How do you produce the emotional reaction that you want in those you are cold calling? Bruce Lewolt, Founder of both JoyAI and Blast Learning, has devoted himself to discovering the answer to this question. Bruce joins our Market Dominance Guys, Corey Frank and Chris Beall, to explain how even the most carefully worded message and well-meaning tone and pacing don’t always have the emotional significance to your prospect that you had hoped they would. “When your prospect is only half-listening, what do they hear?” Bruce asks. Ah, that’s the question! These three experienced and dynamic cold callers each share their well-thought-out theories on how to communicate authenticity, spark curiosity, and offer intrinsic value that will elicit the kind of response from your prospect that will lead to setting a meeting. Here at Market Dominance Guys, we are devoted to helping you answer the tough sales questions, like this one: “What Do Your Prospects Really Hear?”
About Our Guest
Bruce Lewolt is Founder of Blast Learning, a service that uses Alexa or Google Assistant as an intelligent personal study assistant, resulting in a state-of-the-art study method that is not just effective but makes learning enjoyable. (See BlastLearning.com and BlastStudy.com) He is also the Founder of JOYai, the first emotionally intelligent and sales-savvy artificial intelligence system for salespeople, bringing intelligent automation to prospecting and selling.
Full episode transcript below:
Corey Frank (01:23):
Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys. This is Corey Frank, with Chris Beall, the prophet of profit, the sage of sales. And I got a new one, Chris, the Hawking of hawking. How about that, right? No? Nothing? This on? Is this on? All right. The Hawking of hawking. And in the hot seat today, we have a very special guest, one who's well overdue but keeps rebuffing our advances to be on the Market Dominance Guys for the last three years, Bruce Lewolt, the CEO of Blast Learning and overall connoisseur of the craft of inside sales. So welcome Bruce.
Bruce Lewolt (01:59):
Nice to be with you guys, finally.
Corey Frank (02:02):
Chris Beall (02:02):
Corey Frank (02:02):
Chris Beall (02:03):
I mean, I'm telling you, I don't know. I remember standing with you on a boat out off of Chicago one day talking about some crazy stuff, and we didn't even have a podcast, but if we would, you would've had to been a guest like that night or something.
Bruce Lewolt (02:18):
Yeah, we had this fascinating conversation about using the latest research on emotion and personality to craft cold call messages. That was fun.
Chris Beall (02:28):
That was fun. And we drank enough to make it clear.
Bruce Lewolt (02:31):
It was clear to both of us before we got off the boat, I think.
Chris Beall (02:34):
Bruce Lewolt (02:35):
I'm pretty sure you were clearer than I was, but anyway.
Corey Frank (02:40):
Bruce, you've tasted the same dirt certainly as Chris in the trenches here of the cold calling world, AISP, and been CEO of many company. But, your expertise and your focus seems to be more on the AI side, the neuroscience, the...
Bruce Lewolt (02:54):
Corey Frank (02:54):
... the trust side.
Bruce Lewolt (02:56):
Right. The real science side of this. And I come to it from training. You can't train unless you really understand why something works in the background. And so I built for salespeople at IBM training programs for, you mentioned the AISP training programs for them, lots and lots of different companies. And before I went off then and started this new company in the middle of the pandemic to solve a huge problem that I saw coming. And we'll get to that. But the thing that's interesting about this, that with all of this stuff that I've learned along the way training, oh, goodness thousands. Well, actually hundreds of thousands because we trained to hundred thousand salespeople in China alone in one go. So that put us in the hundreds.
But even with all that, as a founder of a new company, when I said, "Look, I'm not going to get startup funding. I'm going to fund this thing myself by doing what I've trained other people to do." And that is get initial sales using cold calling. And I'm glad I did that because I discovered a depth that I never would've discovered before. And we'll talk about those things. So this really will help startup founders. You don't have to sell your soul to the startup funding club. You can, if you want, but you can do it another way. But also to sales leaders, real new level of insight into what works and how to get salespeople to do what they need to do on a consistent basis.
Chris Beall (04:22):
That's so interesting too when you talk about startups and how they get funded, there's a couple of things that I've deeply believed for the last 11 years it's coming to ConnectAndSell. And one of them is that conversations are the competition for venture capital and vice versa. And targeted conversations actually are a form of capital that folks don't get. And so they think they need money, but when you break it down, you just say, "Well, what if I could give you 200 targeted conversations? What would that do?" It's like, oh, I don't need quite so much money, but they don't think like that.
