Help your Prospects be the Heroes in their Journey

Tom Slocum shares tactics of cold calling objection handling.

Tom Slocum, Program Director at RevGenius and Co-Founder of RevLeague, has been through it all! What an awesome episode that has so many golden nuggets, especially when it comes to the tactics of cold calling and objection handling.

But the biggest takeaway…. change your mindset and GIVE VALUE.

How can you provide two “gives” before you ask for something from a prospect? We’re always focusing on winning the conversation, but how about just advancing the conversation?

For example, tell them why they might be interested in the link or attachment you sent. Give them a reason/benefit as to why they should take the next step.

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Read the Podkast Transcript

Greg Reffner 0:00
Hey everybody, this is Greg on the Abstrakt Podcast we are with Tom Slocum, program director at Rev genius and rev lead co founder. I’m super excited to have Tom on with us today we’re going to be talking about cold calling and objection handling. Tom, please take a moment introduce yourself, sir.

Tom Slocum 0:20
Awesome, very excited to be here with you all super excited to make this happen. You know, I’ve been in sales for about 15 years, recently found myself in the community world and it kind of blended the worlds of sales and community all in one for me. So it’s been exciting, you know, co founding red league over the last two years and honest mission with Rev genius and so excited to jam on this with you and talk about my favorite topic, which is cold calling.

Greg Reffner 0:45
Perfect. Well, let’s, let’s give our listeners a little bit of a maybe a foundational understanding of your career. So I think one of the important things for for kind of like thought leaders in the sales space is to have a background of successful individual contributors. Like you you have to build a kind of like someone needs to look at you and go, yes, you can kind of salad you know, you’re talking about, but let’s look at your resume, and make sure that you actually did have success. So kind of walk walk us through your career, how you got started in tech. And you know how you kind of migrated your way into kind of red genius red League and being that that thought leader and sales coach in a lot of ways. Yeah,

Tom Slocum 1:33
I love talking about my story. You know, it’s not the linear approach. It wasn’t just such a stellar, amazing thing as what you see as the final product today, right, which is still not even final, there’s still that growth to happen. But, you know, I started off as a grocery bagger, as a young kid did the cool stuff, do high school, you know, bag groceries, worked in the subways. And then my stepmom really hooked me up when I was in high school to get into Discover card, the credit card company, she was a, what we would call a customer success manager and SAS but customer service, right? Been there for 27 years. And so she got me in, and I landed in that kind of cold call role, being on a sales floor, working in balance transfers, going through like a four week onboard, and learning this world right from there and then got into car sales. I landed on a car lot when later on, started selling cars, learning about the Foursquare process and selling on hustling on the streets, you know, to bring people in and help your friend out, you know, you want a car like a coaching a deal. And then real estate, and then you know, about 2010 that’s kind of when things really took off for me. Up until that point, it was a little rocky in between but 2010 I landed in for profit education at Argosy University through a friend. And that’s where I really got into cold calling and corporate world and that whole concept of working in a team and the climb to management. And I was cold calling people that signed contact forms on websites about learning about school, right? And I would call you up and say Greg, what do you want to do for school and try to push you to enroll in the school and to make a life, you know, like choice to take on student loans. So I did that for a while and I was a finance counselor did that whole life and learned cold calling and objection handling and formulas for that like crab law and with them what’s in it for me. Then from there, went to godaddy Yelp, found myself in 2017 landing in kind of SAS [email protected] Being an SDR leader there and rep kind of building out their go to market strategy and breaking into enterprise accounts and learning brand [email protected] right big company doing really well. And then, you know, I broke into all this cold calling stuff breaking into enterprise going from an individual contributor at like selling yell like an SMB person to selling you know, $100,000 deal and selling a meeting and pushing out cold, cold, cold emails. And then now, you know, building out teams over the last six years, and then two years ago, stumbling into real genius. Now I’m in community. It was a blend of both worlds. I was working from home, I needed that support. So I dove in. And then it found this lane with Rev League and community and it’s been great. And it blends with the sales life. It’s a sales community. So I thrive in it. It’s a great community. And you know, that’s kind of been my journey over this last 15 years. And it’s been phenomenal. And now I get to coach STRS all the time and be in the trenches with them and do stuff like this and talk about, you know, what 15 years has done for me to you know, be in that long and sell that much different stuff and kind of give back that knowledge to others.

