INSIDE Inside Sales – Ep 18: The Science Behind The Cold Call

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Recently Benjamin Dennehy was put on the spot, in front of a live audience, to demonstrate his cold-calling techniques. He then placed a phone call, connected to the prospect, and within minutes had booked a live, in-person appointment with the Managing Director of a large organization for the sole purpose of engaging him to train their sales reps. How did he do it? What tactics, psychology, and behavioral science did he utilize? In this episode, we candidly explore and explain how to successfully and consistently book business using a cold call.


Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.

 


Host:  Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest: Benjamin Dennehy, The UK’s Most Hated

 

Darryl: Hey there guys and gals, this is Darrell Praill. Welcome to another episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, the only podcast, dedicated to making sure every single sales development rep gets the tactical, practical, pragmatic, actionable advice they need to succeed in their job. There is no discussion of strategy, vision, execution, all those wonderful management buzzwords. That doesn’t happen here, it’s all about making sure my guests, and I, and you all hang around talking about the stuff that we encounter every single day. And what we can do to make your lives better and to make our success in our careers more bountiful.

Darryl: Welcome to this episode. Let me introduce you to Benjamin Denny. Benjamin, how are you, sir?

Benjamin: I am very good Darrell thanks for having me back.

Darryl: So, I want to talk about a couple things.

Benjamin: Yeah.

Darryl: Now, let me set the stage for our audience. If you’ve not, if you don’t follow Benjamin. He recently did a rather impressive piece of social media showmanship, where he posted a video. Where, and this is what I love about it. I love Benjamin that you did this is a two part video. He did a video where he was actually put on the spot to make a cold call because Benjamin well he is a couple things. He is a world class sales trainer. He’s also known as the UK’s most hated sales trainer. Trust me, that is a well earned moniker. What he was, he was recording a podcast I’ll let him tell his story here shortly, but he was put on the spot to actually make a cold call. Just like all of you are asked to do on a recurring regular basis. Some of you are more inclined to accept that challenge than others, because hey, the phone is sometimes it’s not fun for many, and he was put on the spot.

Darryl: In the first part of the video, it shows the lead up to that and the conversation going on. Then it shows him dialing and the phone ringing. Then the individual answers the phone and he stops the video, and it’s the classic tune in tomorrow to see what happens. I mean, talk about milking the social media platform. It was a master class and how to do it. Then of course the next day he issues the actual video where you see what happens. I know that video has been like through the roof viral well in excess of 100,000 views at this moment in time and growing. It’s all the buzz. I’m hearing about it from everybody who’s in the sales community they just see Benjamin’s video.

Darryl: Let me bring it back full circle for you, Benjamin. Talk to the audience about what happened. What was going on that led to that and what was that like for you?

Benjamin: Yeah, so I was invited to appear on a video podcast, just me and three other business owners, discussing business. As so often happens, because I have a reputation for, you know, being a pretty good sales trainer and also being a telephone prospecting evangelists. I believe in using the phone because I believe it’s effective. So I always get put on the spot, people say, “Can you make a call for us?” So, I was under a bit pressure, you got three guys there – a  cameraman and a sound man and they’re all watching me. They all want me to make a call.

Benjamin: This proves how hurt salespeople are and how beaten up and how miserable they feel, because a lot of people said, “Well, that was easy because they gave you the mobile number of the managing director.” For the purposes of the video, we had to make a call that you could record. It wasn’t watch Benjamin try and get past gatekeepers, it’s watch what Benjamin does when he actually talks to a decision maker, a managing director.

Benjamin: So they gave me the mobile number of a managing director, now we’ve never spoken before, he didn’t know I was calling. I’ve never met him, so I just phoned him up, and I did what I teach people to do. Now I often write about what you should do and people read what I write and say, “There’s no way that would work in the real world. You can’t say that, you can’t behave like that, you can’t do that.” So I thought, well I’ll show you and it went textbook. When I watched the video back the first time I said, “No one’s going to believe this is real.”

Darryl: Yeah, it was almost staged because it went so well. I totally agree with you.