Bruce Lewolt (04:58):
Yeah. And you have said that to me for three years, and I understood the surface level of why that was. So because I like the sales that come from it. I want the money that comes from it. But when I did it myself, I discovered that there's an underlying factor there that's like the iceberg below there. And that's this; when you go into a startup venture, so just the nickel tour. So it's the pandemic. I am education researcher. I know that if a student has a single bad year in school, they never make it up. They never catch up. And now we have students, through no fault of their own, that had not one but many cases, two solid bad years in school. They're never going to make it up. Well, when they get to college, they're going to crash and burn at astronomical rates. And particularly for majors that are more difficult.
And so I built this new eLearning system for majors that require to take certification exams. And I started with nursing because we need a lot of nurses. I'm getting older. I really want there to be enough nurses around. And there isn't going to be, unless we solve the nurse dropout problem, which is astronomical. But any majors where students have to remember what they learned for future certification exams, engineering, all that. So I had that down. I went to build it. Didn't want to go through spending tons of time getting the startup capital thing going. And I'm not sure if anybody would invest in me at my age anyway. But the fact of the matter was I did it out of desperation and found out what I was talking about this under the iceberg thing. And here it is; there is a language to your value propositions that no matter how long you have been in your industry, you don't understand.
You understand the words you say, you understand what those words mean to you. But what you don't understand is in a cold call situation when somebody's kind of half-listening, what do those words mean to them? And how do you recraft those words so that they have the emotional significance that's really important to them. And that's why I think every founder should cold call, right? For the vet, before they launch a product, because now you really, really figure it out. And we can dive more into that. I don't want to dominate talking here, but that's the below-the-surface part of iceberg.
Chris Beall (07:29):
That is fascinating. And you've always said about cold calling, there's these two pieces of it, right? One piece is this, I'll call it the outward stroke. I'll be like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, right? Talk about the outward stroke and the inward stroke. So I think Corey always knew that I'd turn into him, but I can't grow the beard and the hair and all that or sit cross-legged. No. But I'm going to do the rest of it. So the outward stroke has an impact on the world, right? And we're looking to have that impact. But what I believe is so important is the inward stroke where we learn. And when we learn that turns it into some kind of flywheel.
Bruce Lewolt (08:03):
Yes, that's right. And that's exactly what happened. And this is sad. But when I started doing cold calls, my first calls, I crashed and burned. And had I not done it myself being the proud writer of scripts and trainer of cold callers, I would've just blamed it on my salespeople. Yeah, they're just not the right thing. If only they would do it in the right way, the right tonality, whatever. But the fact was these really clever, really cool words that I said, that meant one thing to me, meant something to others. But, when I listened to the reaction and then molded the reaction and listened for the emotion of the reaction, I learned things that marketing could never tell me. Marketing could A B test messages. They could tell you incrementally, but they cannot listen for the emotion. And they don't have the intelligence on the other side, in the background on the other side to really interpret the emotion to say, "Oh, I get it. So what I'm saying is really producing this reaction, which is not the reaction I wanted. How do I actually produce the reaction I want in them?" And so that worked.
Now, many of you that are listening to this podcast aren't startup founders. But, I encourage you, if you're a sales leader, if you're a sales VP, bite the bullet. You don't have to let anybody listen to you. Do the cold calling yourself. You don't have to do it for long. You just have to do it till you're really confident that you understand the language. And by the way, when we start talking about the second step of this, how you then take what you learn and transfer it to other people in a way that they do it consistently, the credibility of the fact that you did it yourself really goes a long way with that.
Corey Frank (09:50):
Yeah, Chris, I think we've had our share of cold calling topics here on this podcast, as far as the share of what kind of quality ingredients for the most nutritional value that you need in there. But specifically for founders, I think we did a couple of episodes. I think you live it Chris, right? Certainly, you and Sean McLaren over at ConnectAndSell, make your fair share of demos and cold calls. And what does that do to your organization, knowing that you're walking the virtual calls doing the same thing that a lot of the folks on the team are doing?
Chris Beall (10:19):
Well, it's hard for me to tell because I'm not one of them, right? So I'm kind of stuck where I am. But I think one of the things about our company it's kind of magical is somebody called it a cold call cult, and they were trying to be negative about it out on Glassdoor. And we read it and we smiled and went, "Yeah, cool." Right? And the cult element of it is that cold calling is something that's difficult to believe in properly, to know what it's for, unless you do it. And when you do it, it actually changes you. It's not like changes you as a person. Maybe it does. Maybe it makes you different in terms of your confidence. That's why we call it in finishing school for future CEOs, when you learn how to talk to strangers in the most awkward circumstances, you can certainly talk to them in less awkward circumstances, have good conversations.
