Permission-Based Selling and the Telephone
Evolutionary Sales
Jason McClain

Episode 6 - Permission-Based Selling and the Telephone

In this episode of Evolutionary Sales, Jason discusses the concept of permission-based selling and how it is a critical component of Evolutionary Sales and the 21st Century Marketplace. Learn the tools to always be receiving permission from your client or prospect making it all the easier to maintain rapport. Jason will then give you specific ways to not only think about your relationship to the phone, but also how to artfully deal with the non-critical people on the other end. Who are not-critical players? They are the individuals who are not qualified to make a decision about whether to connect you with the decision maker, but who are also, unfortunately, empowered to do so. Some people refer to them as the gate-keeper. Finally, Jason tells you how to respectfully and powerfully make the most of your time when you do get the prospect or client on the phone, turning every contact point into another step in the process towards opening the relationship.



Episode 6: Permission-Based Selling and the Telephone

Announcer:  This program is brought to you by


Jason McClain: Welcome to Evolutionary Sales. I’m Jason McClain, your host and your guide in the 21st century market place. We’ve come a long way together and at this point I consider us partners in your success, so I want to thank you for honoring me with your listening and with your attention, and thank you for allowing me to contribute to you and to contribute to your success. I’m excited about this episode because this is one of those episodes where we really get to change your thinking and we get to contribute to your skills, that is we get to teach you how to deal with situations that most people are stumped by. These are real-world situations. So, lets talk a little bit about permission selling because I’m going to introduce a new concept to you called “permission selling”. And, we’re going to tie it into working with a phone because you know whether you deal with cold calling or not your are going to have to deal with a phone. We’ve already given you a tremendous amount of tools to deal with your emotional state and I trust you to import those tools into the different contexts in your life.

So, anyway, I was talking to a client the other day and I had talked to them about a concept but I hadn’t imported it into a certain context in their life. And we happened to be going out to dinner because most of my clients become friends and so we went out to dinner and he was nervous about approaching a woman and I said “well how does what we talked about in terms of sales relate to this context?” And, he was, literally his eyes popped open. So, what I want to encourage you to do is I want to encourage you to realize that whatever we’re talking about can be imported into any context in your life as it relates to other human beings. The possibilities are endless. But anyway, lets get back to the phone. So, you know the funny thing about the phone is if you’re making cold calls what that means to you is you have to deal with people who, you know the 21st century market place I don’t think about them as gate-keepers. But in the 20th century market place they’re considered quote “gate-keepers”, end quote. The way I think about them, that is the people who are answering the phone who are in the way of you getting to the person who is actually qualified to make a decision, is that they are empowered to make a decision, but they’re not qualified to make a decision. Let me repeat that: they’re empowered to make a decision about whether or not to let you through, but they’re not qualified to make that decision. And you need to adjust your behavior accordingly. Let me give you a few examples.

One of the things I used to do when I would cold call, and by the way I have made thousands and thousands and thousands of cold calls. There was a time when I was making two hundred cold calls a day. My minimum, let me repeat that, my minimum was a hundred cold calls a day. You can make about twenty-five calls an hour if your not leaving voice-mail messages and I, I really actually recommend never leaving voice-mail messages because they just don’t make a difference in peoples lives, they don’t make a difference in peoples business, and as a result you need to, again since your coming from service, since your coming from contribution you need to only do the things that will make a difference for them and their business. Voice-mail messages rarely do. So how do you deal with that person who is in the way of you actually connecting and building a repertoire with the decision maker, (laughs) but is not qualified to make that decision? Here is some tips and tools and tricks that I have used in my business that have been incredibly successful, and I want to pass them on to you. First of all, I only use a first name, that is I do my research in another way. If I’m trying to reach somebody named Susan, who I know is the decision maker, I call up and I say “Is Susan in?”, and they say “Well, may I ask who’s calling?”, and I say “You can just tell her Jason’s calling.” First names only, and I’m going to repeat it again, first names only. “Is Susan in?” “Well, may I ask who’s calling?” “You can just tell her Jason’s calling.” “Well, what company are you with?” “You can just tell her Jason’s calling.” Over and over and over again. After thousands and thousands and thousands of phone calls, I’ve only once ever had this backfire on me, and that was though it was a stockbrokers that I was calling into and the woman, the woman let me through, but as soon (laughs), this is hysterical, as soon as I actually got the founder of the brokerage company on the phone he already knew that he didn’t know a Jason apparently cause he said “I don’t deal with people who use subterfuge to get to me!” and he hung up (laughs). I have to tell you it was a personal shame, I had to flip the dictionary to find out what subterfuge meant. That was nearly a decade ago, but after thousands and thousands and thousands of phone calls, that is the only one that has ever, ever backfired on me. And the truth is I wouldn’t have gotten through to that person anyway.

