by Brittany Ferrera, Customer Success & Marketing Manager at Communications Edge Inc

There's a better way to start a sales conversation. And that's what led Ahmad Munawar to sit down with our very own, Jeff Molander, for the Boutique Growth Podcast

Listen to the full episode or read the transcript below.

Ahmad is one of the people who really wanted to get into the weeds and learn the psychological principles behind the outreach tactics he was learning. He found other programs and gurus who led him down an endless path of "push, push, push" sales that made him very uncomfortable and didn't really feel like a strategy that felt like "him..." or that was even working much at all.

And that's what led him to Communications Edge.

Why learn psychology to start a conversation?

So you can always pivot when your conversation starting tactic needs updating.

There's something to be said about always knowing the reason behind WHY you're doing something. Whether it's exercise, a job, but especially why you're using any particular sales outreach tactic.

We don't believe in gurus who promise "get more sales now" types of programs where they push a single tactic at you that worked for them in the past, so they're sure it'll work for you too. That's not necessarily true.

That's why it's important to remember the WHY behind it. Knowing the psychological principles of why certain tactics work and others don't is something that sets the successful salespeople apart from all the others.

All that to say that some people really want to take the time to learn the principles and get into the depths to give themselves an edge over their competition and well, others don't.

Ahmad:

You're listening to Forecasts, the marketing podcast for professional services and leaders. If you're looking to generate more leads when more deals and take your firm to the next level, this show is your shortcut. Hey there, folks. Welcome back to the show, I am your host, Ahmad Munawar. And today we have Mr. Jeff Molander on the show.

Jeff is someone I've been following for quite a while, been paying attention to his work for quite a while. And I found him to be one of the most innovative thinkers in the realm of sales prospecting and sales outreach.

I'll tell you why. There's a lot of very tired sales tactics out there. And a lot of what people are teaching are tired tactics that don't work anymore and have been done to death. And frankly, don't respect the buyer's time and the buyer's attention and the buyer's integrity.

And that's what I love about Jeff Molander, is that he has a completely different approach, something that you probably haven't heard of before, haven't seen before. And it's an approach that works. It's an approach that respects the buyer's intelligence and their time and their integrity and also respects your integrity and maintains your posture as the expert in the room when you conduct sales outreach. And I've seen very few people articulate an approach to doing this kind of outreach in the way that Jeff Molander has.

And that's why I'm excited to bring him on the show. So you're going to get to that in just a second. Before I let you get to that, though, got a brand new workshop that we just launched. For those of you who are consultants and professional service providers and are tired of kind of, you know, running that consulting service business rat race, right. Where you have clients and you do work and then you lose clients and you get more clients and then you do work and then you lose them.

And then you just keep like spinning on that hamster wheel over and over and over again, never really building a consistent and predictable pipeline for your business. If that's you, you're going to want to check out my brand new workshop that goes in depth to a step by step process that you can use to generate a consistent flow of five and six-figure consulting deals for your business. You can grab that workshop over at forecast.fm/workshop.

With that, here is my good friend Jeff Molander. Let's start here, Jeff.

For those who don't know who you are. Tell us your quick back story. Who are you? Where do you come from?

Jeff:

Well, as a guy who teaches not to talk about yourself as a way to start conversations with people. Yeah. So I'll make it short. That's kind of my nature is humble. And anyway, yeah, I'm a salesperson, and I used to be a marketing person and then one day realized, you know, I wanted to experience what it would be like to have the opportunity to have a salary level that just is you know, associated with commissions.

Ahmad:

Right.

Jeff:

You can make as much as you want and deserve. And you're ...I was listening to Tom Pullens interview and, you know, he uses the accountability where you're accountable. And I guess that's why I'm in business for myself right now. But I'm a salesperson. I cut my teeth in marketing, public relations, that kind of thing. But I quickly got into sales and I love it. I love the challenge. I had some great mentors and who taught me how to start conversations and qualify conversations as quickly as possible.

And I grew up right at the edge of, I guess when the fax machine, you know, when I was in my first sales gigs, you know, there were these things called fax machines and there was email, but it was pretty new. So starting conversations using the phone and using email is something that I was right, I guess, in the early days of email using email as a professional tool.

So ...But I'm a salesperson.

Ahmad:

What industry or industry did you come up in sales?

Jeff:

Well, I worked for a video production... I come from a video production background, but I quickly wanted to get into sales. Again, there's that unlimited earnings potential. Right. So I worked a lot in that industry. So selling corporate video meetings, and I don't know if you remember audio visual, you know, slide machines and multi image slides.  I'm not sure how how old you are.

But, you know, there used to be these big corporate engagements where you get your two hundred or two thousand employees together and there'd be images flashing up on the screen and they would animate. But they were done with slide machines. Right. There were no video projectors in these days. Yeah, I'm that old.