Benjamin: It’s not staged, it just, it went smoothly and now I’m a perfectionist. I can see all the things I did wrong actually met video. Which most people think it went really well. I could see all the things I didn’t do well, but that’s a whole other podcast.

Benjamin: So effectively, I did everything that I preach. There’s a saying isn’t there, and it’s a very powerful saying. It says, “Those that do, do. Those that can’t, teach.” Well, I wanted to demonstrate that, that is not always true. I accept that it happens a lot. Most academics can’t actually apply what they do in the real world, but I do everything I teach and I teach everything that I do. I don’t ask people to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself. This video I think that is why it’s been so popular, because if you read the comments, the theme that underpins virtually most of them as it’s so good to see an alleged expert or a supposed trainer, doing exactly the thing he says you should do. So that’s why it’s been so powerful, not maybe because of the call, but the fact that I’ve done everything I said you should.

Darryl: Well I think part of the reason it was so well received too, to your point, you make the point just now where you were saying you did everything that no one wants to do, right? The style, the approach. Yet for someone, like myself, who receives these calls on a regular recurring basis, I loved everything about your approach because your approach was direct. It was to the point. For example, I won’t give everything away, but one of the first things you say is, when the fellow answers you say, “Hi, I’ll be honest with you, this is a sales call.” I’m paraphrasing, you did a much better, but you put it out there right away. Do you want to continue this conversation? You didn’t do “Hi,” you didn’t have “Hello,” you didn’t do “How are you, what’s the weather like? See the game last night?” In fact that you were like a minute, a minute and a half in before the fellow finally said, “I’m sorry, I missed your name. What was it?” The funny part was is, because you hadn’t even given the name. So he thought he missed your name and you hadn’t given it.

Darryl: So that was the first part. You went right to the point which, me, I love. No pleasantries, and we all know what this is-

Benjamin: Well actually, it’s not just you, it’s every bloody human being out there that receives a phone call. I mean, salespeople are their own worst enemy. I’ve never met a more desperate bunch of people. I call sales tinder for ugly people because they actually get paid to meet strangers. What they do, is they phone people up and they start off a conversation with fake sincerity. Never ask someone how they’re doing. Why? You don’t care about the answer, they know you don’t care about the answer. Now you’ve just annoyed me. Everybody knows it.

#Salespeople are their own worst enemy. I've never met a more desperate bunch of people. I call sales tinder for ugly people because they actually get paid to meet strangers. 😂 ~ @DoLessbutBetter #SalesEngagement Click To Tweet

Benjamin: So, go straight and I’ll be up front with you. This is a sales call, can I have 30 seconds if you want to hang up? Now if they say yes and hang up you move on to the next person. You don’t say, “Well that was a waste of time.” No, you’ve just got rid of someone quickly. Focus on people that want to talk to you. Move on.

Darryl: Think about that from a sales point of view, because often it’s a numbers game. So if you can get in and out of there within 30 seconds. You know, “Hi, it’s a sales call. Do you have 30 seconds.” And they say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and it’s ‘no,’ fair enough have a great day and hang up. Boom

Benjamin: One of the fundamental reasons why people hate prospecting calls, is it the salesperson never actually gets permission to talk to you. They phone you up, they interrupt you, they asked you how you doing and then they vomit on you for about 30 seconds. Now, with my approach I actually asked him, “Do you want to hang up?” If they say no, it’s no longer a cold call, is it?

Darryl: No, it’s not, and in fact what you’ve done is you’ve got their permission and they have voluntarily given you permission.

Benjamin: Exactly, and that’s why they listen, and that’s why they engage. As opposed to you’re phoning up and vomiting on them. I mean I often have to say to sales reps that phone me, “It’s okay to take a breath, Mate.”

Darryl: It’s true, because they’re trying to get through it, just to pray and hope that the next something they pray and spray.

Benjamin: Yeah.

Darryl: Yes, exactly. Now the thing that’s interesting about your approach, and that one was, you just didn’t give them a chance to bail on that call in that first few seconds. You gave them a chance, over and over again to bail on that call.

