INSIDE Inside Sales – Episode 3: Prospecting vs. Selling – Are you the master of either?

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Host: Darryl Praill, VanillaSoft

Guest: Benjamin Dennehy, Sandler Training & The UK’s 🇬🇧 Most Hated Sales Trainer


Darryl: Thank you, Paul. How are you doing, folks? Darryl Praill here again, for another edition of INSIDE Inside Sales. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I just love saying it that way. In fact, I was talking to my good friends at the Sales Lead Management Association, and they were suggesting we should have a contest. And the contest could be you have to submit your own rendition of INSIDE Inside Sales. So we could see how many bad takes we could get on that.

Darryl: I am so glad you’re here for another episode. I am joined today, and I’ve got to tell you, I am so thrilled about this guest. I am joined today by Benjamin Dennehy, and he is calling from the UK, and he’s got … You’re going to love this, folks. If you don’t know Benjamin, let me tell you his tagline. He is the United Kingdom’s most hated sales trainer, and God bless him, I love him.

Darryl: Benjamin, how are you doing today, sir?

Benjamin: I am really good. Thank you for having me on the show, Darryl. It’s an honor to be here.

Darryl: I can’t tell you … I’ve had some good guests, and every time we do another episode, the whole intent is to make sure our audience gets some pragmatic, real-world advice that they can action at the end of the show, and I know if anybody can give us some hard, tough love, and you know, maybe some awful medicine, so we make our pains go away and feel better, and produce more results, it is definitely going to be the UK’s most hated sales trainer.

Darryl: Now, guys and gals, if you don’t know Benjamin, I’ve got to tell you one thing right now. I plug a lot of my guests, you know that, but I’ll be transparent. The guests that I have are the guests that I want to talk to. The guests that I follow. So if you don’t follow Benjamin on LinkedIn, you need to. What you’re going to find when you follow him is he doesn’t, he doesn’t … How do I put it? He doesn’t sugar coat stuff. He’s candid. He’s blunt. And he has no problem calling you out if you have a poor take. He does it in love. He wants you to be better, but you … I mean, if you can handle Benjamin, then you are positioned to be a rock star SDR.

Darryl: So that’s the best thing. Now, one more thing about Benjamin is he is associated with the Sandler Network. So it isn’t just his own experience he’s got, he’s got a whole system behind him. So when he talks, he talks truth that’s based on real-world experience.

Darryl: So, Benjamin, today you came up with the idea, which was brilliant, on prospecting. And the whole idea of prospecting versus selling. I know the answer to this. Maybe you can share, what was the catalyst for that topic?

Benjamin: There’s this new world out there, and it’s called social selling. I hate the phrase social selling, because it’s not selling, it’s a form of marketing. And we ban words around like marketing, prospecting, selling, and no one really has any clear definitions of what these words mean. And I just wanted to point out that a lot of activity, the activity that I do on LinkedIn, that you do on LinkedIn, that other people I know do on LinkedIn, is all prospecting activity. It’s designed to get a real human being to reach out to you.

I hate the phrase #socialselling, because it's not selling, it's a form of #marketing. ~ Benjamin Dennehy Click To Tweet

Benjamin: And once they reach out to you, then and only then, do you begin the sales process. So prospecting is all the activity you do leading up to the point that a human being contacts you and says “I’d like to speak with you further.” Once you talk to a real human being as a direct result of that behavior, now you’re into the selling process.

Benjamin: So it’s almost like the difference between preparing to commit a crime and committing the crime, yeah? That’s how I see it.

Darryl: You haven’t broken the law until you commit the crime.

Benjamin: Yeah, so you’re just simply preparing to commit the crime. And as soon as you commit it, you’ve committed a crime. So prospecting is the preparation. It is getting a human being to you so that you can engage them in the proper sales process. So that’s what prospecting is to me, it’s any activity designed to get someone to engage with me.

Darryl: Let me set the stage here. So, one of the points that Benjamin is alluding to is recently, Daniel Disney and I had a head-to-head debate where we talked … We called it the TransAtlantic Takedown, where he and I debated cold calling versus social selling. And you have to understand, right, like the various posts we had, every single post had like 20, 30, 40 thousand views, hundreds of comments. This was hotly contested, and Benjamin and I were in there, like really in there, and going at it.