So, let me give you a couple other tips. So, again first only use first names. Only use first names and no matter what the woman or man who’s answering the phone asks you, simply say “This is so and so calling”, only your first name, “Are they in?” “May I ask who’s, may I ask what company you’re with?” “You can just tell them so and so’s calling”, in my case “You can just tell them Jason’s calling.” “Well, is this a sales call?” If they ask you that say “You bet it is!” First of all, you always want to be honest. You always want to be honest. But you want to be honest and confident. We talked a little bit about non-verbal communication as it relates to repertoire, but there’s also this idea of convergence. If you’re confident that it’s okay that you’re calling for a sales call, that shifts their perspective. I actually had woman who, she you know, they’ve, actually they’ve worked the phones for years and years and years, they get a sense, they know it’s a phone call for sales, and so I say, you know “Is James in?” and she said “Is this a sales call?” I said “You bet it is!” and she goes “Wow, you were honest. I’ll, I’ll, you know what, I’ll put you through.” (chuckles). So, first of all understand that the quote “gate-keeper”, he or she is not qualified to make a decision about whether or not the service or product you have to offer is in fact of value, but they’re empowered to make the decision. As a result, I say it’s none of their business. It’s none of their business what I’m calling about. But I’m always going to be honest. Always going to be honest and always going to do whatever I can to get through to that decision maker. And again you should have done that research on the backend, whether it’s, you know, through your business journals that you subscribe to or whether its through, which I have always found to be a tremendous resource, or through, which is another tremendous online business resource. Whatever that research may be that you do on the backend, do that before you call; know who you’re calling for so that you can confidently ask for them by first name. Now, lets get into permission based selling because once you get past that first hurdle, which is really a test of your ability to simply know that you’re confident in what you’re providing.

Secondly, know that the person who is empowered to make the decision to let you through or not is not qualified to make that decision. He or she has no idea whether or not they’re looking for your product description, in fact they may have been told not to let any sales call through even though the hiring manager or the purchase manager or the director of this department or that department is desperate for your service, desperate, but they have some beaurocratic process they’re suffering behind. And it’s your duty to relieve them of that pain. So, what do you do when you actually get through to them? Lets say I call up and I say you know “Is Susan, is Susan in?” “Who, may I ask who’s calling?” “You can just call her Jason’s calling.” “Okay.” They let me through. What do I do when I get hold of Susan? I say, “Susan, this is a sales call. Do you have a few minutes?” Now what I’ve done immediately is first of all I’ve shown that I am really proud of what I’m doing, but second of all I’ve shown that I respect her time. I respect her time and I respect her attention. “This is a sales call. Do you have a few minutes?” And I would actually err on the side of estimating too much time. In other words, if you think its going to take ten, say fifteen, if you think its going to take twenty, say thirty, because you never want to be in the position of saying “Oh, you know, it’ll take five minutes” and suddenly you’re fifteen minutes into her time and she feels like you mislead her, and she feels like you’ve disrespected her time, and these are busy, busy people that you’re in service of. She’ll probably say yes. In my experience, nine times out of ten they say “Sure, you know I’ve got ten or fifteen minutes.” If they say no you say, “Great, when would you have time for a sales call?” Now some people get scared, they want to get right into their scripts, and they want to (laughs), they want to give their pitch right away. Forget about that because you’re trying to build a relationship, you’re not trying to close a deal, and to build a relationship you’ve got to start off with respect, you’ve got to start off by honoring their time, and you’ve got to start off right away with being up front. Actually, I actually used a print one of the first IT companies I started, I had three bullet points on my card and it was absolute integrity, follow through and zero bull. And I wrote that on the card because that was the reputation I had garnered. I had garnered a reputation for never wasting my prospects or clients time, for always getting to the point, for always following through. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client say, “Wow, you’ve really pulled through for me.” But you know I was not big on the expense accounts, I wasn’t big on schmoozing, I did that occasionally because it was expected, but mostly I delivered. And you need to be in the business of delivering. And part of that, part of that starts with the initial phone call, on the initial phone call that is “Hi, this is a sales call, do you have time?” And maybe it’s a warm call and you just want to set context. In other words, you call up and you say, “Hi, you know, I know we know each other. I’d like to have a business call. Is this a good time for that?” And that leads a trend in permission based selling because you should be getting permission every step of the way for every part of your process.

