How’d you do on your last cold call? Can you detect when you’re off your game? Or are you still trying to figure out what techniques are needed to have a successful sales conversation? Jason Bay, Chief Prospecting Officer at Blissful Prospecting, has made teaching others to cold call successfully his life work. In this episode, he continues his two-part conversation as a guest on Market Dominance Guys with our hosts, Chris Beall and Corey Frank, as they discuss developing the techniques and self-awareness necessary in this job. They all agree it takes a fair amount of repetition to hone those sales skills, but you may be shocked to hear them say that just because you’ve been making cold calls for 20 years, doesn’t mean you’re good at it. Take some time out to check your skills against the ones that Jason, Chris, and Corey propose in this Market Dominance Guys’ episode “Is Your Cold Calling Technique Right On?”
About Our Guest
Jason Bay is Chief Prospecting Officer at Blissful Prospecting. He helps reps and sales teams who love landing big meetings with prospects but hate not getting responses to their cold emails or feeling confident making cold calls.
Full episode transcript below:
Corey Frank (01:19):
My coach should be able to say, "Wait a minute, Corey, the last 27 conversations he's had, he's got a hang up past 18 seconds. There's probably something there in his tone, not necessarily the messaging, that is inhibiting him from moving forward." Versus me, as a rep I'm going to say, "Hey boss, these leads suck," right? "No one wants to talk to me. Clearly no product market fit," right? We've certainly ran into that several times with our clients, Chris.
Chris Beall (01:49):
Really? They say things like that? Well, sometimes there is no product market fit that you can use. It is interesting when you consider this particular question. If you're trying to evaluate whether your list is any good, whether your targeting is any good, whether your message in any good, first you need to have what I call a 'calibrated rep.' It'd be like going out to measure... "I'm going to see how tall this door is over here, but I don't really know if my tape measure measures inches, or centimeters, or some other ridiculous measure." If I don't know what those little marks mean, if I don't have a calibrated tape measure, I can't tell you how tall that door is, in a way that's going to let me go buy another door to fit in that particular door frame.
Corey Frank (02:33):
Chris Beall (02:33):
And I think a lot of times, the most valuable thing in the world to have, by the way, when you're taking a product to market or you're taking company to market, is a calibrated rep. Because then you don't have to deal with this question of, "Is it us, or is it them?"
You have Jason making those calls. You have Cheryl Turner making those calls. You know not by what they say, because they can also be calibrated about themselves. They can say, "I was off," right? The true professional knows when they're off compared to when it's a situation in the wild. And they're quite happy to say they were off because they're confident that they're usually on. They know that they can find their way back, maybe with help, maybe with... No, not with help. But that's a different game entirely. I'll jump over to something which is... I think it's quite amazing to me, that so many modern companies, SaaS companies, attempt to execute their go-to-market with uncalibrated reps, and then accept whatever the feedback is concerning their product when they don't even know what the marks on the tape measure mean. They're just clueless.
So the trust goes both ways. You've got to trust yourself to be a calibrated rep. You have to know when you're off, or at least take a guess. You have that feel. Sometimes it's like, "Oh God, that wasn't particularly risky." But also, you have to have had so many repetitions that the odds of you being off by so much that it's you, rather than statistically them... You got to reduce those odds down to where you can coldly now evaluate, "Do I have either problem market fit with..." That's what I'm seeking. "Or product market fit?" By the way, skipping the problem market fit step is a real problem too. That one's really common. But you got to have somebody like Jason or people he teaches.
Jason, when you teach folks, at which point in the process as they've learned from you and then they go forward into the great world do you think that, if they're going to become a master where they're calibrated... Kind of where does that happen? Or do they know it happens? Does somebody else need to point it out to them? What is that S curve like when it comes to the ones who make it? I'm not interested in the ones who don't make it because that's like me on the piano. Nobody would've cared early because you weren't going to care late, right? That guy's going nowhere. Let's not worry about him. Maybe he can play for his fiance someday. But when you have somebody who is going to make it, who's going to become a master, what is that like? What are the indications along the way that you're getting with that calibrated rep?
Jason Bay (05:04):
It has so much more to do with their business acumen than probably anything else. So, how invested is this rep in really understanding the people that they reach out to? So, when I break up the training that I do, it's broken up into six weeks. The first week, we talk about the approach and just the message. Like, "What are we saying?. Who are we selling to, or prospecting to in this case?"
