EPISODE 5: COLD CALL COACHING WITH PEERS
Episode 5 Transcript
Greyson: Hello, and welcome to the SDRealness Podcast brought to you by Sales Development Revolution, where we talk with practitioners about their take on important topics in the space. I’m your co-host, Greyson Fullbright, and here with me is my other co-host, Alex Ellison.
Alex: Hey, how are you doing Greyson?
Greyson: This month we’re focused on becoming a leader in the SDR role and today’s topic is about something that I think is truly important to kind of leveling up. And that is cold call coaching between your peers on your SDR team to help sharpen not only your performance, but those around you. Joining us today to talk about that is Ben Bradley, the SDR manager at Squire and the host of The Outbound Breakdown Podcast. Ben, thank you so much for joining us today.
Ben: Yeah, man. I’m stoked to be able to be on here. You guys are doing some great stuff. Excited to be able to jump in and hopefully, have some fun with this too. We’ll see what happens.
Alex: Yeah, I’m hoping we have some fun. It’s not too serious of a conversation.
Ben: Oh, no.
Alex: To kick things off, you know, I guess we’ll start with a serious note. I do want to get your take on cold call coaching as an SDR. Why you should be doing it, what that involves, and what that process looks like within an organization.
Ben: Yeah. So, I would say that it’s one of the coolest things that you could jump into as an SDR looking to be able to bridge that gap to becoming a leader. Right? You may feel like you are a leader on the team, maybe without a title, people look up to you, they respect you, come to you with questions. This is a great way to be able to actually get in the game and start really up-leveling the people that are around you in a real way. What I like the most about it is you’re in a perfect position to be able to do it, right? You’re running these calls, you’re familiar with the prospects, you have like that, that muscle memory of what this feels like and what this does.
And then number two is that call coaching in and of itself. It’s like this high impact thing, but it doesn’t take a lot. Like, what will happen for a lot of people when they’re on the phones is that they’ll hit that fight or flight mentality. And so they started like shutting down a little bit, maybe their ears get hot, they actually hear, listen and then remember less of the actual call and what was going on. The rebuttals that they think they’re using, they aren’t using. Like, they don’t have the ability to be able to self-coach in those moments. So, to be able to come in, and you don’t have to be a pro, you don’t have to be like the world’s best cold caller to be able to add value in here. All you have to be able to do is two things, you have to be able to listen, and then you have to be able to create a dialogue. And that’s at the core of like effective call coaching and what that’s like.
Greyson: Awesome. Yeah, yeah, I really love that. And when it really gets down to what cold call coaching, sorry, cold call coaching is, it really is that team alignment and kind of unison around a common goal. And I think a lot of people struggle with that. You know, the difference between a dialogue and a monologue, where you know, instead of them trying to up everyone’s level, there’s kind of like roadblocks or maybe they have some trouble or some tension between team members or they’re more focused on themselves or maybe focused on the wrong things. So, I wanted to shift over to some of the common mistakes that you see when either an SDR or maybe an SDR team lead is trying to start a call coaching and getting that process kicked off. You know, I bet it can be kind of awkward depending on your role and kind of how people perceive you, you know, going through that and making it successful. So, what are some of the mistakes that you’ve seen, or what are some of the things that you would rather see someone do it differently?
Ben: Yeah. I would say that the biggest mistake that I’ve seen in practice is when people start steering away from dialogue. And it happens on both sides. Where I’ve seen it, there was an SDR that was on my team and we would have conversations and he was like committed to this thought process of like, “Hey, I want to be a leader, how do I help people out?” I was like, “Call coaching. It’s great.” But we didn’t spend enough time talking about how to be able to set that trust up, right.
And so what would happen is like this conflict, this butting of heads, where he would be on a call and start calling the shots and start monologuing at people of, this is what you need to do, this is how you do it, everything like that. And it’s funny because this is all about fight or flight, right? And you have people that are fighting on the phones, and then you come at somebody right after they’re on a fight or flight call and then you try to be able to tell them something else. They’re still in that mode, their ears are still hot, they’re still not listening or remembering or like actually pulling things in.
So, no, they’re not gonna take any coaching from you. It’s like this. They’re gonna fight you on it. So, good call coaching is all about creating that trust upfront of how do we create that dialogue? And some of it is just, “Hey, here’s– I’ve heard that you’ve been working on something I’d love to be able to help you out. Is it all right if we start, you know, working with each other on this coaching process? I’d love to be able to listen to some of your calls, if you could listen to some of mine, that would be great.” Right? Like upfront, this is a dialogue, okay? And then itemize it out, like, tell them what your call coaching is going to be like, right. We’ll get into it in a second about how I recommend you go about it, but give them that good perspective. You know, use that upfront contract of hey, this is what it sounds like during a call coaching thing. And you’ll have people be really receptive to it, because this is sales development. We all want to get better, we all want to develop so you’re going to get that buy-in.