In other words, I can’t remember if we’ve talked about in this pod cast series yet or not, but you should have a flow chart for your business, just like I have a flow chart for the evolutionary sales process, and if you want a copy of that flow chart feel free to email me at [email protected], there’s two L’s in Personal Life Media. Be happy to forward that resource to you. And you should be able to say where they’re at in your process and maybe it’s a six step process, or maybe its an eleven step process, whatever it is you want to get them in your process so the process then takes over and it takes care of itself. And you want to, with permission, guide them through that process. Let me give you a couple examples. In my current business, which is generally coaching or evolutionary guidance, what I do is somebody refers somebody to me whose had a good experience with me and I call them up and I say “Hey, you know, so and so gave me your contact information” because I have coached the referee’s to get permission to give me the prospects contact information. Why? Well, because that does away with them losing my phone number, it does away with them getting concerned, getting fearful, thinking that maybe they didn’t really have a problem, they can do it themselves, whatever it may be. If I truly want to be of service I want to take away any possible obstacles to the client actually connecting with me. What does that mean? That means I need to get their information and connect with them. I call them and I say, you know “Hey, is this a good time to talk?” Again, I get permission. I let them know that what I’m really looking to do is just have an initial phone call with them. If it seems like a fit, then we’ll schedule an exploratory session, and again I get permission. “Is that okay with you?” They say yes. I say great, and then we have the initial phone call. The phone call typically goes well, there are some occasions where I think that I, I am not sure I can get them what they want, and I either refer them out or I just say I’m not the guy for you or maybe a different service, kind of service provider is what you’re looking for. But the point is that every step of the way I say “Here’s what we’re going to do next, is that okay with you?” They say yes. “Okay, great.” And you do that. I say “Okay, now the next step is this, is that okay with you?” They say yes. Say “Okay.” I can actually say that I’ve never actually had somebody say no, “No, no, the next step is not okay with me”. That’s just not the way it goes. But if you don’t get their permission first, then it gives them plenty of opportunity to say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I wasn’t expecting that.” And suddenly you have lost a prospect or a relationship that you could’ve opened for one simple fact: you didn’t tell them what was coming next. And all they want to do is to be guided by somebody who is competent. That’s the essence of permission based selling, to let them know or pre-frame in advance what the next step is, so that you are consciously, intentionally, yet respectfully guiding them through your sales process, which you should already have in some sort of flow chart.

So, again to recap, you always want to be getting permission to take the next step in the process. To do that, you need to have a flow chart for your business, that is you need to understand the process at the level of process and structure for yourself. The content will come. The scripts will write themselves if you know what’s coming next. More importantly, you need to be unabashed in your desire to contribute to somebody. What I mean by that is of course it’s a sales call, don’t shy away from that. I can’t tell you how many telemarketers (laughs), and if you ever want to have a lot of fun, enjoy a telemarketer when they call you, enjoy them, try and throw them off your script, laugh, have fun, notice how unengaged they are with you. And take that as a lesson because people sense that right away. They may not be able to speak to it, they may not be able to respond to it, but they’ll know it. Terms of the phone, remember that the phone is your friend. The phone, you look at the phone, I want you to associate the phone to whatever dreams you have because the phone is the key to that. The phone is the key to your initial meeting; the phone is the key to your success. And it doesn’t matter if you need to make a lot of cold calls or not, but contact with your client whether its through email or through phone is critical. And never, ever, ever try and make an initial contact through email, ever. Forget about it! It doesn’t work. No matter how specific and targeted it is, it’ll be considered Spam by their perspective, which means that you’re already an unethical marketer. So you want to just reach them right away, and you’ll want to use the phone to do it. So that’s permission based selling and the phone.