Chris Beall (05:28):
Jason Bay (05:29):
And I find that 90+ percent of reps on teams cannot answer a really basic question like, "Hey, with the chief technology officers that you're prospecting into, what tend to be their top priorities? What are these people working on in these industries?" Because there's patterns across these folks, even across different companies. "What are they working on?" And most reps can't answer that basic fundamental question. They can't start a conversation by talking about the other person instead of talking about themselves.
The people that I notice tend to really pick up either phone, email, and I look at... We should do all of those things. But the people that I notice that tend to pick up on those things, are the people that can have a conversation like we are right now about their prospects. The cold calling, I think is the more simple part I guess, to master than actually knowing inside and out the people that you're talking to. So that's the thing I'm looking for first, it's the business acumen and really understanding the people before anything else.
Corey Frank (06:30):
And keeping with that same thought, Jason, does that have to do, do you think, with that ability to taste, that ability to have, "I've lived under pressure. I have the thousand yard stare," right?, as Chris was talking about? But you can't taste unless you're under pressure, right? Do you think the reps that do get it... Have they just lived longer? Not necessarily duration-wise, but have they lived through more exploits? Or is it, they see the world differently? Or do you put that square on the feet of the trainer of the organization?
Jason Bay (07:05):
I think it's everything that you just mentioned. If I had to put up more weight on one thing than the other... I'm just thinking of reps that I work with that are very good on the phones. They don't have the most amount of experience on the phone talking to those people. And I kind of look at it like this. You said worldview. There's a worldview that people have in sales that, "Just because I've been doing it a long time, I'm really good at it."
Corey Frank (07:25):
Jason Bay (07:25):
"I've been making cold calls for 20 years." I'm like, "But you ain't that good. I can pick up the phone right now and make a better cold call to your prospects who I don't sell to, than you can."
Corey Frank (07:36):
It sounds like... And what we say it's, "I have 20 years experience. I have one year, 20 times." Or "I have six months [inaudible 00:07:40] of those." Right?
Jason Bay (07:41):
Yeah. So, I think the world view is, "You know what, what makes me good at something is my skills. That's what makes me good at this." And the best reps, especially over the phone, they have this mindset of, "I'm going to learn something at every interaction that I have." They're the people that cold call doesn't go well with, Corey, and I'm able to get feedback. "Hey, it sounds like I might have completely missed the mark here." Typically people I talk to, you are focused on these things, but it sounds like you're not... "Can I get some feedback? What could I have said or mentioned that's related to something you care about?"
They're able to get that feedback and they write that stuff down and they build it into their script, in their talk track.
Corey Frank (08:23):
Jason Bay (08:23):
They revamp their emails with that messaging. So I think it's this constant iteration of the message, and it being very much about the other person and what they're working on, and problems that get in the way and that sort of thing. It's mastery of that, first. And a commitment to really understanding who you're prospecting to and selling to. Then the stuff you say over the phone and those things you say in an email are actually pretty straightforward, if you understand that stuff.
Corey Frank (08:51):
Tim Ferriss, right? Tools Of Titans, Tribe Of Mentors, 4-Hour Work Week. He had a show on a few years ago. Chris, I don't know if we've ever spoken about this fascinating show. And it was called 'The Tim Ferriss Experiment.'
Chris Beall (09:03):
Corey Frank (09:04):
And it was only on for, I think, one season, right Jason? Or something like that. And he would do things... You talked about under pressure, Chris, and what you and Jason are talking about it made me think of, "I'm going to learn to Tagalog", right? "Filipino, in one week. I'm going to learn to play the drums in one week." There was another one too. "I'm going to learn to swim one mile in the open ocean in one week. Parkour, in one week." So all these incredible left brain, right brain type, muscles to memory type of skills, in one week. Now a lot of us, especially coming up on the new year, are going to have New Year's resolutions and, "I want to do X opposed to Y, and I want to climb Everest and..." Right?
But what he did is, in one week he put pressure on himself, Chris. That there was a penalty. And the penalty was, "I got to learn drums in a week. I'm going to play..." and I forget what the band is. "One song for journey at the LA Coliseum at the end of the week."
Chris Beall (09:04):
Corey Frank (10:01):
And so, "If I don't learn this, I am internally embarrassed in front of 15,000 people. I'm going to learn Tagalog and have an interview by a Filipino station live in one week from now where they're going to only speak Tagalog back and forth." Right? And so he went, and it sounds like a lot of your approach, Jason, that you teach these reps is, "I want to deconstruct everything that I can learn in a language, open swimming, drumming, parkour, and condense it into the 80-20."
