On our podcast this week, our Market Dominance Guy, Chris Beall, is flying solo with an episode about selecting the best SDR to have discovery conversations with senior-level prospects. You might subscribe to the “cheaper cold callers are better” mindset, but Chris presents some well- thought-out reasons to put your money where your telephone’s mouthpiece is. That’s right — once again, Market Dominance Guys is asking you to look at the scary spot — cold calls — and rethink what would work best. Chris’ contention is that people holding senior-level positions are much more likely to respond to and connect with someone who has the same level of experience or background they have.
Here’s what he says: “If somebody is worth having a meeting with, then have a senior person be the contact.” He means, have that person conduct each call in the sales process, from first conversation, through follow-up calls or rescheduling a missed meeting, to the discovery call. Why? Because it’s a lot easier to set a meeting or to get accurate discovery information when talking with a senior person if the caller is also a senior person. Generally, there will be a shared background or job experience that will create a connection between these two senior-level people. As good old Mom used to tell us, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So, put your best, most experienced, highest level cold caller’s foot forward. There are plenty of other sales-related tasks better suited for your young SDRs. Yep. Doing what works: That’s what it’s all about on today’s Market Dominance Guys’ episode, “The Best Frog- Kisser for the Job.”
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Here is the full transcript from this episode:
Chris Beall (02:22):
Hey, everybody. Welcome to a solo episode of Market Dominance Guys. This is Chris Beall, one of your two co-hosts. Corey Frank and I, have not quite been able to get it together, to get it together and put an episode down. And it is Memorial Day weekend, so I figured I'd leave Corey alone to enjoy time with his family, and I'd come down here to the beach and tell you what I think about the world of SDRs.
Chris Beall (02:51):
So here's what I think. SDRs became very popular mostly because Aaron Ross wrote a really cool book called Predictable Revenue. And in Predictable Revenue he said, we should specialize, we should have folks who work really at the top of the funnel who are going out and identifying new business opportunities and engaging with them, bringing them to meetings and getting them into the funnel really proactively.
Chris Beall (03:18):
And back in the day, that could be done with email, and so there was a lot of email involved. It can still be done a little bit with email. It's a lot easier to do just by calling people and talking to them. Although that's not easy, because you're going to go to voicemail probably 23 out of 24 times. So then you could cheat and use something like our product ConnectAndSell. And then you push a button and talk to somebody and suddenly conversations can be how you move forward.
Chris Beall (03:44):
Now here's my point, is once you elect to go conversation first, use a conversation as the very first way that you interact with somebody, a whole bunch of stuff happens, and some of it has something to do with SDRs. Why is that? Well, first let's look at what happens.
Chris Beall (04:02):
When we talk to somebody, especially a senior person, a decision maker, and we talk to them directly, we have a problem at the very beginning and the problem is they don't want to talk to us. Why? Well, they don't know who we are. Frankly we scare them. We're the invisible stranger on the other end of the phone, a whole bunch of reasons that they don't want to talk to us. They want to get off that phone call with their self-image intact.
Chris Beall (04:26):
And fortunately, we can use that fact in order to get them to talk to us, or at least listen to us a little bit. And then we can, as Cheryl Turner has said so artfully, we can turn if into when, and how do we do that? Well, we do this. We say something like, "I know I'm an interruption, can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called?" And then when they say, "Hmm, yeah. Go ahead" or whatever they say, we say what we're going to say, which is I kind of like this breakthrough script.
Chris Beall (04:57):
"I believe we've discovered a breakthrough that completely eliminates," and then you completely eliminate some three bad things. One of them being a bad economic thing, that's time, risk or money. One of them being a bad emotional thing, often frustration, occasionally something more like fear, but fear is kind of a third rail. Be careful of touching that one, because people don't really like to be told that they're afraid of anything.
Chris Beall (05:21):
And then the last one is what we call strategic, which is something that's standing in their way from getting to where they want to go. Strategy is a list of steps where you want to go and how you're going to get there. So it's not how you're going to execute the steps, it's the list of steps. And if a step is becoming accessible, blocked, too expensive or whatever, and that's something where we're a difference maker, where our product or service can make a difference, then we can mention that.
