Strategic Cave-persons

I’ve designed a few pretty simple worksheets for a couple different organizations now for their reps to use on calls. And of course the worksheet I designed is really more of a template, so you could design one like it that has a different format or flow to it, but there are some key advantages to using something like this.

Having a strategic tool like this helps to ensure that your reps are:

  • Gathering and sharing the right information for the touchpoint
  • Staying on track and not skewing off into tangents that pull them off course
  • Not letting potential clients skew off into tangents that pull them off course
  • Providing consistently excellent experience from rep to rep
  • Ultimately, meeting the goals of the particular touchpoint

Those are all surface-level, too. Not to say that they’re not important, because they are – but remember, under the surface, there are some very consistent psychological things going on during initial interactions.

The brain is a pattern recognition machine, so if you have questions that are random and sporadic, it throws the other person’s brain a cognitive monkey wrench. Meaning: if they don’t make sense or if there’s no rhyme or reason to the questions, then it makes it seem as if you’re a novice who’s just reading random questions off some survey or checklist or that you’re winging it with no plan.

Cognitive dissonance causes people to tune out because it causes threat alarms to go off in the other person’s subconscious mind. If we were on the phone right now and you’re trying to influence me about anything but what you’re saying doesn’t add up, I will very quickly check out of the conversation as my inner monologue races off about what’s for dinner (or something random, you get the point).

So, with this simple, one-page worksheet that has the questions strategically sequenced, I’d suggest taking a few minutes before the call and fill out what you can (name, company, who the Account Execs might be, stuff like that), and after your intro and agenda statement, use it to ensure that you stay on track with the call.

How can you tell who’s in control of a sales interaction? By who’s asking the questions.

So the questions you ask should go in a logical sequence, starting with less-invasive questions to more invasive, and doing this makes it easier for leads to answer because, check this out:

If you jump on the phone and go through your intro and agenda statement then immediately ask: “So, what’s your budget for this?” then you have just created a massive, uphill battle for yourself from that point forward. And of course budgets are important to discuss, I’m not saying to avoid it, but you’ll find that potential clients are typically much more forthcoming with that type of information after getting basically warmed up to it.

So, I get that BANT makes it easy to remember:

  • Budget
  • Authority
  • Need
  • Time

but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going in that order.

As an example, on my team, we always (towards the beginning of calls) either verify or ask a person’s role, like:

  • “And you’re the [ROLE] there, right?”
  • “Yep, sure am.”
  • “That’s awesome! How long’ve you been there?”
  • “Who me?”
  • “Yeah!”
  • “Oh … about four years now, ha ha!”

And you’ll hear them just open up and get a little cooler at that point because (and this is some secret weapon-type stuff here): we took an active-interest in them as a person by asking a personally-professional question that acknowledges their accomplishment of earning whatever title they have – and it MAKES THEM FEEL GOOD.

They get cool and they open up because, psychologically, it feels good to be acknowledged. Is it a play to the person’s ego? Yes – and so what, right? Everyone likes to be acknowledged, but no one likes insincerity, so there’s a balance to this, too.

Shoot, I have to give an example:

  • “And you’re the [ROLE] there, right?”
  • “Yep, sure am.”
  • “CONGRATULATIONS!! How long’ve you been there?”
  • “Six years now …”

At this point, the potential client checks out because the rep sounds fake and disingenuous and it sounds like the rep wants something, so it sets off alarms.

In this moment, does the rep want something? Yes, of course.

In this moment, does the potential client want something? Sure does!

So, is there a way to purposefully align what they both want so we can predictably achieve an outcome that’s mutually beneficial for both parties involved? Absolutely!

But first, let me ask a question: why is it so annoying when people are needy and whiny?

Like, there’s a reason for why we get annoyed when people want something (especially strangers), and it goes back to our pre-historic, tribal cave-person days.

If you think about it from a primal standpoint, the world is a dark, scary place to be.