Jason Bay (10:36):
Corey Frank (10:36):
And it's a lot like Flight School. I think in a lot of ways, Chris, what you guys have created here but, "I have a penalty." Right? "I'm going to be thrown into it. I don't need 60 days to learn how to sell." Sounds like both you guys are doctors where, "Hey just sometimes, you just got to throw yourself into it to get that scar tissue quickly, to know that you're not going to get bruised, to experience that thousand-yard stare." But that's really what was the birth of flight school this past year for you, right Chris?
Chris Beall (11:04):
Oh yeah. Flight School came out of an act of desperation. I was helping out a company down in San Antonio, Texas, that had a very unfortunate event occur and they were in receivership. And the CEO founder, who I really felt strongly should have a chance kind of was up against it. And he asked me whether they could have a special deal. ConnectAndSell is really dangerous to give special deals. It's like punching a hole on the side of a tire and then saying that you're going to go for a fast drive in a race track. It's not so good when you have a special deal out there letting everything leak out. But I thought, "Hey, we have extra capacity money on Friday so we'll give him..." I just said to him on the flight. I was walking in the airport and I said, "Look. We'll give you a Monday and Friday unlimited for your whole team for, I don't know, 25 grand for a month."
And so then we had that situation. It was a month, not at one week, but it was a month. And now the question was, "Well, how are they going to be so good in a month that they can move the needle and save this company?" And it was very similar. And Flight School came out of that. We realized, "Oh, we needed to spend half of that month..." Because we only had Monday and Friday. So we'd spent half of that time getting great. That was on Friday. And then on Monday they'd use it. And then the next Friday they'd have prep of the lists and everything all week long, and then get as great as you can. And we all know in sales, so much performance of what you do at the beginning, conditions what you can do next.
In a golf swing, if you don't take a stance and a grip that has a chance, you don't have a chance. I don't care what you think about your athletic ability. Nobody's strong enough to make a golf club go where they want it to go. You got to actually get in a position where the physics can work out. Right? So, what do you need to learn first? You need to learn that. But what do you need to learn and under the pressure of actually hitting golf shots, and for real? So that's where Flight School came out of. As real live fire, but first two hours you get coached on the first seven seconds only. Because until you're great in the first seven seconds, it doesn't much matter. You're not going to be yourself for the rest of the conversation. You're going to be scrambling trying to find yourself. So, how can you stay yourself through seven seconds? Well, for 2 hours have 20 with real prospects under pressure, and find out who you are in that first seven seconds.
Corey Frank (13:21):
Yeah. No, that's a beautiful thing.
Corey Frank (14:09):
Jason on your... What you teach your reps in your program at the principal prospecting School of Hard Knocks, over the course six weeks or so, right? So, do you kind of subscribe to that kind of deconstruction and then build you back up again and, "Hey, forget what you know. Forget what you think you know. And these are the core building blocks. The two tablets coming down the mountain, so to speak of. What you need to know to get out of the gates quickly and successfully."
Jason Bay (14:34):
Yeah. You mentioned Tim Ferris. That question that I write down and he always asks is, "What would this look like if it were easy?" And I think that so many people really complicate outbound.
Corey Frank (14:44):
That's great. Yeah.
Jason Bay (14:45):
It's really not that complicated when you think about it. I believe you need six parts. You just need to be on the same page with what the approach is. You need a message. You need to know how to put that message into email, and then phone. You need to know how to handle a few of your most common objections and you need some sort of sequence. We're going to reach out to people multiple times or send multiple emails or social touches. So yeah, let's try to distill this down.
A lot of the feedback that I get is, "Oh, this is really simple." I'm like, "Yeah, it's supposed to be simple. It's not rocket science, okay?" Right? "We got a structure here. We're not saving lives. We're not doing anything like that, okay? We're not doctors, alright? Let's just... We just need a good message and we need to be able to talk to people about it." So to me, it is about that most fundamental, basic thing that I come back to, is that so many of these reps just don't even know how to articulate what a typical day looks like for the people that they reach out to. They don't even know how to articulate that. Or talk about their responsibilities or anything. To me, that is the most fundamental thing in sales right there.
Corey Frank (15:53):
Chris, to you too, what do you think reps do really well? What are you surprised over your years of doing this that... "You know, this used to be really difficult of a concept for reps to grasp." But when you see newer generation of folks who are in this profession of ours, or even in certain companies, what are you shocked at that... "Man this is actually a lot easier for certain folks than others."