Darryl: Because, Benjamin, so many people conflate social selling with selling, or … And where you and I got into it a little bit on, and Benjamin and I didn’t agree in the end, folks, is cold calling selling? When you were reading some of those comments… what I was blown away by was so many people said “Well, it’s all the same. Selling is selling. Social versus cold is still selling.” And it’s not, is it?

Benjamin: No. No, it’s not. So, for me, social selling is a misnomer. It’s, accurately, it’s social marketing. Because the whole purpose of it is to generate awareness and attention of who you are, in the hope that someone will reach out. Now, the moment they reach out, you cross over into selling. All social selling, social marketing, is designed to engage them. So it’s just like, instead of picking up the phone and trying to engage someone, you’re simply engaging them through a post or some commentary or some information you’re willing to share. And that’s the whole purpose of it, to engage them so they reach out.

Benjamin: Now, people think because you never may have to talk to a human being, because you can drive them to your website, they go on your website, they place an order and they buy, that you’ve sold them something. You haven’t. All you’ve done is taken an order. I mean a website is an order taking facility. Just because someone gives you money doesn’t mean you’ve sold them anything.

Benjamin: Now, think about it. Have you ever been into McDonald’s? Do they actually sell you anything, or do they just take your order?

Darryl: The just take your order.

Benjamin: They take your order.

Darryl: They don’t tell me the pros and cons of how, you know, one patty’s cooked versus another, and why this dough used in this bread is better than that dough in that bun, and … Do you have a gluten free allergy? If so, we can make a different recommendation.

Benjamin: Yeah. No, that … So the decision to buy has been made. I’ve never, ever met anyone at McDonald’s and asked them what they’re doing, and they say “Browsing.” Yeah? Doesn’t happen. Yeah? So, they’re in the order fulfillment business. They spend all their money getting people to buy into them, into marketing and advertising, and then you have your first experience and you enjoy it, and then you continually fulfill it.

Benjamin: Social marketing is the same. It’s about getting people engaged with you. And if you’re just driving them to a website for them to place an order, great, fine. I love it, I think it’s brilliant and it works. But confusing that with someone who has to phone a managing director or a CEO, who owns the business, who you’ve got to get in front of. Because you’re not going to do this over the phone. You’re going to have to sit in front of this person as a human being. Social selling doesn’t do anything for you unless as a result of him seeing something online, he reached out to you.

Benjamin: But the moment he reaches out, the social selling, the social marketing, it’s over. And you’re into the sell, aren’t you?

Darryl: Maybe the arguments made online was that they’re engaging with people, they’re engaging with me, their engaging with you. I often pause it, you know, I am the Chief Marketing Officer at Vanilla Soft, and I am the guy with the BANT, the budget, the authority, the need and the timeline. So they think, because they reply to one of my posts, or they reach out proactively and connect with me, in that we’re bantering back and forth on LinkedIn, that they’re selling, and I’m going to magically come to them.

Darryl: They haven’t sold me squat.

Benjamin: No. Well, again, people don’t understand what selling is, and human beings … It doesn’t matter if you’re, say, the Secretary of State, who has to make a decision on whether or not to invest billions in some new military hardware, or you’re the mother in the supermarket choosing which toothpaste to buy. The process human beings go through is exactly the same. People buy emotionally, and then they justify that decision intellectually.

People don't understand what selling is...The process human beings go through is exactly the same. People buy emotionally, and then they justify that decision intellectually. ~ Benjamin Dennehy #Sales… Click To Tweet

Benjamin: All marketing is, is to give an intellectual argument as to why, perhaps, you should satisfy an emotion. And if you don’t understand that, you don’t understand the nature of selling. You cannot intellectually convince somebody to buy your stuff. And that’s why you’ve probably met people who you know you can fix their problem. They have a problem. They see they’ve got a problem. You can fix it, and they still say “I’m not interested.”

Benjamin: Why? Why has that happened? Because on an emotional level, they don’t care. It’s not hurting them enough to want to actually fix it, so the emotion isn’t there. And this is where people are confusing social selling and prospecting and all those things. They’re confusing them. People buy emotionally, justify intellectually.