Ahmad:

I remember. I'm old enough to remember that. Probably not old enough to sell them though. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Jeff: 

It's ...But professional services. Right. So I come from a background and I've always been in professional services. I did do some time like... Do you remember Silow or Fredder. You know this is pre Best Buy. So I did floor sales because I was told if I were going to get into sales for a professional services company that I had to do floor sales because that's the "real" sales. Right. So...

Ahmad:

Interesting.

Jeff: 

Yeah, but professional services my whole life really.

Ahmad:

Tell me the story of when Jeff Molander decided that he could go out on his own and become a consultant. What did that look like? How did that work?

Jeff:

Oh, it was ugly.

I was very tired of working for both people in the corporate environment that I threatened, frankly, and had to bear the consequence of that. And then I went to work for a husband and wife team in the video production industry with a very successful company who was looking for a general manager type person. But when I started, you know, they wanted to spend more time with their kids and those kind of things. But when I started ordering office supplies, they freaked out.

All I was doing was ordering office supplies. I said, OK, well, they said, well, but maybe we're not sure about you being a general manager. I said, "Why? Was it the office supply thing?" I guess so. They just couldn't let go of, you know, and I know what that's like. I'm going through that right now, actually letting go.

Ahmad:

Well, what did you order?

Jeff:

Yeah, not that much.

I don't know. Office supplies, I don't know. But anyway ...But I quickly found myself out of a job and I'm like, well, I'd never been, you know, out of a job before so quickly. This was like three weeks. And I thought, well, you know, let's ...How about that consulting thing?

So, yeah, that professional services thing, I thought I knew something about the Internet and I was going to help people as a consultant. I took off six months and I learned, you know, this was 1998, I think. And then I went into business for myself and I fooled around for the first couple of years.

I really didn't know what I wanted to do, but I got hooked up with other management consultant types, and I got some work out of that, actually.

But yeah. So that was how it... It was not pretty.

Ahmad: 

It rarely is, and that's the honest truth of it is I think for most people, if they're honest, it starts out with, well, how about that consulting thing? Because corporate's just a disaster and it's not working out for me. And I'm a square peg in a round hole. And how about that consulting thing?

And the early years are usually very instructive. Tell me a little bit about what you're doing today. I want to just kind of capture, you know, that journey and then we'll jump into the topic for today after that.

Jeff:

Yeah.

I mean, I fell in love with the concept a few years ago of, you know, selling knowledge based on what you're really good at. And it took me a while to get there ...That, you know, I wasn't that great of a marketing person. But I am a very good salesperson. And I spent some time, a lot of time, selling and I was quite good at it. And I realized recently that that's what people need help with, in particular the part with starting conversations.

And I guess I undervalued my expertise. Once I realized that that was valuable, I mean, it's so hard to package it up, right. Price it and then go out and sell it or market it. It's just a lot of work.

Ahmad: 

So you said something there that every consultant who's listening has experienced... At least one side of it, which is that you were undervaluing your expertise and you got to a place where you began to see the value. What did that look like? Do you remember was there a moment in time where you realized, you know what, I'm underselling myself here?

Jeff:

Well, yeah.

When my clients started telling me what they were achieving based on my blog, I think, you know, and over and over and over, I finally got infuriated with myself, and I hired a virtual assistant and he kept telling me, "You're giving away way too much information."

So I think that there's this ...There are a lot of people out there who are taking a lot of people's money saying you got to give away everything ...You don't.

So I think you understand that. But you do have to make it.. And this gets to our conversation today. You do have to compel people with, you know, your knowledge expertise, but you have to allow them to feel compelled.

You can't try to, you know, speak to them in a compelling way, because that's that's that's just going to push them away. So you've got to find a way to pull and to attract people to you.

And oftentimes what that amounts to is, you know, saying less. Not necessarily being humble, but just saying less and thinking about what you're going to share and when you're going to share it and holding something back and being OK with that.

Ahmad: 

I'm laughing because just this morning on a coaching call with my client, I said the words, "Half of marketing is withholding information." Just that people don't realize how valuable that is.

And, you know, there's a lot that can be said about marketing and social media and content creation. And I know there's a whole movement around just give it all away, just give it all away, and then that'll somehow compel people to work with you, but no, there's a lot that can be said about withholding information because first of all, it's not like all the information in the world is going to save people. If I need help with the sales, it's probably not because I don't have Jeff's templates.

It's probably something more serious going on. Right. So the information is not necessarily going to save them or help them. And secondly, what happens when you give away all your information? You look like a tactician. You look like somebody who just knows how to work a few tactics.

Jeff:

That's very, very true. Very true. And that is what I found quickly. Again, it's like, wait, I'm helping them with those tactics. But what they're achieving is strategic.