Greg Reffner 4:47
There’s a lot to unpack there. That’s that is quite the journey. And you didn’t like discover I mean, that I can’t even imagine what that was like or selling You know, I think of when I got called by some some, I think it was a woman who tried to actually actually convince me to go $40,000 in debt to actually go to college. And like, I know I was not easy to talk to on those conversations. So that’s the kind of build some a certain level of maybe resilience and grit when you kind of grow up. Starting doing that. I want to dive into a little bit about just the past couple of years because rep genius you got Pavillion, you got a spire ship, you got all these different like community. Maybe like breeding grounds, if you will, for like success in software sales. I want to spend just a couple minutes just to kind of get your, your perspective on. I feel like I know why they’re so successful and why people gravitate toward these types of things. But, you know, you’ve been in this for a couple of years now. Why do you feel like things like readly Rev genius have become so popular?

Tom Slocum 6:07
I think the most important thing it does is it removes a lot of red lines with within these communities, right. And what I mean by that is, you work with your team, you’re at these companies, there is a lot of friction in those environments. A lot of cultures that don’t work sometimes. And, you know, SDR managers on the frontlines only have each other in that company, maybe there’s two of them, they only have each other to lean on. But they’re also fighting for positions, right, they’re doing things for their own gains. And so what happens within these communities is people give and give and give, because there’s no threat, there’s nothing to be stressed about. There’s I can give freely to help the next person up with my knowledge. And I think it also feeds a little bit of ego, I feel like people love to want to give advice to people do appreciate it. Some take it too far and get a little too high for their britches, but others just say, you know, hey, we’re just here to win together, right. And if I could share what I’ve learned or help you in your go to market strategy, or all these different communities give value in some sense that helps them scale, and remove roadblocks that 10 years ago, you had to do on your own. Me even doing SDRs and failing, selling 10 years ago, was your own demise. That was your own opportunity you either showed up or you didn’t, there was not much support tools, you just have to get it done. Now, we’re so connected, that I can learn a technique from somebody over in India or in Israel, or Spain that I would have never known about to help me unlock my success. And so these companies are thriving these communities, because people are removing those roadblocks and are getting connected. And they’re finding these people that are allowing things to scale so fast. There’s no longer taken five years to go to market anymore. People are doing it in six months and build an empire. But like like that, because their community and they’re with the right people. And I think that’s what’s making these environments thrive. With pavilion and this it’s network, its wealth of knowledge, and it’s there for the taking. If you want to grow and succeed, it’s there. They live and thrive for that. And I think people love that.

Greg Reffner 8:10
Yeah, I would agree. Right? And that it’s, it’s all a matter of are you willing to take advantage of it? Do you want to go give part of that community. And in return, you’re going to receive a wealth of knowledge that you couldn’t hope to get 15 years of experience. So well, let’s let’s dive into our topic a little bit. So cold calling and objection handling. The manner the technology that was available to you when you started a Discover card. And kind of, you know, in the higher ed space, things have changed a lot in terms of how we analyze what success looks like, and conversion metrics. So I want to maybe talk me through you know, first time you’re on the phone at discover, you’re facing objections, like what what was that experience? Like? Because I honestly, you know, I got my career started in tech sales, I had playbooks, I had sales enablement, tools, those things didn’t exist 15 years ago. So what was that? Like?