Darryl: So now, Dan Disney claims that cold calling, you talked about selling, cold calling or prospecting, cold calling will be dead by 2025. This is one of his more recent claims. Now, he doesn’t say it’s going to be replaced by social selling or video or something else, but what’s your take on that? From a prospecting point of view, will cold calling be dead by 2025?

Benjamin: No. All that’s going to happen is there’s going to be a lot less of it, I’ll give him that. There will be less of it. But all it’s going to do, it’s a process of natural selection. It’s going … Technology’s going to kill off the shitty, useless telephone prospectors anyway.

Benjamin: What it will do is, there are still going to be owners of businesses who have to talk to a human being before they make a decision. You’re not going to buy certain things over the phone or over the internet, without having actually met with someone. So if you’re in consulting or something, you sell big-ticket items, that’s never going to change. You’re still going to have to get in front of them. And these are still people that are going to want to talk on the phone.

Benjamin: I mean, it’s funny that you say it may die out. Think about it. So many people use email and social media to get ahold of people while prospecting, the ones that are more successful now are going back to using letters and envelopes, because nobody sends them anymore.

Benjamin: So all that will happen in 25 years is less and less people will be on the phone, so the ones that are on it will be far more successful because people will say “Good God, you’ve actually phoned me. Yes, I will talk to you. A real human. Hallelujah!”

Darryl: And you’re the first one to call me. None of your competitors have, so the floor is yours. Sell me, shape the conversation. Influence my process.

Benjamin: Own it. Take it. Exactly. And so, either … It’ll never die out unless the phone is eradicated, and that is quite possible. I don’t know what the future’s going to hold. But doing it all online, doing it over the electronic media, it won’t take away the need to sell.

Benjamin: And this is the other thing that these people don’t appreciate. Social media, social selling doesn’t give you or teach you the skills on how to sell. You can’t learn anything from this. So, it doesn’t teach you how to communicate with a human. It doesn’t teach you how to control your emotions. It doesn’t teach you how to get your ego out of the way. It doesn’t give you a structure or a system to move a human from intellect to emotion. Social selling can’t do that. That requires real face time with real people in the real world.

Benjamin: Because sitting behind a screen everybody’s brave. Yeah? Put them in front of someone who’s real? Salespeople collapse like a cheap deck of cards.

Darryl: All right. Quickly before we go to commercial break. You and I disagree, and I want to put it on the table. And we don’t need to resolve this today. I was of the opinion, and I still am, that when I’m dialing my phone, I’m maybe, I’m placing an outbound call to do cold calling or whatnot. That I’m now selling. Because my expectation is, if you answer that phone, at that moment in time, I’m immediately going into a qualification process, is there a needs analysis, and away we go.

Darryl: I believe that’s selling. You contend it’s not. Now, feel free to correct me, so go for it.

Benjamin: All right, so for me, it depends what the purpose of what any call is for you, so for me, the purpose of the call is to get hold of the managing director or CEO, to get an appointment. That is it. So my sole purpose is to find out, does this person … So, I’m like a doctor. Does this person exhibit symptoms that may indicate they have a bigger problem that I can fix?

Benjamin: Now, I don’t know at that moment in time if that problem is big enough to fix. I don’t know if they want to fix it. I don’t know that if they do want to fix it, that they have the money to pay me. I don’t know that they’re willing to commit the time or resources. I don’t know any of this.

Benjamin:  So the purpose of that call is to take someone who’s not expecting me, to get them to admit that they may or may not have one or two symptoms, and then I ask a few questions to establish can they give me an example? How long have they had this problem for? What have they done to try and fix it? Did that work? If it didn’t work, how much do they think it’s cost them? How does that make them feel? And have they given up trying to fix it?

Benjamin: That’s all I want. And if they answer those questions, and most will, and they get to the end and say “I haven’t given up trying to fix it,” I’ll go for the appointment. I’m not selling at this stage, because the first thing I say to them is “I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I can fix this for you. But let’s pretend I could, because I have helped companies in your sector with these problems. Is there any reason you wouldn’t invite me in?”

Benjamin: To which they invariably say “Well, no.” “In that case, have you got your diary there?” I haven’t sold anything yet. All I’ve done, I suppose you could say, is I’ve got them to invite me in.