And I realized... Then you realize that you're underpricing yourself oftentimes. Not always, but you might realize that as well.

Ahmad:

Well, classic example, and I think you and I are aligned on this is for my clients, a big part of what they do is on LinkedIn. You will very rarely see me talking about LinkedIn publicly.

Tactically, even strategically, because I know it seems like when I get into that conversation that devalues my positioning to that of a LinkedIn group of which there are a dime a dozen.

Right. Right. You've got to be sensitive to that. Absolutely.

So, Jeff, let's jump in here.

The reason why we're having this conversation is because I've been following you for, I think years now. Probably. I've sent clients to you. I've been through some of your programs, and I have yet to see anybody articulate a process and approach to starting conversations with prospects that I felt comfortable with.

And that's a big statement to make, right?

But it's true because most of what I see coming out of the sales world is very aggressive. It's very focused on getting the conversation at all costs. And it doesn't ...It doesn't bear in mind the nuances of selling a consulting or professional service because it's typically not made for those people.

It's made for professional commission salespeople. My clients, my listeners, my audience... These are people selling a service of their own. They're going to sell and they're going to deliver. It's very important for them to be able to reach out and communicate with prospects in a way that maintains the expert position. Right to the mantra that I teach my clients as clients need you more than you need them and you've got to enter the sales conversation with that mindset. Easier said than done.

So what I'm looking for with you, Jeff, is if we can get into, you know, what does that look like? How do we start conversations with prospects that are busy? They're CEOs, they're executives, you know, small companies, large companies, they're busy. They're busy, busy people.

How do we start conversations with them that engage them without giving away our position as the expert in the room?

Jeff:

Well, that's ...That that comes once you've got their attention and you've got the conversation...mostly.

But getting them, you know, getting it started, you know, basically there's a big difference between sales and marketing. When you're calling on the phone and you get someone who's calling you and they're reading a script, that's marketing. That ain't sales.

I mean, it's marketing because the script was written by a marketer.

And when I say script, I mean literally script, because you can use the word script and oftentimes a good salesperson will use what they call a script. But that script is just ...Those are guidelines. They're not reading.

But they're...they're being guided by it, so, you know, we're becoming very good as... Everybody on the planet, no matter what continent they're on, is becoming very good at identifying very quickly what a marketing pitch sounds like.

So that's half of the problem is people are very good at pulling it out. So what we found is that, you know, human beings value more what they ask for and they value less what is being pushed at them or what what's being offered freely to them.

So, you know, if you think about it in your life, you value more what you ask people for and you value less what people push at you or offer you freely. But yet when you go on LinkedIn or you look at your email and you're sending emails to people trying to start conversations, typically you're giving away your e-book. You're talking about yourself. You're talking about your client list. Oh, here's some research that shows that you should really start a... You should have a conversation with me.

Here's some third party research, Mr. and Ms. Client that says you have a problem. Well, why do we do that? Well, we push that third party research because we're basically sending the message to the client, "Well, you're not going to believe me. So here's some third party research that I'm out to convince you." So everything that I see out there that is the problem for most professional services people is they're talking about themselves. They're talking about their clients.

And nobody really cares about that in terms of the conversation starter, it does.

Ahmad: 

Where's that coming from? Because you're right. And let's acknowledge where that's coming from so that we can get into why it's a mistake and the better way to do it. I think where that's coming from is people feel like they need to have some kind of context for the conversation. So I can't just send a LinkedIn message or email a prospect, saying, "Hey, what what's your biggest problem?" Because they're not likely to respond to that.

So I need some kind of a context, either through some content that I created, some third party research or some kind of conversation starter. Is that a mistake?

Jeff:

Right. All of those devices are devices. And they all say one thing to the prospect: the person who's sending me this email doesn't know Jack about me or my business and doesn't care, in fact, doesn't care about me or my business, because if they did, they would have taken five minutes or ten minutes or even some of our clients take 30 minutes to perform the requisite research. Because once you've written an email or you pick up the phone and you make a cold call.

And you say, "Hey, I happen to know this, this and this about you. And I think that there may be a reason for us to have a conversation based on my knowledge about you." It's a game changer.

Ahmad: 

Can we get into that? What does that look like? And I think you're right, because people are maybe listening to this and thinking, "30 minutes, Jeff, on research?" Well, look if a deal is worth forty, fifty, sixty thousand dollars to you. Right. You're not going to spend thirty minutes planning your approach? So, I'm with you on two percent. But what does that look like?

Jeff:

Yeah, not all deals are worth that much. And there are people who are in, you know, look, we have to send out large numbers of emails to larger numbers of people in search of people who will spend five hundred dollars with us.

