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“If Benjamin Franklin had picked someone to teach the lessons in self-mastery that he used in his life, he would have picked Bob Burg.”

~ Vic Johnson, Founder AsAManThinketh.net

“If It Doesn’t Bother *You*…”

October 12th, 2011 by Bob Burg

During the Q & A part of a recent Endless Referrals: The Go-Giver Way program, a very nice woman asked a question that was obviously troubling her:

“Even after receiving a referral from someone, isn’t calling the referred prospect just one step above a cold call?”

After explaining to her that the point of the referral was to positively leverage the already-existing relationship of two people who already “know, like and trust” each other (thus, much more than simply a cold-call plus), I could see she was still quite uncomfortable.

So, we did a bit of a diagnostic. After just a few moments, it came down to the fact that she so dislikes receiving phone calls from strangers — even those referred by those she knows, likes and trusts — that she assumes that those she calls will feel the same way.

And…when she calls, they probably do. Not because she’s a bad person. On the contrary, you could sense in her essence that she is kind, sweet, lovable and terrific in every way. In fact, she had such a nice, encouraging smile, it’s difficult to think anyone wouldn’t embrace her, even over the phone.

However, because the idea of a call (even one based on a very qualified referral) from a stranger is something she finds so offensive, she transfers those feelings to her prospects.

It goes back to the old saying:

“If it doesn’t bother you, it won’t bother them.”

However, as we know, the opposite is also true.

In actuality, this post is not about calling a referred prospect. It’s about understanding that whatever we are doing when interacting with others, we need to feel so comfortable with the process that we communicate comfort, not discomfort.

In this specific context — calling a referred prospect — we do this most effectively by feeling so secure in the value we bring to that other person, that we know we are doing them a service by calling them.

How do you utilize this principle, both in the sales process and in non-sales situations?


Off to the airport, first to Las Vegas, Nevada to speak at a corporate client event, and then on to St. Louis to speak at Dixie Gillaspie’s Dynamite Live event. Won’t be on the Internet a lot so will most likely end up responding to your comments when I return this weekend. (Just wouldn’t want ya’ ta’ think I was ignorin’ ya’!) 🙂

13 Responses to ““If It Doesn’t Bother *You*…””
  1. As with your books so with your blogs – big content, small package – just what ‘today’s world’ calls for! Thanks Bob!

  2. rich bonn said at 8:01 am on

    Bob: thank you for your great post. How would you recommend contacting a prospect that has been referred to you? Many people today screen their calls, so its highly likely that you will receive a voicemail. What would you recommend as the most effective way to leave a voicemail?

    Thanks R

  3. Ben Bauman said at 8:40 am on

    A great blog!, and insight. Now I understand this issue better.


  4. Hi Bob,

    2 words: subconscious mind.

    The person on the other end of the line feels your vibe *instantly*. You can’t fake out somebody’s subconscious as it’s the God-like part of them. I learned this lesson over many months. I disliked phone work and had the same viewpoint as the lady in the post. I did not like receiving cold calls, so even if a person shared their phone number with me, I refused to call them, for “feeling bad about annoying them”.

    I had to do some serious subconscious reprogramming to get through this. Now, it’s a piece of cake. I enjoy calling and chatting folks up, listening, learning, and helping. The process is enjoyable, after I reprogrammed myself and learned that the value I have to share far supercedes any imagined fear/limiting belief I acquired from somebody else. Our limiting beliefs – including fear of phone work – are leased, and can be traded in at any time.

    Thanks for sharing, and safe travels!


  5. Beth M. Anderson said at 9:35 am on

    Great stuff, Bob!! I used to be exactly the same way. As with most things in life, practice will help. This assumes that she believes in her product and herself – if not that’s a different story.

    Perhaps to get her feet wet she can ask the person referring her to tell her more about the person they are referring. I find that the more I know going into the call, the more comfortable I am calling them. Knowing they work from home, have 2 kids and a dog and are struggling with finding time to work on their existing website makes my calling them SO much easier because I can do so from a place of “helping” instead of a place of “intruding”.

    If the value of the service or product is high enough, or the referrer is willing, perhaps a face to face meeting would be easier. I know many people who invite both people to lunch or coffee to introduce them. You could also do this over the phone if distance is an issue. I have had a couple of people call their contact and then say “How about if I conference Beth into this call so she can hear what you need and answer your questions”? Deal was closed before they even called me!

    Love how encouraging you are in the face of the fears we all feel at some point or another. Thanks Bob!!

  6. Kim White said at 9:50 am on

    Ok, I am just like the woman you describe! And I was wondering why those referrals never called back. I didn’t even know I was communicating that attitude/belief, but after reading this I know for sure you are right. That is exactly what’s been happening. Wow.

    Please keep this good stuff coming. As a small business owner, this is the most helpful blog I follow. Eternally grateful for your insight and willingness to share these gems. Thanks, Bob!

  7. Kat Sanford said at 10:32 am on

    So true Bob! It is so important to be authentic. If the person you are calling has truly been qualified, meaning they have a need for your product and are expecting your call, then the process of developing the relationship should be easier.

  8. As a personal communications consultant, I concur with the points many of the respondents have made, including the original questioner.

    We communicate with words, with tone of voice, and with state of mind. As speakers, we believe the importance of our message flows in that sequence or priority. However, as listeners, we receive messages in reverse order of those priorities, the words meaning far less than the prevailing state of mind or even the tone of voice.

    If we consider what we can offer to benefit the referred person or their company – from THEIR point of view – that will establish our state of mind, and thereby our tone of voice, and, lastly our choice of words.

  9. Pamela McBride said at 12:14 pm on

    Another good one, Bob. Kat, “developing the relationship” is great!

    It’s a possibility that the phone calls I don’t like are the same for everyone. It’s up to each individual to truly think about what kind of phone calls they would accept, return and possibly like, especially if they are busy.

    So, I’ve studied everything possible about phone calls I don’t like (I’ve gotten plenty)…and decided to figure out what I would like:

    An example of a phone call I would like: “Good morning. My name is Pamela McBride. May I speak to Gail Smith if she’s not too busy?”
    “She’s too busy to talk right now. May I ask what this is about?”
    “I got a referal from Jean Jones. She suggested that we might like to talk with each other about______. Do you mind giving Ms Smith my phone number? I would love to hear from her.”

    Be a joy to talk to at all times…strive to become a friend right away. Courteousness goes a long way. “Develop the relationship” 🙂

  10. Shivani said at 2:02 pm on

    Yes, this is a thing that is not very easy. You did a good job by writing about it. But to live up to this is even a much greater job – every day!

  11. Bob Burg said at 11:17 am on

    Hi All. Thank you so much. What a pleasure it was to come back to all of your (as always) thoughtful and wisdom-filled comments. Please know that I’ve read through every one of them, and appreciate them (and you) greatly!!

  12. Patricia said at 10:53 pm on

    It’s in point of fact a great and useful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you just shared this useful info with us.
    Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  13. […] up, such as the sales professional who had difficulty calling referraled prospects because she didn’t like receiving calls from salespeople referred to her. Like the above server, if she didn’t like […]

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