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It’s not a new thing… In fact, it’s a simple premise that has governed the world since trade began. People do business with those who they like and trust. But if it’s so simple, why do so many people fail at prospecting? 

At the Sales Rebellion, we believe the reality is that most salespeople fail to recognize the person in front of them as a human being  and, instead, default to an unnatural process aimed at superficial goals. 

For the last 40 years, salespeople have been trained to ask leading questions, get micro-commitments, and set tripwires without giving a second thought as to how it might affect the overall wellbeing of the organization or the people within it. Buyers have grown tired of it and expect something better. Even still, the status-quo feeds us 60-second closing strategies and NLP gimmicks positioned to help trick prospects… Pretty lame if you ask us. 

Sales Rebels prefer to take the path less traveled. It must be something about the fresh air and pristine scenery that we encounter along the way. Or, perhaps more likely, it’s the realization that there’s a lot less competition when we’re willing to #ChangeTheGame. 

If there are many roads that lead to a single destination... Take the path less traveled. 

The reality is that prospecting is a very unique social interaction that comes equipped with stereotypes, assumptions, unknowable situational context, and an overwhelming amount of bias. So, to be effective in your sales outreach, you must take context and perception into consideration . This is why understanding natural human tendencies and  the stereotypical perceptions of the sales world can be so empowering for sales professionals. 

At the Sales Rebellion, we are focused on equipping the sales professionals of tomorrow with the mindset, skillset, and toolset to dominate the rapidly changing marketplace. So, to further aid you in your outbound endeavors and personal development, we have curated 5 principles that Sales Rebels can implement to immediately improve their prospecting. Not only are they applicable in the short term, but they will also optimize your long-term success. In other words,  creating consistency around these principles will bring immediate results and become more scalable and sustainable over time. These are long-lasting principles that sustain successful prospecting and they should be a part of every Sales Rebels Modus Operandi. Let’s get started... 

Don’t Puke

Your prospects hate puke. They don’t want it on their desk. They don’t want it in their drawers. And they definitely do not want it in their ears. Unfortunately, that’s all that most salespeople have been trained to do. They regurgitate their script over and over again, and their prospects have grown tired of it. In reality, all we have to do is stop for one minute and consider what it is like to be on the receiving end of a terrible cold call to realize that all this puking is unacceptable. Bad cold calls are intrusive, follow a strict agenda, and rarely serve the receiving party. Sales Rebels don’t puke!

The number one thing that we can equip you with to be an effective Sales Rebel is the fundamental understanding that sales is communication. The better you can communicate, the better you will be able to connect with people. The better you connect with people, the better positioned you are to sell. See... no puking involved.

Here, we’ll begin with a fundamental lesson for every Sales Rebel - Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT). CAT was originally identified in the context of leadership behaviors and management practices, however, its implications are directly applicable for sales professionals of all types. CAT identified that people who could adapt their communication style to the preferred communication style of the listener were far more likely to rank higher in terms of employee satisfaction with leadership, perceived clarity of communication, and overall connection. The application this has for salespeople is similar.

When sales professionals are able to identify and adapt to personal communication preferences in real-time, doors begin unlocking. Remember the simple truth that we started out with? People buy from people they like and trust. Being able to adapt your communication to the preferences of your buyer will #ChangeTheGame in ways you can’t imagine. To learn more about CAT go here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication_accommodation_theory). 

Now CAT offers a lot of insight, that’s true, but what are the practical applications and tangible takeaways that Rebels can execute on? Here are a few ways to improve your communication knowledge and help you understand more about yourself and others:

Practice deep listening - It’s been said that we have two ears and one mouth because we should listen twice as much as we speak. One thing is sure… Listening is a forgotten art. Here we want you to pay attention to the tone, speed, and inflection in people’s communication. This will tell you a lot about their current emotional state and will be an indicator of how open people are to talking with you. By creating a habit of deep listening you are better equipped to be able to navigate the conversation with your prospect and understand their needs.

Practice mirroring communication - We practice mirroring in person and with our body language. Why wouldn’t we do the same with our verbal communication? Now, understand that this is a special artform and that it will take some time to truly develop  as a skill set. But, once you’ve added the ability to mirror other people's communication, you will find that connecting with them comes much easier. This can be difficult at first and you will make mistakes routinely, however, making the conscious effort to put this into practice will teach you more than you thought you could know about human interaction.

Practice no script cold calls - The most effective salespeople don’t use scripts. They just have regular everyday conversations. What makes this actually work is that they are tapping into the relational aspect of communication and, as a result, their professionalism and expertise is showcased as a humble addition. This helps to establish the trusted advisor approach and creates a higher quality relationship with your prospect. Do you know your product/service well enough to be able to go off-script... You should.

Go deeper. There are tons of resources that will help you to learn more about people, communication, personality, and how to better navigate the nuances of prospecting. If you want to learn more about basic communication and personality dispositions, the DiSC Scale is a great place to start. If you want to learn more about your own communication styles, you can take this free assessment (https://communication-styles.com/). The big takeaway is that puking your sales pitch all over your prospect is totally gross and you should avoid it at all costs… Yuck!