But then again, right, we want people who will spend fifty thousand dollars. So you've got to have a different approach.

We call it a tailored approach to the larger lifetime value customers of the larger ticket, the fifty thousand dollar people, they get a tailored, highly researched email that's very short and says to the other person, this person took five minutes to thirty minutes to know these three things or to make these insights, maybe even to talk to a subordinate of the person you're calling on ...or two or three to garner some information going into an annual report of a public company, something that shows that you've taken...you've made some effort to not look like everybody else who's coming into the inbox.

But then again, recognizing that we have these...maybe you need...you've set the goal of 100 emails out or 100 new prospects to contact this week about something that's lower cost. There has to be a way, and there are ways that we teach to, as an example, geography and geo-location. So if you're calling on people in the city of Toronto, then you're going to be smart to work that geography into your very short message, even though you're not going to have the time to put in that little bit of research, that nugget of information that proves to them that you've done some research on them.

There are other techniques that we can use, that our clients use that will help you stand out from all the other people who are flowing into your target's inbox.

Ahmad:

Well, one thing right off the bat, I'm glad you touched on this... It bothers me to no end. I get very frustrated by a lot of the sales advice out there in the market, not yours, but the, you know, the kind of the mainstream gurus, because a lot of them are saying things like, you know, always go straight to the decision-maker. You're wasting your time by talking to people that are not pulling the trigger.

OK, well, if you're targeting the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or Fortune 1000 whatever, but CEO of a big company, and you don't have a direct in to the CEO, and he's got 10 gatekeepers. OK, good luck having that conversation. Sure. Whereas his VP of Finance or VP of Operations or director of this, that and the other, they tend to be much more approachable and in fact they have all the data that you need to go and will help make your case to the CEO.

So if I'm taking a long term view on this and I want this deal and it's not just another prospect without a face or a name, I'm going to go on I'm going to talk to the five or six different people in the organization I can get my hands on. Right? To paint the picture of what's actually going on. And maybe the operations guy will say, "Well, look, here's the thing. Product delivery is a big issue for us."

And the finance guy will say something else and this person will say something else.

Now, I've got this really colorful picture that I can use that I can go to the CEO and say, "Hey, I have been talking to everybody on your team. Here's what they're saying..."

You should probably have a conversation.

Jeff:

Yeah, that's that's what I'm describing. And it doesn't have to... It could be the Vice President of HR who is your end target, but you want to talk to the people who are working for that Vice President of HR and gather up that information, gather up those insights, and then come with a message that demonstrates that you've done that work and that's, you know, maybe five percent of sales people or small business owners will actually do that.

Ahmad:

Yeah, I love that.

So let me ask you this:

I think it'd be helpful to to understand the the psyche and the mindset of the prospect. If I'm a prospect and let's say I hear from you, Jeff, and you're trying to sell me something, but you make your first approach. What do I need to see in your approach to compel a response?

Jeff:

What would the recipient need to see?

Ahmad:

Yeah, from the prospect's perspective. Right. Like what compels somebody to respond to an outreach or an email or LinkedIn message?

Jeff:

Length. First of all, they shouldn't have to scroll on their mobile device. And everybody is... I mean, you can read all the data, right. And I mean, you've read it. Everybody's heard it. It's it's either 85-95% in the business world. It's all on the mobile. Running in between meetings, they're on mobile. So if they've got to use their thumb to scroll down, you're done. So length, and that again helps separate you out so you don't look like everybody else.

And the rest of it is, you know, it's showing that you've done the research, showing that you've done the homework or...

We have some clients who do very well by asking what we call a facilitative question and nothing else. So by this we mean it's a... If I ask you, Ahmad, you know, "Are you getting enough leads in your business ?" You know why I'm asking you that question, right? It's to sell you leads.

There's only one way of answering that question. And nobody could ever have enough leads. Right? So if you asked somebody a question that's leading them toward, you know, your thing, that you want your conversation about selling them something, they know what those type of questions sound like. However, you know, there are ways to structure your question that will focus the client on the current status quo situation in their business. So maybe if I were to ask you, "Ahmad, what would cause you to consider a different way to generate leads for your business?" It's clear I want to talk to you about lead generation at your business. But what isn't clear is, are you trying to sell me something? because you're not; you're just trying to sell the idea of a conversation. Right.

So are, you know, are you open to having a conversation about how you generate leads for your business? That's a yes or no question, but what would cause you to change, to consider changing the way that you do lead generation at your business. That's a very inward directed question. Do you see the difference between that and leading someone toward an answer that you want so you can sell on something?

Ahmad:

Yeah.

Jeff:

So in the first question, "Are you getting enough leads for your business?" I know that whatever I say can and will be held against me in the sales conversation. If I say yes, you're going to use that against me. You're going to get me into a conversation and I'm likely to just kind of respond, especially in that example, because everyone's saying that. But in the in the latter example, "What would cause me to consider a different way of generating leads?"

