prospects say, “I’m too busy,” “We’re set,” and, “Send me an email” much more often than I hear them say, “Sure! Let’s meet!” The root cause of all these common

failure points is a flawed model of the cold conversation journey. The rep tries to establish rapport by 1. Dealing with their own fear of the prospect’s likely reaction to being interrupted by an invisible stranger.

2. Trying to build relevance, often by mentioning the names of well-known companies with which their firm works.

3. Stating a value proposition, often using language approved by their marketing department.

At this point, most reps are selling

the product, not the meeting. So, when they try to close for the meet- ing, they get the typical, “Send me some information” response. In other words, they take the prospect on a journey from annoyance to nowhere. Is it any wonder reps develop call reluctance? The flaw in the standard cold- conversation model is the assumption that the rep’s fear plus the awkward- ness of ambushing a busy person are impediments to success. However, it turns out that the prospect’s predict- able emotional state is the key to

SELLING TIP Keep Your Options Open

You’ve presented your client with two or three options. He is now ready to buy. He tells you his selection but you think a different option would be better for him. How do you suggest your client reconsider without opening up the proverbial can of worms? An effective way to handle this is to agree – and then have an inspiration. You introduce the inspiration by using

the word “or.” The client tells you his selection and you say, “Great! (pause) or (pause again) do you think Option B might be

better for you because…” This allows you to congratulate your client on making a great decision to buy from you. It allows you to impart new information (or information you’ve already presented and the client has forgotten) to help the client make a new decision. It shows you are looking out for his best interests. It also avoids using the argumen- tative “but.” Whether the client changes per your suggestion or stays with his first decision, you’ve done your job, kept a good rapport, and made the best possible sale.



guiding them on a journey that is much more likely to lead to an agree- ment to meet. What is that emotional state? Fear. The ambushed prospect is afraid of the rep – an invisible stranger who reminds their ancient emotional-brain of unfamiliar people showing up in the dark with bad intentions. The feel- ing of danger elicited by an invisible stranger is primitive and ubiquitous. It’s also a powerful platform for the

caller, who now has merely to relieve that fear by first showing they see the world through the prospect’s eyes, and then by demonstrating they are competent to solve a problem their prospect has right now. And what is that problem? Simple. If you are the caller, you are the prob- lem. This gives you the power to offer a plan to solve the problem – at which point the prospect will involuntarily trust you and even listen to what you have to say. With trust established, it’s a straightforward move to curiosity, which is the driving emotion for ac- cepting the offer to meet. There are a few mines to avoid stepping on, like making a claim of being great (which evokes psychological reactance, or what I call “the pushback of the third- grade playground”) and the fatal use of marketing language (which is subtly

insulting and elicits the “We’re set” objection – inviting an argument you can’t win). From curiosity, a little insistence quickly completes the journey to com- mitment to meet: the end state of a successful cold conversation. Note what’s missing: rapport, claims of greatness, personaliza- tion, a customized value proposi- tion based on detailed research, and marketing language. Instead, we are left with a simple, teachable cold-calling framework that starts with the prospect’s reliable fear, con- verts that fear to priceless trust, and steps simply from trust to curiosity and commitment, leaving meaning- ful objections and concerns to be explored in the mutually-agreeable discovery meeting. So, as with so many challenges, cold conversations can be approached a hard way and an easy way. Both ways have the same goal: an agreement to meet. By recognizing and using the prospect’s fear from being ambushed by an invisible stranger, any sales pro- fessional – with effective training and coaching – can become a competent and confident cold conversationalist and master of a critical skill whose time has come again. 

Chris Beall is the CEO of ConnectAndSell.

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