The other side that I want to be able to talk on, and that I don’t want to miss here, a big mistake is when you’re the person receiving the coaching, right, you need to still drive. This is still your call, you’re in the fight or flight, and I understand that when you’re there like things can get tricky, right? Okay. So, nerd out with me for a second. If you’re watching Star Wars, right, the original Star Wars, Luke’s coming in on the Death Star trench and he’s going in and he needs to be able to blow up this Death Star. He’s gonna go in and there’s a two-foot hole that he needs to be able to hit. And he can’t see it, doesn’t know when it’s gonna happen, and he puts his little goggle thing away and you just hear Obi-Wan saying, like, “Use the force.” Right? Obi-Wan doesn’t say like, “Oh, it’s coming up in about 100 feet, make sure that you pivot left and then hit that little gun thing.” Like no, like Luke’s still running the shots. Obi-Wan, his coach is, just use the force.
Do this. Like it’s yours, you have to own it. And then afterwards, we’ll talk about it, you know, we’ll just do that thing. But right now this is you and you got to run it. And if you don’t take that ownership throughout and if you’re leaning on your coach to be able to actually run the play for you, you’re going to stunt your own growth. And that’s going to have real repercussions in the long term. So, big two mistakes is on both sides getting away from the dialogue and trying and turning it into a one-sided conversation.
Alex: Yeah, and I think that’s huge because, you know, the main thing that that analogy really tells me and hey, love the analogy. I think it works perfectly and, you know, I told you we’d have fun on this podcast. I wasn’t worried but it really dives into instilling that confidence that you need as a rep and then maintaining that confidence throughout. Because coaching, you know, you’re tearing things down to build them back up, right? So, it would be a natural reaction if I had a coach who was like you’re doing this wrong, this wrong, this wrong. Before he even said– he or she says the next thing, I’m like, “Crap. Like, this sucks. I’m terrible.” Even if the next thing they say is like, but this is good, and this is good, and this is good. And so it’s, you know, that dialogue like you talked about is necessary to finding that balance and being able to coach someone successfully to be able to make them improve without tearing down their confidence and what they’ve already been able to accomplish.
Ben: Yeah. No, that’s true. It’s like, on one side of the monologue, the coach is doing everything for the rep and the rep’s getting nothing out of it, there’s no development. And on the other side just as much, just as much, the rep’s not getting anything out of it, they’re still in fight or flight. Like even in a perfect world if you come in with criticisms like right off the bat, and it’s all about your perspective like hey, like no we’ve been actually talking with that prospect for you know the past four weeks like this is their life story. Their kid has a baseball game on Saturday that I actually have a buddy go to that’s gonna drop by and say hi. They have all this play, you had no idea. And then unless you’re having dialogue, you’re going to miss that part too. So, it’s really important and that’s why I’m really recommending just again. Yeah.
Greyson: I think you spoke too really well and also the need for it to be a team event. And you know, you mentioned buy-in and I think that’s critical because just because someone agrees and said like “Okay, you know, like sure, I wanna up my game, let’s do some call coaching. I’ll let you do this.” Like, if you’re unorganized, if you’re pushy, if you make it uncomfortable for them, then they’re not going to be bought into the process. And even if you’re an expert call coach, even if you have everything that they need to improve on the next call; if you present it incorrectly, or if you’re not like really finding that person’s individual motivation, really finding that person’s individual communication style, it’s going to break down.
And I think a lot of people kind of miss that. You know, knowing the subject material is one thing when you’re trying to coach someone, but being able to work with people and different personalities, I think, is a big gap that a lot of managers are struggling to fill. Because you know, they’re in this producer role, where they’re going, going, going, and all of a sudden they have all these different bodies of all these different motivations running at them. So, you know, cold call coaching I think is a really great way, especially from a rep level to get that experience of working with different people, understanding how to navigate a boat towards a common goal with a bunch of different people both maybe above you and kind of on the same footing issue.
Ben: Yeah. And it’s a really cool like call out that you just kind of had their have, you need to be able to understand what their motivations are, you need to be able to understand who they are, what they’re trying to do, like what this call was about. And they don’t– It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are at cold calling while you’re coaching. It super doesn’t matter. In fact, it matters the absolute least. Like I don’t care if you are the best cold caller in the room, like it doesn’t matter what you could do on the phone. It matters, like the person that you’re working with what they’re able to do on the phone next time. Right? It’s not even like what we’re able to talk about and comprehend. It’s like what are we going to put into practice next time? Right. So, I know we talked about like common mistakes, I’d like to be able to hit you with some best practices and how you can go about this in the right way. You guys you guys down? Ready?
Greyson: Yeah, so ready.
