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Sales Consulting
June 29, 2020

Cold to Committed Excerpt

Kyle Vamvouris
CEO, Vouris

On Call Alarms

When you are in a conversation with the prospect, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to go next. This typically happens because the prospect is talking a lot and giving you a lot of information. Your challenge is figuring out what to do with that information, and how to capitalize on it to book a meeting. Regardless of how a call is going you must be listening for on call alarms. An on call alarm is a statement made by the prospect that indicates one of three things.

  • They have identified that something can be improved
  • They have taken some kind of action to improve something
  • They need clarity on if a problem exists.

At first, it may be challenging to identify these, but as you practice, on call alarms will be so blaring that they will be like… an alarm! The first question we have to answer is how to identify on them. I have broken this down into a simple acronym, N.W.A. Those of you who are a fan of late 80s hip hop will have no 60  Cold to Committed problem remembering this one. However, my abbreviation is very different than what you are used to. N.W.A. stands for Need, Wish, and Action.


Need is the most powerful word that the prospect can say. If your prospect needs something that you can provide, then you, my friend, are most likely booking a meeting. To be honest, this is the least common on call alarm. It also doesn’t always come up as the prospect saying the word “need.” Sometimes it is baked into the context of what they are saying. Take a look at the following examples.

Prospect: I need to figure out what has caused the MQL conversion rate to drop.

Prospect: I have spent a lot of time on this and can’t seem to figure out why the MQL conversion rate has dropped.

The first example is the easy one to identify—they said the word “need” and your alarm bells should be ringing. The second one, however, can be a bit trickier to identify. They don’t use the word “need,” but they are expressing the need to figure something out. “Need” is baked into the context of the sentence. You will improve at identifying needs as you practice and have more conversations under your belt. The next part of N.W.A. is the W, and this one can be tricky as well.


Wish is slightly more common than need, but a little bit harder to identify. This is because you don’t often hear a prospect use the word “wish.” Because the word won’t come up often, it will require you to get good at identifying it within the context of the conversation. Let’s take a look at an example of a prospect with a wish.

Prospect: I shouldn’t have to spend so much time in Excel, but it is what it is.

This falls into the wish category because there is no evidence that this is a need for the prospect. However, you can tell this is something that they simply tolerate...something that they wish they didn’t have to do. Wish is a powerful, because the prospect is admitting that they are frustrated with something and that frustration can motivate them to book a meeting.

Now let’s talk about the “A” in N.W.A. This comes up the most frequently.


It is safe to assume that the decision maker you are speaking with has taken action at some point in their career. Odds are, they take action all the time to improve the business. Because taking action is required for growth, this is typically the most common on call alarm you will experience. Lucky for you, it’s also the easiest to identify. Take a look at the example below.

Prospect: I just started looking into the drop in MQL conversion last week.

The fact that the prospect has decided to take an action is important to us. It’s important because for action to take place there must be motivation. In order to book a meeting, we need to understand what is motivating the prospect and why it is so important. If the prospect has taken an action, it typically means that there is something that they need to accomplish, something that your product or service can help them with.

Ok, so you’ve identified an on call alarm. It’s ringing loudly and you’re excited because this is the moment that will change the course of the call and will lead to a booked meeting! What do you do? Well, it’s similar to what you would do if there was a fire alarm and you were actually on fire…


The reason why I call these on call alarms is because they alert you to ask a follow- up question. Your focus, after hearing an alarm, is to dive in and learn more about that specific part of what they said. The beauty is that this gives you a path to booking a meeting, and this is exactly what you need on any call. So, what follow-up question do you ask? Take a look at a few examples.

Tell me more about that.

● What motivated you to do that in the first place?

● What are you trying to accomplish?

● Why is that important to you?

● Why are you trying to figure that out?

The simple way to think about this is that you are digging into the “why” behind their need, wish, or action. Your goal is to get the prospect to open up and tell you about their challenges. When you understand their challenges, then you can tailor the rest of the call and book a meeting on a solution. Let’s take a look at an example of how this might play out.

Prospect: I just started looking into the drop in MQL conversion last week.

SDR: What motivated you to do that?

Prospect: I had a conversation with some of the sales people and they said that the quality of the leads have gone down and I need to verify this.

SDR: What have you found out so far? Prospect: Nothing. Everything looks the same to me, but a lot of this data is hard to gather.

SDR: You said that you need to verify if the salespeople are right about the quality...why is that a main priority? Prospect: Because I need to know the cause, so I can fix it.

SDR: Is figuring this out still a priority for you? Prospect: Yes.

SDR: Since this is a priority for you, why don’t we set aside 15 minutes tomorrow and we can walk through how other folks have been able to improve their data reporting so they can more quickly identify problems and focus their time on improving their MQL conversion. Do you have time tomorrow at 11:00am?

Prospect: Yes, that will work

In this example we had two on call alarms. Can you spot them both? “I just started looking into the drop in MQL conversion last week” is an example of action. The SDR, in this example, asked a great question and the prospect said that they “need to verify this” which is another, stronger, on call alarm. Understanding what problem your prospect needs solved is how you are able to tailor the rest of the call in a way that positions your product or service as a solution. Listen to one of your call recordings and see if you can spot the on call alarms. Did you notice it when you were on that call live? Did you stop, drop, and question? Hopefully, as you listen to your call recordings and make listening for N.W.A.s a priority, you will improve on your ability to identify on call alarms.