How to tailor your cold calls to match your prospect’s communication style with Shawn Sease

Collin Stewart, CEO

20 February 2019

Sales development, like so many disciplines, has benefitted immensely from the ever-evolving world of software.

Just think of all the tools available to help make sales a more efficient, exact, and, ultimately, financially rewarding pursuit: Salesforce, Outreach, SalesLoft, ConnectAndSell, DocuSign, Calendly…I could go on forever.

Despite the software industry’s best efforts, however, each new and awesome tool has yet to remove the human element of selling. We have enhanced our ability to sell, no doubt, but the trained prospector remains an integral part of sales development.

It’s the prospector that learns what a buyer needs, it’s the prospector that navigates the potential pitfalls of a call, and it’s the prospector that shows empathy and understanding throughout the sales process.

That’s why Shawn Sease, Director of SDR Client Services at outbound sales consultancy Sales Developers, has incorporated a new element in his prospecting: tailoring his sales pitch to match his prospects’ communication styles. According to Sease, adding that nuanced approach to his toolkit has enhanced the all-too-important human element of his job and helped him convert more calls.

“About a year ago, I was looking to level-up my sales skills. With all the changes in sales, I thought it was time to learn a few new tricks and I wanted to get better at opening more doors. So many things will be automated in the future, but opening doors and getting that initial conversation happening will always be a human thing,” says Sease, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“I came to learn this methodology from Southwestern Consulting, a firm I was working with in a coaching capacity. It’s based on the book “Navigate 2.0: Selling the Way People Like to Buy” and is all about listening to prospects. It’s about listening and getting clues from how people talk to inform how I talk to them. This is a fundamental sales skill that will get further with your prospects. You just have to listen to how they talk.”

Matching your prospects’ communication styles

So what does this conversation framework look like in practice?

According to Sease, the foundation of this cold call method is assigning prospects into four distinct personas, each with a unique set of traits.

The personas are:

The Fighter

The fighter is a no-nonsense persona, even quick-tempered from time to time, adds Sease. This prospect doesn’t like to waste time and wants to hear details of your product right away when they get on the phone.

Keywords or phrases this persona/prospect uses when on a call: “What is this about?” “What is the price?”

When you hear those phrases, typically early in a call, Sease says you must be prepared to answer quickly. By doing so, you mirror their cadence and match their energy.

Finally, fighters love choices. Leveraging that preference can be as simple as giving them more than one option for booking a call. It gives them more agency and more power because they can evaluate when they’d like to hop on a call.

The Entertainer

The entertainer is extroverted – they love to learn about your product or service, as well as talk about all of the exciting things their team is working on. As such, rapport building is very important with this persona.

To connect with this type of prospect, be enthusiastic, use adjectives to hype up your offering, and quickly pivot to get them talking about their company.

For example, Sease would position his company, Sales Developers, to an entertainer like this: “We are the leaders in outbound sales development. We build the best pipelines known to mankind.”

Keywords or phrases this persona/prospect uses when on a call: ‘Who are you?” “What do you do?”

The Counselor

The counselor is a thoughtful, measured, and cautious persona that is always looking for concrete examples of how your product or service will benefit their team. They love the detail.

They also prefer to make decisions in groups and appreciate a salesperson that takes a steady, inclusive, and holistic view of their organization.

For example, Sease says he would discuss Sales Developers to a counselor like this: “It sounds like you guys like to take your time to make decisions. So, this sounds like a great time to get our calendars out, invite the entire team, and chat then. If we are fit that’s great, but if we’re not then you guys can decide as a group that we can go our separate ways.”

The Detective

The detective, like the fighter, is another no-nonsense persona: they want to hear concrete data/details on how you’ve helped similar companies. The detective’s worst fear is being wrong or making mistake. As such, everything boils down to the bottom line for the detective.

For example, the detective needs to know that you increased bookings by 25% for, say, General Electric. Be ready with case studies and testimonials.

Keywords or phrases this persona/prospect uses when on a call: “Why is this important?” “Why should I care?”

“It’s important to note: to make this cold call method work best, I watch out for is how people react to me early in the conversation. Look for them to bite, and show what kind of person they are,” says Sease.

“I stay quiet early in each call, the more I can discern about who they are.”

(Editor’s note: a while back, we spoke with Rex Bibertson, co-founder and chief operating officer of Sales Developers, about how to nail the first 30 seconds of a cold call. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the interview here)

 

The effect

Although it’s only been one year since Sease began incorporating this persona-based cold call framework into his daily routine, the effects have been substantial.

According to Sease, this knowledge has improved his approach to calls, his confidence, and, critically, his numbers.

“I know I’m doing something different. I’m a different voice in the crowd. And, it’s made me more relaxed than in the past. This has definitely improved my ability to have more relaxed conversations. Having that relaxed tone is really helpful,” says Sease.

“I’m converting calls between 25% – 33%. From a percentage perspective, it has increased my productivity by about 30% and impacted my wallet. It’s been great.”

For more on Sease’s thoughts on cold calling and prospect personas, check out the rest of his interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

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