Chris Beall (05:46):
We have to not mention of course, that we offer a known service or a known product in a known category, or they will say, "We're set". Why will they say we're set? Very, very simple reason. They're looking to get off this call with their self-image intact. And an easy way to do it is for you to blow it, tell them what your category is of product or service, and then they can say quite rightly, already got that covered. And you can't say much about that.
Chris Beall (06:15):
So you avoid all that. And then you point out that it'd be a great idea to finish this off by doing what you promised. "So the reason I reached out to you today is to get 15 minutes on your calendar to share this breakthrough with you. Do you happen to have your calendar available?" Say it in a playful, curious voice.
Chris Beall (06:32):
Now, if you go through all of that and then when they say, "Well, I don't know," or whatever, you do the Cheryl Turner play, you manufacture a no-show. No shows are the most powerful thing in business, because once you get them on the phone again, which you will be able to do again if you're using this, as Jerry Hill calls it, cheat code, called ConnectAndSell, then it's really straightforward.
Chris Beall (06:56):
You're going to talk to them after they don't show up for the meeting and say, "Hey, we had something on our calendar for 9:00 AM yesterday, and something must have come up for you. Is now a better time to talk about when we could get something back on the calendar?" And you have that conversation. It might take one, two, three times, but here's a funny thing, by the way, the very, very senior people will show up. CEOs show up almost every time to something that's on their calendar. It's kind of how they live their lives.
Chris Beall (07:23):
More junior people, they're often pulled this way in that. And so they've got a lot of reasons to talk to somebody else that day, rather than talk to you. And that moment something might've come up, they fight more fires is actually what their lives are like. And that's all right. Just go ahead and have that conversation and reschedule.
Chris Beall (07:41):
And remember this, you've just made a list automatically and managed a list of people who actually answer the phone. So that's pretty good, because you know they answer to the phone, they answered the phone before, and now they've answered it twice because you're talking to them about rescheduling. So all is well, they'll answer it over and over, it's their habit. And you can talk to them repeatedly until they actually show up at the meeting. At which point you can have a further conversation with them in which you actually share your breakthrough.
Chris Beall (08:11):
So how do you blow this? Well, one way to blow it is to put a junior person on the phone talking to a senior person. Oren Klaff talks about what we call status alignment or what he calls status alignment, and I sure call it that now. Status alignment is about making sure the other person is aligned with you and you're aligned with them regarding your status in the conversation, that you're equals. And that's a little harder to do when you're just fresh out of school. And you've been put on quote, unquote, the phones in order to talk to people.
Chris Beall (08:43):
You can learn it, but it's harder. It's a lot easier to do when, guess what? You already have that person's status because you have 10, 15, 20 years into the business, you know a thing or two.
Chris Beall (08:56):
And when you talk to them, that will come out two ways. One is in your voice, you will sound different. You'll sound confident. You'll sound like you know what you're talking about, because guess what? You know what you're talking about. The other is when they check you out before coming to the meeting or check out whoever it is that you've set the meeting with, they're going to remember very little. When they check you up, they're going to note, is this somebody I want to meet with or not?
Chris Beall (09:21):
So the easiest meeting to get somebody to come to, and pay attention to, is a meeting that is set by a senior person for themselves, that's an account executive, making their own calls, or for somebody even more senior, say their CEO and there's a reason for that. And this one is not obvious to most folks, but think about it this way.
Chris Beall (09:44):
If somebody is worth having a meeting with, because the data says they're worth having a meeting with, why don't you get off on your best foot and have a meeting with the most senior person available, maybe it's your CEO, who could spend 15 minutes and let this person know why you're really in business, how you're really trying to help people. What it's all really about.
Chris Beall (10:06):
Your CEO or somebody like that, will have a story or two or three about how they got there. They'll be credible. They'll be interesting. They'll share backgrounds with folks.
Chris Beall (10:18):
I had a meeting just this week with somebody and it turns out we both worked at Sun Microsystems and there was a lot to talk about there. But it was a long time ago, 20-something, on my case, 30-something years ago. But we had a lot to talk about there. And we had other things to talk about as a result.
Chris Beall (10:35):
It's not like we're going to have a social conversation. It's just that people's status align around a whole bunch of things, and familiarity, a shared past, that sort of thing can be helpful. If you don't have a past, if you're a 23-year-old SDR, you don't have much of a past, it's hard to have a shared past with a senior person. So it's more difficult to status align.