What it forces me to think about is what about the way I'm generating leads right now?

Is anything broken? Is everything OK? Am I happy with it? Am I not happy with it? And if I wasn't happy with it, what would cause me to reconsider? And it causes a little bit of introspection and reflection. It immediately makes me respect you a little bit more because no salesperson ever made me think.

I'm not asking, not asking you for a meeting. I'm not asking you a hook question that's going to set you up for a conversation that you're...you're just not going to answer the question. You're just going to hit delete because you see those questions all day long. Yeah. And you can't hook someone into a conversation.

You know, people call me all the time like, "I need a good hook." I'm like, "God, no, you don't need a hook. What you need is to stop selling." "Yeah, well, you know. Yeah, people say that, you know." But how do you do that? Well, ask for the conversation about a potential meeting and then tell them that they have the choice of having the meeting with you or not... Actually say that to them. You know, give them the... Tell them that you're at peace in one sentence with, you know, "This is up to you to have this conversation or not. I recognize that."

That's another mental trigger that you can use that, you know, that helps people open up and think, "Well, wow, this guy is at peace with the fact that I could delete it."

It's that kind of tone, so you were asking what, what what's going to help people... What do people need to see? They need to see that you're not like everybody else. What does that mean? Short. You're not asking self-centered questions. You're not touting your client list. You're not pushing third party research. You're not trying to look credible. People say to me all the time, "Well, I have to look credible on the first e-mail, otherwise I'm not going to..." And I say, "No, you don't... You have to look provocative." You don't have to look provocative.

You have to be provocative to provoke the conversation.

You know, looking credible comes later when they're when they're saying, I wonder if I should do business with this man or woman. Right. That's later.

So the more that you think out of the box in terms of how to start a conversation without looking credible... You've got your signature. You've got the company name, you know, whatever. But if you're a small business owner, again, you know, I think it's that "I've got to look credible." Next thing you know, you start writing to persuade and you start talking in a persuasive way. And that's when people tune out.

Ahmad:

It's interesting...

I think at a meta level, this is kind of what happened in our relationship. And I don't think it was a tactic that you were employing. I think this is just naturally how you communicate. I think you've kind of just embodied this in many ways. I remember you reached out to me. We'd been going back and forth, LinkedIn, email, and you sent me a note ...this was about a year ago, probably, I don't know if you remember this. You sent me a note saying ...And the title was one of my podcast interviews.

It said, "Listening to this podcast interview and something about it tells me that, you know, we should be having a deeper conversation," something like there's no real call to action; it was a very genuine, thoughtful email, you'd done your homework. And I remember that clearly up until now. I remember that. And you've been more on my radar since then.

Jeff:

Yeah, because I showed you that I actually took the time to understand something. Unfortunately, Ahmad, what we're seeing is now artificial intelligence is going out there and grabbing something off your LinkedIn profile, off of your website, sticking it into an email and saying, "Yeah, I saw that you said this... So therefore..."

And then here comes here comes the sales pitch. That doesn't work.

What does work is that there was some... I hope that I'd written to you that, "You know, you said this or you had a guest on who said that. And this is my interpretation of that..." You know, there has to be some value add to... Authenticity, I guess, is... In order to be authentic, you can't just parrot back what you've heard or read.

Ahmad:

No, contrast that with the the many pitches I get for people to come on this show, which are exactly how the sales pitch is you're describing sound, right? They're trying to look credible. They're listing to me all the different shows they've been on, they've got these like very tidy media profile sheets. And look, it can work. I'm not saying it can't work, but after a while they all pretty much look and sound the same.

It's all being sent by the same two or three companies. Right. So most of them I ignore, not because they're not good guests. And this is, I think, the thing that people need to understand is you're going to get ignored most of the time, not because you're not good at what you do or they don't need your help just because the packaging is off.

These may be good guests who maybe I should have on my show, but when I see something that I've heard before, I've seen before, it all kind of looks and sounds the same, doesn't provoke any kind of response... I'm not going to respond. But when Jeff sends me a very personal, brief, blunt, basic kind of message. Right. "Hey, I saw this. I took the time. I listen to this and I liked it for this reason" is a thoughtful comment.

Jeff's someone I'm paying attention to now; all the other people that templated out a message to me, I can't even remember their names.

Jeff:

Yeah, I mean, I think there's also a monkey see, monkey do effect going on here, too, because all of us professional services people, sales reps, doesn't matter who you are, you get the crap. The crap is coming into all of our inboxes and it all looks the same. And I think there is a certain degree of ...

