What’s a pattern interrupt? And how can it help you break down the resistance most people feel when ambushed by a cold call? Donny Crawford, Director of Conversation Optimization at ConnectAndSell, joins our Market Dominance Guy, ConnectAndSell CEO Chris Beall, on a Selling Power webinar hosted by Founder Gerhard Gschwandtner. These three conversation experts share some little-known tricks of the cold-calling trade, one of which is that saying something unexpected, like “Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called?”, can break a prospect’s usual pattern of hanging up or refusing to engage. As Donny says, it truly is a game-changer, especially when said in a friendly, playful voice. “The friendliness actually matters,” he explains. “You’ve got to be assertive enough, but in a friendly manner.” Get ready to absorb this and other helpful tips from ConnectAndSell’s Flight School cold-calling training lessons in this Market Dominance Guys’ episode, “Pattern Interrupts Are Your Friend.”
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.
Name is Gerhard Gerschwandtner. I'm the founder and publisher of Selling Power magazine. Thank you for tuning in.
Donny Crawford (01:16):
And as long as we approach them with the sincerity that what we can provide and share and advise them on is something that could be beneficial to them. Well, then we're in a good state. So the five sentences, what I love about the breakthrough messaging framework or the ambush conversation framework is really that it's filled with pattern interrupts, things that sound a little weird. Why is that important? It's because it doesn't trigger psychological reactance or reflex responses like Jeb Blount talks about in his book Objections. He talks about reflex responses. People get a lot of cold calls and they built up this wall in front of them and they know how to reflexively response to salespeople. So you have to have quite a few little pattern interrupts that keep them a little on the edge of their seat while they're listening to you. Let's walk through those a little bit.
So the first two sentences within this it's what's called a greeting. You just get right into the conversation, be upfront, be honest, be friendly, be casual. Hey, it's Chris Beall, CEO of ConnectAndSell. Hey, it's Donny over at ConnectAndSell, right? It's just very simple. I'm not hiding behind the fact that I want to keep elusive what company I'm with. I'm just coming straight out in front and letting you know where I'm at. And then I hit you with what's called a pattern interrupt and then upfront contract. So these are terms around the Sandler world. So you want to get them into a place where you acknowledge a truth. I know I'm an interruption. Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called? Now, there's a really important method of delivering this line.
And it's with the use of two different voices. We actually spoke with Chris Voss about this. Chris Beall, you were at a mystery dinner with him. For some reason, you guys both picked out of a hat, the Batman, and you were sitting at a table together and you were able to corner Chris Voss and say, how do you get trust from someone? How much time does it take to get trust? And Chris Voss said, "You have seven seconds." And Chris is like, "Oh, that's interesting. Our research says eight seconds." And Chris Voss says with his FBI eyes, "Your research is wrong. It's seven seconds." And he is like, "Oh, okay." So Chris then asked the follow-up question. What do you need to do to get trust? And Chris Voss said, "That's the simple part. There's two things. You need to first establish that you see the world through that individual's eyes.
You understand the circumstance they are in." This first piece of, I know I'm an interruption, it's not an apology. It's just an acknowledgement of truth. It's just an acceptance that I've interrupted your day. I understand that. And I'm going to state it clearly. I know I'm an interruption. And then Chris Voss said, "The second thing you need to do is you need to have a competent solution to the problem that they are facing. And when we accept the fact that we as cold callers, we who are ambushing people are the problem in a cold call, then we can have a simple solution to that problem. Hey, it's only going to take 27 seconds." But Chris Voss actually said something even more important. And what I really want to emphasize here is the use of our voice, how we come across with our voice actually matters. Chris Voss likes the term, the late night FM DJ voice.
That's what you use for, I know I'm an interruption. Hey, listen. I know I'm an interruption. It's a confident, solid voice that someone can trust. And then you change your voice to what's called a playful curious voice. You let it go up a little bit. You might even add a little chuckle every single time I say it. I know I'm an interruption. Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called? I manufacture the chuckle. I could say it. I know I'm an interruption. Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called but that's bland. I'm a person. You're a person. I'm going to transfer energy to you. If I am energized, you'll be energized with me. I know I'm an interruption. Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called? And people usually with me, they say, "Sure, go for it."