Darryl: So where I disagree with you is, I think you’ve already started the qualification process by asking these questions, and I think that’s part of selling. But we don’t need to resolve it. That’s okay.

Benjamin: We’ll just agree I’m right.

Darryl: We’ll just agree that I’m fighting with the UK’s most hated sales trainer, and no matter what, I know I’m going to lose. With that, folks, we’re going to take a small little break here, and we’ll be right back.

Darryl: And we are back. All right, Benjamin, I want to get right into the meat of it. So, we talked about prospecting. We’ve discussed what social selling is versus, shall we say, marketing. And we’ve got back to the phone. The phone is still really viable. It is still a powerful tool, but a lot of people are doing it wrong.

Darryl: So people listening to today’s episode will leave here with the great Benjamin Dennehy telling them what they’re doing wrong, and what they should be doing instead. What, my good friend, are they doing wrong, and how can they improve it?

Benjamin: Right. So, the problem with the telephone is simply this. It’s human beings can only act in a manner that’s consistent with their beliefs. It’s very hard for someone to consistently behave in a manner that doesn’t follow their belief pattern. And one of the biggest problems we have with the telephone is a lot of things we were taught as a child, that were given to us as rules to keep us safe, we were never told as a kid, don’t apply as a grownup. So you grow up with these rules in your head as being the framework.

Benjamin: And a lot of people listening to this will say they don’t have a problem picking up the phone. I get that. But this undermines the way they behave, though. So one of the rules your mother taught you is, what did your mum teach you, Darryl, about speaking to strangers?

Darryl: I should not talk to strangers.

Benjamin: Right. What did she teach you about interrupting busy people?

Darryl: I should not interrupt busy people.

Benjamin: And what did she teach you about answering questions? Did you have the choice not to, or if you were asked, you need to give a good answer?

Darryl: You need to give a good answer. A thoughtful answer.

Benjamin: Right…So those are three rules you were taught as a child that don’t apply as a grownup. You are allowed to talk to strangers, you can interrupt anybody you want, and you never have to answer somebody’s question. You take those rules, and then you put it in a telephone content.

Benjamin: You now have a grown up sitting there, and they’re given a list of CEOs to call. First thing mum says is “He’s a stranger. He’s probably very busy, and he’s going to ask you lots of questions.” So you start to get a bit terrified. And that fear … Now, like I say, a lot of people listening just now, “I don’t have the problem. I phone call every day.” I get that. But these rules are going to determine what you do.

Benjamin: Because the moment you pick up that phone, you start to act and behave in a certain manner. And I bet your mum taught you to introduce yourself?

To succeed in #sales, you must throw out what your mum taught you regarding phone etiquette. 🎧 Listen to Benjamin Dennehy's fun & engaging interview - Seriously, it's a great listen! #SalesEngagement… Click To Tweet

Darryl: Yes. Oh, yes.

Benjamin: Yeah. Yeah. So, this is the biggest mistake salespeople make. Because CEOs and MDs are so used to salespeople calling them, they can spot you the moment you open your mouth. And it’s “Hi, my name’s Benjamin, and I’m calling from Sandler Training.” Soon as I hear that, I know it’s a sales call. And instantly, you will trigger a script in my head, which is how quickly can I get rid of this person?

Benjamin: It shuts down. It doesn’t engage them. It doesn’t slap them round the face. What it does is trip a switch, and they’re preparing on how to get rid of you. You then use some trite line like, “How are you today?” Or, “Have I caught you at a bad time?” Or, “Is this a good time?” Or “Is this not a good time?” Or “Is it okay if I have a few minutes to explain a little bit about why I’m calling?” And they either say yes or no.

Benjamin: And then if they say yes, you proceed to vomit all over this person. You start to tell them what your company does and who you work for, and how happy people are having used you, and how you changed lives and businesses. And then you may slip in a few questions. And the whole time, they’re waiting for you to take a breath. And then when you finally come up for oxygen, they have some excuse. “We’re fine, thanks.” “We already handle that.” “We do that in-house.” “We have somebody working on that for us.” “Now’s not the right time.”