Ben: All right. Okay. So, check this out. There’s this idea that we’ve all heard of like the crap sandwich, right? The compliment, you know, the teardown and the compliment that people can expect that they know that it’s coming and everything like that. And it’s probably not the best way. What I will recommend though is something actually kind of similar. I recommend that you focus on three things that they did well, and then one thing that they could do to improve, right, that’s the recipe three to one. Okay. So, while we’re going through this, this is going to be focused on three positives and the one negative going through. And remember, biggest thing here is dialogue. So, upfront, Alex, if I’m going to be called coaching you, I’m going to have this upfront contract of like, “Hey, Alex. Next call you’re on, let me know. I’d love to be able to jump on and listen.” All right.
That word is important. I’d love to be able to jump on and listen. “What I’ll do is I’ll just let you know that I’m on. I’ll take some notes. And then afterwards, you let me know when you’re ready to be able to talk about it. And then we could talk about some things to be able to work on and what you did well.” Okay. That’s the groundwork. That’s really important. Because I didn’t tell you that I was going to run a teleprompter for you. I didn’t tell you that I was going to tell you how to be able to run the shots, right? And then this idea too of I’m not going to talk to you about it until you’re ready. I’m gonna let you cool down, we are going to talk about it. But hey, let me know after the call, once you’re ready, once you have all your notes into Salesforce or whatever, and then we can talk about it. Okay.
So, getting up to that point, you’ve already built that level of trust that you’re not going to talk at them that this is going to be a dialogue. And then really, the call coaching and what it comes down to is afterwards. “Hey, Alex, give me some background on that call.” Okay. Here’s why that’s important. I need to be able to know the things that I don’t know. Right? I know that you really messed up your rebuttal to I already have a solution. I already know that part. I’m going to know that. Now I’m going to know it 10 minutes from now, I don’t need to rush to that. Okay. What I don’t know is how many times have you talked to this person? What was your premise reaching out? What was the play that you were running? Tell me all about that. I want to hear about that. Okay. Because I’m never gonna get it from just listening in on a call, only from talking to you. So, that’s the first point of dialogue. Tell me about what I don’t know. Okay.
Now, once we get through that, “Hey, Alex. In your perspective, what are three things that you did really well on that call?” Okay. The entire time, I’m taking notes. I’m getting things and I’m basically running it through this filter of like, okay, what did they hear on this call? What do they remember from this dialogue? Like, tell me about that. And then that last part is, “Hey, what’s the one thing you want to improve?” Okay. “Hey, actually Ben, I felt that on the call, you know, when they hit me that they were using competitor I just kind of stalled out. I know that there’s a couple of things that we could do to be able to kind of rebuttal that. I just… It was hard in the moment. I didn’t really know how to transition there.” Okay, cool. That tells me like, all right, I heard these same things. If we’re going to get one thing out of this call, that’s going to be the thing that we’re going to dig in on. And I promise you, we’re at two listening parts right now, we need one more.
The last question that you had to do before saying anything, what else? Right. Hit them with the what else? Right. If there’s something on their mind if there’s something else that they’re going through, give them the opportunity to be able to talk to you about it before you start prescribing anything. Okay. “Actually Ben, one of the other things that I was thinking about it was I actually could have just gone a whole different direction with the discovery call. I could have opened with, you know, I see that you’re using X competitor. Here’s actually where we’re different. I want to be able to get your opinion on why. Right? Like, I could’ve started there and I didn’t.” It’s like, “Okay, cool. So now, we have so much to be able to work with before we even get into like how we change going forward.” But then yeah, all you have to do from there is just tell… like agree, disagree with their points. Hey, this is some more color that we have here. Here’s how I was thinking about it. Here’s something that you missed.
They actually, I think you won that call. Right? They actually said that they were happy with the competitor and they wanted to be able to know more about why they would even switch over to our platform. That’s a win. That’s a buying sign. Like we need to call them back tomorrow and tell them like, “Hey, we actually have a specialist that’ll be able to walk you through this. You said this is what you wanted, I got it for you.” You already won. They missed that. And so it’s like, this great opportunity to be able to have that dialogue again. And I promise like, if you listen to that heavy upfront, not only are you going to get a ton of insight on how you could run your own calls because the people that you’re working with are super smart anyway. But then too, they’re going to be more engaged when you start giving them feedback. Roleplay through a couple things and it will stick and you’ll get this great opportunity to do that too.
Alex: Yeah, and I love that. I think the framing of the conversation that you go through to start is so important because you’re really putting yourself as the coach on the level of the SDR. You’re really trying to get yourself in that mindset that they’re in. And then that’s what allows them to open up. And you’re basically, you’re sort of, you’re saying, here’s the car, you know how these work, here’s the keys you drive. And now, I’ll tell you, you know when to stop, when to start, what you’re doing wrong as it happens. But you’re the one in control here, because it’s true, like a lot of– SDRs usually know when they did something wrong on a call. But it’s about taking the time to address it, be open about it, and then make the right change that’s so important. And this is something you can really only get from the correct type of call coaching.