And they're smiling with me. They might even chuckle them and release a couple endorphins in the back of their mind. Now they're in a comfortable state. They trust me. Now it's my game to blow if I actually don't follow through on this. Once I have a little bit of trust with them and they say, "Sure, go ahead." Now we proceed to the next part. And this part is actually really important because this is why we're really excited to share something with them. This is why we've actually reached out to them is because I have this deep-seated belief in the thing that I have to share with someone. I have this sincerity, this belief, I'm an expert in something but more than important than that, I really do believe that we have something that is going to be able to make a difference for you and your role in your organization.
And so when I say I believe, I'm not saying, I think we have something kind of cool here. Now I say, I believe I'm putting my reputation on the line. And I say, I believe we've discovered a breakthrough. We've discovered something. We just happen to be the lucky ones. And we have a breakthrough that is interesting enough that you should learn about it. That breakthrough has a couple different little components. They are value components but we're not talking about what we do, how we do it all, all the various value that we bring to an organization. We just hint at it. Our breakthrough addresses some economic challenges, provides an emotional security blanket, right? It gets rid of those frustrations, those annoyances in our personal and probably career lives. And then it also allows you to do strategic things you haven't been able to do.
That's what your breakthrough does. And by the way, everyone has a breakthrough. You might not be landing on Mars, flying a helicopter, taking cool pictures or curing cancer but as long as you do something better, simpler, faster in a more improved way, you have a breakthrough. And why is it important to set stage by talking about this breakthrough? Because you have something you can promise to deliver to someone. If I say we have a breakthrough and you need to learn about it, that's what your discovery call is. It doesn't necessarily need to be you drilling them with questions but if you have something to share with them and something that actually goes through these things. Chris is going to talk about what that breakthrough actually can Intel, if you promise to deliver something, that's a breakthrough to them, then it's what elicits them being curious enough to take a meeting from us. The next couple lines are but the last piece.
Gerhard Gerschwandtner (08:01):
Before Chris, let me ask you a question. I'm curious, you make it all sound so smooth and so obvious and how to resonate with the customer in a positive way because you established a positive climate. The question I have is, how long does it take for salespeople to get to that point where they have that internal breakthrough, where they get it. And it's almost like an opera singer of finding the high seat.
Donny Crawford (08:33):
Does take practice. I'll tell you, it takes practice. The wonderful thing about, and Gerhard, I really like the question because it takes not just role-playing practice where you're speaking to a mirror, talking to a manager and doing it. You have to feel how the reactance you're getting from real-life people. And then it starts to click and get smooth. I would say that you can actually become very comfortable with this after about 30 conversations with people, 30 to 40 conversations.
Gerhard Gerschwandtner (09:12):
How long is it taking in the training school, in the Flight School, 30 minutes, an hour or?
Donny Crawford (09:21):
It probably equates to close to three to four hours of live conversations with people for you to. If you're sticking to it and you're really practicing it and you're really trying to deliver it, it's going to feel stiff at first. It's like you're reading it. But if you really have a go at it, understanding and embracing the reality of it and what you're trying to accomplish, you're selling an appointment, not your product right now. This type of breakthrough script can actually within probably 30, 40 conversations, you start to understand the nuances of how to deliver it effectively.
Gerhard Gerschwandtner (09:57):
It reminds me of a book that was written a long time ago by Constantine Stanislavsky. He wrote a book called An Actor Prepares and it is almost like a perfect training manual with salespeople because the book teaches actors how to step into the character, like in your case, that friendly, trustworthy, helping salesperson who wants to deliver value in any conversation. So it's not just about the words but in embodying that character of that helpful, a customer servant, it takes a lot of internalizing where you search for memories as an actor in your life where you have been exposed to people like that. And then you embody those people and try to walk through those mental steps. So you have the right mindset and you need the right mindset to develop the right skillset.
