don't start right out in the court with a big booming serve. You politely hit some balls back and forth to warm each other up, because that's what's fair, right? That's what's fair. It's how we start a game of tennis.
People tend to ignore this part of the game. This is a critical part. By the way, when you're playing friendly tennis, right? I used to play a lot of it, the warmup is where you actually establish the feel for what it is that you're going to do with each other, because you're not really just trying to beat each other's brains in. It's competitive, but it's still friendly. So that first question, minute and a half or so, then you take 15 to 30 seconds to say something about where you are and how much you like it. Just saying how much you like where you are is a positive thing. They're proud of where they are, what they're doing. They may have something interesting to say about it.
You say something interesting and you say you like where you are. Then when you ask them the second question, which is about their mission, you just shut up afterwards and they could go on. So the time that that takes is somewhere between 15 seconds, they don't think about their mission much. And it's really hard to help people like that, or they love what they're doing and how it changes somebody's life. And they just go on and on and you just let them go. There's actually no time where you ever stopped that, because that will contain the entire confession. You have to never ask another question. If they give you everything about the mission, then when the mission is getting stuck in some way, when they can't get the job done as well as they want, they're going to talk about that stuff. And all you have to do is just listen. You're done. I mean, discovery will take place entirely within the answer to that question.
When everything goes perfectly, when it's the perfect customer, when is the perfect situation, when the delivery is perfect, where your people just nail it, where the timing is great, where the customer has the means to buy the product and doesn't push back on price. When everything goes perfectly, how does your offering change that person's life? And then that's the key question, how does it change their life? You've recontextualized the whole thing in terms of true, ultimate value for a human being. Not the value you're going to provide them, but the value that they are providing others. Folks love to talk about the value they're providing others. Let them do it.
Corey Frank (19:38):
Even if they're in database management at American Express, by asking that question, I mean, you could get whether they are strategically minded. [crosstalk 00:19:51] just want to make sure that if somebody is on vacation, that when they swipe their card at the scuba shop in Jamaica, that it goes through. Or they could maybe lend it to their world, is that something more tactical. "My guys don't have to work on the weekend because we're running a very smooth, tight, under budget shop and we get our requirements done right the first time," so.
Chris Beall (20:17):
Exactly. So now they finished their confession, right? So you're actually kind of done, except you haven't told them what you do. So at that point, it's very awkward for them because they've really dominated the conversation, which you want them to do. And they're just [inaudible 00:20:34]. And then at some point they kind of go, "Oh, there's not a lot of time left." I'll often let it run up to within three minutes of the end of the meeting. I mean, this would shock most people in sales. I now have three minutes to tell them what we do. But remember, all we're trying to do is determine whether it makes sense to move to the next step. So how much did they need to know about what I do?
Well, they need to know one thing that I believe we do that addresses an economic issue. One thing that I believe that we do that addresses an emotional issue, almost always frustration. And one thing that I believe that we do that allows for a strategic result to be achieved, that would otherwise be difficult. So there was only three reasons that anybody ever avails themselves of something new, it either makes them money or reduces risk or save them money. That's all economic. The risk being just the probability of getting those savings or those new winning, or their life is dominated by something that's frustrating them, very rarely a positive emotion. There's normally frustration. That's the nature of work. We're frustrated when we don't have the time, we don't have the resources or we don't have the support to do our job as well as we believe it should be done. This is what Deming taught us back in the 50s. People work for pride of workmanship.
They don't work for money. They work for pride of workmanship, and they're frustrated when they don't get pride of workmanship because they don't have the time, the resources, the support to do their job as well as they think they should do it. And then strategy is pretty simple. Everybody's trying to go somewhere. My product can help them take a step. If that step is a step within their strategy, we can help with their strategy. And whatever they respond to, this is the hardest thing in the world I think for salespeople to do, the very, very hardest. If somebody says, "It's really, really frustrating for me because my reps just won't use the phone." And I say, "Yeah, and you know what's great about ConnectAndSell? It's going to save you a bunch of money."
When I refuse to abandoned the other two, when they [crosstalk 00:22:48] one of the three, I basically am saying truly, truly, I'm not listening to you and I don't care about you at all. But reps hate to give up anything it's like, "But what if the cost savings were important to them? What of making more revenue were important to them? What if dominating the market's important to them?" And their sales manager will say, "You didn't mention this, this and this," when they listen to the [crosstalk 00:23:12]. But the key to everything is to reduce the problem set to be discussed by a factor of 66%. That's what you're looking to do right then.
Then if there's something left, there's a fourth answer by the way, there's a fourth thing, which is none of the above, in which case you don't move forward. So if they resonate with the economics, if they resonate with the emotional, or they resonate with the strategic, you immediately abandon the two they don't resonate with and they're qualified to move forward. If they don't resonate with any of those three, they're not qualified to move forward. It's very objective. It's not their answer to their budget question, their timing question, their this question, their that question. In discovery, we're trying to find out, is there a fundamental reason for us to take one more step? And if you hate your life because of something that I can help you with, and it's emotional, there's a reason to go forward. We might find the money at that point.
Corey Frank (24:06):
But I've already established trust with you in rapport. I've already confessed things. So the likelihood that even in this last three minutes, I may not have the comprehension to fully understand your value proposition and those things that you're talking about. But because you're just such a likable, empathetic guy, I'm going to give you that next meeting, which would be more of the formal demo at that point. But if I've ruined or rushed the confession, the priest isn't there looking at his watch saying, "Okay, come on, come on, come on, come, come on."
Chris Beall (24:42):
Yeah, and I'm sure there are priests like that. I mean, being a confessor is a nuanced art form. It is performance art at the highest level. And what's so interesting about this approach-
Corey Frank (24:56):
Performance art at the highest level.
Chris Beall (24:59):
It is, it's truly. It's performance art at the highest level. Sales is essentially, you're asking somebody to adopt you as their confessor. So it's even harder because you don't have the magnificence and the tradition of the church. All you've got is yourself. The horror, the sliminess of the tradition of the salesperson at the crossroads, trying to get you to pay as much as possible, and then go on your merry way, you actually have a harder job as the salesperson. But without doing that job, you're doomed because all you get then is the lucky hits. You're not looking to get the lucky hits. That's why we call it discovery. We're trying to discover.
Now to go back to, what was the value of the meeting? It turns out in a great discovery meeting, the value of the meeting is the person in their confession, discovers truths about their own situation that they were unaware of. And that's valuable. So oddly enough, the value of the meeting isn't learning about your product, it's learning about yourself and your situation and clarifying it. Then hearing that there is something that could help with one of these, maybe all three of these aspects, something about, "Hey, this is wasteful and it's driving me nuts." Something about, "I never seem to have enough time to get everything done." Something about, "Every time we try to go down the road and try to get to where we're going, we're blocked and we can't do it, that strategy." They get to hear that, "Hey, for my truth, there's a possible light at the end of the tunnel. There's a door that might open." That's what they could learn. That's [crosstalk 00:26:37]-
Corey Frank (26:36):
Discovery, but it's really self-discovery.
Chris Beall (26:39):
Self discovery. And then one little piece of self-discovery plus rational hope.
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