Tom Slocum 9:11
Again, you were fending for yourself. You know, there was no wealth of knowledge to support you mentally. I was 18 years old high school, right, I was dealing with people grown adults trying to move it make them move their balance from one card to another and cold calling them out of the blue. The great thing was they were a card number. So I was warm, per se, it wasn’t cold. But then it was other, you know, thumb cold leads when they just filled out the form and so they were interested in doing it. But it taught me resilience. I had to learn that stuff on my own. You know, nowadays STRS can go on LinkedIn and social media and get pumped up in every possible way if they want to, to find ways to overcome those objections. And I got very defensive, I’m not gonna lie. I wasn’t perfect what I am today and the way I do it now is growth. Because in that time, I took that stuff home. I sat with that, right. And I was annoyed. I was frustrated. I expected every call to be perfect and go well. So when an objection would happen, it would throw me just way off. And I was like, Cool by like, and we just burn and turn. I didn’t know what else to do. And people don’t teach you a lot of methods. When I got into higher ed, that’s when it changed for me, because I still dealt with objections. But they taught you in a process, because he discovered Carter gave you a book. If you told me this, I had to turn to that page. I had to follow that was more scripted for me. So that’s why when objections happen, it wasn’t natural. I couldn’t ask why. Because that wasn’t allowed. I had to write, read what I said, where maybe my instinct was, like, Greg, you know, and just want to have a conversation. But you can’t do that. And in higher ed, that’s when I learned the process of crab walk. And they taught you like a structure to handle objections and kind of work those out. But it was really tough in the beginning. Yeah, have a lot of tools, you’d have battle cards on the side that you could look up like, it was just scripts, and you had to go with that and keep forcing your methods down that person, no matter how much they were trying to derail you from being that robot and trying to pull you this way and be like, stop, just talk to me. And you’re like, No, I gotta go this route. And it was a lot different.

Greg Reffner 11:17
Absolutely. So that’s crazy. He’s handed you a book. And so I promised you that I said, the likelihood of us going off on a small tangent was likely. And so I want to assume that we’re going to make that happen. Right? We’re caching

Tom Slocum 11:32
that. All right, we’re catching on. So

Greg Reffner 11:37
I still talk with sales leaders today that still do that, where they’re like, here’s your Google Doc. And they say this, you say this, like no exceptions. Like, I would have thought that approach died 15 years ago,

Tom Slocum 11:53
in those days, yeah.

Greg Reffner 11:54
Yeah. Like, why? Why are companies still trying? After all the research, and all the data points that say, like, people want to talk to people? Why are companies still trying to take SDRs frontline salespeople and turn them into robots.

Tom Slocum 12:14
I’m gonna give it to you straight, it’s trust, let’s get real, it’s trust, it’s ego, you got to think some of these new startups, these companies are being built and the respect to the founders and CEOs, they have egos, and they’re very proud of the babies that they built. And some people have a hard time giving up trust, working within their unit trusting their hiring practices, trusting what they’re putting in position to say I have the best team that I can show up every day with, and I’m okay not being here. So they get freaked out that they have these STRS picking up cold calls on the first three days of being in training, what unorthodox, you can’t put them on the front lines, that’s a trust problem. That means you’re not doing your job to prepare them, and you’re not comfortable with them having conversations with your market. So don’t put that on them put that on you. Right, you need to look at that. So I think a lot of it comes down to trust with these people, they want these things scripted, they want to keep them on track, they want to make sure that these STRS aren’t getting into weeds that they shouldn’t be. And just stay on point. Because they think that that process can be repeatable. And they believe that a sales process can be one profit on an automation wheel, like making a car part, that’s okay to crank out and put in a machine and let that run. When you’re looking at sales interactions. That’s can’t be a one size fits all approach. There’s some foundation and there’s some base to the process. But there is an art that has to be done with the employees, and you have to trust them and empower them to do that. And if you can’t do that, I don’t want you call it cold calling my market either, right? I’m gonna have trust issues and be like, you can’t do it like I can No, no, no, no, don’t, don’t touch it. Just stay right here. This is what works scale that you get burnt out, you get reps dropping off, and you’re not going to market like you thought and you just sold the whole function or start running amok. And it all starts with that trust factor for me.