"Well, I guess that must work, so I'll do it too." Those are the sources of our inspiration. And it's the stuff that doesn't work because there's so much of it. We figure, oh, it must work. Well, if you're going to be happy with I mean, you're not even getting 2% right now with just sending out massive amounts of email marketing style sales reps and small business owners are not even 2% these days.

Ahmad:

Yeah. So, Jeff, let me ask you this. If I'm a consultant to service provider, I'm trying to sell into corporate or mid-market companies, whatever it may be.

What is something really practical and actionable I can start doing immediately to get better results from...

Jeff:

Read your email out loud and notice that it sounds... And do it in your best radio announcer voice.

No, seriously, this is the... You know, it took me a long time to figure out that most of the problem here is when people, you know, come and they practice what our clients have called Spark Selling, because what we teach is, in essence, a methodology to spark the customer's curiosity by being shorter, by asking questions that help them introspect. And getting them curious about you is I'm sorry, I totally lost track of your question ...Your question was..."

Ahmad:

What can we do to get better response?

Jeff:

Oh, what can we do to get better response? Well, we need to get much shorter and talk less about ourselves. And yeah, I mean, talk less about ourselves.

And prove that we've done our homework on the prospect and not push information at our prospect, not attempt to look credible, not attempt to persuade, use very few, if any, adjectives and adverbs. I'm just going to give you a bunch of different things. But at the end of the day, if you take your email and you read it out loud to yourself, you become aware of how you sound.

And people, for whatever reason, none of our students, none of them can do it very effectively when they're reading it, they can't read it. And they send ...They they learn our technique and they say, "OK, here, here's what I wrote."

And then I will send back... I'll grab the microphone and I'll read it in my best radio announcer voice because it sounds like a TV spot or a radio spot that they've written.

It's horrible. Literally like a spot. One day it just jumped out. I'm like, "This sounds like a TV spot."

So that's the best thing you can do and play it back for yourself. And it's you know, if it sounds like a radio announcer, it's just not going to work. But otherwise, brief, blunt, basic, cut it way back, do not talk about yourself. But it really does depend on, you know, if you're sending one to many emails or if you're sending one to one, if you're going for a conversation with a business owner or a top executive, that kind of thing, you've really got to do the research. There's no way around not doing the research.

And making it very clear to them that I've done the research on you before I reached out here.

Ahmad:

So let me ask you this:

This whole thing about you don't need to appear credible on the front end. What are we saying here, when does that become important?

Jeff:

You do...you do have to be...It's kind difficult to describe. But look, what I'm trying to describe is, in terms of advice, if you start by thinking to yourself, "Well, I have to say something that's going to create this effect of my being credible," that's the mind frame. You're going to start to try to persuade people, no matter what you write, you're going to try to persuade people.

It doesn't matter because you're in the wrong mind frame. So what I'm suggesting is the better mind frame is, "OK, what matters to this person?" Duh, Molander, what matters to them? And then strip it way back. And if you don't know what matters to them, ask them one of these facilitative questions that would cause them to stop and go, "What kind of a question is that?" And that is the kind of response that many of our clients get when they're sending to a CEO or a business owner or a VP.

They ask them one of these questions that causes them to introspect on their current situation. And the response back is, "Yeah, yeah, we don't have a path, we don't have an answer for that. What are you getting at? Can you help with that? What's the point?"

So that's what I mean by ...Now you're into the conversation, you have the opportunity, you've just earned the opportunity, even though all you've done is one of our clients a long time ago said, "What it really is almost like is an irritation. You're kind of creating an irritation and they're firing back on their mobile device: 'What is this about?'"

Ahmad:

Yes. Yes.

Jeff:

I had a lot of our clients go, you've got me, because they know they come to the site, they click on my URL and they go, and they're like, "Molander..." Because there's a VP of sales or something like this, like "You got me. I see you...you teach the stuff," you know.

Ahmad:

Yeah. So it's funny, I had a couple of quick stories here. I got a... I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a consultant who wasn't trying to pitch me, but I found her on LinkedIn and she was in an area that I wanted to explore. And we had a quick back and forth conversation...I messaged her... And she was basically saying, "The way you're thinking about this is broken." That was her feedback to me, and I was like, I need to talk to this woman.

Like, what has she got?

Jeff:

Oh, no, no, no. This is where you walked in to someone's office, right in your office sharing space...is that the woman you're talking about?

Ahmad:

No, no, no, no. That's another story. Different story.

OK, this is this is a messenger conversation. I didn't know her...I found her on LinkedIn. I thought she was interesting. And we're talking, and she's telling me basically in a nice way, "The way you're looking at this is totally broken. I don't know if I can help you, but this is an issue for you." And I was just obsessed ...What is broken? i couldn't get over it. I thought about it at night.