Benjamin: Throughout yes, throughout, because as long as the call remains permission based, they can’t get upset or angry. This is the other problem that sales people have is, they often say prospects are angry or mean or rude or they give them short thrifts. Yeah, that’s ’cause you take them there. This guy couldn’t get upset with me ’cause throughout and I kept saying, “Is okay if I talk for a bit longer? Is it okay?” Every time I got permission he said “Yes.” Even when he agreed to meet. I said, “You know, can I ask you a question?” I said, “Look, you’re not going to hang up, is there any reason you’re going to have to cancel on me You’re not gonna hang up the phone with it. Oh my goodness, what have I just done? I’ve booked a meeting with a salesman.” And he said, “No, no, no, I’ve agreed to it.”

Darryl: Yeah.

Benjamin: He’ll never cancel. They don’t cancel with the do that, and this is what I don’t want to spend my life booking appointments for people that actually, two minutes after I’ve hung up say, “Well I’m just forget that, I’ll just ignore that.”

Darryl: Yeah.

Benjamin: What’s the point?

Darryl: I’ll go sideline emails, I’ll stop returning phone calls, and you see all these videos online of sales reps who have actually done the cold call and it’s been almost a hostile back and forth and they wear them down and they bully them and then they hang up a call, and they’re like, “Yeah, I got the deal, I’m a rockstar sales rep.”

Benjamin: Yeah.

Darryl: When the reality is there’ll never be a second call. It’ll never happen.

Benjamin: There’ll be no call, there’ll be no meeting. They’re busy fools. They’re working hard and achieving nothing, and trust me, I mean, you can maybe badger an old lady or someone at home into to meeting you, but you tried doing that with a managing director somebody who’s actually successful intelligent and is confident in their own right. You try doing it to an MD. You ain’t going to get anywhere. It doesn’t work it’s not repeatable is not replicable, so don’t do it.

Darryl: So, what you guys need to do is you need to go on LinkedIn if you don’t follow Benjamin, and you need to go to, you know, find them Benjamin Dennehy. You’ll notice-

Benjamin: UK’s most hated sales trainer.

Darryl: UK’s most hated sales trainer. He’s got his brand down pat, that’s for sure. You’ll see his posts, go there, watch the video. This thing is, it’s incredible. It is just a master class on what to do. It’s a short little video the watch. Candidly, this call takes only a handful of minutes.

Darryl: Now, I’m going to segue over to, shall we say today’s most heated back and forth in the industry. Which is cold calling, which is very 1980s, I’m being cheeky, to social selling, which is the way to be selling today. There are two, how do you want to call it, there’s two camps. One is pro cold…

Benjamin: Millennials versus grown ups.

Darryl: Yeah. And this is why he’s the UK’s most hated sales trainer. So, there’s two camps and what’s interesting, if you’re the rock star, if you will, because you’re very vocal about the power of the phone and your video demonstrates that. Then there’s others and I’m going to use Dan Disney. So Dan Disney, if you don’t know Dan Disney folks, he’s going to be on an episode here in a couple weeks. He is the poster child for social selling. He’s also in the UK, he’s approaching 500,000 followers this year. He speaks like freaking everywhere.

Darryl: Now, you challenged him. You challenged him, so share with us, the audience what your challenge was for him.

Benjamin: Well, I just want to get a couple of things out there, look, TV is media. Radio is media. Newspaper is media. We have never once called putting content out on those mediums selling. It’s called advertising. It’s called marketing. It’s called brand awareness. So the biggest issue I have is the term social selling is a made up content, it doesn’t exist. I use LinkedIn. It is a social media platform. I get that, but everything I put out is marketing, its advertising, it is not selling and that’s my big bugbear. So, they’re going around telling SDRs and salespeople, “Well, all you need to do is spend your time prospecting on LinkedIn and and you’ll sell stuff.” Well no, you actually have to talk to a human being and the skill and talking to a human being is what sells stuff.

