I learned about this several years ago when I was studying the science of social dynamics and sub-communication in order to apply the information to improving my sales. But it was a very unusual application of this science – or I should say, a mis-application – that really surprised me.
I learned of it when I met Neil Strauss, author of the book The Game, about a bunch of self-proclaimed “pickup artists” who lived in Hollywood and devoted their time to learning how to pick up women. (Yeah, kinda lame, but there’s good info here so keep reading!)
The gist of what they did was this: They’d approach women in bars, and open conversations with dumb questions about random things, always starting with, “Hey, I need a female opinion on something.”
What this did was allow them to come in “under the radar.” As the book explains, in a bar or nightclub situation, women automatically have their guard up and the usual pickup lines that men use will fail, even if the woman would otherwise be interested in the man. They call this a “programming wall.”
But by using this strategy of asking a completely random question, under the guise of “I need your opinion,” they’d be able to start a conversation and move it forward to where they could successfully get a phone number or ask her out on a date.
What intrigued me most, however, was this idea of “programming walls” and how a woman would not talk to a desirable man, just because he approached her in a way that hit one of these subconscious walls and caused her to shut down.
It ingrigued me because selling works in exactly the same way. Selling is a game of human nature, and you have to know how to make the right approach and avoid hitting these so-called programming walls.
Cold Calling and Programming Walls
I observe myself doing it all the time. Whether I’m walking through the mall and pass by one of those kiosks with an annoying salesperson calling me to come over, or a sales rep approaches me in the typical cold call manner, I completely shut down and want nothing to do with them.
Sometimes I even do this with the friendly people offering free samples in the supermarket – not because I don’t want the sample, but because their method of approach triggers a programming wall in my mind, and I walk on by pretending to be uninterested.
Similarly, someone may be selling something I need, or am even actively shopping for, but when they cold call me, the programming wall goes up, they slam head-first into it, and nothing happens.
Years ago, long before Neil’s book came out, a sales manager who agreed that cold calling is a waste of time explained to us that cold calling is slamming head-first into a brick wall, when we really needed to go around the walls.
That’s why even those who cold call will still perpuate ridiculous stories about how someone “got in the door,” like the urban legend about mailing someone one shoe along with a note saying, “I’ve got one foot in the door, how about the other?”
Obviously someone who has never sold successfully made that one up, but you get my point – getting in the door successfully means finding ways and means of getting around the door and into the decision maker’s office.
Cold calling means slamming into that door over and over again. If you follow the insane advice to “increase your activity,” all that means is you’ll be slamming into it even more and more.
The answer isn’t to cold call. It’s to use effective, Information Age, self-marketing systems and methods that get you around the door. And closing sales.
New York Times best-selling author Frank Rumbauskas is the author of the Never Cold Call Again® System and has won numerous accolades, such as Readers Choice for Business Book of the Year from 800-CEO-READ, and has been named one of Fast Company’s top 30 most influential people online. To learn more, and to download a free 37-page PDF preview of his Never Cold Call Again lead-generation system, visit http://www.nevercoldcall.com/