Of course with modern advances in medicine and technology, we’ve come quite a ways, but think about how much safer the world is now versus … 100 years ago. We’ve come a long ways, but – evolutionarily speaking – that’s hardly a blip on the radar.

Now, I’m not going to spin off into some crazy tangent about science and evolution, but we all know the world is pretty old – at least thousands if not millions or even billions of years old. It takes a long time for evolutionary changes to occur in humans (and other species), so when you think about how our brains are essentially hard-wired in a certain fear-based, survival-based way, it should make a lot of sense why someone who is needy is annoying – especially strangers.

Imagine we’re in a tribe, just out there in the wild, fending for ourselves. What sets humans apart from all other species really comes down to two things:

  1. Our willingness to protect each other, and
  2. Our willingness to share our resources (namely: food and shelter)

So, let’s say two strangers approach our cave who have (barely) survived an attack from a pack of saber-toothed tigers. Everyone else in their tribe got killed and eaten, but they made it out.

These two strangers are now THREATS TO OUR RESOURCES because they’re going to have a hard time defending themselves and those around them. They’ll be eating our food and using our stuff, so they’re literally threats.

And of course we tend to be a little more forgiving with our own children, right? They can be whiny and needy up to a certain point, sure, but after a while, we’ll want to make sure they learn to fend for themselves. All of these behaviors and tendencies are still true today, but things around us have changed.

We no longer have to go out and hunt down our food and drag it home to our caves, but we still need to eat. And for the most part, we don’t live in caves anymore, but we still need shelter, right? So, we have apartments in the city and houses in suburbia and everything, but we’ll get super-annoyed, super-fast when someone comes over and say: wears out their welcome and stays longer than expected and doesn’t help with anything.

It’s annoying that my 16-year old daughter holes up in her room and doesn’t engage with or help her “tribe” for extended periods of time. Eventually she’ll venture out of her room to get food and then go back to her video games, and then I’ll have to remind her to wipe her bathroom down and do her laundry, but my goodness – imagine if she did the dishes just once a week? Or took the trash out every now and then?

It’s even more annoying over breaks from school because I’ll get up early, go to work all day, and then come home to dishes in the sink, trash overflowing, dirty bathroom, messy room, and I’m like:

  • “What were you doing all day?”
  • “Existing,” she’ll say.
  • “What have you helped with?” I’ll ask.
  • “Nothing … I didn’t know there was anything to help with.”
  • “Well, you have helped with a few things,” I told her. “You helped with running up the electric bill, and water bill … and you ate the food, and used the wi-fi to play Fortnite all day …”

Annoying, isn’t it? If we were cave people, after a while, this type of behavior would get a person banished from the tribe, and banishment back then equaled death because a person could not survive on his or her own. And this is still true to an extent – modern society is set up to where it’s pretty much impossible to venture out and survive on your own without any help from others.

I’ve spoken with my kids about all of this, and how, yeah, I’m not going to banish them, but this stuff, LIFE, is hard, and it’s borderline impossible to do any of this by ourselves. We need to be willing to help each other and look out for each other, and how small teams with members who are self-sufficient who can fend for themselves (to an extent) have healthy division of labor amongst its members.

It’s not fair for one person to:

  • go out and hunt down the food
  • drag it home
  • cook it
  • feed the rest of the tribe
  • clean up after them
  • watch the fires all night to make sure the saber-toothed tigers don’t kill everyone
  • then wake up the next day and do it all over again for the rest of his or her life

We all know that wouldn’t be fair, so we all have this instinctive ability to just know when others aren’t helping out with things, and it’s annoying because it’s a threat to our resources and our group’s overall chances of survival.

Now, I know that was a bit of a rant, but it serves two really big purposes:

  1. It explains why people who are needy are instinctively labeled as threats
  2. It ties into the basic neuroscientific principles we’ve hit on throughout this [BOOK?]

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