Greg Reffner 14:04
Ah, that’s when so ego. You know, you’ve taken a concept from napkin drawing to idea you went out raised a couple million dollars, you got the TechCrunch headline, like, you know, you’re riding high on that, do you think you’re awesome? It’s kind of hard to admit that you’ve done a bad job of preparing your team or hiring the wrong people. It’s much easier to pass that down to you know, Sally, who just graduated from college and just trying to make cold calls for you to grow, you know, market share. So, there’s there’s a lot to unpack around that topic. That you know, we probably spend a half a day talking about blogging, let’s get back on track a little bit. So eight week cohort class, I think is what you guys teach. And so without kind of giving it away, I’m kind of curious how Have you guys kind of perked hair? Like these STRS to have natural conversations? You know, how do you enable them to be a part of a scaling sales org. And again, I know we’re going a little bit off topic here. But I think I want to make this a bit more tactical, and have something that people listening can go, That sounds exciting. I want to go talk to these guys. I’m gonna go be part of that next cohort. So we can dive into that a little bit.

Tom Slocum 15:33
Yeah, it’s an eight week program that I put together over a year, right? Build in working on getting advice, market research, and 15 years of collaboration of what I’ve done, right? That’s helped me sell 15 different things, but always succeed at it. Right? What was that formula? Because you can sell all this stuff, and you always did it. So there was a baseline right? And so it’s all about right here. I think the easiest answer I can give about this eight week curriculum is that it changes mindset changes, perspectives. You know, every week, I hear somebody say, you know, I sent out 20 emails like this, you made me think so differently, I changed my call to action this way. I got four responses in two days, like thank you. And it’s like, yeah, because, you know, we’re trying to change the perspective of going to market as a numbers game. Because it’s all there. Don’t get me wrong. I’m teaching numbers, I’m teaching the science. The first two weeks of the curriculum are just foundational stuff, target list building and sales messaging, right, we got to get up here first, before we can get into the other weeks, then we start diving into the curriculum of cold calling, emailing, social selling, and building out these campaigns that are about one thing, help your prospects be the heroes in their journey. Putting that on them, you know, a simple concept, you know, it’s just serving them, right? How can I help? Not everything has to be asked for a meeting and every email, how can you do to gives before you ask, have you go into these conversations with the intent to earn trust, and still scale your number at a rapid rate, right to where like, I could still hit 20 a month. But I can also do it in a way that’s not filling up my soul and treating my prospects long term. So if I ever switched jobs as an SDR, my prospect through on my feed or paying attention to me, they’re like, Hey, should I know about that? Hey, Greg, I thought you moved over. Are you gonna call him a cold? Call me next week? You know, are we doing this? You know, what do you got? Right? Because they respect your brand, and they trust your process. So that’s what we do is we change mindset. And then we get into some nitty gritty formulas, that they build worksheets to scale out their process that no matter what SDR job they go into, they’re repeatable. Because what you’ve probably seen Greg right is you can take an SDR at one company killing it, they get let go, they do? Well, they want to look for a new opportunity. They go the next company, they don’t succeed. Well, why is that because they were trained only at that one companies concept. They didn’t take the skill set necessarily to unlock their potential. They unlocked their company’s potential. Now they can’t switch into a different product, and still cold call somebody. That’s why I think STRS can get on in three days when you hire them. Because if you’re hiring right and finding the right people, they have a scalable process on them, not not a tech or anything, it’s them. And they can go to any market and be ready in three days and be like God, I know all everything I need to know, get me on the phones. And they can move everywhere they go and succeed with those repeatable processes.

Greg Reffner 18:22
I love the talk about like mindset, your first like two sentences, when I asked that question, get into the mindset, right? Because I think there’s it’s so true that if you can build that foundational understanding of how to think about, as you said, helping your prospects be the heroes in their journey. If you’re unable to disconnect your ego from the outcome and place of all on the the emphasis is on the prospect. Like it doesn’t matter where you go at that point, because you’re going to be successful everywhere you go. And so this seems like such common sense to me. And it’s obviously something you’re passionate about. When we hire people at abstract, I want to know about their their mindset. I want to know, what tough things have they overcome? What does their day look like? How do they persevere through challenges? Like, I don’t really care if you could make 100 phone calls a day? Yes, the math needs to make sense. But I care more about like your mindset and your, your personality characteristics. And so the next question I would have for you then Tom is, again, this seems like common sense. It’s easier to do at a smaller company, it’s easier to hire for that type of person. Like how do you apply outside of going into something like red League? Right? How if you’re if I’m an SDR leader, how do I take some of those maybe methodologies and apply them to my team? You know, how do I get them focused on thinking about mindset How do I get them? Making my prospects the hero of the journey?