Donny Crawford (11:03):
It does start with the mindset. It really does it. You have to have the excitement to be on these conversations. A lot of people are like, "Oh, it's a cold call. I'm just going to be stiff because it's a cold call. And they don't like me. And I don't like doing it." And they get that in their mind. And of a sudden that's going to mess with your energy. That's going to mess with your approach. It's more concerned about them being annoyed with me rather than being confident that I have the right plays in place for me to be stay on the offense on a conversation but keep it light and friendly because the friendliness actually matters. If I do care about someone, and I do believe that we have something that can help them. I am going to put the right amount of assertiveness to make sure that they like what Chris said.
If you save someone from stepping off the curb because a bus is coming, you have to hit them in the chest so that they don't step off the curb. So you have to be assertive enough to guide them in the direction that's going to be beneficial for them to learn something but the reality is you can do it in a friendly manner, right? And so that friendly, assertive aspect of delivering this, it comes with practice, but it comes from interacting with people and realizing, wow, I do have the ability to make them react in certain ways. I do have the ability to influence them.
Gerhard Gerschwandtner (12:32):
I think there's another step that needs to be articulated that a lot of salespeople don't get it. I've trained 10,000 salespeople in Europe and in the United States. And I was always surprised how easy it is to teach good skills, providing you lead them to the first step, which is that they believe in themselves they can actually do it. So people need to give themselves permission to make a change, to make that click in their mind first, before they can integrate new skills into their repertoire.
Donny Crawford (14:05):
I love that.
Chris Beall (14:13):
Yeah. I have something, an experience that speaks to this. So I used to be, as you know, Gerhard, a fairly serious rock climber mountaineer. And I've had the opportunity to teach a lot of people how to climb. And the key to learning how to climb is to recognize that your fear of heights is natural. It's not something to deny. It's not something to push aside. It's something to embrace and understand. I mean, it's good to be afraid of heights. Try falling sometime. As you know, I fell once about 800 feet, and I can tell you it would've been better not to. It's not something you would seek out. When I taught people to climb, the first thing to do is to teach them to trust that they're not going to fall and die or be hurt. So have them climb up one or two feet, step off, have the rope catch them. Do that over and over where they're still comfortable.
And that's like Donny's 30 conversations, in a safe setting where somebody can coach you, have the experience of not having a bad thing happen when your reflexes say a bad thing's going to happen. And the click occurs when you forget about the fact that you're now at 10, 12 feet off the ground because you're so accustomed to falling onto the rope. And the rope basically feels like the ground to you. And that's the breakthrough moment when people are learning to climb, they have to go through that moment. And I think that happens in Flight School. I think there's a point usually between day two and day three, for most people, and it happens at night, by the way. These changes only occur within us when we're sleeping. We actually are not capable of changing in a fundamental way while we're awake. And that's why we dream.
We go through all of these crazy things that we do at night, which if we take them away, we go nuts and we die, bad combination in that order, by the way. We very rarely die first and then go nuts. And so between session two and session three of Flight School and session two is where those previous couple of sentences are, sentence three, actually the breakthrough sentences. That's where it starts to feel like maybe something good is happening here but I'm not quite there. And then session three that day they wake up and they go with their usual apprehension but it clicks. And it's the click of having this work as advertised, so to speak, it's in the same way that the climber is up 12 feet. And for the first time they go to make a move. They can't make and they fall and nothing happens. It's okay. That's the moment that I think everything changes.
And then the sales rep can now embrace the reality of the ambush conversation which is fear of being in the ambusher is fear of height. It's like fear of the sight of blood. You can't become a surgeon if you think that the site of blood. You can't in sales, you can't be successful unless you don't faint at the feel of ambushing somebody for their own good. But you can't declare that. And just say, I'm no longer going to faint at the sight of blood. You have to practice. You can't get over the fear of heights without practicing. You can't get over the fear of being the ambusher which is the person who's going to be exiled. By the way, the deep rooted source of our fear of being ambusher is people who do bad things to other people in the village get thrown out of the village. That's all there is to it. We fear excel much more than we fear death. And so it's worse than our fear of heights. So you're actually addressing your fear of being the bad thing.