Benjamin: Now, what I want you to do is, I want you to take that scenario and transpose it to the pub on Friday night. You’re at the bar. You turn and you see the guy or the girl that you’re attracted to. Would you conduct the conversation you’re about to have with this stranger the same way you conduct a phone call with a stranger? Would you say “Hi, what’s your name?” “It’s Sara.” “Shut up, Sara. I’m going to tell you how awesome I am for the next two minutes. And then you’re going to decide if we move forward some more.” What are the odds of a successful consummation happening? It won’t happen, yeah?

Darryl: It won’t happen, no.

Benjamin: It won’t happen. But this is what thousands, no, 10s of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are doing right now on the phone. They’re phoning up a stranger, and they’re telling them how great they are. And this is why people hate sales calls. You can’t phone up a stranger and talk to them about you. Doesn’t work.

Benjamin: So, what I teach people, what you need to do is … First of all, you never have to introduce yourself. So you have to say something that will catch their attention and shake them out of the malaise that you’re going to catch them in. And people don’t believe this works. I do it every day. I do it with everyone I meet with, I say this too, and I’ll demonstrate it live when I teach telephone prospecting.

Benjamin: The first thing I’ll say to any CEO as soon as they answer, I’ll say “Darryl, I’ve got to be honest. This is a cold call. Do you want to hang up?”

Darryl: Which totally would throw them off.

Benjamin: It throws them. What I do is I’m deliberately trying to prick their rebellious child, and a rebellious child hates to be told what to do, and they say “No.” See, now it’s not a cold call. And then he goes “Well, no. What’s it about? Why are you calling?” Or “What are you trying to sell me?” See, now it’s all honest. There’s none of this BS that this is a sales call. I’ve made it clear.

Benjamin: So he’s … We’re bonding now. They don’t realize it, but we’re bonding because I’m being honest. And then I’ll say to them, “Look, let me have 30 seconds. By the end of those 30 seconds, we can either keep speaking or we can hang up. Does that sound fair?” They all say yes. And we’ve agreed on something there. We’ve agreed five things.

Benjamin: We’ve agreed I talk, we’ve agreed they listen, we’ve agreed we’ll go for 30 seconds, and we’ve agreed at the end of it they can either hang up or keep talking. People love this. It feels like they’re in control, because they’re giving you permission, and they’ve agreed to it.

Benjamin: And then I do a commercial, and I don’t talk about me or my company. I have to talk about my prospect’s world. So I can’t turn up and talk about Sandler, so what I say, I typically get invited in by men like yourself. They own successful companies, but they’ve identified sales as a bottleneck to growth, and they’re probably frustrated that they’ve got salespeople who are reluctant or not motivated to pick up the phone. Others are worried that when they do, they can’t get past gatekeepers, and a few tell me the biggest concern is when they listen to them, it’s like listening to a 10-year-old kid, and they think “I’d never meet with that guy.”

Benjamin: I get the feeling, Darryl, you’re going to tell me none of that applies in your world, aren’t you?

Darryl: No, actually, that does apply. We have several people who are not performing as they should.

Benjamin: And now I’ve hooked you. You’ve actually told me you’ve got a problem. Now, I don’t know if I can fix it yet. So then my next thing is okay, Darryl, of those three things, if you had to pick one, if you could wave a wand to fix, which would you fix first? If you could fix one. Not picking up the phone, not getting past gatekeepers, failing to engage?

Darryl: Oh, not picking up the phone.

Benjamin: Okay. Now, Darryl, I’ve had my 30 seconds. Is it okay if we speak for a little bit longer?

Darryl: Oh, that’s good. Absolutely, because you’ve intrigued me.

Benjamin: Now he’s hooked. Yeah, you’re hooked. Yeah, now, because you’re going to start talking about you. And then I’m going to ask you a series of questions. So the first one, I’ll say “Darryl, can you be a little more specific for me? Can you give me an example of what you mean?” Now what happens is, you can only choose one of two choices here. You can either choose the most recent or the most painful. Both are good.

Benjamin: So now I know. Now I’m getting you to tell a story about your world. And you’re doing the one thing you love, now, aren’t you? Talking about who?

Darryl:  Talking about me, baby.