Tom Slocum 20:05
I mean, there’s a lot of ways right you can get really creative in getting your team to act as a unit, be excited to show up together, right and serve the audience that they’re going to serve everyday together. Because you lock in with that mindset. And so a great way to start immediately is do a book club, you know, get your team reading a book together. One of my companies, we did growth mindset, and it changed a little team, it was great. We read it, we did growth mindset, we each read a certain amount of chapters each week. And then every Friday, at the end of the week, we got together and destructed what we learned right and kept each other accountable. That stuff gets you to start switching mindset, get you guys to read a book together make that time during the week to read together, we would take an hour off the phones at the end of the day. And give that time if you wanted to catch up on your readings or get your readings for the week, we allocated that during the work day. And that really helped to Bond got us to start thinking differently. We did growth mindset we did the one influence others, we’re winning friends, whenever say

Greg Reffner 21:05
that how to how to win how to influence. I have it by summer. I can’t I remember how to win friends and influence people.

Tom Slocum 21:16
Right? Do that one, do that to build that bond with your team. And then you guys talk about how each perspective is stressing that book and what your key takeaways are. And you can build that right? And then take those same learnings to now go to your your prospects, ask questions during those readings that get people to take those questions to their prospects. That’s one way, right? Another way is create gifts for your audience, sales managers, how can you empower your STRS to give more in their outreach versus asking? All you’re providing them constantly is skills and questions and all these things to win the conversation? But let’s start empowering them to advance the conversation. How can we give gives what can you do to help support your prospects where your pipeline is growing and flourishing with conversations? Because the biggest problem most teams have is not having enough at bats. They’re not having conversations. And it’s like why would anybody want to talk to somebody with every five emails isn’t asked all the time? I get it, Greg, you want to chat? I understand. Right? Maybe talk to me for three days and give me some stuff that doesn’t need an answer from me, you know, you gave me a PDF that you’re specifically told me why this is value, or you asked if you could send it to me. One thing you could do and I’ve been talking to a lot of people is switch from just automatically assuming the ad to your email, like a PDF or a link. One quick thing you could do today is switch to May I send you there, ask the permission to send over that piece of collateral, add one extra email in there and force people to hit that reply if they want the value you’re delivering. Right? If I’m inviting you to a webinar, I don’t want to throw that blast out there and just say, hey, register, I might want to send the email out and say, Greg, would love to invite you to this webinar. Here’s three reasons why it makes sense for you. Can I send over that link to you and you can get registered? Would that work in your schedule? Now I send that out to 40 people, I’m gonna get a lot more responses of people being like, yes, that would be great. Thank you, helps your email deliverability. Because you’re not just dropping a link, and you’re getting conversations because you asked instead of just hey, here’s a PDF. Greg have a good time. What I didn’t ask for that, throw that in my inbox. But great, I got another one to just go through cool. But the email said, Hey, may I send this over to you? I think it’d be of value for this reason this one. Let me know if I can get that to your inbox. You’re gonna get a lot more people to say yes, then no.

Greg Reffner 23:32
I love that. And I want to theme is I keep kind of coming back to the first things you’re mentioning in your responses. So my questions. But what’s interesting is the first two books you talked about had nothing to do with sales, growth mindset, and how to win friends and influence people and learn sales books. And so I think that’s spot on, I firmly believe, again, it ties back to mindset and how you go about engaging other people and treating other people and the nugget in there around ask to invite someone to a webinar that gets them in the habit of saying yes to you, right. It shows you’re respectful, it shows that you’re considerate. And you know, bonus points gold star for, you know, because you are this title at this company, here’s why I think this is going to be something of value to you. Right? So, hyper personalization, right? And Relevancy is winning in today’s SDR world, for sure.

