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Why B2B and B2C are (not) Different

(Excerpt from book)

My favorite cold calling myth is this one: calling B2B is different from calling B2C. The idea behind this myth is when calling business owners, C-suite, and other executives we need to use a sophisticated approach because these guys are intelligent. We need to get right to the point because these guys are busy (and impatient). If we do not quickly meet their standards they will shut us down.

All of that is absolutely true: these prospects are busy, intelligent, and will not put up with calls that do not show respect. Now… what on earth happens to these people when they go home and become consumers? Are they suddenly less sophisticated or less intelligent? Does their time magically expand to allow for callers to impose on it?

That’s why this myth is so special — it’s just plain silly. Calls to businesses and calls to consumers are the same. The rest of this article highlights two common errors with both “types” of prospects, and how to avoid them. (The book provides details using full script examples.)

Error: Complimenting Prospects

This error sounds like:

“We work with successful business owners like you.”

“We manage wealth for discerning individuals like yourself.”

There are two reasons why using complimentary phrasing often backfires. The first reason is insincerity. We callers are strangers who do not actually know prospects well enough to pay such compliments. Using phrases like that can feel insincere and awkward for callers, which adds difficulty. Even when callers manage to believe the compliment, it doesn’t ring true to most prospects — they see it as a ploy — which also hurts success

The second reason compliments undermine success is because they narrow possibilities:

  • What about business owners who do not consider themselves to be successful? The caller has said he doesn’t work with such clients.
  • What if the products or services are meant to help business owners or businesses increase success? This contradicts what the caller just said, making everything else he says less credible.
  • What about the prospects who think “discerning” sounds snobby? They will tune out, which makes the caller’s job harder.
  • What about the prospects who don’t know what “discerning” means? They are likely to have less patience with the call.

To avoid this error: Draft your script and then delete judgement words like “successful,” as well as the “like you” phrases. The results look like this:

“We work with business owners.”

“We manage wealth for individuals.” (This needs more work, but let’s leave it at that for now.)

Error: Insulting Prospects

This error tends to occur when callers try to indicate value or solutions. For example:

“I’d like to talk with you about our extensive experience in guiding clients to risk management solutions because most organizations lack effective expertise in this area.”

“Many homeowners just like you have not considered the serious cost of poor insulation.”

The first example says the prospect’s organization lacks effective expertise (the sentence is also too long for a script). The second says the prospect has poor insulation in his house and is naive or irresponsible. As you might imagine, insulting prospects tends to backfire whether calling B2B or B2C. To prevent this:

  • Avoid assumptive wording and approach. Editing one of the above:

“I’d like to give you an overview of our extensive experience in guiding clients to risk management solutions. See if that opens the door for a next step. Do you have a few minutes?” (Why you’re calling, including the key reason of wanting a sales conversation. Ask permission to continue. Be ready to provide info about the extensive experience.)

  • Don’t try to express value as you open the call (it’s hard to do that and be concise), express value after receiving permission instead. Here’s what the first parts of this call look like:

“We install and upgrade insulation. I’d like to give you a brief overview of why customers hire us. And then see if you might be interested in our services. Is this a good time?” (Why you’re calling, including the key reason, ask permission to continue. Be ready with that overview.)

(I teach two formats.) The above tips use Format B because this format’s middle part — Give Information — is perfect for positioning value in ways that resonate with prospects. You can also use the shorter Format A, like so:

“I’d like to talk with you about our extensive experience in guiding clients to risk management solutions. See if our services would provide value for your organization. Can we set up a meeting?”

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