I talked to my wife about it, talked to my assistant the next day. What does she got that I don't have? I was compelled to engage with her and I was asking her for the conversation by the end of it.

Jeff:

So she stopped. She didn't give you what was...

Ahmad:

No.

Jeff:

And you didn't ask her?

Ahmad:

Well, in a roundabout way, I tried to get her get some some more, but she held back, until the conversation.

And I don't even know if that was a tactic. Right. But it dawned on me that, you know, the idea of irritating...not in a bad way.

But just kind of like stirring something up inside the prospect by asking the right question. It creates an open loop.

Jeff:

Yeah. This is a great example of what most people do once they've got the response. So, she said to you, "You've got your head screwed on wrong. It's broken. You're not thinking about this correctly." What she could have done and what most people do is they start explaining. And that's exactly what you don't want to do.

Ahmad:

"Do this instead." Okay, thanks.

Jeff:

As someone who has spent years, I'll admit, years doing it, I have quickly come to stop doing that and making a lot more money doing it.

Ahmad:

Yeah, and the other really important lesson here, Jeff, and this is another quick story for you... As I was talking to a client last week, this is a client that had gotten on some 40 or 50 sales calls and had not had a single close, like, really bad streak for a new offer. So he's still trying to figure out how to sell the offer, but really bad streak. And we were talking and what I found was he had a really strong need for the sale.

He was showing up on these calls and he needed the sale. He was attached to the outcome, so we coached him through how to detach.

And literally the next call he got on there was... We talked at 3:30, he got on a call at 4:00. He went in detached and he told me he closed the sale. And he told me that he was actively trying to disqualify the person. He said, "You know what, you're not a good fit. You're not a good fit, you're not a good fit." And the prospect responded with, "No, no, no, I am a good fit. And here's why..."

And they closed. He detached himself from the outcome.

And that reminds me of what you're saying here is, you know, when your outreach, when it looks like you're trying to sell, it looks like you're trying to persuade, what does that tell people? Oh, this.

Jeff:

You're needy.

Ahmad:

They need this. How do we feel about people that need something from us? Not very good. Right. But when somebody comes in who clearly doesn't need anything, whether that's in the first message or in the sales conversation, they don't need this. It doesn't really affect them in a meaningful, tangible way, we're drawn to those people. We want to work with people who don't need us. And so they got something that we need.

Jeff:

That's the game changer. I didn't know you taught that... That's awesome, that you're helping people with that.

Ahmad:

Yeah.

I mean, for us, I mean, the number one ...The number one principle for a sales conversation that we teach is detachment. You go in and you need the sale, you're dead in the water.

Jeff:

Yeah, that translates directly to when I say you put the credibility hat on, you put the I'm going to persuade them hat on, you start writing like you need this because you do need this. That's where you're coming from. You're coming from need and we all need. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just a very... It's not a good point to start from in terms of negotiating or initiating a conversation, just like you said.

No one... It's like dating, right?

If you you sit across from someone... Like I met my wife online and I sat across from her in a restaurant after a few weeks and I had learned by then to shut up and speak less, right, because you have the opportunity to create ...You don't look first of all, you don't look needy. And those that opportunity where the other person gets to ask questions because they're curious. But if you don't allow them to be curious, you're done, you're selling yourself even.

So it's the same thing as if you're good at dating, which I wasn't for a long time, then you'd be great in sales, but wonderful that you teach that.

Ahmad:

So what I'm taking away from this, Molander, among other things, is, is that, you know, when you do that initial outreach, you don't even know if they have a problem.

You don't even know if there's even an opportunity to have a deeper conversation. And what you're doing is you're floating out there a facilitative question that gets them to introspect. And if there is something, then they might respond. If there isn't something, they won't respond.

And that's OK because...

Jeff:

But the nature of the introspective question does need to be remotely possible, right?

Relevant, I guess, is the word yeah, so there needs to be a reason.

Yes, yes.

So that's that's the big hurdle for many people. What you just said is, "I don't know where to... What matters to them?" Well, then I can't help you.

You've got you've got to understand what in the realm of ...And there are ways to to ask the introspective questions, to get that information back. But you've got to do the research either way on the prospect.

Ahmad:

Well, I mean, I would think you need to know what your market cares about as a whole. And if you're serving anybody and everybody, well, that's what I help clients with is positioning ...That's going to be that's going to be a struggle. Right. But you don't know what your market cares about as a whole. What are the what are the top button issues for CEOs or, you know, directors of HR in your industry? Right?

But then be able to dial down and make that meaningful by making it personal, but all that specific person to that specific company. So your initial guess, I would think comes from your understanding of the market and what the challenges are in the market.