I use #LinkedIn. It is a social media platform. I get that, but everything I put out is marketing, its advertising, it is not selling and that's my big bugbear. 😠 ~ @DoLessbutBetter #SocialSelling Click To Tweet

Benjamin: If you’re simply driving somebody to a website to place an order. Well, that’s fine. But if that’s not your industry, if you actually have to talk to a human being, you’re in the selling business and so social selling is not a word. It’s an actual made up concept. It’s social marketing. So, my challenge was, therefore, to Dan, I managed in seven minutes knowing nothing about this person, all I had was his name and phone number. I didn’t know anything about his business, I didn’t know I didn’t even know where he was based. I was able to phone this person up, get them to tell me he had a problem and actually express that potentially I could help him. I couldn’t guarantee I could, but maybe. By the end of it, he felt confident enough in me to invite me in to come and talk about that problem.

Benjamin: It took about seven minutes, and I had no engagement with them prior to that. So I’d like Dan, using social media to do the same thing. Put out a post or a blog or whatever piece of content he wants, and within the space of seven minutes have it picked up by a managing director who then agrees to meet with him.

Darryl: And that’s the point.

Benjamin: I’s like to see that done.

Darryl: Now people will say, “Well, that starts the conversation and then eventually I can get an appointment.” I may even book that appointment through a back and forth exchange they might get direct messages or maybe it goes offline to email, but without that, that’s just another way, another channel to access that individual. I don’t think anybody disagrees that it is a channel but your point-

Benjamin: It is a channel, we never doubt it’s a channel. Obviously I knew it’s a channel.

Darryl: Yeah, exactly. But there is no selling involved is there? I mean that’s the point. Even Dan and I have gotten into it, social marketing.

Benjamin: Social marketing is not selling. Picking up the phone, isn’t selling its prospecting. My job is to get an appointment with the decision maker. I’m not selling anything. You could say, “Well you’re selling the appointment.” If you want to be facetious, but at the end of the day, I’ve tried to reach out to an individual who may or may not have problems I can fix but he’s willing to explore further. That you want people to engage with you, so they are either email you directly for you to pick up the phone or they phone you or they ask you to phone them. At some point, you have to talk to a human. Hiding from doing this proactively is going to mean that when you do get these opportunities to talk to human, you’re probably gonna screw it up because you don’t know what to do on the phone. Because guess what? There’s no pause, there’s no edit, there’s no delete function on the phone.

Benjamin: It’s not safe. It’s hard and this is why people who promote social selling, are selling a bit of a, what do you call, a placebo to SDRs. They’re saying it makes selling easier. It doesn’t, it actually makes it harder ’cause one day you’re gonna have to talk to a person, and you’re not going to have the benefit of being a keyboard warrior, to help you.

Darryl: Alright, so that’s probably a good segue, because what we just kind of said is, they’re both channels, the phone is a channel, social’s a channel. But, Benjamin here is advocating that you’re not gonna be selling anything on social, which means you eventually have to get to the phone. Whether you like it or not, that is in your future is going to happen. So we’re gonna take a quick break and when we come back, we’re going to talk about preparing for that call. So don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back.

Darryl: Okay, so let’s talk about preparing for the call. Again your video you had no prep you said, clearly all you had was a name, and you had a number. You didn’t know where he was located, you … Yes, in this case particular case you’re past the gatekeeper, but that was it, you had to talk to the actual, shall we say, the veto. The very important top officer, whatever you want to call it.

Darryl: A lot of people will spend a lot of time doing a lot of research. LinkedIn Navigator, Google, social media, whatever, looking for ways to understand their pains, and their challenges. Looking for ways to connect with them, “Oh, you’re a big skier,” or “You’re a football fan.” Whatever it might be, before they ever even dial. Talk to me. What advice, what lessons can you give our audience on how to successfully prepare for a call?

Benjamin: If you know your market, if you know the people that buy your stuff. I know who buys my stuff. It’s managing directors and CEOs, maybe business development directors, but they normally need to get permission from their boss. At the end of the day, I know who I need to talk to. If you know who your audience, if you sell widgets, then you probably want to talk to the head of widgets at a company that you’re calling. So you don’t need to research him, you know who he is. You also know what it is that you fix. You don’t need to research a company to figure that out you, know what you fix. If this head of widget has these problems then he may want to meet with me. Why do I have to spend any time researching them other than to avoid doing my job. I never research any company. I just have the name of the MD, the company name which is helpful, and the phone number. All I do, is I talk about the things I fixed that I know the person I’m talking to is likely to or should be suffering from. If he says, “I don’t have any of those.” I move on. If he says, “Yes I have one of those,” or “I have two of those.” Then we keep talking. You don’t need to do any research.

