If you believed everything you read on LinkedIn, you might start to think every sales channel — from cold calling to social — is dead. But if you take a look at what’s behind these claims, you’ll find the problem doesn’t lie with the actual channels but with prospecting prep work.
The reality is this: When you want to break into an account and get the meeting, your process matters a heck of a lot more than the channels themselves.
On this episode of B2B Power Hour, we sit down with Jen Allen and Josh Braun, two of the best voices to unpack prospecting. We dive deep into the pain that leads prospects to crave change, the power of a “before story,” and why SDRs need more problem training than product training.
No matter what you’re selling (and how great it is), your prospect is currently surviving without it — they’re getting the job done somehow. Yet all too many sales conversations start by focusing on a problem the prospect doesn’t feel painfully and intensely enough for them to make a change.
Your prospect has to light up about a problem for your solution to have value for them.
One surefire way to zero in on these kinds of problems? Listen to the testimonials of your customers and look for energetic language: “It sucked,” “it was super frustrating.” Speaking in the language your customers actually use about their problems will help you make better connections and show your prospects you know their world.
Listen in to learn why maybe your intent shouldn’t be to book a meeting — it should be to find the truth.
We unpack Josh’s four-part cold call framework for better conversations, and Jen shares about the powerful difference between storytelling and story prompting.
Featured on the B2B Power Hour: Josh Braun
What he does: Founder at Braun Training
Key quote: “Slow down, everybody. Everything doesn't have to be scaled, everything doesn't have to be done really fast. The thing is, if you rush through the list creation process, if you're not slow about that and you're addicted to speed because you want to start sending out emails and making calls … you're going to have lots of conversations with the wrong people.”
Where to find him: Twitter | LinkedIn | Website
Featured on the B2B Power Hour: Jen Allen
What she does: Community Growth at Lavender and Co-Founder of Social Social
Key quote: “We have to be honest with ourselves that not everybody is going to be a customer and double down on the ones that we have evidence to support that [they] could.”
Where to find her: LinkedIn | Social Social
B2B Power Plays
Top takeaways from this week’s conversation
📖Your customers’ “before story” is just as important as what happens after they buy.
So many sales pitches, emails, and websites focus on the “after story,” zeroing in on the ROI customers gain from the solution. But not enough pitches lean into sharing the hefty cost of doing nothing — the pain that happens before buying. The “before story” draws people in and shows prospects that you have the answers they’re looking for.
Borrow language from customer testimonials to speak the way your customers do. Put these words and phrases into a “lingo library” that lets you connect with prospects right away.
📞 Use a messaging framework to steer better cold call conversations.
Once you’ve got a good list and a strong hypothesis, you’re ready to pick up the phone. Steal Josh’s four-part cold call messaging framework, backed by psychological principles that actually work.
When the prospect picks up the phone:
- Extend an invitation to keep talking with you. The prospect will be more likely to follow through if they accept the invitation because, as humans, we want to keep our actions consistent with our words. Start with phrases like, “Could you help me out?” or “May I ask you a couple of questions?”
- Validate that you’re in the right place. Even though you’ve done your research and built your list, you still want to make sure you’re talking to the right person. Confirm that they’re still in their role and that their role is a key decision-maker.
- Ask a question that makes the prospect lean forward. Their response might disqualify them (if they don’t have the problem you’re describing), and you need that information too. “This is something you don’t have to force,” Josh says.
- Peel the onion back. Once you’ve gotten their attention and confirmed they’re the right person to talk to, tell them about the solution you have in place.
🙅Overcome the zone of resistance by changing your intent.
When people sense that they’re being sold to, they go into what Josh calls the “zone of resistance,” a reflexive reaction to sales pressure. Their fight-or-flight activates when you say, “The reason for my call is [insert pitch here].” Josh says to overcome this hurdle, you need to avoid pitching: Let go of assumptions, ask a question, then lean back.
Move past the intent to persuade, and focus, instead, on finding the truth. This shift will help you relax — and it’ll help your prospects do the same.
Inflection points from the show
[2:43] Content > channel: Jen and Josh offer their two cents on why your favorite channel isn’t dead, despite what provocative LinkedIn posts might say.
[4:50] Pronation and prospecting: Josh shares why problems aren’t enough to get a prospect’s attention, along with a real-life example from an unlikely place: the shoe store.
[9:58] Don’t just start dialing: Preparing for prospecting isn’t just about making a list of qualified clients — it’s about making sure they’re the right fit to gain meaningful value.
[17:37] The black-and-white infomercial: Knowing the customer’s “before story” and plugging their voice into your cold call framework is essential.
[21:39] Pain leads to change: Most sales conversations start with proving the value of the solution — “Why us?” Instead, tease out the prospect’s answer to “Why change?” and “Why now?” — begin by assessing how deeply they feel the pain of the problem you solve.
[24:35] All about intent: As part of his cold call framework, Josh breaks down the importance of not showing intent to book a meeting (and why that means starting better conversations).
[30:53] Make sure you’re in the right place: Validate that you’re talking to the right person — then ask a question that makes the prospect lean forward.
[37:18] Learning the list: Jen explains why it’s mission-critical to teach SDRs the “why” of list-building early on, whether or not they’re the ones building the list.
[42:42] 90% problem, 10% product: The best SDR training brings in customers or internal stakeholders who are doing the customer’s job and know their problems backward and forward.
[47:18] Fighting the zone of resistance: Your biggest obstacle in sales? People are afraid of you. Avoid triggering their fight-or-flight response by changing your intent.
[50:16] Breathe in, breathe out: Josh shares a surprising best practice to help ease the pressure on sales calls and make prospects feel more comfortable.
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