Tom Slocum 24:35
100% that’s where a lot of people miss it, right? They send stuff over and just expect to put the burden on the prospect to figure it out. Right, like if you’re gonna add fun stuff, like make a little bit of effort. Greg, and you could send this out a persona based it doesn’t have to be hyper personalized. It’s hyper personalized without being personalized, right. It’s Hey, Greg, I know that you are, you know, this doing this. We’re having a webinar this time. First day, the key takeaways that could be for you are these three things, your mind, if I send that link over to you, and if you could fit it in your schedule, that’s a way better email and then some marketing email telling me how cool your webinar is that like, I have to take out of what you sent. Why, like, I got to sell myself on it. That’s stupid. I don’t want to do that. Like, why do I have to dig through that to be like, is this something for me? Why am I getting this? Do it for me, Greg, this is exactly why you should check this out and what you can expect from that 30 minute block and your calendar that you’re going to get out of this. If you could make the time. Now I have to do a lot of work. Now. It’s like, Yes, done. That’s great. I need that that’s relevant to me. That’s actually a topic I’ve been thinking about. So yeah, I’ll stop by see what they got to say. And now you have a great follow up. Right, Greg? Saw you stopped by that’s awesome. I hope those takeaways were as valuable as I had thought. Did you implementing any of them yet? Love to hear your thoughts. Now, Greg’s gonna be like, Man, that was such a cool webinar. You were right, that point about you know, driving leads through paperclip was so great. took it back to the team, and we’re going to start working on it next week. Great. Do you think we could grab 30 minutes to kind of decompress what you learned and what we could talk about? Now we’re having a conversation, right, and now it’s just a flow. And now you’re getting value in every touch that we’re talking about. And I gave him a free win along the way, you implemented something or found a different way to think about something, and I earned your trust, you’re like this, this person gets this person is great. And they gave me something without anything in return. I would love to, you know, maybe give them 30 minutes to kind of hear a little bit more, because that went already was great. What else could they do?

Greg Reffner 26:35
I love that. I love that man. I wish every SDR thought like that quality would be a much better place. Well, Tom rapid thinks I’m

Tom Slocum 26:46
trying to do man. That’s what I’m trying to do one STR at a time.

Greg Reffner 26:50
Let’s I will join that mission with you. I will join that mission with you. So kind of wrapping all this up. You’ve been in sales a long time progressing from discovery to higher ed. Now kind of leading STR or being at the forefront of STR thought leadership? One piece of advice if I’m a new SDR or want to be a new SDR why would that be?

Tom Slocum 27:17
Value and get your mind? Right? Right, find what you bring to the table. A lot of people that are trying to break in and that’s the RS right? Show that value gave again, why? Why? What’s the value of this person meeting with you or why you can bring to their team and have that confidence. And so and then just have the right mindset. Get your mind right for the role. It’s not an easy walk in the park. I’ve been doing it for 15 years, I still freak out sometimes making cold calls. It’s okay. But you’ve got to get that mind right and know your Northstar. And, you know, just dig into that and sell that value in every interaction you have with somebody and own that value. Right? What is it? You’re interrupting people all the time, but it’s okay. Right? You have value, earn their trust. And that’s a better way to go to the sales market, then you’re just a number a you’re on my list. Let me give you a call and you know, send out 105 Since webinar because I need to drive 20 People actually drive 20 good people, not just 20 because you had to.

Greg Reffner 28:13
Yeah, I love that. All right, Tom. Well, anybody wants to get a hold of you learn more about readily revved genius. What’s the best way

Tom Slocum 28:19
to go back and wholly top, my LinkedIn everything’s on there. It’s all up for grabs. You can find rev leak through their rev genius, my link tree to every all of my other stuff that I got going on. So that’s my main source my main channel to get to me. So just Tom Slocum on LinkedIn with a little fire flame in front of it.

Greg Reffner 28:40
Love it. That’s awesome. Well, thanks for joining us on our podcast that this was awesome. We only got through about like 50% of what was on our agenda. But I think there were some good nuggets for sure that I think our listeners will take away from so I appreciate your time today.

Tom Slocum 28:55
Absolutely anytime. Thank you. Cool.

Greg Reffner 28:57
Thank you. Bye

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