Ben: Yeah. And a great thing to be able to remember with this, too, is so much about this that we do on a day to day basis is muscle memory. Right? And jumping in there with all this advisory like these like pointers is not going to change the muscle memory of what it’s like when it’s hot on a call, whatever else. Like, you have to be able to when you’re coaching, make sure that your team is receptive to what you’re saying, to be able to help instill new habits that are going to override this really like monster in the room, which is the muscle memory aspect.
So, yeah, I would say slow down, just talk about it, be open to hearing things. Like, you don’t know everything. So, just like walk in with this like dialogue mentality, and you’ll be blown away by these results and like, your team’s gonna get better. And not only that, you’re going to get better. And then you’re going to gain their respect by being a person that truly has their best interest in heart. And then they’ll come to you for advice. They’ll come to you wanting more and everything like that. And if your goal is to be able to transition into leadership, like that’s what leadership is. And it’s this great platform to be able to do it. So, yeah, I don’t know. I get fired up. You guys can probably hear. I get fired up while talking about it, man. It’s great.
Greyson: Yeah, yeah. What it really sounds like to me is walking through it as if it’s an exploration rather than a lecture. So, it’s not about like, you know, being ego-driven like, right, wrong, right, wrong, right, wrong, and just ripping it up and trying to add as much feedback as possible. I really love what you mentioned about focusing on solely one critique, because I think that that is probably so critical to people who are going through cold call culture– Sorry, cold, call coaching. I’ve been having a hard time this whole episode with that. But I think when they’re going through it, you know, they’re probably already aware on their own end of all the mistakes they made and the ways they can improve. And so if you’re just kind of giving them a firehose of feedback, with all these different things that you know, each one could take, you know, a day or weeks to kind of get it right. I think it just discourages people rather than like lifting them up and empowering them. So, I love this idea of three things that really kind of like get them in the right mindset, and then one clear, focused thing that they can improve on to really make it productive from call to call. So, I really love that. Awesome. So, before we close out, I do remember Ben that you wanted to go through some conversation killers when you’re trying to go through a coaching session. So, would you want to go through a few of those before we wrap up?
Ben: Conversation killers is honestly, if you’re coming at it through this mindset of this is a dialogue and I’m going towards dialogue; know that what will kill the conversation more than anything is to be able to speak before listening. Speak before listening, the conversation is dead. You’re going nowhere. No coaching is going to happen. There’s no improvements that are going to be made to what they’re doing on the phones, nothing like that. So, you know, this is what you should have done, or I heard you do this or hey, you know, here’s the rebuttal for this, and like handing a script or anything like that, like, it’s gonna tarnish that relationship and tarnish what you’re actually trying to be able to improve.
And I think, moreover, I want to be able to touch on this, I guess this last part is this whole idea of muscle memory. And that’s what you’re really combating. And that’s the real elephant in the room. Once you find that one thing, and have chosen that to be able to work on, okay, what does that look like when you can do it effectively? Like, what are some ideas that you have for that? Okay. You don’t even have to come up with the ideas or anything. You just prompt them. Hey, what do you know? Let’s practice that. Spend some time, spend three to five minutes just role-playing that small thing. “You know, Ben, I really think that if I would have just commented on the competitor upfront, I could have taken the conversation in a whole different direction starting out.” “Cool, man. Let’s practice it.” Like, “Let’s run it from the top, just the first 15 seconds of the call. Let’s do that a few times until it feels comfortable. Sound cool? All right. Great.” And now you’re giving them this new muscle memory that they’re able to use on the phone this next round and be able to go from there.
But at the end of the day, like I mean, just be judgment-free. It’s hard, it’s fight or flight, like this is a tough world. You get hung up on all the time, you get surprised that they even answer. Like, it’s gonna be weird. It’s gonna be weird. Give people some grace, give people some room, and let them run the call. Like that’s my best advice that I can give people.
Greyson: Awesome, Ben. Cool. Well, hey, thank you so much for joining us today on the SDRealness Podcast to talk about call coaching. Before we close out, where can people find you and find out more about Squire?
Ben: Yeah. So, for me, hit me up on LinkedIn, Ben Bradley. You can search me, I’ll be that grinning face. If you want to be able to check out The Outbound Breakdown, the podcasts on sales development and leadership that I run, just go to OutboundBreakdown.com. Squire, go to GetSquire.com, and throw us a line. I mean, I’d be stoked to be able to talk to you. If you want to be able to get a haircut, let’s jam back. Let’s go.
Greyson: Awesome, Ben. Cool. Hey, this has been Greyson and Alex for the SDRealness Podcast. Until next time SDRs, keep it re