Chris Beall (16:17):
Well, I tell you what that I see in the younger people, that I think is really delightful is, that there is more of a tendency now than there was before for younger people to try to take control of their own future. They're learning. They're eager to learn. And if you approach like you have, Corey, finishing school for future CEOs is a very different message from 'sit in that damn chair and dial until your fingers bleed.' It's just a very different thing. The framing of the opportunity to become great at something and to know why, is really effective with a lot of younger people today? Whereas I think 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, you'd find a lot of people who felt like they had to be more mercenary. It's like, "I'm doing this because I need to do it to make a buck. And it's a thing that I'm going to do."
And then they kind of throw themselves in very forcefully into a business that rejects forcefulness. And sales really does reject forcefulness and it's... Some people get away with it and then it becomes a famous thing... In movies and stuff, that forceful salesperson. But you come right down to it. Forceful sales approaches are pretty much guaranteed to get psychological reactance from the other person. And your hope of trust is pretty small. So, I think that what's interesting to me about younger people is, they're willing to think this stuff through. But it means if you're going to bring them on board, you better help them think it through. And business acumen is part of it. When you think about it, how many people in sales actually even know the business equation? And fundamentally when somebody's in business and you were to walk them through... I don't mean a P & L like an accountant would think of it.
Yeah maybe it is like they would think of it. But I would think of it as a business person... What am I thinking of? What are you concerned about? What are you trying to cover? What is it if your responsibility is for this part of the operation, rather than this part? That makes you a little edgy because it feels like it's the thing you're not always in control of. It's that kind of thing. That's where sales are made. It's understanding that stuff. And it kind of comes from the very nature of business itself. Not just that business, but businesses. Business is a funny thing in a sense that businesses generally are in the process of going out of business. Everybody in any business is a little bit nervous about... They're in a drop of water on a hot grill, and they know it. Just that's the nature of the beast.
Biology works like that too, but we tend to be confident. "We're going to find another meal." Because we've arranged to be in a world where the other meal tends to come regularly. In business, the other meal doesn't tend to show up all by itself. We got to keep going and getting it. And it makes everybody a little edgy. Well, different folks are edgy about different parts of that particular equation. And salespeople who don't get that-
Corey Frank (19:12):
Chris Beall (19:12):
... can't be empathetic, because that's what you need to be empathetic toward. It's like, "This person I'm talking to is naturally a little bit edgy about something, a little concerned about something, because it's the very nature of the beast."
Corey Frank (19:28):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Jason, when you hear Chris outline that, what's your philosophy on finding pain or finding that that hook point to identify? Do you verbalize it? Do you put it up front? Do you save that for the discovery call? What's kind of your philosophy on that to kind of make that connection with that prospect with status, but then turn it to, "Hey, I see your world. I'm familiar enough with your world. I've walked the same trails that you have." What's your opinion?
Jason Bay (20:00):
Think it depends on what kind of people that you're reaching out to. I'm a big fan of Skip Miller's book, 'Selling Above And Below The Line.' That concept. What I find is that salespeople tend to overuse pain messaging and problem-centric messaging on executives, VPs, and C-levels that... I don't know Chris, do you wake up in the morning and think about all the problems you got to solve that day, or are you thinking a little bit more forward into the future about an aspirational type of things? And it's not that one is better than the other necessarily, but I find that more aspirational type of, "I want to accomplish this over the next 6 to 12 months," is more how executives think. In Below The Line, the manager-type folks, maybe even directors at small companies, people using the product... They're experiencing pain on a daily basis, right?
So the frustration of this process, or using this spreadsheet, or this manual task and doing that... They're feeling that a little bit more. So to answer your question on cold calls, I'm a really big fan of talking about what people want to accomplish. And I'll give you an example. I work with a company that sells an automated robotics solution that replaces welders. So it's hardware is a service, and software as a service. The talk track that we worked on that worked really great for these VPs operations they're reaching out to was, permission-based opener. Like you guys recommend, I do something a little different, but it's, "Hey Corey, Jason with ABC company. I know I probably caught you in the middle of something. You got a minute for me to tell you why I'm calling. You could let me know if you want to keep chatting."