Darryl: So I agree with you and I’m going to circle back to that. But if you want proof of this, if you watch this video you’ll see he does exactly this and I’m paraphrasing. One of the things when you, once you got permission to have that 30 seconds, you shared that people will work with me, they’ll engage with me. When they suffer from usually one of three problems. Problem number one, problem number two, or problem number three. Is that an area that you can perhaps, acknowledge that you have a problem in-

Benjamin: Well actually, no. This is key. I actually never ask them if they have the problem. I do the exact opposite.

Darryl: Okay.

Benjamin: Once I’ve listed the problems, I then plant the question which makes them have to say yes or no. And the question is phrased in the negative. I go but I get the feeling you’re gonna tell me you don’t have any of these.

Darryl: So, I recall you doing that and the funny part was, when I saw that because I was studying you. I thought what you were suddenly doing was trying to give him, shall we say, an excuse to bail, because the logical answer is to say, “Well no, of course, I mean everybody’s got a problem, to some degree in all those areas.” So it’s almost like reverse logic.

Benjamin: Had he said, “You’re right, I don’t have any of those.” Two things go through my head. One, this may be a guy that actually can’t help. So, I’m qualifying them out pretty quickly. The next thing I’ll say is, the next thing is by phrasing a question in the negative you’re not trapped in a corner. So when I say, “I have a feeling you’re going to tell me none of this applies.” When he says, “Well no, they don’t.” I go, “I thought so.” You see, so I’m not trapped. Then I can say “Well look, I gotta let you go, but before I do, Can I ask one last question?” Do Colombo, go Colombo on them. They always say, “Yeah, sure.” I go “Look, no sales teams perfect, no sales process is perfect. If you could wave a wand of fix one thing that would make your life better, do you mind sharing with me what that would be?”

Benjamin: Now, they either give me a new one, or they say “Nothing, I’m perfectly happy, sales are through the roof. I love my guys, things couldn’t be better.” In that case sir, I’m actually not going to fight with you I’m going to move on to the next prospect. I’m qualifying them with a good outcome.

Darryl: Yeah, absolutely. Your time is valuable we go. What was interesting in that call, if I recall correctly. He didn’t have any the first three you gave him in the end I think his issue was productivity, which was not one of the three you gave him.

Benjamin: No, he gave me his own pain, without me even writing it.

Darryl: Yeah. And so that was brilliant and they get that that negative question you kind of, I assume you don’t have these problems. He came out to say “No I don’t have them,” but in his case I believe he said, “Well actually my problem is productivity.”

Benjamin: Even better, so either way the question gets them talking, and if I said, “I bet you’ve got those.” Then he says, “No.” Where do I go from there?

Darryl: Right. So, full circle. I said I’d come back on this part. And I agree with you. I agree that my biggest beef is that I watch sales reps spending all this time researching and I’m like, to what end? If you know your product or your service, you know your target market, you know the problems you solve. Those initial calls, do not need any more research than that. You’re just trying to identify and qualify if they have those pains and there’s reason to have either a call right now or this call leads to a second call and your productivity goes through the roof.

Benjamin: Prospecting is looking. Prospecting goes back to mining, you have to sift a lot of dirt to find the gold. So prospecting is about finding the little nuggets of gold in and amongst a lot of dirt. So there’s a lot of people I talked to that say they don’t need my help, they don’t want my help, they’re not ready for my help or they don’t think they have a problem, or they’re in denial. All those are valid reasons not to continue the conversation, but every now and then there’s a nugget and the guy says, “Actually, I do want to talk about that.” That’s prospecting. It is a numbers game, but it’s the only, and I want to clarify, it is the only aspect of selling that is a numbers game.

Benjamin: Prospecting, because you have no control over whether or not someone picks up their phone, or answers the phone or responds to a voicemail. It’s the only part of selling that’s numbers game. Everything else is in your control.