Lets get into a little bit about more how to make the most of this pod cast series and this is something different that I’ve talked about before, uh, it’ll be similar and it will touch on some concepts I’ve touched on before. But I really want you to consider that these skills are skills. Now, that may seem obvious and redundant. But how many of you ever thought that once you learn something you should be able to embody it right away? How many of you ever judged yourselves as a result of that? And so, what I want you to do is I want you to consider that you are somebody who is in process. In other words, forget about self-to-other or self-to-ideal comparisons. Start thinking about self-to-self through time comparisons. Just look at your improvement. Now the funny thing is about skills is, you know, let’s take the muscle building metaphor, which is a metaphor I love. Lets say that you’re in the gym and you’re doing a new movement or maybe you’re in the gym for the first time, but lets say that you’re doing a new movement and it feels awkward to you, right? And you’ve got a trainer and their telling you how to do it and it feels weird. And you say, “ You know, I don’t want to do that movement.” And they say “Well, but I thought you wanted x, y and z?” and they list your outcomes in the physical realm. You say “Well, yeah.” And they say, “Well, this is how you get that.” So it is with this. Lets consider these sales skills, these communication skills a developmental line, that is there’s lots of lines, there’s communication, there’s finances, there’s the physical realm, there’s the spiritual realm, there’s the culinary realm, there’s the musical realm, there’s the mathematical realm, there’s the internet technology realm, there’s all sorts of realms in which you can develop through stages. And what I want you to consider is that all the technologies we’ve talked about, just in terms of how to manage your own mind and in how to manage the minds of others while you’re in service of them, these are all skills that need to be developed just like playing basketball or golf or tennis or lifting weights or doing yoga need to be developed, it’s the same thing. So you might get sore at first, it might feel awkward at first, but ultimately rest assured that you’ll get better at it. In other words, you go to the gym, first it feels awkward, you get a little sore, you try to do too much, you go “Ohhh, forget that.” But then you go back and you say “You know what, I’m actually going to, I’m actually going to develop this and pretty soon you start to get in a groove, and pretty soon you start to add weight to the whatever movement you’re doing in the gym, and then after you’ve added weight pretty soon you’re going more often and then pretty soon you almost can’t live without it because you’re starting to really just love it and its part of who you are. You don’t need to look at your journal, you don’t need to consult a trainer, but that’s after months, and months and months of practice, months and months of integration. And again, as I said last week the difference between inset integration is huge. Just because you know something, doesn’t mean you have it. Just because you have knowledge of something doesn’t mean you’ve learned it or embodied it.

So, again, if you haven’t done so already please subscribe to these pod casts. Best way to do that is through iTunes. You can also do it through your RSS reader. Just go to, there’s two L’s in Personal Life Media, click on Evolutionary Sales and then hit subscribe, there’ll be several options for you there. If you have questions about this episode or any other episodes, feel free to either email me, [email protected], again two L’s in or comment on the blog that’s associated with it, which should be in the right-hand column on the episode or show page in under Evolutionary Sales. It will be my pleasure to engage with you. The best questions will get a free iPod cover from That’s I f r o g z dot com. I’ve got four of them here right next to me right now, but I haven’t had anybody ask any quality questions. So for me to give these things away, I need you to engage with me, and there’ll be a time in this series of pod casts where it’ll be dependent on listener ship interaction. And I know there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of you 'cause I look at the referral logs who’ve actually subscribed to this show, so I need you to start interacting with me so that you and the rest of the listeners can get the best out of it. And if you’ve got a question in your mind, I want to know that question so I can assist you in being more successful. And through your question you can assist others in being more successful. And in that way, you can truly be of service to the planet. For transcripts of this show, or any other episode or show on a Personal Life Media network, go to If you’re a life coach, feel free to listen to my other show “Coaching the Life Coach: Business and Marketing Strategies for Growth of Transformational Practices.” And if you’re a life coach and you’re listening to this and you haven’t realized that you’re a sales person first, well I can’t wait to chat with you because you are and that will be the very mindset that you need to break through to be successful monetarily. Thank you for allowing me to be a partner in your success. Again, Jason McClain, your host and your guide in the 21st century market place. You can reach me at [email protected], there’s two L’s in or through Thanks for listening. I’ll see you next week.

Find more great shows, like this, on