Last week I wrote about the frustration that our sales reps deal with every day.

Getting a hand in their face. Being ignored. Why because our contacts and prospects are just too busy. They don’t want anything to stop them from being productive and they just want us to leave them alone.

I shared a little about using something called the Gap Theory.

Have you ever found yourself watching a stupid TV show because you just want to know what happens in the end? Have you ever stayed tuned to the 10:00 PM news, even though you were tired, because the lead was “When we return, see how the man eluded the police by scaling a 50-story high building!”

The reason is when we want to know something we don’t already know, we become curious and WANT the answer. It is like getting an itch, and we want to scratch it. To scratch the itch, we will invest our time.

We’ll stay up later to watch the news even when we are tired. We’ll sit through a stupid TV show, and we’ll even return a salesperson’s call. This gap in knowledge is called the “Gap Theory” and it is a salesperson’s best friend.

“Gap theory” is when there is a gap in our knowledge that can’t be filled. It creates pain. The pain won’t go away until we gain knowledge or fill the gap.

You want to get more prospects to call you back? Fill the gap. Shift your thinking from: “What information do I want to convey?” to “What questions do I want my prospects to ask?” An example, I learned the number one thing that doctor’s offices can do to prevent vulnerable seniors from falling.  I would love to share it with you!

Another way to grab attention from our contacts and prospects is to Surprise them

We are surprised when we didn’t expect anything. It makes us stop for a moment and sit up and take notice.   As I said earlier, our brains are dialed into changes in our surroundings. They can be anything from how you communicate to what you communicate. 

You want them to have this response, they stop and think and then they say to a co-worker after they read an email from you, “Hey, did you know that……”?  Or they jump on the internet and immediately start reading about a stat that you just shared with them.  Maybe they go home from work and say to their spouse or children, “Guess what I learned today?” Now, you will probably get them to read your next email too!

One of the reps that we work with, sent a letter to all the doctors’ offices that she was prospecting at invited them to tea.  The Sales rep got a free zoom account, and she made an invitation and sent it snail mail with a teabag in the envelope.  She invited 10 different offices and 50% of them showed up to talk about the top 3 daily frustrations about working in a doctor’s office!  She has now moved 4 of those prospects into referring contacts.


A mystery is a story that makes no sense.  It’s when we’re presented with a “Huh?” Mysteries exist wherever there are questions without obvious answers.  Why do 30% of people using an inhaler use it improperly?  Why don’t patients like our new project?

Mysteries are powerful. They invite the client to solve the “huh?” with you.  Mysteries create a need for closure. We (our contacts and prospects included) do not like to leave things open.  We will “hang around” for the answer to get closure.  Creating mysteries for prospects and clients will lure them into discussions and on a journey. By creating mysteries prospects will stick with you until they get the information you hold. 

For example:

Voice Mail Script

Hi Betty,

You don’t know me yet, but I wanted to share with you what Dr. Smith’s office is doing down the street from your practice to make his patients safer at home.  Call me at [] or email me at [] and share with me a few days and times that you can speak to me for just about 5 mins.  Can’t wait to share…..

To get more prospects to call you back and to get a better return from cold calling, you have to create intrigue. You have to be unexpected. The way to be unexpected is to leverage curiosity, intrigue, or a knowledge gap and surprise.

The “Surprise Call”

Surprises break up a pattern. Prospects and current contacts get sales calls every day.  They are the same old, boring, cold calls from everyone. There is little to no difference from one cold call to the next.

Example of an expected cold call:

Hello, my name is Cheesy Sales Guy. I’m calling for just 5 minutes of your time. I’d like to talk to you about our Piggly, wiggly. It’s helped many of our customers save money, improve efficiency, and create happier employees.

If you would please give me a call back at (555) 555-1212.

I look forward to talking to you. Thanks!

I’ve gotten more of these calls than I can count. I tune them outright from the get-go. There is nothing here to make me want to give up my valuable time to call back. The ones that don’t get tuned out, surprise me. They break my expected pattern of a cold call.

Like most of us, our prospects and contacts have learned to tune out these messages too. To avoid getting tuned out, surprise your prospects, break their pattern, be different.

Use humor, a few off the wall, and surprising facts about your product or service. Share some unique and unknown facts about your clients’ industry. Make a silly promise, be humble by acknowledging you know you’re an annoying cold call, do whatever you can do to break the cold call pattern your prospects are already used to. If you can’t break your prospect’s pattern, you won’t get their attention. They will simply hit the delete button and poof your message goes into the cyber a bias.

Create surprise, avoid being gimmicky, keep your message germane to your prospects and contacts. I’ve found, the best way to get prospects to call you back is to know something they don’t about their industry, their business, the products they use, and more. When we know something our prospects don’t, we create a knowledge gap.

A knowledge gap creates curiosity. Curiosity creates intrigue.

Our job as salespeople is to sell products and services that improve the existing condition of our prospects and current contacts.  If we are unable to improve their situation, we have nothing to sell. For us to demonstrate we can improve a prospect’s work environment requires knowledge and information about the industry, the market, their business, and their competitor’s business.

If you want a prospect or current contacts to take your cold call, find the gap in their knowledge by knowing things they don’t. Do research on what matters now to hospitals, SNF’s, ALF communities, and doctors’ offices.  

Look for obscure information that could positively affect your prospects such as learning about MIPS, merit bases incentive payments for physicians. Do the research for them. Become a treasure trove of data and information for your referral sources.  They will love you for it!  They will be loyal to you!  You will move your prospects into new referring accounts!


Cheryl Peltekis, RN “The Solutionist”

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