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CEO @ ConnectAndSell
How long do sellers have to gain trust during a cold call? 7 seconds.
Whether you’re using intent data or slightly warm leads, the first few seconds of that first outreach are the most important. But sellers often miss the mark by overly pushing their product or failing to build trust and spark the prospect’s curiosity.
In this episode of Closing Time, Chris Beall shares outbound cold calling tips that help sellers create productive conversations quickly and increase their chances of booking a meeting in less than 30 seconds.
For many businesses, their growth strategy revolves around having more conversations. The underlying issue here is trust, which many people tend to overlook. Trust is a critical factor in B2B buying decisions, as buyers are risking their reputation, career, and more on a considered purchase from you, the seller. The subconscious mindset of a buyer is that they must trust the seller with the decision more than they trust themselves because they are experts, and the buyer is not.
But how do you get trust? The answer is not through sending emails or LinkedIn messages. You need to get inside your potential buyer’s midbrain, emotional centers, and have their undivided attention long enough to gain their trust. The first conversation with a potential buyer is critical because you have just 7 seconds to get their trust. If you don’t get trust in that first conversation, you’re never going to get it.
If you want to dominate markets, you have to get all the way into what happens in that first conversation. It’s all about paving the market with trust, which you can harvest over the three-year replacement cycle for your product category. However, this is not an easy feat as most categories of considered purchases won’t buy another product for about three years. Therefore, you need to spread that trust over many conversations and be good at it.
When it comes to outbound selling and cold calling, building trust in the first 7 seconds is crucial. But how do you do it? According to Chris Voss, former FBI hostage negotiator, it’s all about showing tactical empathy and demonstrating your competence to solve a problem. Even if you’re interrupting someone, you can still create trust by acknowledging that you’re an interruption and showing that you understand their perspective.
One way to do this is by using a playful and curious voice, which can help ease their fear and make them more receptive to what you have to say. The key is to be sincere and practice your approach until it feels natural.
Here’s the script that Chris recommends:
“[Name], I know I’m an interruption. Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called?”
In the age of remote work, B2B calling has undergone significant changes. Outbound calling has become more challenging with more people working from home and relying on cell phones. ConnectAndSell, a data-driven platform for sales teams, has noted that while the number of dials required to reach someone hasn’t changed much, it can still be a tedious process. On average, it takes around 21.2 dials to get someone to answer, but with data about who answers and on what numbers, this number can be reduced to about ten dials per session.
Interestingly, ConnectAndSell’s data shows that COVID only affected call answer rates for the first four months of the pandemic. During this period, people were more likely to answer their phones because they didn’t know who might be calling them. This chaos led to an increase in call answer rates that returned to normal levels after the four-month mark.
In terms of dial type, cell phone dials only constitute about 9% of all dials, but they result in approximately 51% of all conversations. Meanwhile, navigated dials through phone systems, such as IVR trees and name directories, result in about 74% of all meetings. Salespeople may view these methods as too time-consuming and avoid them, but ConnectAndSell believes they offer a higher yield. Navigated phone calls can be likened to precision-guided weapons that may take more effort to deliver, but, when done correctly, can lead to more significant results.
The biggest mistake outbound sales reps make on cold calls? Sharing their product or service‘s value. Jumping straight to business value may come across as presumptuous and turn off potential buyers. Instead, consider sharing non-business value that speaks to the person’s emotional state, such as acknowledging a common frustration or providing a helpful tip. Remember, the person on the other end wants to end the call with their self-image intact, so your goal should be to make the conversation pleasant and memorable. By doing so, you’ll be more likely to create a connection and earn their trust for future conversations.
Building curiosity can be a key strategy for making the most of cold calls. By focusing on piquing a prospect’s interest rather than simply promoting your business’s value, you can increase your chances of getting them to take a meeting with you.
To do this, it’s important to create what Chris Beall refers to as “the Flaming Highwire of Curiosity.” In other words, you need to grab the prospect’s attention and keep them engaged long enough to get them interested in what you have to say. One effective approach is to start with a brief introduction and then ask for permission to share a breakthrough that you believe can help them. This approach can be disarming and engaging, helping to avoid psychological reactance, which is when people automatically push back against promotional messaging.
In this case, Chris recommends claiming to be “lucky” rather than “great.” People are attracted to lucky people, and by using this approach, you can help to keep the prospect interested and engaged. It’s also important to remember that people are curious about other people, so using words like “we” and “us” can help to create a sense of connection and interest.