And prospect says yes, 9 out of 10 times. "Great. I'm talking to quite a few VPs of operations and trailer manufacturers right now. I'm usually hearing one of two things. One of the things that we're hearing a lot right now is there's a really big focus around how do we get more welders on board to meet our manufacturing targets right now, because we're having trouble keeping up with sales and we can't seem to hire welders right now. The other thing that I hear is you might be working on a lot of these really high custom, low volume products. And you're only able to automate about 50% of those. And you're looking for ways to automate the rest. Again, so that you can keep up with production because demand's probably really high right now and finding work is really tough. Which one of those two things are you running across?"
That just works so well. Because I'm talking about things they want to accomplish. It's not super problem heavy. I'm not saying people like you have problems like this and one of your pain points might be this. I'm talking about something that's affecting every manufacturer.
Corey Frank (22:26):
Jason Bay (22:26):
Getting labor, welders. And I'm talking very specifically to people that they talk to, things that they're trying to accomplish.
Corey Frank (22:26):
Jason Bay (22:33):
Big projects, initiatives that they're trying to tackle.
Corey Frank (22:36):
Sure. It sounds like you're definitely more instead of pain or gain, right? Sandler talks about pain or gain. You're on more on the optimistic, the aspirational, the sea level suite. Like, "I've got to move. I'm on offense versus defense," kind of move.
Jason Bay (22:50):
If I'm talking to an executive.
Corey Frank (22:52):
Sure. Of course. Of course. No, I like that.
Jason Bay (22:54):
Corey Frank (22:54):
Chris, you talk a lot about finding similar, right? Is that, "Hey, I want it economic, I want it personal and I want it strategic." Those are kind of the three goals that you've taught me. Right? You've taught so many on your pitch. What do you think of Jason's approach there?
Chris Beall (23:09):
I love of it. In there, we have an emotional element of it, right? It's frustrating not to be able to find people to move your business ahead when there's a lot of demand. In the business equation, we kind of have a hidden assumption which is, 'If there's enough demand, life is good.' But sometimes when there's enough demand, life is bad. And it's frustrating. And it's actually a little scary because that's when you lose share. And you don't want to lose share during good times, you want to make hay while the sun's shining, and here the sun is shining and all you can do is go stand around in the shadows and go, "God, I'd like to get out in the sun." So there's an emotional element, clearly a strategic element where they're trying to go.
Corey Frank (23:09):
Jason Bay (23:48):
Chris Beall (23:48):
Right? And they're trying to go is... They're not just trying to meet demand now, but they're trying to meet it in a way that's efficient and is going to translate into something good when times aren't so great, when efficiency is actually even more important.
So looking into that particular future, and then the economics are clear, right? If I can make more during times of high demand, I can make more that. So human beings, we tend to run on those three axes. We don't have much choice, but to run on and emotions determine what we're going to do, the decisions we're going to make. Economics determine what we can do, and our circumstances and aspirations determine what we're trying to do. And those things are all in play in different ways, at different points in our lives. And therefore we sort of always hit something unless this person really doesn't want to listen. If we can hit those-
Corey Frank (24:42):
Well, they self-select right. Jason, you probably get that a lot. If they respond negatively, they self selected. No problem. I got a big enough town. I'll see you in another month when I call you again, because you picked up the phone. At least I know that.
Jason Bay (24:55):
Yeah. When they say we're set, I say I'm good.
Corey Frank (24:58):
So Jason, thanks so much for joining us and sitting down. I love your approach. I think as a connoisseur of your craft, you are Tim Ferriss clearly in deconstructing what makes market dominance really tick. And so I think Chris and I are definitely big fans of your work. And we'd love to have you back many times. Let's see, maybe episode 200. We're cranking up there, Chris. Right? So, we got a lot of content for sure. So, Jason, where can folks find you if they want to learn a little bit more about Blissful?
Jason Bay (25:29):
This has been great you guys, this conversation. Blissfulprospecting.com is the best place. So, we help both reps and sales teams with their outbound. So, if any part of what I said stuck out to you today, we got a ton of free stuff there, podcast, guides, all that kind of stuff. And we also have training programs and things like that too, if you're looking for a little bit of help to shorten that learning curve. So blissfulprospecting.com.
Corey Frank (25:50):
Thank you. So please everybody connect with Jason and consume as much free stuff as you can before you pull up your wallet. So, for the Market Dominance Guys, for Chris Beall, this is Corey Frank. Untill next time.
Chris Beall (26:01):
Alright, thanks so much, Jason. This is just absolutely wonderful stuff.
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