Darryl: What I like about your approach is, it’s really, I don’t want to minimize it. It’s really simple. I’m not stressing out about do I like this person, will he like me? Do I know enough…what if he asks me a question.

Benjamin: I could care less if they like me or not.

Darryl: Well, fair enough.

Benjamin: They’re not hiring me for hugs and cuddles, I’m not a hooker.

Darryl: But if you want to be, you could, because you’re that good looking and I just want to make sure you understand that.

Benjamin: If I cuddled first I’d probably be the best of anybody.

Darryl: And you’d probably only need 30 seconds, so there we go. Let’s bring it back, maybe some final thoughts. I’d love to know, what do you think a rep needs to be successful and if they don’t have these attributes, what should they do?

Benjamin: Okay, well this I gotta give some little nuggets here and this is really important and when I said it sounds glib and very easy to dismiss but it actually is fundamentally true. You are a creature of your programming. The programming you have determines your beliefs and your beliefs determine your behavior and your actions. Most salespeople they in fact virtually every human being was programmed a certain way when they’re growing up. There were three rules that you were taught as a child that no one ever told you do not apply as a grown up, and you’ve taken those with you into the real world and this is what prevents you from making successful goals.

Benjamin: The first thing your mom taught you is never, ever talk to a stranger. No one told you that rule does not apply as a grown up. So this is why in prospecting you do all your research and procrastinating and avoiding trying to pick up the phone because deep down you’re doing something you’d be programmed never to do. You’re going to talk to a stranger.

Benjamin: Second, what were you taught about interrupting busy people? Not to do it. You now have to phone a stranger who’s probably busy. So, there’s this little bit inside of you and most salespeople say they find cold calls annoying and an interruption. If that’s what you think about cold calls, how are you ever going to make one successfully. So that’s two bits of programming they’re gonna screw you.

Benjamin: The third one is as you were programmed to answer questions. So your biggest fear is, is what if they asked me questions that I don’t know the answer to it? So you got three bits of programming that would talk to you as a child to keep you safe as a kid that don’t actually apply as a grown up but you don’t know that because no one’s ever given you permission to let go. The moment you let go of those three things, the easier and more successful calls will become and I’ll end on this, a bit of Buddhist guidance. The root of all misery is attachment.

Darryl: Wow. The root of all misery is attachment. Does that apply to my wife?

Benjamin: Are you miserable?

Darryl: I love my wife.

Benjamin: And that’s how we loose the signal for some reason.

Darryl: But your point is valid and it’s totally thought, and you know if you’re attached to those three elements to go back to your childhood which we fundamentally all are, and then that your life is gonna be miserable and that’s why people don’t like the phone, and you’ve actually demystified a lot of the phone for me today, just having this conversation you’ve made it so logical. So thank you for that. Hopefully our audience has gotten value, I mean how can you not get value folks. I mean he’s just simplified it all for you.

Darryl: Okay, so I’ve already encouraged you to go check him out on LinkedIn and if nothing else, you know, view some of his posts you get a good chuckle. Watch the video, it’s a master class. Benjamin if they want to get ahold of you, they want to contact you, they want to connect with you what’s the best way to do that?

Benjamin: The best way is, LinkedIn, I don’t use any other form of social media. LinkedIn is where I hang out. Just connect with me. I don’t discriminate against who I connect with. It could be a CEO down to a sales rep or even the janitor of an organization. I don’t discriminate. So if you want to connect with me, by all means do. If you think by connecting with me you can pick my brain for free, you’ve got another thing coming, you won’t. The only free content you’ll get this is stuff that I posted out deliberately. Any other questions you got to pay to get the answer to.

Darryl: Every self-respecting salesperson, totally gets where you’re coming from, so I love that. Benjamin, thank you so much for your time.

Benjamin: Thank you.

Darryl: It was a blast and in the meantime folks, we hope you enjoyed today’s session if you did there’s more at INSIDEInsideSales.com and all we ask is that you like, share, review and spread the love for the show. Subscribe please, and get every episode every single time it comes out once a week, every single week without pause.

Darryl: We are out of here folks. We wish you a wonderful day. Take care. We’ll talk to you soon.