Once you have their attention, it’s time to share your story and explain how your breakthrough can help solve the prospect’s problems. By presenting your solution as the hero of a story that overcomes obstacles and solves problems, you can help to create a sense of excitement and possibility that can lead to a meeting.
Here’s the continued script:
“I believe we’ve discovered a breakthrough that [inster industry problem/solution]… and the reason I’ve reached out to you is to get 15 minutes on your calendar to share this breakthrough with you. Do you happen to have your calendar available?”
More conversations. It’s pretty much what all salespeople want. With more conversations, you have more leads, more opportunities and more closed-won business. And so what’s the right combination of human touch plus technology to get you there? We’re going to talk it over in this episode of Closing Time. Thanks for tuning in to Closing Time, the show for Good Market Leaders.. My name is Chip House, I’m the CMO of Insightly. And today I’m joined by Chris Beall. He is the CEO of ConnectAndSell.. And Chris, It’s a really special episode today because today is our one year, our 52nd episode of Closing Time, and you’re part of it. Fantastic, Chip. Thanks for having me. Yeah, I’m super excited to talk to you and I have a feeling that this is going to be a fun conversation, just from our banter earlier. So what do you think of that idea that I introduced the show with? I mean, it’s just that so many businesses, strategy, their growth strategy is built around just getting into more conversations. Is that true? And why is that so? Well, it is true for those that are thinking clearly about the situation. And then everything else kind of comes down to the to the how. There’s an interesting issue that people don’t talk about, which is trust and by saying they don’t talk about it, they kind of think it’s like a soft thing, like, oh, you know, somebody get somebody trust them. But when you think about the B2B buying decision, somebody is putting their career on the line for a considered purchase from you. You know, you’re the seller and they’re not risking their money. They’re risking their reputation, their kid’s college education, their retirement, their career. So what’s their mindset? Mindset is unbeknownst to them by the way, it’s a subconscious mindset. I must trust one of these sellers with this decision more than I trust myself because they’re experts and I’m not. If I were the expert,. I wouldn’t be the buyer. I’d be the seller. So now with that threshold, which Anthony Iannarino opens his book, Elite Sales Strategies with, he quotes somebody, I think it’s me. That person said, people buy from people they trust to make a decision they don’t trust themselves to make. And that’s really the key to all of B2B. And now the question as well, how do we get trust? And the answer is not I send you an email. The answer is not, I ping you on LinkedIn. The answer is not, I send you a text. I get to get inside your midbrain, inside your emotional centers, and I need your undivided attention for long enough to get trust. Now flip that all the way to the other side and say, Oh, wait, when does that happen? Well, I asked Chris Voss, the FBI guy. Never Split the Difference, the author of that book.. How long do we have to get trust in a first conversation with somebody?. A cold call. He said 7 seconds. So now you’ve reduced growth strategy down to a really odd thing that people don’t think about, which is the first 7 seconds in the first conversation with the potential buyer. And if you don’t get trust there in that conversation, you’re never going to get it. And now you’ve got a problem. You have a strategy problem. I firmly believe that if you want to dominate markets, you have to get all the way into what happens in that first conversation. I call it paving the market with trust, and then you can harvest that trust over the three year replacement cycle for your category of product, because most categories of products that are considered purchases, they’re not going to buy another one one day after buying the last one, it’s going to be about three years. So 11/12 that your market is not in market this quarter. So how do you spread that trust over three years? It’s really hard because you’ve got to get a lot of conversations and you’ve got to be good at it. For sure. So there’s so much baked into that thus far, you’ve talked on trust, you’ve talked about you have 7 seconds to create that trust. So I think a lot of the people watching right now, is how do I do it? What are the best practices? And, Chris, you know,. I get a lot of phone calls as a CMO, and I think very few have ever been able to get my trust in 8 seconds, I feel like. So how do you do it? Well, what Voss said to me and by the way, he was on his third bourbon, so I know he was telling me the truth. You know, when they start with the truth serum before they talk to me, you know you’re pretty good, right? So he said, Look, it’s so simple. We just have to show that other person We see the world through their eyes. We call it tactical empathy. And then we need to demonstrate to them that we’re competent to solve a problem they have right now. So I asked him, isn’t the problem they have right now, me? I just ambushed them. They weren’t expecting me. Yeah. You interrupted him, right? Yeah. He said, Yeah,. They’re afraid of you actually. You’re an invisible stranger. The worst thing in the environment of evolution. So he said, that’s actually what makes it work, is you’re in complete control, oddly enough, because when you interrupt somebody and scare them, they won’t admit they’re scared, but they are, inside. You