Chris Beall (11:30):
So you've got to get status alignment before you can get to the point of executing what Corey Frank calls or Oren Klaff calls, Corey calls it that too, a flash role. That's where you casually speak fairly quickly about something that only an expert would know, treating it as something routine. And in our case, it's really simple.
Chris Beall (11:52):
I'll go to a ConnectAndSell leaderboard, and we'll take a look at it. And I'll just say this, I'll say, "Well, take a look there. There's Rob. And Rob is one of our inside salespeople. And Rob has used ConnectAndSell today for three hours, 27 minutes and 35 seconds. And during that time he's had 46 conversations. And out of those 46 conversations, he's set three meetings."
Chris Beall (12:16):
So Rob's probably feeling pretty good today, because 2.3 meetings is his goal. And how did he do that? Well, he pressed that go button that's up at the top. And he waited a little bit. Whenever he wanted a conversation and only when he wanted a conversation. And then he waited. How long did he wait? Three minutes and 54 seconds on average.
Chris Beall (12:34):
Now all that is not very instructive, but it is something interesting, especially when I add, "And Rob did not have to dial the phone once. All he did was pushed a button 46 times, and in the background, what happened was however many dials, you know, 857 dials." So that's a bit of a flash role. You'll have your own.
Chris Beall (12:58):
But if you're a senior, your flash role is better because the fact that you are an expert, makes you sound like an expert and the idea of the flash role is to allow somebody else to be confident in you as an expert, because what is surprising and special to them, what is unusual, what would require expert knowledge is casual and routine to you, and they can tell in the way that you deliver it.
Chris Beall (13:21):
So it's a lot easier to run a sales play, where a senior person sets a meeting for themselves and holds that meeting, or a senior person sets a meeting for an even more senior person, and they hold the meeting together. In which case there's also something to talk about, which is the person who set the meeting, in case that's a reasonable way to use their time. And then you can pass it off to a sales person, should there be a reason to move forward.
Chris Beall (13:50):
So the inversion of this play in which the standard play is start with a junior person because, hey, you're going to have to go through a lot, kiss a lot of frogs, they say, so why don't you assign somebody to kiss the frogs?
Chris Beall (14:01):
Well, the fact is if you assign somebody to kiss the frogs, not very many of them are going to turn into princess or princesses, whichever you prefer. Those frogs are pretty much going to stay frogs, and that's not what you're looking for.
Chris Beall (14:15):
So find yourself a good frog kisser to have the first conversation and especially to take the first meeting. After that, everything's a lot easier. Because really when you come right down to it, you want to have the choices and you don't have very many choices if you have a meeting with somebody who kind of doesn't think that you're that interesting.
Chris Beall (14:36):
So leave the junior people for other work. In fact, research work is great. Learning to cold call is great, but not sure they should be calling the most senior people to set meetings. So they could be calling to ask questions or do all manner of other things.
Chris Beall (14:51):
And don't treat it as a training ground, because if you treat the SDR function as a training ground for being an AE, what you're doing is wasting the top of your funnel. In fact, you're wasting it in a really horrifying way. You are taking the opportunities that are most difficult to identify because you have the least information, and you're providing really an experience that is most likely to cause them to not be interested or cause you to not be interested as a company in going further with them.
Chris Beall (15:21):
So you're going to walk right by some of your very best opportunities, that if a more senior person had actually had the first conversation, and the follow-up conversation, and the appointment rescheduling conversation, and then an even more senior person had had the first discovery call, which would be mutual discovery, not interrogation, which is such a sad and common thing. Then what you'll do is run a very clean top of funnel, that'll give you very pure feedback about the most important thing, which is ultimately your list, because your list is the definition of your market.
Chris Beall (15:55):
So consider this possibility the next time that you're looking at designing or executing one of these sales plays, that your best resource to have a first conversation is a senior resource. And your best, best resource to have a discovery conversation is somebody even more senior than that. And the past can then be down to more junior people who can handle the next steps. The mechanics.
Chris Beall (16:21):
Say there was a demo to be done, or there's some exploration of how you would actually do business together, some due diligence. That kind of work can be done by lots and lots of people.
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