Know Thy Prospect

What does it mean to know someone? Truthfully, that’s a loaded question. There are, and will always be, people who we know better than others. On top of that, there is the innate desire to be understood that lives in each of us. But when we are talking about prospecting or cold calling, knowing or understanding our buyers early on in the sales process is the difference between a full pipeline and an empty one. 

It’s true that there are some general attributes and tendencies that you can apply to your prospects depending on their position, vertical, or tenure. However, making broad-brush generalizations about your buyer can be dangerous and, at the very least, is totally assumptive. The truth is that your prospect is a person who has lived a life full of experiences that are unique to them. They have personal victories and personal failures. They have things they struggle with on a daily basis and they have things they excel at with ease. The point being, everyone is different and the better you can understand the individual(s) in front of you, the more equipped you will be to serve them.

When all is said and done, you would definitely spend ten minutes on the phone or in-person with your prospect learning more about their business to better understand how your solution might align… So why wouldn’t you spend ten minutes on their website or social media account doing the same thing? Adding this step into your prospecting cadence or outreach sequence pays huge dividends. By doing a small amount of research about your prospect before you call them, you create legitimate points of connection that allow an initial conversation to last twice as long as the average cold call. 

Here are a few things to be mindful of when scanning your prospect’s website/social media for relevant information. 

  • What have they been recognized for by industry leaders or the local community? 

  • What products or services have they recently launched? 

  • What is their vision for the future of their firm or industry? 

  • How does their brand message compare against their competitors?

  • What do their team and organizational structures look like?

There are endless ways to research a prospect and to find out things that allow you to have a more meaningful conversation the first time you reach out. These are just a few questions you can ask yourself as you are researching your buyer. Now, it’s important to remember that even though you may know many things about your buyer (and this is extremely empowering), they still don’t know you, and that’s the  real goal - Something true Sales Rebels don’t forget!

Optimize Your First Impressions

You just get one. There are no do-overs, no second attempts, and definitely no respawns. There is only one chance to make a first impression. The question then becomes whether or not you will recognize the value of a single first impression. 

To truly understand the intrinsic value of a first impression, let’s take a look at a simple and foundational social science theory - Potential Outcome Value (POV). 

POV essentially says that when we meet new people, we begin a semi-subconscious process of creating micro judgments and forming a first impression. Part of this process includes evaluating the potential outcomes of continuing to develop a relationship with the other party. When that happens, we are judging the future value that the relationship may hold. Thus, people are projecting the relationship into the future and asking themselves if it holds value. Those evaluations and micro judgments then regulate our body language in a manner which reinforces the feeling that we would either like to continue building the relationship or that we are not interested.

This is a major factor in the phenomenon known as FOMO and something salespeople do every day to their own demise… But that’s just a shameless promotion for the Living Pipeline. The important takeaway from the POV theory is that first impressions matter and they are a strong indicator of whether or not a relationship will develop to its full potential. 

One of the most important things to remember is that your prospects are yearning for something that is completely new yet still feels familiar and safe. 

Sales Rebels are keenly aware that the first moments with a prospect matter. That’s why we talk about using the R.E.A.S.O.N. Theory when prospecting or cold calling. This approach provides a framework for differentiating yourself from the other 100 salespeople who are also trying to talk to the exact same buyer at the exact same time. Here’s a quick micro lesson for everyone who aspires to be a Sales Rebel. R.E.A.S.O.N. stands for:

  • Radically Educate  

  • Attention 

  • Story 

  • Outline

  • Nuanced

Go to thesalesrebellion.teachable.com/courses if you want to learn more. For now, what you need to know is that this approach will have long-lasting effects on your ability to fill a pipeline. Which is what prospecting is all about. So, when you’re ready to #ChangeTheGame for your sales walk… Start giving prospect’s a R.E.A.S.O.N. to speak with you more. Let’s take a brief look at each element of the framework:

Radically Educate - This portion of the framework is aimed at three principles we believe to be imperative to the sales experience that you should be trying to provide. When you Radically Educate a prospect, you want to create curiosity and provide emotional context to the situation and interaction. The way we execute this is by utilizing Interrupt Marketing which takes many forms, shapes, and sizes. Ultimately, curiosity is the driver to action and emotional context provides alignment between actions and needs. 

Attention - Accolades don’t matter and your prospect doesn’t care. If you want your prospect’s attention, you will have to earn it. This is where POV starts to take full effect. In order to secure the type of attention you want, you’ll need to bring two important principles into the mix - Consistency and Attitude. The best thing you can do to retain your prospect’s attention is to be consistent in your communication and to have an attitude of service. This is where credibility, authenticity, and rapport all come together to set you up for success.

Story - Stories are important. You tell them every day and probably don’t even know it. The question is what micro story is your prospect hearing? Especially if you are not aware that you are telling it. Is the story they hear one of a relevant connection, or is it the generic sales story they have been so bombarded by? Does it connect them personally to you or your service, or does it leave them wondering why they are still listening to you? Know that there is a wrong way to do this. However, when done effectively, Story can be one of the most powerful elements of your R.E.A.S.O.N.