But sending one message to many people in general is getting harder and harder over time. That's why what we recommend is even if it's 5 to 10 minutes of research to do on your target, you've got to do it. Otherwise, you're just... You're not going to get through. If you get through the spam filters, you know, you often get marked as spam by the human beings because they're like, "OK, they all look the same. They're all talking about their client list. They're all pushing research. They're all looking for meetings." You should never that's another thing that I would like... I'll close with. Don't ever ask for a meeting in your cold email. It's almost never appropriate.

Ahmad:

Yes.

Jeff:

Do not do it.

Ahmad:

Yes, it screams need. One more quick thing I want to get into... And I wasn't planning on this, but you brought something up that raised a question in my mind. I know email's a big part of your approach to outreach and prospecting. Certainly in Europe, obviously, that's becoming more and more challenging, in Canada as well. You know, cold emails is problematic. What do you recommend in those contexts?

Jeff:

The context of ...

Ahmad:

Canada, Europe, where cold emails, is going to be a big issue.

Jeff:

You mean with the CASL laws and all that?

Yeah, well, the states too...GDPR... And then even the Australians, they've got this issue.

So, yeah, here's... I'm not a lawyer. OK, so this is not legal advice. However, I've spoken to a lot of lawyers about this, and my perspective is that this is all really about commercial intent. So I think what you're doing is maybe you understand what I understand, and that is that if I ask for a meeting about my thing, clearly that is commercial intent.

Right. If I ask for a conversation about something commercial, like I want a meeting with you. Well, there's only one reason why I want a meeting with you. Right. But if I ask about, you know, a facilitative question about your business, you know, "What would cause you to rethink this?"

It's more of a conversation. I'm asking for a conversation that could lead to a commercial outcome, that could lead to a transaction.

So that's the way I look at the world is ...And that's how I advise my clients is, you know, the intent of the Canadian and the American and Australian and the European laws is not to stifle outreach. It's not. It's to prevent the abuse of people sending large numbers of emails to people. So make sure that when you're doing your outreach that, you know, you have... You're asking for a conversation that could lead to a commercial outcome.

There's no law against growth and growing your business.

And that's not the purpose.

And also, if you if you look at case law in Canada, in America and Europe and in Australia, what I'm seeing is those people being prosecuted are marketing people. You don't see sales organizations or salespeople, you know, being prosecuted for these laws, for violations. So far, I haven't seen anybody that I know of.

Ahmad:

Yeah, consult a lawyer. Absolutely. It's a fair point. It's a fair point.

Molander, anything that we have uncovered here that you think is important to address on the topic?

Jeff:

No, just remember that humans... Human beings value more what they ask for and they value less what you offer them and push at them freely and say here's my ebook. The trick is saying so little, even up front that it piques their interest and it gets them curious about you and how you came to emailing them today with that question or with that observation that you made, which is a really good observation.

"What are you getting at?" Right. That's the that's the only way that you're going to get people's attention.

Ahmad:

Brilliant.

Jeff:

And then earn a conversation with them.

Ahmad:

Brilliant. Love that. I just realized I'm calling you Molander like I'm your gym teacher or like your college buddy.

I don't know what it is. Something about the name Molander...I just I like Molander. Is that okay?

Jeff:

That's good. That's good. It's all good work.

Ahmad:

I'm comfortable with you. It's a good thing.

Jeff:

Yeah.

Ahmad:

Well that's okay. Jeff, tell us, where can people find you and look you up if they want to learn more from you?

Jeff: 

Sure. The main site, the content site, is makesocialmediasell.com, and the company name is Communications Edge. We give you a communications edge.

Ahmad:

Love it. We're going to drop links that in the show notes as well as a link to your LinkedIn profile. People can look you up and follow you there as well. Jeff Molander, it's been a pleasure. Thanks for coming on.

Jeff:

Thank you so much, Ahmad I look forward to collaborating in the future.

Ahmad:

Likewise. All the best.

Hey, it's Ahmad here again. Before I let you go, there are two things I want you to do.

The first is if you like what you hear, go ahead and subscribe to the show on iTunes or Google Play by visiting forecast.fm and clicking on the relevant link. While you're at it, please do leave us a rating or a review because it helps more people discover the show. The second thing is I want you to grab my free course on the five P's of lead generation for professional services firms. Inside the course, you will get a step by step framework to help you generate a flood of new business for your firm.

The course is 100% free of charge, and you can get immediate access at fiveleadgen.com And you can spell out five or use the number. Either one works. That's fiveleadgen.com. Thanks for listening.


About the Author

Brittany Ferrara gives our customers and internal team everything needed to stay focused, on-task, effective and ultimately successful. She gives us an organizational, marketing & customer support edge. Brittany brings seven years of customer service, administrative assisting and marketing experience to us. She is a successful entrepreneur, having operated her own successful venture, Pro-Assist, LLC for five years before joining our team.

Brittany Ferrara

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