Gerhard Gerschwandtner (18:00):
In the analogy with mountain climbing, I remember interviewing Ed McMahon from The Tonight Show and he was landing a plane that was literally on fire. He walked away from it and he said he was terrified. However, he learned through his military training, you can't transform fear into energy and the energy that somebody told him when he was on the radio, jump and bail and this is going to be a lost plane. And he says, "No, I want to land it. And I want to say that, I think we can fix it." So the lesson I learned is that there is an inner journey to optimal performance that is not clear to a lot of people. And I think, Donny, you hinted at that, that there is some experience that happens where all of a sudden everything changes and you turn fear into energy and that energy turns into greater performance.
Donny Crawford (19:15):
I agree. And it's interesting hearing the part of the benefits that can happen when you've embraced it. And you've made that change. You have to go through that process that Chris was talking about which is that initial fear and that initial fear, once you overcome it, it actually can transfer that fear to this great energy. There's several times in flight school when people are executing on a script and sometimes they just read it really blandly. They just, "Hi, it's Donny over ConnectAndSell. I know I'm an interruption." They're afraid to be saying it. "Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called?" And someone's like, "Yeah, go for it." Great. I think we have a breakthrough here and they're really timid and they're not very energized. And then at the end, it's like, "The reason for the call is to see if I could get some time on your calendar. Do you have your calendar there?" And someone will say, "Yeah, I do."
Just by reading the script and being horrible at delivering it. Some people are just like, "Yeah, that's fine. We could set up time." And then the rep is like, it doesn't have to be that difficult. It doesn't have to be something where I have as much energy as Donny is demonstrating I need to have it, but I just need to follow a certain path. There is security to the right type of path to take but then you're going to enhance that experience by really allowing yourself to let your personality shine. I think the best example of this is actually I ran a Flight School for a manufacturer of machinery that they sell to manufacturing plants and food processing plants and all this stuff. And their sales reps are individual sales reps that live in the area that they sell in.
And they go door to door to these manufacturing plants, selling their equipment. And some of them are on the east coast and they have that east coast attitude and they got the sharpness to their voice and the speed and energy and aggressiveness. And then you have the salt of the earth in the middle of the United States sound from Kansas and they got all this personality and sound great. And then you got the Californians, they're all loose and hanging back and chill with the way they talk and super friendly or whatever it is.
And what's amazing is they all say the same words in a script but they've allowed their own personality. They embrace their personality. And they're saying the same words, but they have the same effect on people. And so it's hilarious. Once you allow yourself to be yourself and allow people to get a sense of who you are and that you truly do have something really powerful for them, people are willing to listen at that point and they really are comfortable saying, "Yeah, I'd love to meet with you. You sound great. I love your energy." Whatever that type of energy is.
Gerhard Gerschwandtner (22:07):
It becomes a positive feedback loop because they see they get results with the new narrative, with the new script, with the new delivery, with the new need that is manifesting itself in a positive way. And then they want to do more. And then you create the addicts, the self actualizing.
Donny Crawford (22:28):
Talk about rock climbing. It's scary at first, but dang it. When you're at the top of the mountain and you just accomplish this very hard thing, the high you get from that, it's fun to execute little things well, but the high at the end when you've executed this hard thing and it actually you get a result. Holy crap, I'm hungry for that a lot. I need that over and over and over again. And so once you embrace the little tricky parts to get to that place, it's super rewarding moving forward.
Gerhard Gerschwandtner (23:02):
Donny, there's a book I want to recommend. It's by Josh Waitzkin, it's called The Art of Learning and it actually has the subtitle on inner journey to optimal performance. And Josh Waitzkin was the junior chess champion in the US at the age 16 or 17. And he actually was a subject of a movie called in search of Bobby Fischer. And he actually gave up chess and transferred that inner learning to tai chi push hands competition which is a Korean specialty. And he actually went to Korea to compete in the world championship. And he became world champion.
Donny Crawford (23:54):
From chess to tai chi? That's awesome.
Chris Beall (24:01):
Let's talk about a breakthrough. By the way, we told folks that we were going to teach them how to have a fail safe discovery meeting. What's funny is, and it's just a funny thing. I'm going to put this in and then turn it back over to Donny. The fact of the matter is, you promise in this breakthrough approach that you're going to share a breakthrough with them. Therefore, a fail say, pre discovery meeting is nothing more than sharing this breakthrough. However, for it to be fail safe, you need to have the psychology of that meeting appropriate to that meeting. When somebody accepts a meeting with you, you actually have got to start that meeting off a little bit differently than an ambush because you're not ambushing them. So now you need to actually establish a connection at the beginning and then you have to get them to go from their current mental, emotional state, which is apprehension that you're going to sell to them to some other state, which is basically a mutual curiosity and collaboration in order to find some truth.