And that's the hallmark of a CEO that has a shot of leading somewhere with almost anyone anywhere, anytime, and you slap them awake and there they are. They're talking sense to you if you got any luck, right? But it's not that actually. It's exactly what Bruce is talking about. It's the nuances of meaning and how the words go with what it is that you're trying to convey, that you learn from the reaction that other people have, not just the data, but the reaction. It's that 20,000 bits a second that you are processing. So we always talk about how they're processing. The prospect is processing 20,000 bits a second while you're speaking, but you are processing 20,000 bits a second coming back. You can't see them. You hear how they're reacting at a level that changes you and you find yourself adapting. And we're all really, really good at it, but we can't do it without a closed-loop. And so I think it does make a difference for the employees to know.
One of the hardest things to do in a company is to regularize the language, to get everybody using the special words exactly the same way. As you know, I used to be a systems designer. And when I'd go to design a system, architect designer of these big software systems, I just get everybody in the room and we would decide all exactly what the words meant. We would define each word that we were going to use three different ways. We'd write them on the whiteboard. We'd make a dictionary. And if you misused a word, that was a sin in that organization. So if we were going to use a specific or common word in a specific way, then it always meant that specific thing. You weren't allowed to use it generically.
And I think we teach ourselves that by getting so to speak in that room, but with our prospects one after another. And they teach us exactly what the words are and what they mean to them. Because when we get it wrong, they tell us. Maybe not always in words, but they tell us. And we got to be pretty dense not to be able to take that in. You just have to be human. The other thing I think is funny is people often think about this topic like, oh you got to be salesperson. That's meaningless.
We'll be back in a moment after a quick break. Selling a big idea to a skeptical customer, investor or partner is one of the hardest jobs in business. So when it's time to really go big, you need to use an uncommon methodology to gain attention, frame your thoughts, an employee successful sequencing that is fresh enough to convince others that your ideas will truly change their world. From crafting just the right cold call screenplays, to curating and mapping the ideal call list for your entire team, Branch49's modern and innovative sales toolbox offers a guiding hand to ambitious organizations in their quest to reach market dominance. Learn more at branch49.com. And we're back with Corey and Chris.
Chris Beall (14:23):
Bruce Lewolt (14:23):
The more you sound like a salesperson, people have automatic scripts in their brains, right? If you strike at me, I flinch away walk. I see a stake in the thing, I back up. This automatic reactions. Well, people have programmed their brain with an automatic reaction to something that sells like a salesperson on a call because we get so many annoying sales calls, right? So we react negatively as soon as that. So the kiss of death is to sound like what people think a salesperson should sound like.
Corey Frank (14:56):
It's funny Bruce, because certainly we've worked together on many campaigns as Chris and I. And one of the analogies that I really like that somebody came up with here, one of our leaders, was this example of when we're talking, we call them screenplay here at Branch49, right? And in the screenplay, as Chris knows from being a devout 27 seconds kind of swore, and we adapt much of that 27 seconds thought, right? There's a lot, it seems right, Chris, on LinkedIn, just in the last week or two, about to 27 seconds to use a permission-based opener or not. And well they don't work anymore. I think somebody even posted permission, "Based openers do not work. Don't use them." And I said, "Well, do you want to look at our data?" No, because no one told us, no one told you I=
Bruce Lewolt (15:40):
Bad permission-based ones don't work.
Corey Frank (15:42):
Bruce Lewolt (15:43):
Chris Beall (15:43):
Just so you guys know, I'm looking right now at a screen that's our leaderboard for today. And Becky Benson, who's been working for us for, I don't know, three weeks, doing cold calls, set 0.94 meetings per hour of prospecting today. And I don't know, if it's not working, that's a pretty good format not working when you get a meeting per hour.
Corey Frank (16:05):
Yeah. Exactly. And so I agree with that. And permission-based absolutely do work with the performance, right Bruce? And the screenplay, which is there's certain pieces of it that should be performed like Mozart and you don't improvise Mozart. It just is. And then there's other pieces that we allow them to have more like jazz, where as long as you're following the routines on the reservation, you're fine. But here's the point that this particular leader made, was that when you deliver a great screenplay performance to build that trust, Chris, that we've talked about so many times, it's taking you to a place as a prospect where I'm beginning a period of endearment with this person. I'm beginning a period of, I trust them more and more. Now I'm becoming more curious about where they're taking me. And as soon as I screw it up a little bit by doing something stupid, like sounded like a salesperson, it's as if we watch a movie and we see the cable holding up Superman, or we see the boom mic in the frame of the camera and you're like, wait a minute. The illusion goes away. This is not real. And everything, like inception, comes tumbling down. And I really like that analogy about the importance of authenticity to build that trust.