have an opportunity to relieve that fear by showing them that you see the world through their eyes and then demonstrating to them that you can solve a problem they have right now. Well, you’re the problem, so that’s easy. So now you’re down to can you show them you see the world through their eyes. You only have maybe two or 3 seconds to do this. And the answer is, it turns out it’s easy. One way to do it is just to say the truth, right? The truth is, I am a bad thing. But you don’t want to use the phrase ‘bad thing’ because it’s too complicated. So you just say, Chip,. I know I’m an interruption. Not I realize I’m interrupting your day. Not I know I’m a bit of an interruption,. I have a rep who says that. Gets shut down every time. It’s a hard hammered, I’m going under the bus. I know I’m an interruption. And then you’ve got to show you’re competent to solve the problem I have, which is you. Well, that’s easy. You offer to go away in exchange for something. I’ll tell you why I called, and you have to say it in the voice that makes them want to come along with you. So the FBI has this voice. They call it playful, curious. So this is the hard part. You have to switch from bang hammering this, you know, like self indictment to being playful. It’s really hard to do. I mean, you have to practice and practice and practice, it has to be sincere. You have to mean it. You have to know what’s good for the other person. But you can say something like, can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called. In a playful and curious voice. The 27 seconds is weird. He calls it the law of odd numbers. It’s not because it’s even or odd, because it’s an odd number. It’s really easy to say by the way. 27 is like one of the easiest numbers to say. And, made an offer. just give me 27 seconds. I’ll tell you why I called and then I’m out of here and you get to achieve your goal, which is to get off this call with your self image intact. So talk to me about how this is shifted, right? Because a big piece of it is getting into the conversation in the first place. Right? So people have moved away from their offices. They’re now at home, maybe on a different phone number, only their cell phone maybe so B2B calling has changed a ton just in the past couple of years. How has it changed outbound calling? Well, the stats haven’t changed that much. And we’ve got a pretty good, at ConnectAndSell, pretty good beat on it. How many dials does it take to get somebody to answer? On average, about 21.2. But it varies. Everybody’s different. Now, if you have data about who answers the phone and who doesn’t answer the phone and on what numbers which we happen to have, you can reduce that number down for a average down session, down to about ten dials, but still kind of painful. Right? So we provide a system that lets you do that and we gather all that data. Did anything really change with COVID? Only one thing changed. People are more likely to answer the phone for the first four months of COVID. The reason was they were working from home and they don’t know who’s going to call them because now suddenly your cell phone number is part of your business network internally, which are the most important calls. So you answer a lot more calls during that chaotic period. So the call answer rates actually improved for four months and they settled right back down to where they always were. And interestingly, cell phone dials constitute about 9% of all dials. They pick up more, so they constitute about 51% of all the conversations. But navigated dials through phone systems constitute 74% of all the meetings. So when you think about it, if your goal is to get somebody to trust you, that’s just them answering, right? If you want to get a meeting out of that next 27 seconds, which is like the bonus prize, then it turns out that the navigated phone call that goes through the IVR tree, name directory, the gatekeeper, all the stuff that salespeople think is too wasteful to do, and they try to stay away from when it gets to destination, it has higher yield. It’s like a precision guided weapon, right? It’s harder to get it there, but when it gets there, it goes boom, Good things happen. Yeah. And so is that the main benefit is it kind of navigated their way in through the corporate tree and so it seems more trusted on the onset versus some strange number, you know, and there’s a combination, by the way, of, you know, human element and technology here. I think, you know, judging again from the calls I get,. I only have a cell phone here at home. But, you know, I’m used to people calling from my area code now that are not really in my area code, you know,. And so I feel like that ruse maybe has changed a little bit and is no longer may be as effective as it was. But I want to talk more about where we were, right. Because this piece of really making that call effective and creating the trust in 7 seconds is fascinating to me. You know, start by throwing yourself under the bus. Propose. Hey, can I tell you why I called in 27 seconds? What else? You know. And then there has to be some statement of value that’s really going to draw the potential buyer in, correct? Exactly. And yet it can’t be business value. So this is the subtlety of the cold call. If you jump to business value, you’re being presumptuous. You’re basically saying, look, you were waiting for a salesperson to call you and tell you how to do your job. Well, nobody’s ever waited for that call, right? So now you’re jumping into value like we help companies like X,. Y, and Z do A, B and C. This is what marketing people write as value, right? Because it sounds like value. The problem is the psychological state that person is in