Benjamin: Talking about you, baby. And so I just keep that going. Because I know that I can’t phone up and talk about me. You’re not going to like it. So then I say, “Well, look, Darryl, how long has this been going on for? When did you first recognize this was a problem?”

Darryl: And you’re qualifying. Three months ago.

Benjamin: Three months ago. Now, if someone says to me three months, I’ll say “I’m going to be honest with you, that’s not a lot of time for this really to be a problem. I mean, are you sure it’s not just a glitch?” Now, they’re either going to fight me on that and say “No, no, no, no, no.” Or they’ll say “It could be.” If they say “Probably the last three years.” I’ll then say to them “Can I be honest? It sounds more like a lifestyle than a problem.” Yeah? And then they’ll fight me on it, and say “Yeah, you’re right,” or “No, you’re not.” So I’m qualifying the time.

Benjamin: Then the next question I’ll ask, is “Okay, what have you done to try and fix this?” Very important. Because if they say “Nothing,” what does that tell me?

Darryl: They’re not motivated to fix it.

Benjamin: They’re not really motivated to fix it. Most will say “We have.” “Okay, and I guess that worked.” Always going with the negative presumptive, so they have to say “No.” And then I go deaf and say “Sorry?” I make them repeat it. “No.” See, they’ll yell no at me the second time. Now they’re starting to feel it.

Benjamin: And then I’ll ask them a question like “Okay, so could I ask you a question? Ballpark, how much do you think this problem’s cost you over the last 12, 18, 24 months? If you can come up with a figure.” And they’ll say “Oh, that’s pretty hard to quantify.” I said “Well, help me out here. 10, 20, 30 thousand?” “Maybe about 30 thousand pounds.” “Okay, but that’s not a lot of money in your world, I guess.”

Darryl: It is a lot of money.

Benjamin: Sorry?

Darryl: That is a lot of money.

Benjamin: And I’ll go deaf. Make you say it twice, I want you to say it’s a lot of money twice out loud because you start to feel it now, aren’t you? And then I’ll simply say “Okay, so how does that make you feel?”

Darryl:  I’m frustrated, I’m angry.

Benjamin: I can hear that from your voice, Darryl. Look, I’ll come to the point. One last question. Have you given up trying to fix this?

Darryl: No, I just … I’ve been too busy, candidly.

Benjamin: No. That makes sense. So okay, I’m conscious of time, Darryl. I’m going to be upfront with you. I don’t know if I can fix your problem yet, because I don’t know enough about you and your business. But I have helped similar companies in your sector with that very issue. So, look, let’s pretend. I’m not saying I can, but let’s pretend I could fix it for you, and you believed I could. Is there any reason you wouldn’t invite me in for say, half an hour, 45 minutes?

Darryl: No. You’ve got me intrigued, I trust you. It’s worth a conversation.

Benjamin: Exactly. And at what point did I give away my name or company or talk about any of my products in that conversation?

Darryl:  You did not. Anywhere.

Benjamin: Not. And you still agreed to meet. This is what a good call sounds like. My job as a salesman is never to give away any information, it’s to gather it. And I will only give it away once I know everything I need to because then I can present a solution that will be right.

Darryl: All right. We’re going to wrap it up there.

Benjamin: Okay.

Darryl: That is brilliant. What you’ve just heard Benjamin say on recap here is, don’t introduce yourself, don’t talk about yourself, and ask questions to get immersions, and your beliefs determine your behavior, is that not correct?

Benjamin: The biggest problem people have when they work with me is their beliefs won’t let them do that. They don’t believe they can phone up a stranger and not introduce themselves. It goes against everything Mum told them, and they fight it. It works, but they fight it.

Benjamin: The good one did it and they do it. I could not do any of this. Just a caveat to everyone out there. People think I was a natural, I came out of my Mum’s womb able to do all of this. I couldn’t. I learned all of this. I had to unbreak all of the beliefs that were preventing me from getting appointments and selling.

Darryl: If you can relate to anything Benjamin’s saying here, do yourself a favor, follow him online. He is prolific on LinkedIn. Benjamin Dennehy, the UK’s most hated sales trainer.

Darryl:  Benjamin, thank you for your time today. I had a blast. Everybody, check out INSIDE Inside Sales. We’ll talk to you next episode.