Welcome to the Same Side Selling Podcast. I’m your host, Ian Altman.
On this episode, we’re going to discuss cold outreach and why some organizations really fail when it comes to cold outreach and some have great success. And this will tie in well on November 16th, we’re holding a Cold Outreach Playbook Program that will walk you through all the steps required to be successful in cold outreach. Without that whole program, which obviously is going to take longer than a podcast will, let me give you some insight into the challenges that a lot of organizations have.
So what happens is people reach out to me and they say “our people are doing a great job: They’re making a lot of phone calls, they’re sending a lot of emails, they’re connecting on LinkedIn, but we’re not seeing any results. Why is that? That despite our efforts, we’re not converting these into revenue? Our people have a lot of touchpoints and I know they’re not lazy. They’re doing good work, we’re just not driving results. What could be going on?”
And one of the things that you have to look at is this: when you’re reaching out, the first question you have to ask yourself is “if I was that other person, how would I respond?” Because let’s face it, we’re all on the receiving end of these horrible, horrible touchpoints from people trying to sell us stuff.
Sometimes it catches our attention and most of the time it doesn’t. So what’s the major difference? What are the things that stand out to you when you’re the customer that captures your attention versus repels and gets you to say, “ugh, let me hose off because that was awful”?
What you’ll find is that the ones that are ineffective, those reps suffer from Axis Displacement Disorder. Meaning they think the axis of the earth has shifted and the world revolves around them. So what happens is they reach out and say: “I’d love to talk to you about our web development services”, “I want to talk to you about our SEO”, “I want to talk to you about what we do”, meaning it’s all about them as the seller.
And the places that pique your interest tend to do two things, very capably. And those two things are this: The first thing is that they disarm the notion that they’re just there to sell you something. Meaning they come right out and say, “I don’t know whether or not this is a fit for you. Maybe you or someone you know could be a fit for this type of product or service”, but more importantly, instead of focusing on the product or service, what they do is they focus on the problem that it solves. Meaning instead of saying, “oh, let me talk to you about our search engine optimization services”, they might say “we work with companies like yours who are struggling to be found on Google. And in fact, their inferior competitors get found and that frustrates them and they find that at least for the right firms, we find that we can help them show up high in those Google rankings to get that business that they’re losing right now. But I don’t yet know whether or not we can help you”.
And this is a concept that in the Same Side Selling book, we refer to this as the Same Side Pitch, which follows the model of Entice, Disarm and Discover.
So first we enticed by sharing problems that we solve with dramatic or extraordinary results.
Then we disarm the notion that we’re there to sell something by acknowledging that not everyone’s a fit for us.
And then we trigger a discovery phase to learn more about their situation to see if we can help.
So historically what people have done is they’ve been taught, and keep in mind, almost every bad behavior or bad habit that we have is something that we weren’t born with. It’s something that we’ve been taught by somebody else who undoubtedly was taught by a different person. So it’s not really your fault or our fault when that happens. It’s just what we’ve been taught.
So usually what happens is people reach out and they say: Oh, well, I want to talk about this or that. I want to talk about this product or this capability, or, Hey, what keeps you up at night? What are you struggling with?
And when we ask somebody what keeps you up at night, we might get an answer that we can’t address. So then what do we do?
Well, we ask, yet another question we might say “Oh, well, what keeps you up at night is your dog’s barking. Yeah. I don’t have a solution for dogs barking. What else keeps you up at night?”
And you’re like fishing for somebody to come back with something that you can address. And recognize that most of your clients don’t even know that they would benefit from your products and services. So they don’t even know about the problem that you’re good at solving, or at least it’s not top of mind.
So if we just ask them, do you have this problem? They’ll probably say no, but if you said other manufacturers, other technology companies, other government contractors, other professional services firms come to us because they’re often facing one of two or three common challenges. And for the right organizations, they tell us we can deliver amazing results, don’t yet know whether or not we can help you though. Is it okay if I share with you the top two or three challenges that those organizations are facing, you can tell me how common they are. We’ll know, inside of 20 seconds, whether or not it’s worth it for us to continue this conversation, or if it’s just not a fit.
And what you’re doing is you’re telling them you’re not going to stick around forever. You’re just looking for 20 seconds to see whether or not there might be something worth having a conversation about. That piques people’s interest. They say, oh, this might be a conversation worth having. Then I have to be very concise and my language has to be specific. And I want to focus on the problems that we’re really good at solving in the context of Emotion, Issue and Impact.
So for example, if I was talking to somebody about, and I’m using that terrible search engine optimization terminology or that type of business as an example, but in that context, it could be people reach out to us and medium-sized businesses because they’re losing out to inferior competitors and those competitors are coming up in search results and they’re not. And if this keeps up, they’re going to lose market share and lose the opportunity they have to capture the market.
So I’ve got the Emotion side because they’re frustrated and they’re annoyed. Then the Issue is that they’re not showing up and the Impact is they’re losing market share and losing business.
If I was a larger enterprise software company, let’s say, my message might be something along the lines of… let’s say I was a large, I was a large CRM vendor. Let’s say I’m someone like Salesforce. What I might reach out and say is: businesses come to us because they have a difficult time forecasting what business is real and which isn’t. And when a rep moves on a lot of that institutional knowledge goes away with them. And if that happens, then once that rep leaves or once someone changes territories, they have to start over, which could cost them millions of dollars in business. For the right organizations, they tell us that we give them something they can access from their phone, their web browser, or any place else in the world to know exactly what’s going on with an opportunity, track the pulse of it, so they can help move deals from opportunities into revenue. But I don’t yet know whether or not we can help you. If that’s something you’re facing, I’m happy to learn more to see if we might be able to help.
And what it does is it creates this area where together now we’re trying to fit puzzle pieces together. We’re not just trying to sell somebody on what we have, we’re just trying to see if it’s a fit, because if they don’t have a need, it’s not worth their time and it’s not worth our time.
So when you’re in that situation in cold outreach and the same applies whether you’re reaching out via email, LinkedIn, whatever it happens to be, the idea is that you want to have a plan where you might end up with five or six different problems that you solve in essence, your client’s rants, what they might be complaining about. And then you’re going to pick the two or three based on your research that is most likely to resonate with them. And you can always share one and say, how common is that? Or I can share two or three and say, which of those piques your interest? Does one of those stand out for you?
And then as soon as they express interest in one of those areas, we get to say, can you tell me a little bit more about that? What have you done to try and solve it? And now we’re qualifying to see if this is an opportunity worth our time and their time.
Because cold outreach is not about getting a sale on the first call. Cold outreach is about figuring out who’s the right fit for you and who isn’t, so we don’t waste time with the people who are not a good fit.
Here’s a quick 30-second recap of the key points I want you to take away from this:
First, when you’re reaching out, make sure you’re not reaching out in your own interest thinking about what it is you’re selling, but instead reach out based on the problems you solve.
Second, make sure that you’re disarming the notion that you’re just there to sell something by acknowledging that not everyone’s a good fit for you.
And third, do your research in advance so you know which of the two or three rants that you’re really good at solving are most likely to resonate with that client so you’re focusing on them.
And the ultimate goal is to engage in a conversation to determine if it’s a fit, not try to persuade or coerce somebody into some sort of agreement with you based on initial outreach.
If you want to learn more about this, The Cold Outreach Playbook is part of the Same Side Selling Academy. Academy members get access to it already, and you can join just the Cold Outreach Playbook or the overall Academy at SameSideSellingAcademy.com. See you next week.