Bruce Lewolt (17:28):
You said two words there. So when we say to people, I tell salespeople, you tell your salespeople, you got to be authentic. What does that really mean to them though? What are those words? How do you actually do it? And you used a word that I like a lot in cold calling, and that is curiosity. So when companies call and they're very specific, as opposed to creating curiosity, they sound salesy. So when I called originally, I said, "I'm Bruce Lewolt from Blast Learning. Well in the industry I'm calling from, everybody's heard from 10,000 LMS systems, learning management systems, think, "Oh learning management system. I know what that is already. I'm onto my script to get off the yard. I don't need this." Right? No curiosity there, because I gave them enough information to decide exactly what I am, and I sounded like a salesperson.
So alls I did is I just started this, "This is Bruce Lewolt from Blast." Okay, there's curiosity there. So what are those guys? So if you're a cybersecurity company, AB Cybersecurity, "I'm Bruce Lewolt from AB," not "AB Cybersecurity, you're home for better security worldwide in the rain and in the snow. Whatever you need, we know what to do." No. don't give that much information because it takes away the curiosity. On the other side of that, of the authenticity, is somehow getting into their world. That's what really drives that. You know them, you're in their world. Without being salesy again, means that you're not being super-specific. So to the 27 seconds name, can I have 27 seconds for what? To tell you why I called works in many situations. But what I found works even better is if I did something that really resonated with their pain or need, in my case, it was to share how we can help their students.
That last thing for certain people, especially people that are caring people, if you're calling caring personality types, should be something that they cannot say no to. They can't say, "No, I don't want to hear about how somebody can help my students. I don't want to hear about a learning management system." And we're not one, by the way, we're a study system. After somebody's learned something, we increase their memory of that and their ability to use that, so they become a high-performance individual. But they're going to jump to these conclusions if I give them too much information. Or, how I can help your students is replaced with your value proposition. Can I tell you something about our mission to... value statements. Startups don't need value statements. They need to understand their customers. So I love what you say. The curiosity and the authenticity. Curiosity at the beginning, ending with authenticity by being in their world.
Chris Beall (20:25):
Yeah. We're pretty sure that basic journey from the prospect, the person that you interrupted, the person you ambushed, from whatever their first emotional state is, which is something negative, probably fear. Fear is expressed as annoyance or something like that. We're pretty confident that they have a goal, which is to get off this call with their self-image intact. Even my mother, I tell this story often, my mother was famous for handling both cold telephone calls and cold knocks on the door. And she always did exactly the same thing. And she'd listen to them until they stopped talking. And then she would say, "No, thank you." And slam the phone down or slam the door. Now, why did my mother say thank you? It wasn't for the other person. It was for herself. She kept herself image intact by saying, no thank you, because my mother was a very polite person. She was a very proper person. And she was slamming the door in your face after you said what you said.
And that knowledge, that's what that other person has in their desire set, lets you go to curiosity easily and makes it a disaster to go to value. Because as soon as you go to value, you've offered them a way to get out of the conversation, get off the phone with their self-image in tact. That's perfectly obvious. All they have to say is, "Thanks Bruce. You know what? We're set." And now then there's no answer for that. There's no answer for, "We're set," other than, "Well, Bruce, no, you're not." Right? Now we're on the third-grade playground and nobody ever made a deal on the third-grade playground. You may get your knees scuffed out there, stuffing around in the dirt. But you can't make even the simplest deal like, you want to have a meeting? You can't even do that.
So I think this is the missed element of cold calling. We tell people to go with value and we tell them a lot. It's like, no, you got to get to value. You got to get to value. Value opens the back door for them to comfortably exit the call to achieve their number one goal at this moment, to get off this call with their self-image intact.
Bruce Lewolt (22:39):
Yeah. True. So just so we're clear with the audience, when we're talking about the value that lets them get off the phone, it's the value to you. It's, are you interested in LMS? Are you interested in calling system? Are you interested in training? Are you interested in all those things? If you present a value that is intrinsic, that they cannot say no to because nobody could say no to, "I'm not interested in learning more about how I can help my students, how I can do help students do whatever it is," or I'm trying to put it in somebody else's words or world, but something that's really that they cannot say no to, but it's not specific. Because, if I know that it's a learning management system, I know it's a sales training system, then I know I'm good in that. I can say "No, we're good at that. We got it. Yeah. We just bought one yesterday." Need a new copier? Just bought it, whatever that is. And it takes some trial and error to craft that in a way that's really in their world that makes some sense. And it has to be paired with curiosity. Got to be a little curious about it.
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