What I call the confessional and there's a little path you can take somebody on in that conversation also from that feeling of apprehension about being sold to, to a feeling of pride. So rather than going to trust what you already have, you can go to pride. And many times I've seen people say, experts say, just get to the point. Well, the point is not, hey, I'm going to interrogate you about what's true about your business in some dry fashion. The point is that we might actually decide to do something together. That's pretty risky for you. It's not very risky for me, by the way, I'm the salesperson pretty risky for you because your reputation's on the line, your careers on the line. And we need to make that move from apprehension to it's okay to work together through some other emotional states.
And the easy one to get through too, is pride of place. And that is just ask somebody, "Where are you on the face of our blue whirling planet?" And they will speak with pride about their home. They chose it and they'll speak with pride about it. And it's quite an amazing experience to allow their pride in themselves in just where they live. Something as simple as that to allow you then to go to their pride and their mission just by asking them this question, which is when everything goes great.
When it's really outstanding, when it's the perfect fit between your solution and the customer's need, when their budget is there, when the price is right for them, where your customer success, people do the right thing. The customer does the right thing. When everything works great, how does your product or your offering change that person's life? And you let somebody answer that. And now there's pride in their professional world. That's how to actually conduct that breakthrough sharing session because then you can get to those three things, the economic one, the emotional one and the strategic one, but you're doing it in an emotional setting. That's got a shot. So there I threw in the purpose. Otherwise, we're not keeping our press or [crosstalk 00:27:18] webinar, but now you've learned it while you've heard it anyway. And Donny, take us home here. We have three minutes.
Donny Crawford (27:25):
If you back up to the blueprint, I think that there's something really important here. If you are able to enter into a relationship with someone, there's two types of people in the world, I'm going to classify the human race. You have the ability to classify them. People you've never spoken to and people who you have. As long as you treat the people who you have never spoken to before with a certain understanding that they are somewhat afraid of you when you try to reach out to them for the first time, everyone has a little bit of that apprehension. If you're able to get a little bit of trust with them, every touch, if you've established trust right at the beginning, get go of the relationship. Just to reiterate what Chris was saying. Every touch from that point forward, if you are able to maintain that trust then in any other discussion that you have with them after the first one.
So I've talked with them the first time. Those are the people who I need to reach out to for the first time. Every other interaction moving forward from that point, they are able to trust you and therefore give you what you need to help them out moving forward. And when it comes to these breakthrough sharing discussions or discovery calls or getting them into a pilot phase, if you've opened up the relationship with a trust building process, and they're able to continue trusting you on an ongoing basis, they are willing and eager to continue to learn from you, work with you, confess their problems with you. And from that point forward, you're able to continue to reach out to them when the timing is right and be able to share with them what you need to share with them so that they're going to be able to essentially get all the benefits that your product, your service you are offering is able to offer to them. But it all does start with this trust.
Chris Beall (29:32):
Flight School is unlike anything else in the world. It is completely unique. It's life fire. It's the only sales training in the world where you make money. You're not spending money, you're actually making it because you're talking to real prospects, having real meetings and real good things happen. You build pipeline during the training at a much higher rate than you might be doing otherwise.
Gerhard Gerschwandtner (29:53):
That was fascinating, Donny. I just reminded when you talked about the magic that happens in a conversation, I think we all want to discover a better way of connecting with people and you have shown us today. There is a better way, and it's not just about the message. It's about how you deliver the message. The message has to come really deep from inside of you, the essence of you needs to resonate with other people. So you are talking about authenticity, but the authenticity only comes out if you do the opening right. And I see the opening like the first button on a shirt. If the first button is right, all the other buttons are right.
Chris Beall (29:53):
It's going to line up.
Gerhard Gerschwandtner (30:48):
But if the first button is wrong, they don't line up and you're not going to have a positive connection with the customer.
Chris Beall (30:54):
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