when you ambush them is not, I sure hope somebody tells me about a bunch of potential value. It is, I want to get off this call with my self-image intact. They never change, that motivation never changes. So now the question is, as the cold caller, how do you work with that motivation in order to take a step forward? So by avoiding business value and going down the path of curiosity, we have a shot at getting somebody to do something. All of this curiosity is the emotion that makes us do new things and taking a meeting with somebody is a new thing. We’ve never met with them before. So now there is this new thing being proposed. So how do we go down that path? I call it the the flaming highwire of Curiosity. You get out of it, you better get moving before somebody notices that, you know, it’s kind of shaky up there, right? Yeah. Before they notice they’re out there. Right, in the first place. That they’re out there. Right. So you invite them out there. So you say something like this. I would say this to you if I were cold calling as ConnectAndSell. I’d say, can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I call, you’re relieved. And you go, Yeah, sure, go ahead. Or you go, Yeah, you got 25 seconds. But the easy thing to say is, yes, at that point, I say, Thanks, Chip. Chip,. I believe we’ve discovered a breakthrough that completely eliminates the waste and the frustration that keeps your best sales reps from having conversations on the phone or good ones, or even using the phone at all in business. And the reason I reached out to you is to get 15 minutes in your calendar to share this breakthrough with you. Do you happen to have your calendar available? That’s what I’m going to say. Now, why do I say that? Well, I’m going to slide down this little curiosity path pretty quickly and I’m going to avoid psychological reactance. That’s when I say I’m great or my company’s great. If I say I’m great, my company is great, whatever.. You’re going to say, no, you’re not. I call that the third grade playground. My daddy’s stronger than your daddy. No, he’s not. Yes, he is. No, it’s not. I’ve got to avoid psychological reactance. So how do I do it? I claim to be lucky. Not great.. People like lucky people. They’re attracted to lucky people. I used to live in Vegas and I was a card counter, trust me, you pile up a bunch of chips on a table. Everybody wants to be your friend. There’s just something about lucky people that’s attractive to other people. People are curious about people. So when you say, I believe, that gets their attention, that’s like undivided attention. Nobody says that. And then you say, I believe we I believe we’ve discovered a breakthrough. Who’s we? People are interested in people. And a breakthrough is always positive, and it’s a set up for a story. So in the whole world of marketing communications, the ultimate is we tell a story that brings somebody along to a new insight. So we’re going to tell a story in which a breakthrough as the hero and the hero’s journey story, it’s going to slay a three headed dragon. One economic.. My favorite is a waste. One emotional.. My favorite is frustration. And one strategic. My favorite is whatever it is that you can help with. Where if somebody got that help, they’d be unblocked strategically. They can move forward. That’s that little piece, and then you’re done. You’ve fulfilled your promise by saying,. And the reason I reached out today is to get 15 minutes on your calendar to share this breakthrough with you. And then playful curious. We call this landing the airplane. I’m wearing my flight school shirt. You take it off in the first 7 seconds, you fly somewhere in the next 27, and then you deal with the turbulence, all the objections, and then you land the airplane.. You ask for the meeting. It’s fascinating because it’s direct and it’s a little bit disarming, you know, And because it’s that way, it’s easy to say, yes, okay, great. I’ll take the next meeting. It seems like you’re almost doing them a service by interrupting them by the end of the call, which is truly fascinating psychology. Well, Chris, thank you so much for these insights. It was super great talking to you.. Love your expertise. I would love to maybe have you back and drill into more of the science behind this potentially and learn more about your technology. But it’s really exciting to learn about how you and your, you know, methodologies make the most of every second on new phone calls. Well, thanks. I mean, we deliver 3.2 million conversations a year. We sort of had to pay attention to how they work. And what I’d like to talk about next time if we have a chance is the marketing impact, because the sales impact is actually smaller than the marketing impact of that call. And it’s because when you talk to somebody, they’ll visit your website. Yeah. Which is, you know, now another source of leads for the marketing person, and another chance to gain trust I guess, and gain understanding of your product, right? Yeah, absolutely. Outbound conversations turn in to inbound inbound leads, even if the conversation is negative. In fact, the negative conversations produce the highest rate of inbound leads and the most money. The most pipeline is built off negative conversations. Everybody feels good about the positive ones. Well, that’s that’s an interesting stat that is also counterintuitive, but we’ll drill into that next time. So thanks again, Chris, for joining. Really appreciate it. Wonderful. Thanks for having me on, Chip. And thanks to all of you out there for joining us for 52 episodes. We are so excited to have one year of Closing Time under our belt and we’re excited for the next 52 to come. We’ll see you next time.