Outline - This is where we bring our intentions into full focus. At this point, you’ve done an excellent job of differentiating yourself and preparing the prospect for the ask. Now it’s time to outline the next steps and make your request. Only this should be a “no pressure” type of ask. It should be what we would consider “semi-direct.” What this means is that you are not putting all the weight on the prospect. Instead, you are creating the opportunity for them to realize that by not taking the time to learn more about you or how your service might improve their business, they may be making a serious error. This is FOMO. 

Nuance - Nuance is how we remove the veil. The Sales Rebellion believes that your personal identity and professional identity are not separate from one another. In fact, they are so closely related that the issue of authenticity affects many salespeople unknowingly. Nuance is how you overcome the separation and communicate your authenticity in all that you do. 

Remember: You will never have another chance to make a first impression. Make sure your prospect has a R.E.A.S.O.N. to remember you. #ChangeTheGame and be focused on giving your prospects a sales experience… They will thank you for it!

Use an FTP 

FTP is short for first-touch-piece. This is a core concept of the Sales Rebellion’s sales training approach and something that every Rebel should seek to leverage. The FTP is founded, like most other approaches we utilize, on the scientific evidence of communication studies research and principles of human interaction. What that translates to in practice is a marketing piece or specified touch-point that salespeople leverage as the primary step in their outreach. 

An FTP can take many shapes and sizes. It can be anything from a 20-second pre-recorded video email to a small, squishy foam brick that arrives in the mail. Either way, the principles always remain the same - we want to proactively prepare people for our initial interaction and follow-up that is soon to come. The overarching principles that surround an FTP are Interrupt Marketing and Creating Curiosity. Let’s examine them briefly. 

Interrupt Marketing - Systems tend to rule our common day-to-day activities, especially during work. Thus, the system-one type of thinking as proposed by Nobel prize-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman, has us operating in an “auto-respond” manner making the majority of our decisions based on heuristics. What this means is that when we are deeply engaged in our common day-to-day activities, such as checking our email or answering a cold call, we use our past experience and available information to fill in the blank and justify our quick decision-making. Interrupt marketing takes this into consideration and seeks to disrupt the prospect’s day-to-day patterns by creating the appropriate ratio of novelty and familiarity, all while utilizing a multi-channel approach. The whole goal is to break people out of the system-one thinking and into system-two thinking where people slow down their thought processes and become hyper-focused. 

Creating Curiosity - If Interrupt Marketing is about securing the prospect’s attention... then Creating Curiosity is about retaining it. This is the Sales Rebel’s Jedi magic. Understanding its power will elevate your sales communication exponentially. Curiosity is the bread and butter of an FTP, mainly because having someone’s attention is no longer enough in today’s over-saturation of advertisements and marketing. It is true that you will have to drive your prospect to take action. So ask yourself, what makes people naturally want to take action on their own… Curiosity. In reality, creating curiosity is the unsung hero in the majority of prospecting efforts, direct and indirect alike. For example, you might be curious to learn more about how to put this into practice… 

In the end, the FTP does a lot of things. It leverages the priming effect and is the sales-marketing fusion that the marketplace has been waiting for. It allows salespeople to reinforce authenticity and create consistency on the very first call. And, it totally changes the initial cold call conversation. Let’s face it… Cold calling sucks. But without it, there’s no such thing as sales. So #ChangeTheGame and add an FTP to your outreach cadence today.

Be a Servant Leader

Bringing everything full-circle, we return to where we began - people do business with people that they like and trust. With everything we’ve included thus far, it’s relatively easy to gain the rapport needed to fulfill the first order of that statement. Especially, when you’re a “High I” on the DiSC scale. The second factor, however, is far less common and much more difficult to secure. 

Trust is the pinnacle of every relationship. It's also the thing your prospect wonders about the most. Think about the stereotypes that all sales professionals face. We don’t need to get into that. You already know what it is. Our question is... What are you doing to communicate to your prospects that an experience with you will be different? And, perhaps for some, the better question is... Would it?

For Sales Rebels, becoming a servant leader and articulating it in your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions is the highest calling. Not only do people need to feel like they can trust you and that you are representing their best interests, but you also need to actually be trustworthy and focus on what’s best for your prospect. Sales Rebels are at their best when they see the world through the lens of servant leadership, make decisions with the bigger picture in mind, and take actions that better the community as a whole. 

Hopefully, this will soak in and you will begin to see that this is the biggest piece of the puzzle we call Sales. The time has come for sales professionals of all types to acknowledge the level of influence they have within the business community and local communities alike. There is an opportunity at your fingertips that most people will never get and that many simply wouldn’t understand. The question is are you willing to rise up to the calling? Are you ready to shed the old guard and shape the new world? Are you ready to #ChooseLegendary and #ChangeTheGame?

Join Us!

Prospect like a Sales Rebel: 

5 ways to improve your prospecting today